TikTok's rating improves amid growing criticism over 'violent content'

The app's rating on Google Play Store reduced to 1.3 stars on May 20
TikTok's app rating on Google Play Store has elevated to 4.4 starts after it hits all-time low at 1.2 stars last week. The rating improved after Google filtered the app reviews and ratings in its effort to regularly clean up its app distribution platform. The short-video sharing platform, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, recently faced a backlash in India after an internet war broke out between its influencers and YouTube content creators. The app's rating on Google Play Store reduced to 1.3 stars on May 20.

While the TikTok rating has improved, the app continues to face criticism for the content that appears on its platform. Recently, Member of Parliament and animal right activist, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi asked TikTok to remove content that appears to be violent in nature. She asked TikTok to ban accounts of all users who post such content, and share their details with concerned authorities for further action. She also raised questions on the video-sharing social networking service’s guidelines with regard to graphical content of violence towards animals.

On May 22, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi posted a message on Twitter alleging that the company refused to take down accounts of users who have been posting graphic videos of violence towards animals.

On May 23, TikTok in a tweet said, “Certain UGC videos that depicted animal cruelty were uploaded to our platform. We strongly condemn such content. We've removed these videos as they violated our community guidelines. Also, as per request, we have shared relevant user info with law enforcement agencies.”

Earlier, the National Commission for Women (NCW) wrote to the video-sharing social networking service TikTok over a video in which one of its users allegedly glorified acid attack and crime against women. The video was soon taken down, and the user's account was suspended.

Rekha Sharma, the chairperson of the NCW said several videos of women being abused had been shared on the platform. Expressing her views on Twitter, she said that the platform should be banned as the app was pushing youngsters towards unproductive life where they were living only for a few followers.

She said her attention was drawn to a video where a person seemed to be throwing acid on a girl. “We wrote to TikTok to take it down and they cooperated. Soon, we were shown hundreds of videos with abusive content — videos inferring rape, domestic abuse and molestation. We got in touch with TikTok and showed them some more of the videos; we are waiting for their response,” said Sharma.

"Keeping people on TikTok safe is a top priority and we make it clear in our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines that clearly outline what is not acceptable on our platform. According to the policy, we do not allow content that risks safety of others, promotes physical harm or glorifies violence against women," news agency IANS quoted a TikTok spokesperson as saying.

TikTok has over two billion downloads on Google Play Store, which accredits it as ‘Editor’s Choice’ for the best social media app. It leads the charts on Play Store and had more than 600 million users in India by April 2020.

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