TikTok returns to app stores after India ban

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Short video app TikTok became available again on Apple’s App Store and Google Play on April 30, marking its return to the Indian market after a two-week ban.

The ban, which required Google and Apple to remove the app from their app stores, cost TikTok more than 15 million first-time users in India, according to a report from analytics firm Sensor Tower. The app’s worldwide downloads also dropped by about 33% in April compared with March.

However, TikTok’s comeback was swift. It surged back to the sixth most-downloaded app on India’s App Store and ranked number 131 on Google Play’s most-downloaded list just one day after its reinstatement, the Sensor Tower report said.

The app has been busy promoting its return with an in-app campaign featuring the hashtag #ReturnOfTikTok, offering cash prizes of 100,000 rupees (around $1,445) to three users daily from May 1 to 16 for sharing the campaign page, Quartz reported.

TikTok was banned in April by an Indian state court for spreading pornography and encouraging predatory behaviors. The app was then removed from Apple’s App Store and Google Play at the request of India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The company appealed, stating that the ban imposed on free speech rights and citing company losses of up to $500,000 a day to its parent company, Bytedance. TikTok also revealed a number of measures it had taken to right its wrongs, including removing more than six million noncompliant videos generated by Indian users after “an exhaustive review of content.”

The Indian state court lifted the ban on April 24, but the app did not immediately become available on the two app stores.

Following the ban, TikTok is likely to face more stringent oversight in India. Failure to prevent pornographic videos on the platform in the future will translate into contempt of court, according to a report from media outlet The Mobile Indian, citing the decision of the state court.