This article originally appeared on VICE India
On June 13, a 24-year-old woman named Anitha based in Tamil Nadu, took her own life on the short-video making app TikTok. The young mother of two was apparently so obsessed with the app that her husband—who is based in Singapore—had chided her and asked her to stop using it. In her last video, Anitha is seen gulping down dark-coloured poison from a white bottle. She then sent the video to her husband over WhatsApp but soon after, broke into a coughing fit and died.
This incident happened on the same day a teenage boy in Maharashtra was accidentally killed while posing with a country-made pistol for a TikTok video. 17-year-old Pratik Wadekar was in the city of Shirdi to attend a relative’s last rites when a country-made pistol brought by a relative accidentally went off while filming a TikTok video. After hearing the gunshot, the hotel staff rushed to the room to find the boy collapsed on the floor, while the relatives he was filming the video with tried to flee the scene, with one even threatening to open fire. Police took Wadekar to the government hospital where he was declared dead before admission. The cops have registered a case against his relatives under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder).
These aren’t isolated incidents. The app has been criticised for causing many deaths, including that of a 15-year old who hung herself after her grandmother scolded her for being addicted to the app, and that of a 19-year old in Delhi who was accidentally shot by his friend while filming a video.
TikTok has over 200 million users in India, but has come under fire lately for everything from “encouraging pornography” to being “unbearable”. The app by Chinese company Bytedance has even come close to being completely cancelled, with the Madras High Court passing an interim order to ban it on April 3. And while the app was removed from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, this lasted only until April 25.
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