India bans video app TikTok
TikTok, a popular video app, was pulled from Google and Apple's app stores in India on Wednesday. The takedown came after the Madras High Court said the app encouraged pornography and asked the government to ban it.
The move has frozen the expansion of ByteDance, owner of TikTok and world's most valuable privately held company, in its biggest market outside of China.  
ByteDance's rapid growth has drawn government criticism abroad and in China, where the company has been warned for hosting "inappropriate" content.
TikTok was banned in Bangladesh in February and hit with a 5.7-million-U.S.-dollar fine in the United States for illegally gathering children's data.
The India ban does not apply however to users who have already downloaded TikTok; for them, the app works as normal.
Critical market
TikTok is China's first major social media hit abroad and the app has become a sensation in India, where it has been downloaded by nearly 300 million users so far, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. That is a significant chunk of the one billion global installs.
India is a critical market for social media and mobile digital content companies as the country is witnessing a sharp surge in the use of smartphones. An estimated half-a-billion Indians now have access to the Internet.
TikTok's owner Bytedance also runs another social app named Helo, which allows users to share content in local languages. Bytedance has more than 250 employees in India, with plans to expand further, one of its court filings showed.
A TikTok spokesman said on Wednesday that it had faith in the judicial system and was "optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by" its millions of users in India. The state court will next hear the case on April 24.
(With inputs from Reuters)