EU Probes TikTok for Possible Violations of New Digital Rules

The European Union has launched an investigation into whether TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, has complied with the bloc’s new digital rules that aim to protect internet users from harmful or illegal content. The probe could result in fines or sanctions for TikTok if it is found to have breached the rules.

What are the EU’s New Digital Rules?

The EU’s new digital rules, known as the Digital Services Act (DSA), came into force last year and apply to nearly two dozen of the biggest online and social media platforms operating in the bloc, including TikTok. The DSA sets out a series of obligations and responsibilities for the platforms, such as:

  • Flagging and removing harmful or illegal content: The platforms must make it easier for users to report or flag content that is illegal, such as hate speech, terrorism, or child abuse, or harmful, such as misinformation, cyberbullying, or self-harm. The platforms must also remove such content promptly and transparently, and cooperate with authorities and regulators.
  • Providing alternatives to algorithmic recommendations: The platforms must give users more choice and control over the content they see, and offer them alternatives to the algorithmic recommendations that may influence their behavior or preferences. The platforms must also explain how their algorithms work and what criteria they use to rank or suggest content.
  • Banning ads targeted at children: The platforms must not display ads that are targeted at children under 16, or that exploit their vulnerabilities or inexperience. The platforms must also ensure that the ads they display are clearly identifiable and do not contain misleading or harmful content.

Why is TikTok Under Investigation?

The EU has opened formal proceedings to assess whether TikTok has breached the DSA, focusing on three main areas:

  • Protection of minors: The EU is concerned that TikTok may not be doing enough to protect the physical and emotional well-being of young Europeans, who make up a large proportion of its users. The EU is looking into whether TikTok’s design, such as its algorithmic systems, may stimulate behavioral addictions or expose minors to inappropriate content. The EU is also examining whether TikTok’s age verification tools and privacy measures for minors are reasonable, proportionate, and effective.
  • Transparency on advertisements: The EU is also worried that TikTok may not be providing enough information and clarity on the advertisements it displays, and whether they comply with the EU’s rules on consumer protection and fair competition. The EU is investigating whether TikTok’s ads are clearly identifiable, whether they respect the rights and interests of the users, and whether they are free from illegal or harmful content.
  • Access to data for researchers: The EU is also interested in whether TikTok is giving researchers access to its data, as required by the DSA. The EU wants to ensure that researchers can study and analyze the impact and influence of TikTok’s content and services on the users and the society, and to provide feedback and recommendations to the regulators and the public.

What are the Possible Consequences for TikTok?

If TikTok is found to have violated the DSA, it could face fines or sanctions from the EU, depending on the severity and frequency of the breaches. The DSA allows the EU to impose fines of up to 6% of the platform’s annual revenue, or to order the platform to take corrective measures, such as changing its practices or policies, or suspending or restricting its services. The EU could also refer the case to the national authorities of the member states, who could take further actions against TikTok.

TikTok has said that it will cooperate with the EU and explain its work in detail to the Commission. TikTok has also claimed that it has pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, and that it will continue to work with experts and industry to keep young people on TikTok safe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *