Chennai: The Madras High Court has asked the Centre to ban popular Chinese video app TikTok, saying it was “encouraging pornography”. The order also directs the media to desist telecasting videos made using the app.

TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects.

While hearing a petition against the app, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court said on Wednesday that children using TikTok were vulnerable to exposure to sexual predators.

The petition was filed by a Madurai-based senior lawyer-cum-social activist Muthu Kumar. Citing pornography, cultural degradation, child abuse, suicides, he had requested the court to direct a ban on TikTok.

The judges have directed the Central government to respond before April 16 if it would enact regulations to prevent children from becoming online victims.

A TikTok spokesman told a news agency that they were committed to abiding by local laws and the company was awaiting a copy of the court’s order before planning its course of action.

The court reportedly said that TikTok exposed kids to “strangers directly”.

On its part, TikTok has claimed it has robust measures to protect users and mechanism to report content found violative of norms.

“We have robust measures to protect users against misuse, including easy reporting mechanisms that enable users and law enforcement to report content that violates our terms of use and community guidelines,” it said.

In February, State Information Technology Minister M Manikandan had told the state Assembly the government would take up with the Centre a possible ban on the app which reportedly misleads children and youth.

He had also said political leaders and many others had been expressing ‘concern’ over the app.

The Minister made the remarks while responding to a submission by Manithaneya Jananayaka Katchi MLA(Nagapattinam) M Thamimun Ansari that the social media application was allegedly misleading children and youth.