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How to Access TikTok in Countries That Banned It

Last edited: October 5, 2020
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Summary: Using TikTok in Countries Where the App is Banned

TikTok was banned in India because the country believes the app to be a threat to its national security and the privacy of its citizens. TikTok is a Chinese company, which has caused concern for people who are worried their information will end up in the hands of the Chinese government. Many countries are considering censoring or banning the app because of these concerns.

Even if you live in a country that has banned TikTok, you can still download the app. There are three ways to do so:

  1. By changing your App Store Location Settings on your iOS device.
  2. By sideloading the APK file on your Android device.
  3. By wiping your phone and using a VPN to access TikTok in your area

One VPN we recommend using to access TikTok is NordVPN:

Read our full article below to learn more about TikTok bans and how to get around them.

Since June of 2020, TikTok has been banned in India. According to Indian officials, the reason for the ban is to protect the data and privacy of its citizens. The United States is also considering to ban the app, if the U.S. division of the company is not bought by Microsoft or another American company. The official reason for the ban in the U.S. are national security concerns.

If you’re one of the 120 million TikTok users in India or the 80 million users in the U.S., there’s a way around the ban. Simply use a VPN on either a new phone or the web application to access the social network.

What is TikTok?

Logo TikTokTiktok is a Chinese video sharing social network where users can upload their own videos through their phone. These videos are sorted into different categories for people to browse through and interact with.

TikTok is owned by the Beijing internet technology company ByteDance, which was founded in 2012. Five years later, the app launched for Android and iOS in markets outside of mainland China. After merging with Musical.ly in August of 2018, TikTok became available worldwide. TikTok has offices around the world and has been quickly gaining popularity with over 1 billion users around the globe in less than four years.

One of the reasons for the rising popularity of the app is the use of TikTok by celebrities and influencers. From Jimmy Fallon to Jessica Alba and Will Smith, a lot of well-known names are using the app. The merger with Musical.ly has also increased TikTok’s popularity. The app is now even giving rise to new TikTok celebrities, such as Zach King, Loren Gray, and Charli D’Amelio.

Why Are Some Countries Banning TikTok?

TikTok has already been banned in India and might be banned in the United States as well. According to India’s official statement, the app was banned because it represented a threat to the privacy of its citizens and their data. Tiktok was one of 59 apps that were banned in the country following a border dispute.

According to The Economic Times, India’s Ministry of Information Technology made the following statement:

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.”

This concern about data mining is the primary reason the U.S. has given regarding banning TikTok from its country as well. While TikTok denies that the data from this app is shared with the Chinese government, the U.S. has already restricted service members from using the app.

Involvement of the Chinese government

The concern comes from the assumed inability of Chinese companies to refuse Communist Party requests to their user data. TikTok has stated that all U.S. data is stored in the U.S. and therefore isn’t subject to Chinese law. If you’d like to know more about the privacy risks of TikTok, you can read our article on the dangers of TikTok.

While there were talks in Australia to ban the app, the federal government in the country has decided against it after stating TikTok wasn’t a national security threat. In 2018, both Indonesia and Bangladesh blocked TikTok in their countries, but these measures have since been lifted. The reason for the ban was cited as inappropriate content and blasphemy. According to bdnews24.com, this was resolved when TikTok put certain censorship measures in place in these countries.

Location Banned Status Reason
India Banned since June 2020 Data security threat
Indonesia Censored Inappropriate content
Bangladesh Censored Inappropriate content
Australia Not currently banned Investigating concerns
European Union Not currently banned Investigating concerns
United States Pending ban Data security threat

Why is TikTok banned in India?

TikTok Logo in front of India on mapTikTok is banned in India because officials have declared the app a danger to the country’s security and integrity. The banning of the app happened after escalating tensions brought about by a border dispute between China and India. In June, both countries deployed additional troops to the Ladakh region, causing numerous clashes and deaths.

With an estimated 120 million users in India, the country was TikTok’s largest foreign market. Other apps that have been banned in India include Clash of Kings, Weibo, Club Factory, and Shein.

Current status TikTok in India: banned

Is TikTok banned in Indonesia?

While TikTok was banned in Indonesia for a week back in 2018, that ban was lifted once the company agreed to censor some of its content. The reason for the ban were concerns about pornography, inappropriate content, and blasphemy.

Current status TikTok in Indonesia: censored

Is TikTok banned in Bangladesh?

After being banned for a short time in Bangladesh, TikTok is now active again in the country with some censorship in place. This censorship includes the removal of ten videos after objections from the government. Officials from Bangladesh have stated they have no further plans to ban the app.

Current status TikTok in Bangladesh: censored

Is TikTok banned in Australia?

