Last week in Purulia district of West Bengal state in eastern India, Noor Ansari and his friends were shooting a clip for the popular mini-video app Tik Tok. They were so focused recording the video that they did not hear a train approaching, and they were hit. Ansari died due to the accident, while his friends were critically injured. Reports have said that the locals have warned the teenagers to stay clear of the tracks, but they did not listen. Ansari and his friends were not the first ones to fall in the Tik Tok craze.
Ansari wasn’t the first. TikTok’s popularity, especially in small-town India, has driven its users to take crazy risks and endanger their lives. A 22-year-old man broke his spine on June 15 while trying to do a backflip for the camera. Kumar, a resident of a village near Bengaluru, died a few days later.
On April 14, a young man in New Delhi allegedly shot his friend in the face accidentally while posing with a pistol for a video. Salman Zakir, the 19-year-old victim, died of the injury he sustained.
In the southern Indian city of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, three students were making a video of them riding a single bike on Feb. 23. A bus rammed into them, leading to the subsequent death of one of them.
The total number of such deaths may be difficult to estimate. India also has the highest number of selfie-deaths in the world. So far, 159 people have lost their lives between 2011 and 2017.
TikTok allows its users to lip-sync to popular songs and scenes from movies, and the possibilities for creatively presenting such content are endless. No wonder the video-sharing platform, owned by China-based ByteDance, has 120 million active users in India. It was also among the top apps in India in terms of the number of downloads. India has nearly 500 million smartphone users and is an important market for TikTok.
TikTok “celebrities” are spread across India, often with millions of followers. This, in fact, made both TikTok and the Indian judiciary sit up and take note.
More details regarding this horrifying news over at Quartz.
(Image Credit: ByteDance/ Wikimedia Commons)