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How India’s TikTok Ban Has Widened Caste and Class Divides Among Content Creators

TikTok’s rise has made it so that people have stopped believing in the outright supremacy of Facebook’s cohort of applications as well as other big name companies since the upstart social media platform found a massive amount of popularity in a relatively short period of time. One thing that set TikTok apart from the rest was the fact that it got massive amounts of popularity among working class people especially those that lived in developing countries, and in this manner TikTok was seen as the app of the masses.

This lead to the rise of working class content creators because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up enabling them to connect with viewers that were interested in what they had to offer. These creators that originated in working class conditions made content that was enjoyed by their fellow working class counterparts as well as people from the middle classes, and no country ended up displaying this dynamic as pervasively as India where people who lived in villages with little to no infrastructure could suddenly access audiences that numbered in the millions.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that the Indian authorities ended up banning TikTok in an attempt to crack down on apps that originated in China, and this lead to a situation where these influencers who were able to earn decent money at long last no longer got the chance to connect to their audiences in a way that had previously been possible.

This has actually lead to greater inequality in the digital space. Indian influencers on Instagram usually present a very clean cut image of India, one that the vast majority of its population is just not able to identify with. The TikTok influencers who created wholesome content without pretense and in many ways were the fulfillment of the internet’s destiny as the great equalizer in all matters cultural and political were cast aside, in a way that happens all too frequently all around the world.

In a lot of ways, the class divide that can be seen between Indian Instagram users and those that were on TikTok is indicative of a real world divide, one that is contributed to by India’s caste system. Influencers and content creators on TikTok usually belonged to lower castes and they were popular among lower castes and members of the working class as well, whereas the Instagram Reels content that is now becoming a mainstay is something that seems rather sanitized and does not reflect the reality of life in India, a life that might seem rough around the edges to some but possesses all of the vibrancy, joy and creative energy that the middle and upper classes seem to be trying to gatekeep at every turn.

The banning of TikTok is something that has disproportionately impacted a section of society that was already marginalized, and it has created artificial conditions for apps like Instagram to prosper. The only people that suffer are the uniquely talented creators who proved that creativity is not solely the purview of the rich, but is something that comes from within you and no amount of exclusivity among the upper classes would ever be able to change that.

Creator: MStudioImages / Credit: Getty Images

H/T: ROTW.

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