Popular video creation and sharing app TikTok is facing a sustained backlash across Indian social media for publishing a video allegedly glorifying acid attacks on women. The video has since been taken down but the social app continues to face the heat. 

Created by Faizal Siddiqui, brother of popular TikTok star Amir Siddiqui, the video had showed the person throwing water on a girl which transitions on to her face that shows makeup similar to acid burns marks. The federal government had already warned social media platforms about publishing objectionable content in the past.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had asked Google and Apple to de-list TikTok from their respective app stores three months ago. This development happened after the Supreme Court of India declined a stay order on the ban of the video making app which was issued earlier by the Madras High Court.

While Faizal Siddiqui had created the video some time ago, it went viral only some days ago, which caused the backlash as users began giving a low rating of a single star to the TikTok app on Google Play Store and App Store. 

Simultaneously, the National Commission for Women, a statutory body that reviews government policies around women’s rights and advices on them, too cognisance of the video and asked TikTok to remove the same while also banning its creator. 

“The commission is seriously concerned about the increase in crimes against women and the video not only seems to promote violence against women but also shows the patriarchal mindset, which would send a very wrong message to the society through a video made by Faizal Siddiqui on TikTok”, said Chairperson Rekha Sharma. 

@NCWIndia have contacted Tik-Tok India @TikTok_IN to remove the video & delete the account of #FaizalSiddiqui that instigate committing violence against women. pic.twitter.com/1QMHpUgQs8May 18, 2020

Tiktok has since taken down the video and banned Faizal Siddiqui citing ‘violation of multiple community guidelines. Faizal had over 13 million followers before he posted the said clip. 

While TikToks overall ratings plummeted to an average of 2 stars in just a few days on Google Play Store from a previous 4.5-star rating, however, it still enjoys a 4.8-star rating on App Store.

Laxmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor, who last year saw a Bollywood biopic being made with top star Deepika Padukone acting and producing the movie, took to Twitter to thank the Women’s commission for taking prompt action. 

However, the #BanTikTok hashtag continued to trend in spite of the action taken by the Chinese video sharing company, suggesting that there is more to it than the objectionable content going live on the platform. However, several social media users expressed solidarity with acid attack survivors by suggesting that the problem was not just with the creator but also the platform that allowed its publishing. 

“Oh he is not throwing acid, he is just throwing a glass of water on the girl’s face coz he rejected his advances”As if it’s okay to throw water, Somehow the smaller crimes get normalised. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/33CdctYtGPMay 18, 2020

In fact, when Faizal Siddiqui took to Instagram to share his views and said that it was water and not acid, the move appeared to offend social media users more as they questioned the acceptability of violence against women. Faizal later apologised for the video and said “as a social media influencer, I recognise my responsibility and and apologise to anyone who was offended by the video.”

The seeds of this latest anger against TikTok may have been sown in April when a roast began between creators of videos on YouTube and Tiktok wherein Youtuber Carry Minati created a video of TikTok star Amir Siddiqui, which received 70 million views in a couple of days, but was withdrawn by the video sharing service. 

Since then, Minati fans have been seeking a ban on TikTok, which appears to have gathered steam after this latest incident. And with Amir’s brother Faizal getting on the wrong end of the law with his acerbic video, the Carry Minati fans appear to have been energised into action a second time in as many months.