On the 29th of July, the Indian Government banned 59 apps by Chinese developers. According to the official report from the Ministry of Electronics&IT, the apps have deemed a threat to the Indian national security and public order.

Losing Indian followers is a hard blow to TikTok. In the last few months, India has become the largest foreign market for TikTok. Out of 2 billion installments worldwide, 611 million were made by Indian users.

For many Indian people, TikTok has become more than just a social media app. It was a true life-changer. TikTok managed to attract Indians who have never used social media before. People who can’t read or write English properly found solace in TikTok’s video content. For the first time ever it gave people from rural areas a chance to be seen by people from all over the world. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Indians lost their job, and for some of them, TikTok became a way to earn their livelihood.

The tension between India and China has been running high lately, so when TikTok was accused of leaking Indian customers’ data to the Chinese government, people listened. India’s Computer Emergency Response team says the block was a reaction to multiple complaints from the citizens who were worried about their privacy. So while such a change came as a surprise to some Indians, others sighed with relief.

Even though it saddens them, many Indian TikTok celebrities support the ban. While the app opened a new world to Indians, the threats it posed were too big to ignore. So what does the future hold for Indian TikTok users and creators? Right now they are trying to find ways to fill the void left by TikTok. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Ask.fm

One of the apps that can give the users a feel similar to TikTok is ask.fm. It is a social network that is based on asking and answering questions anonymously. You can submit your responses through video too, which is an important detail for TikTok users who came to love video content. But that’s not the only unique feature that makes ASKfm stand out. It is designed to engage people to share just as much about themselves as they want. There’s no room for shyness or embarrassment, so anyone can speak their mind freely without reservations. For shy people, who liked to hide by swiping TikTok videos every day, ask.fm is a place where they can engage with other people with no fear of judgment. The platform makes it easy to find people with similar interests, and in such a big country like India, you don’t have to speak English to meet many new people.

Besides, there is an element of competition to ASKfm, which makes it even more exciting. The “askers” can collect coins to use the website’s special features. With coins, you can get bonuses from the Coins- market, tip the most interesting questions or answers and give them to other people as a way to make new friends. By giving coins you can also access private questions or answers that remain hidden unless you tip them.

But ASKfm is not only for shy kids. If you want to build your profile and get a lot of attention, there is a place for you to ASK as well. The best way to become popular on ask.fm is through their VIP program. Users who want to be a part of it send an application to apply for VIP status. Then they follow the instructions to get the badge. All you have to do is be active every day and engage with other users as much as possible. The program is a way to encourage active users to keep it up and help them grow their followings even further. This way, VIP users can get more coins, have their questions and answers promoted, and get many VIP-exclusive bonuses. Since ASKfm is just starting out in India, users who join it now will get a chance to quickly get ahead of everyone else. In such a big country building a following may be quite easy.
Youtube

Another more obvious alternative to TikTok is YouTube. TikTok started a wave of new Indian video creators, with some of them going viral internationally. For the ones who feel confident about their content, YouTube feels like a logical next move. However, Youtube definitely would require that the creators step up their game in terms of skills, equipment, and creativity. While TikTok is a phone-based network, on Youtube, it is also important to accommodate computer users. That means better video production skills and higher quality equipment. In terms of creativity, YouTube is a platform for longer videos, so the creative concepts would have to be developed better. It might be hard to compete with experienced YouTube creators in existent video categories, considering many famous YouTubers have a luxury of high-quality equipment and talented teams. With that being said, India is a unique culture and perhaps its difference will work to its advantage. People all over the world loved Indian TikTokers for their sincerity, positivity, and simplicity. If these people can keep their voices on YouTube, they might have a great future on the platform. YouTube would definitely be a challenge for Indian ex-TikTokers, but for some of them, it can be a challenge worth taking.

Finally, there are many ways to boost your personal brand and creativity outside of social media. In fact, the most successful social media creators build their brands around their knowledge and talents. It doesn’t have to be anything big – it’s enough to find a little niche that works best for you. But first, you have to concentrate on connecting with people and developing your skills. Luckily, there are many ways to find people who share your interests. For some, it can be chatting with like-minded people on ASKfm and building their profile thanks to their creativity. Others, who would like to stay in the shadow, for now, can find the content they love on YouTube and take inspiration from their favorite creators.

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Synthia Rozario
An editorial staff member at The Eastern Herald. Formerly, correspondent of The Eastern Express, Hong Kong.