Tokyo: Forget the smell of milk in your nappy, just plug in the light and scroll through your TikTok video app — your new life as a porn star may actually be in the tube.
The company behind the popular “instant” messaging app that has been slammed by lawmakers and government officials — and threatened with a ban from the American government — is suing the president for blocking its users’ access to it.
Dozens of YouTubers have made use of TikTok’s “video meerkat” feature and images to post almost hourly clips during the US midterm elections last month that included an alarming video of a heavily pregnant woman being driven around in a car.
This morning, New York state AG Eric Schneiderman said his office would sue TikTok because the election platform featured “text that glorifies violence,” he told reporters.Tokyo-based TikTok Studios said in a legal filing today it was suing the Trump administration “for preventing Tor-accessible content on its popular TikTok mobile app from being lawfully distributed.”
“The American government is abusing its extraordinary powers as a member of the ‘Freedom of Speech’ Nation to block the free expression of user content which members of the public find so offensive as to be outside their ordinary expectations,” the company said in a statement.
“While the reality on the ground is that the vast majority of users discover, like TikTok, lawful streams and content by searching it on YouTube, this could easily be seen as a blatant violation of the First Amendment,” it added.
Germany’s group of politicians and MPs have seized on videos promoting horror and gore in search of a solution to TikTok’s ban.
Citing an August 20 letter from the International Organization for Statutes of Privacy and Internet, Ormoc, the governing body for companies in the EU, they urged the EU to ban the app as a means of collecting personal data.
“We strongly request the European Commission clarify whether or not it is ready to host this app, given that its network facilitates the dissemination of pornography on a mass scale and as such, is subject to taxation,” the letter said.
The most inflammatory of the images showed a pregnant woman being ripped apart and attacked by a tear gas canister in a dark waiting room as she lay on a bathroom floor.
A bullet shell had been circled in the room’s ceiling in the image, the text read.
TikTok and hundreds of other companies follow a banner image that narrates the video and deletes the image after it has been viewed.
The fact TikTok users are unaware of this enables the company to not only browse users’ photos but also manipulate what is shown to promote a pornographic content like video or GIFs.
“This presents an unprecedented threat to the users’ personal information, jeopardizing privacy, personal safety and lives,” a lawyer for TikTok told AFP.
An Android app intended to “let people share anything without having to fear censorship,” is already blocking users in Germany, France and the Netherlands.