TikTok Logo in front of Australia on mapTikTok isn’t currently banned in Australia. The government of Australia is currently investigating the application to identify whether its privacy and data sharing policies are a security threat.

Current status TikTok in Australia: not banned

Is TikTok banned in the European Union?

As with Australia, TikTok isn’t banned in the European Union, but it is under scrutiny from data protection groups who started looking into the privacy policy of the app in July of 2020. These concerns from the European Union are the same ones as from other countries when it comes to user information and how it’s recorded and used.

Current status TikTok in European Union: not banned

Is TikTok banned in the United States?

TikTok Logo in front of USA on mapPresident Trump has threatened to ban TikTok in the United States because it presents a “risk to national security”. The country would likely order Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, the same method used by India. The U.S. could also reach out to TikTok to have them stop giving access to the country’s users under the threat of litigation.

Current status TikTok in the USA: Pending ban 

What is TikTok’s Response to These Concerns?

The company behind TikTok has responded to the questions about data and security by stating that the Chinese government doesn’t have access to the information gathered by the app. The company’s India head, Nikhil Gandhi said the following in a blog post:

“We have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign governments, nor have we used such data in any manner that would compromise the integrity of India. Further, even if we are requested to in the future, we would not do so.”

TikTok has also called out the Trump administration’s claim that the app is a security threat, claiming that the accusations are unfounded.

How to Install TikTok in a Country That Banned it

There are still ways you can access TikTok if you live in a country that’s banned the app. In addition to using a VPN to access the browser version of TikTok, you can also look for the app outside of official mobile app stores.

How to download and install TikTok on iPhone

If you have an iPhone and live in a country that has banned TikTok, you’ll need to follow these steps to get the app working on your phone:

  1. Open the App Store and click on your profile picture on the left of the screen.
  2. Select your name and email from the account settings.
  3. Choose “Country/Region” and tap the “Change Country or Region” button.
  4. Scroll down the different options and choose a country that hasn’t banned the app.
  5. Tap on “Agree” for the terms and conditions and select the payment method “None”.
  6. Enter an address in the country of your choice in the billing address section.
  7. Tap “Next” and then “Done”.

Now that your location in the App Store is updated, you should be able to find and install the TikTok app on your device.

How to download and install TikTok on Android

Install TikTok on Android Mobile PhoneUnlike iPhone users, people who use an Android device can easily download and install TikTok on their phone by searching for the official APK file online and sideloading it onto their phone. If you use an Android phone, you can search directly from your phone’s browser for “TikTok APK” and look for the file to download.

The only drawback to using an APK file is that you’re downloading a specific version of the app. This means that, if there’s an update for TikTok, you’ll need to search for the latest APK file online to replace your current one rather than being able to update the app directly from the Play Store.

APK files are perfectly safe to use, as long as you make sure you’re downloading them from a reputable source and the file is actually what you’re trying to install. You will need to go into your settings and turn on the security option to allow you to install third party apps.

Some reputable sources to find TikTok APK files include:

How to Use TikTok in Banned Countries

Previously existing TikTok users can still access their content in banned countries. However, new users can no longer download the app through the traditional app stores on their smartphones. The only way around this is to use a VPN to access the service on your phone or computer. Some of our top VPNs include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost.

If you want to access TikTok via a VPN, you’ll need to factory reset your phone. This reset is required, because the app is blocked by the hardware ID on mobile devices. Factory resetting your phone will wipe your hardware ID. If you’d like more information about what a VPN is and how to use one, check out this article.

Will TikTok Remain Banned?

It’s difficult to tell whether TikTok will remain banned in certain countries, because each situation is being directed by the complicated politics of the region. The U.S. ban could be avoided if the sale of TikTok U.S. goes through by November 12th. India is a different situation, where it looks like the ban could continue for the foreseeable future.

Other countries may decide to ban the app as well if they decide it’s a real security risk for its citizens. How long these bans stay in place, will most likely depend on the results of ongoing research and TikTok’s reaction to these concerns.

Best TikTok Alternatives in India

TikTok users in India have a number of different alternative apps to choose from. While they may not offer the same features as TikTok, these apps are quickly becoming popular choices for users looking for a way to share user-created videos and reactions to those clips.

Doobido

Doobido is an Indian video sharing social app that lets you share videos with other people. People who use Doobido can create a profile to make videos of their own for their followers to enjoy. The videos are sorted into different categories, so they’re easier to find. Doobido is one of the most popular Indian apps and is quickly gaining more downloads because of the TikTok ban. This app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Lomotif

Lomotif Logo

Lomotif offers several features that TikTok doesn’t, such as the ability to create slideshows and use hyperlapse on videos. The app also lets you create collages and montages, edit together video clips, and add music. You can edit your videos using the built-in editor and add GIFs, emojis, stickers and filters. Lomotif also has a community section where you can upload videos and find friends on the app. This app is available on Android and iOS.

