From Paras Tomar to Technical Guruji to Aadil Khan — here’s what social media influencers have to say about the TikTok ban

From Paras Tomar to Technical Guruji to Aadil Khan — here’s what social media influencers have to say about the TikTok ban
Aadil Khan (L), Paras Tomar (C) and Technical Guruji (R)BI India

  • YouTuber Technical Guruji told Business Insider that the ban on TikTok was “long overdue,” after the Indian government announced the full list of 59 Chinese apps that will no longer be allowed to operate in the country.
  • TikTok influencers Paras Tomar and Aadil Khan believe that even though TikTok is banned, brands will follow the influencer wherever they may go.
  • This isn’t the first time that TikTok has been banned in India and Tomar holds out hope that it will make a return after clearing things up with the government.
The ByteDance-owned short video streaming app TikTok took India by storm when it launched in 2018 and it’s no stranger to being banned. Last year, the Madras High Court had the app banned for ‘encouraging pornography’ yet TikTok made its way back.

“We saw it coming,” Paras Tomar, a TikTok influencer with over 3 million followers, told Business Insider. He says the anti-China sentiment was already visible with fans questioning why he was still creating videos on TikTok despite it being a Chinese app.

This time around TikTok has gotten caught in political crossfire as tensions between India and China continue to escalate along the border. While 30% of users and 15% of its revenue may come from India, its the influencers on the platform that have a bigger burden to bear.
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To Tiktok or not to TikTok
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying TikTok’s popularity. Bridging the digital divide was the prime driver of TikTok’s success in India. From January 2018 to August 2019, it was able to capture 30% of India’s smartphone users, according to data provided by Delhi-based market intelligence firm KalaGato.

“Well, I think this was long overdue, I feel happy that finally, the Government took the right step in this direction,” said YouTuber Technical Guruji. However, not everyone is as amped about the change.

“For actors, this just one thing we do. A lot of others actually left their jobs and stuff to do this. This is their income,” empathised Tomar. Being an influencer is a full-time job, from creating content to networking — investing time in a platform like TikTok does have an opportunity cost.

But provided you have made a name for yourself on the platform and have the talent to back it up — India’s youth won’t find it difficult to move to another platform and generate employment, according to Aadil Khan, TikToker and choreographer with 2.8 million followers.

‘Made-in-India’ alternatives
Following the ban of TikTok, Indian app alternatives saw a surge in the number of downloads. Chingari, for instance, told Business Insider that the app was getting 100,000 downloads per hour. Others like Bolo, Indya, Khabri, and Roposo have also welcomed the ban in favour of an atmanirbhar — self-reliant — India.

“Made in India apps will definitely gain momentum now, people are now addicted to the short term format. Wherever they find it, they are going to go on it,” said Khan.

The catch is that, in comparison to TikTok, these Indian alternatives are still in their nascent stages. “Chingari is this new app so I tried to get a hold of it but the UI was so bad that it didn’t even let me create a username,” quipped Tomar after trying out the new platform.

Khan believes it might be better with the government joins the bandwagon to create its own short-video format app where it can control the fact that no cringe content and “anything that goes against the country's peace and unity” isn’t uploaded.

At the end of the day, it may not even be about shifting from one platform to the next. “I think we’ll all coexist on multiple platforms like we always have,” Tomar said.

Will the brands follow?
Brands need influencers just as much as influencers need brands. So wherever influencers may go next, brands are sure to follow. “Brands will move with them to other social media platforms. As long as you have created yourself an audience a genuine one, you will have them follow and love your content irrespective of the platform,” said Khan.

However, what may take a hit is how much moolah an influencer can earn. “With two platforms, my cumulative reach becomes so much — that’s why we were charging a certain amount of money. Now the moment when you take one out of the two — and the bigger one of the two — it is going to take a hit,” explained Tomar.

While Instagram and other social media platforms still exist, TikTok was — by far — the most active. “TikTok was very userfriendly, and for creators especially. Making content was easy, brands also approached you — they also pushed you. So, it was a very well-oiled machine so that everyone was happy with their roles,” said Tomar.

He holds out hope that TikTok will make a comeback after it talks to the Indian government. The Chinese app said that it will be meeting with all the stakeholders to clarify any misnomers about data sharing abroad.

“Until this is resolved, I’m not going to be on TikTok. Whether or not TikTok allows videos to be uploaded is secondary,” asserted Tomar.

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