‘Positive’ response from users, industry so far: TikTok parent


New Delhi: A top executive at the Chinese company that owns TikTok said it received an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the video app’s users as well as Internet and mobile associations in India, after the Madras High Court temporarily banned its downloads.

Helena Lersch, director of global public policy at ByteDance, said also the government was “supportive” of the company in the Supreme Court during the hearing of its petition challenging the HC’s interim ban.

The top court on Monday said the stay on TikTok downloads would stand vacated if the high court did not decide on the matter in its hearing on Wednesday.

Speaking to ET on Tuesday, Lersch said the company remained “very hopeful” and “optimistic” about the hearing.

“It is an interim takedown of the app. We continue to serve our 200 million users in India. They have been very supportive and active.

They keep on using the app and keep on reporting content they feel uncomfortable about,” she said.

“The government had been supporting us in the court,” the executive said, but didn’t specify how. “We are here to cooperate with the authorities and listen to them. I am very happy to say that the government has been supportive.

The entire industry has actually lent their support to us in this case.”

Lersch said the company had localised multiple safety features in India in languages including Hindi over the past year and that its suite of safety tools was at par with other industry players. “I think we are a very safe app. We have industry-leading safety features on our app and our creators and users are using them,” she claimed.

The company has also launched an ‘age gate’ in India “on a voluntary basis, as this is not required under Indian law”, she said. If a user younger than 13 years tries to sign up for the app, he will not be allowed on the app. There are also features like the privacy mode, granular comment controls and a restricted mode for parents to control what their teenage children are accessing, the executive added.

Lersche said India needed competitive policies in the space to be able to keep on attracting investment and to be a mobile-first market.

“We are an app for 13-plus people. That is what we are saying on the Play Store and that complies with the Children’s Act in the US and that is the guideline we are following,” she said.

As per data shared by market research firm App Annie for April 1-18, TikTok ranked No.1 in India in terms of downloads within social apps on Google Play and under the photo and video category on iOS.