Vigo Video

Vigo Video is a short video maker app that lets you make fifteen second videos to share with friends. You can also live stream from this app and interact with other videos from the community. These videos are sorted into different categories to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. It’s available for both iOS and Android.

Best TikTok Alternatives in the United States

There are some great alternatives to TikTok that you can consider even if the ban on the app doesn’t happen. All apps below are available for both Android and iOS.

Dubsmash

Dubsmash Logo

Dubsmash has been available for over five years and has over a hundred million downloads worldwide. The app lets you create and watch ten second video clips that are sorted into different sections and feeds. Using Dubsmash, you can combine clips you create with pre-recorded sounds to help your videos stand out. You can also make your own dub recordings to sync up with your videos and share them through the app.

Thriller

With Thriller you can create and share videos using different filters and editing tools. Some of the popular uses of Thriller include making music videos with their AI editing technology and creating dancing or lip syncing videos. Thriller has over 26 million users around the world with over 120 million downloads.

Byte

Byte App Logo

Byte is an app created by the same people who made Vine. This app allows you to edit and share looping six second videos on your profile. You can either edit the video footage you shot off the app or use the built-in camera to shoot your video. Just like the other apps, the videos are sorted into different categories so you can find what you’re looking for or follow specific users.

What are the Risks of Using TikTok?

Country-wide bans of a seemingly innocent social media app don’t happen without reason. TikTok users face some real risks. These include security vulnerabilities that exist in some versions of the app. While these issues are often patched by TikTok, they do leave your device and the information on it vulnerable until the fix is available.

Another concern included the level of access the app needs to function. This includes the iOS 14 clipboard access that was used to flag users copying the same comment to multiple accounts on the same device. However, Apple has since removed the feature and fixed the problem.

Other concerns surrounding TikTok include censorship in certain countries, dangerous challenges, blocked content, and the vulnerability of children using the app. For more information, you can read our article “The Privacy Risks of TikTok”.

How to Protect Yourself on TikTok

If you’d like to keep using TikTok while staying as safely as possible, there are some settings you can adjust within the app. Here are a few of them:

  • Switch to a private account
  • Opt out of personalized data
  • Enable restricted mode
  • Change the “allow others to find me” option
  • Switch all safety settings to “Friends”

While some of these setting changes come down to personal preference, parents should pay particular attention to a few of these options to help protect young children using the app.

Conclusion

It’s possible to access TikTok, even if you live in a country that has decided to ban the app. You could download the app through an APK file or change your iOS App Store settings. Another option is to use a VPN to change your location so you can access the app on your device. Especially new users won’t be able to use the app without following the steps we’ve outlined in this article.

Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to help you stay connected on TikTok even if you live in a country that bans the app. You just need to get creative and do a little research to find out how to continue to use the app.

At the same time, however, it’s important to be mindful of the privacy risks that TikTok brings. Protect your data on the app and be wary of what you share, whether on TikTok or otherwise on the internet. As long as you do this, you can enjoy your time watching and making the best videos.

TikTok Bans and How to Get Around Them: Frequently Asked Questions

Read some of our frequently asked questions below to learn more about TikTok and why it’s banned in some countries. Simply click on a question to read the answer.

Yes, you can still download TikTok on your phone by either changing your location settings on your iPhone or downloading the APK file on an Android phone. If you want to access the service, you’ll need a VPN.

TikTok comes with many privacy risks, as do other social media apps that connect you with a large community of users online. If you’re nervous about using TikTok on your phone or have a child interested in using TikTok, you can adjust your settings to protect your privacy.

TikTok is banned in several countries for different reasons. The ban in India is due to the country deciding the app and its data collection pose a threat to users’ and national security.

Other countries are investigating the app because of similar concerns. TikTok is also censored in certain parts of the world, because of videos that promote ideologies and ways of life that go against regulations in those countries.

Some of the best VPNs to use for TikTok include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark. These VPNs are available for your computer, as well as for iOS and Android devices.

Some features you should look for in a VPN provider include a strict no logging policy, a selection of high-quality server locations, responsive customer support, and unlimited bandwidth. Having some sort of money-back guarantee is also a nice option in case the VPN doesn’t work well for you.

Tech writer
Brad is a digital marketing specialist with years of hands-on experience working in the industry. When he's not working Brad spends his time with his young daughter and wife. Some of his hobbies include video games, reading, writing, and travelling.

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