TikTok, the viral video-sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is facing a fresh wave of calls for its services to be banned in India.

The Economic Times reports that Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) – the economic wing of Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – is the latest to call for a ban on Chinese social media applications TikTok and Helo in order to protect India’s national security and its startup ecosystem.

It cited regulations limiting foreign funding in media and warned of “anti-national content” being shared on the platform; politicians from other parties have also expressed concerned over TikTok’s privacy and data storage practices.

The fresh calls from politicians follows the reversal of a court ban on Tik Tok that saw it removed from app stores for a two-week period after a High Court in Madras determined the app was encouraging pornography and other illicit content.

But with the lifting of the ban, TikTok was soon back among the country’s top downloads, helped by an in-app promotional campaign, running for the first two weeks of May, offering daily cash prizes of Rs 100,000 ($1,400) to three users for sharing the campaign page.

The video-sharing platform has been of great interest to advertisers globally thanks to its growing influence on youth culture.

Since TikTok began testing advertising at a global level in January 2019, several youth-focused brands have been quick to trial the platform. In India, it already counts brands such as Pepsi, Snapdeal, Myntra, Shaadi.com and Shopclues as advertisers.

It has since embarked on a campaign called #MyTikTokStory to diversify the kinds of content its Indian community generates beyond the music-focused dancing and miming clips that it is best known for.

While initial efforts have proved promising – Pepsi’s #SwagStepChallenge is said to have received 8.6 billion views – the controversies that have dogged the platform put into question the safety of the environment, both for brands and users.

Earlier this year, regulatory authorities in the US fined TikTok US$5.7m for violating child privacy laws and last year Indonesia banned it outright. But the app’s popularity continues to grow in India, where it now claims to have 200 million users, of which 120 million are active every month.

Sourced from Economic Times, News Minute, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff