The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday passed an order directing the Centre to prohibit the downloading of the mobile application TikTok, Bar and Bench reported. TikTok is a popular mobile application that allows users to create short lip-synced videos.

A bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar also prohibited the media from telecasting videos made using the app and asked the central government whether it will enact a statute, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act enacted by the United States, to prevent children becoming cyber or online victims, reported Live Law.

The court was hearing a petition that sought a ban on the app saying that it degraded culture and encouraged pornography. The petitioner said children who used the app would become vulnerable and exposed to sexual predators.

The court expressed concern that the app hosted inappropriate content, including pornography, and children were exposed to strangers online. “It is said that TikTok app is mostly played by the teenagers and young people and it has proved to be an addictive one,” the court’s order said. “By becoming addicted to TikTok app, and similar apps, or cyber games, the future of the youngsters and mindset of the children are spoiled.”

The Tamil Nadu government had in February said it will seek the Centre’s help to ban the application.

The court took note of reports of a 15-year-old in Mumbai committing suicide for being scolded for using TikTok and a man falling into a waterfall while taking selfie for the app. “The government has a social responsibility to prevent these kinds of applications and also take action against the persons who are making use of it,” the court said. The matter will next be heard on April 16.

The High Court also cited the Blue Whale challenge and reprimanded the government for not taking early action on such problems. The Blue Whale Challenge was an online game in which a designated curator assigned players various tasks over a 50-day period, culminating in the player committing suicide. In 2017, several suicides across the country were linked with the challenge in some form of the other, prompting demands that the game be banned. However, the police had said that during investigations, there was little evidence connecting the suicides to the internet challenge.