“There is a ripple effect in TikTok,” Mr. Khan said. “Boys from small villages become overnight heroes. It changed their lives. Their status in society grew.”
Indian officials have long had suspicions about the app. Last year, it was removed from Indian app stores after a court ruled that the app spread pornography, though it was later reinstated. Indian politicians have also criticized the platform for hosting hateful and inflammatory material.
Executives at Indian internet companies largely cheered the government’s move against their Chinese competitors this week. Naveen Tewari is the founder and chief executive of InMobi, a company in Bengaluru that operates two digital platforms, Glance and Roposo.
As tensions between India and China worsened over the past few weeks, video creators in India had already begun to rethink their choice of platform and migrate to Roposo, Mr. Tewari said. Now that TikTok seems down for the count, he is eager to capitalize.
“The first thing we’re doing is just to assure the millions of users of TikTok that they have a platform that is homegrown,” Mr. Tewari said. “They can absolutely come there and continue their entertainment that they always had, probably in a slightly more responsible way.”
Watchdog groups, however, have noted with concern the Modi government’s tendency to use sweeping policy instruments for political ends.
“In terms of being a singular act of web censorship, it’s impacted more Indians than any before,” said Apar Gupta, executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, which promotes digital liberties in India.