Soon enough, she was posting as many as nine videos a day of herself dancing or lip-syncing to Hindi songs. She racked up nearly 8,000 followers in a matter of months. “I never thought that I could sing, or dance, or make all these faces,” Lall told CNN Business.
TikTok’s app no longer appears on app stores in the country, and those who already have it see an error message that says it is “complying with the Government of India’s directive.” The app went off app stores and users began to see the message the day after the ban was announced.
“You lose track of time. Hours go by, you don’t realize. It’s very nice,” Lall said. “We are still hoping that TikTok will come back.”
But self-professed TikTok addicts say it just isn’t the same.
“Currently for sure, there is no one that can come close to TikTok,” said Abhay Jani.
Jani, 24, downloaded TikTok a couple of years ago and said he would spend up to two hours a day watching videos on the app, usually overshooting the screen time restrictions he had set for himself. He enjoyed going down “rabbit holes” of the Indian internet such as farm TikTok, where he says farmers around the country would post videos of various agricultural techniques and activities.
“I mean I was addicted to it,” he said.
“All of them are useless, they’re really bad,” she said, citing several issues including a relative lack of viewership and a poorer selection of filters. “TikTok was TikTok.”
TikTok was installed 26.4 million times — an average of 660,000 installs a day — and made about $317,000 in gross revenue from in-app purchases in India in the six weeks leading up to the ban, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, has around 2,000 employees in the country.
“We have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign governments, nor have we used such data in any manner that would compromise the integrity of India,” he said. “Further, even if we are requested to in the future, we would not do so.”
TikTok has pushed back on the Trump administration’s claims that it is a security threat, calling them “unfounded.” To underscore its independence from China, TikTok has cited its recently hired American CEO, and said it has “never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
Despite the pain of losing TikTok and the lack of viable alternatives, Lall agrees with the Indian government’s decision to ban the app.
“What they [China] are doing is wrong,” she said. “We are happy that … the ban happened but still we have a hope that [TikTok] will come back, we are waiting for it.”