Chinese internet company Bytedance announced that it will shut down its short video apps Vigo Video and Vigo Lite in India by October this year. Until then, users and creators will be given the option to export their content to TikTok. “Users on Vigo Video will be informed about the app shutting via in-app notifications with detailed instruction on downloading their personal data or deleting their account permanently, including videos, personal information, chat history and favourite list,” Bytedance said.
While the company did not specify a reason behind the decision, it said that “moving forward we have decided to focus energy and resources on other businesses”. It isn’t clear whether the apps will shut down in other markets such as Bangladesh and Russia, but Bytedance said that it had already shut down in Brazil and the Middle East.
Vigo Video is similar to TikTok in many ways, in that, it allows users to creators short videos while using audio created by other users, and also allows them to go live on the app. However, Bytedance, on the TikTok Ads’ website, positions Vigo as having 70% Indic language content, and a user base of mostly first-time internet users. Despite the similarities, the two apps haven’t had the same fortunes. TikTok is among the most popular apps in the world and has over 200 million users in India. Vigo, meanwhile, had only about 4 million monthly active users last month, according to TechCrunch.
TikTok’s repeated run-ins with authorities in India
Despite TikTok’s popularity, it has also drawn severe criticism from authorities in India, where it was even banned for some time for potentially exposing children to sexual predators:
- Last month, TikTok came under fire in India after a video on its platform went viral for allegedly promoting acid attacks on women. It had to delete the account of the creator and has been asked to submit an action taken report to the National Commission for Women.
- In April 2019, TikTok was banned in India for a week by the Madras High Court, which said it was spreading pornography, potentially exposing children to sexual predators, and adversely impacting its the mental health of its users. Since then, lawmakers from across the political spectrum and nationalist trade organisations such as the Swadeshi Jagran Manch have talked about TikTok’s alleged close relationship with the Chinese government, and some have repeatedly called for banning the platform.