TikTok, the popular social networking app that lets users post videos of themselves set to music, has been banned in India.
Both Google and Apple pulled TikTok from the Play Store and the App Store in the country following orders from an Indian High Court, which said that the app exposed Indians to pornography and could expose children to sexual predators.
The Chinese company that owns TikTok, challenged the High Court’s decision in India’s Supreme Court, saying it went against free speech rights, but the Supreme Court sent the case back to the High Court, which rejected the company’s request to defer the ban.
The move is a blow to TikTok. More than 120 million of the app’s 500 million users are from India, and the app has been a viral hit in hundreds of thousands of small Indian towns, where millions of people are getting access to the internet via smartphones for the first time.
According to data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower, more than 30 million Indians installed TikTok in January 2019. Existing TikTok users in India can still use the app, but people who don’t have it already can no longer download it from the Google and Apple app stores.
In an earlier statement, the app creators had said that it had faith in India’s judicial system and was “optimistic about an outcome that would be well received” by its millions of users in India.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company had pulled TikTok from the Play Store but declined to comment further, saying that the company does not comment on individual apps.