Home EU probes TikTok over alleged failure to protect children online

EU probes TikTok over alleged failure to protect children online

The European Union has confirmed it is investigating TikTok over an alleged failure to protect children against negative impacts online.

Under a new headline legislation, the Digital Services Act, the ByteDance-owned video-hosting platform has potentially contravened rules on “protection of minors, advertising transparency, data access for researchers, as well as the risk management of addictive design and harmful content.”

The probe will be conducted by a European Commission body, which forms part of the EU executive. It has concerns about the “rabbit hole” effect, when users are fed content based on an algorithm which can lead to further, dangerous exposure to other videos.

TikTok’s verification tools are also under the spotlight, with the European Commission statement indicating they “may not be reasonable, proportionate and effective”.

An initial risk analysis and request for more information on pertinent factors from the Chinese social media giant have led to a wider investigation into the potential DSA breach.

No effort spared

Under the DSA, TikTok was designated as a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP) on 25 April 2023, after it disclosed to having 135.9 million monthly active users in the EU. Within four months of this status, the video-sharing app has been obliged to adhere to the regulations set out in the DSA. This year, the user count has spiked beyond 142 million within the European bloc.

Thierry Breton, EU Internal Market Commissioner outlined the requirement to follow the legislation.

“As a platform that reaches millions of children and teenagers, TikTok must fully comply with the DSA and has a particular role to play in the protection of minors online,” he said.

Breton added, “We are launching this formal infringement proceeding today to ensure that proportionate action is taken to protect the physical and emotional well-being of young Europeans. We must spare no effort to protect our children.”

TikTok is now vulnerable to a significant sanction, with the DSA providing the framework to hit companies with a fine of up to 6% of their global revenue. In response, a spokesperson defended their actions and conduct in line with ongoing challenges.

“TikTok has pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with.”

“We’ll continue to work with experts and industry to keep young people on TikTok safe, and look forward to now having the opportunity to explain this work in detail to the Commission.”

Image: Geri Tech/Pexels.

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Graeme Hanna
Tech Journalist

Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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