Apps

More Trouble For China's ByteDance: Indian Politicians Accuse TikTok Sister App 'Helo' Of Election Interference

Written By Tanmay Patange | Mumbai | Published:

Hack:

  • Helo app is owned by ByteDance, which is the same company that also owns a video-sharing app TikTok
  • Helo was was reportedly placing ads featuring doctored images of politicians with sensationalised text

China-made ‘Helo’ app is accused of interfering with Indian elections. Helo app is owned by ByteDance, which is the same company that also owns a video-sharing app TikTok. According to reports, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) filed a complaint against Helo app to Election Commission (EC) citing Facebook's crackdown on 11,000 advertisements from Helo.

Helo was reportedly placing advertisements featuring doctored images of politicians with sensationalised text layered on top of it. Responding to a complaint made against Helo, this is what ByteDance had to say:

"We are not serving any paid political advertisements during this election period and are not proactively onboarding any political figures or parties on our platform."

READ | Timeline of TikTok controversy: Major events that led to removal of TikTok app from Play Store, App Store

Although ByteDance denied allegations of election interference, this is not the first time the company is facing trouble in India. Earlier, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) economic wing Swadeshi Jagran Manch demanded a ban on several Chinese apps including TikTok and Helo over concerns of possibly promoting anti-national activities.

Last year, an investigation revealed that China-made apps like as ShareChat and Helo are filled with misinformation and political propaganda.

A couple of days ago, Google and Apple removed TikTok app from their respective app stores, following the Madras HC’s directive to ban the video-sharing app for “encouraging pornography.”

READ | 'How to download TikTok app after ban' is what Indians are already searching on Google

However, India’s crackdown on TikTok exempts the existing app users. So you can still use TikTok on your smartphone if you have the app downloaded and installed on your device. But in the event that you are trying to install TikTok right now, well, the app is not listed on Play Store and App Store anymore.

With 120 million monthly active users, India is the largest market for TikTok, accounting for 40 per cent market share out of its total user base of 500 million users worldwide.

ByteDance is one of China’s major Internet company, which is valued at $75 billion. According to a new report, ByteDance is looking to invest $1 billion in India. Currently, ByteDance has 500 poeple in India and the company is planning to hire 1,000 more.

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