EU Threatens TikTok Lite With Suspension

On Monday 22nd April the European Union (EU) demanded TikTok provide more information about a new app that pays users to watch videos and warned that it could order the video sharing platform to suspend addictive features that pose a risk to children. Under the EU's Digital Services Act, companies can be fined up to 6% of global revenue.

Specifically, the EU's Commission, said it was concerned TikTok Lite's "Task and Reward Program" had been launched "without prior diligent assessment of the risks it entails, in particular those related to the addictive effect of the platforms." 

Children are thought to be especially at risk, given the suspected absence of effective age verification mechanisms on TikTok; the EU says the feature is "toxic and addictive", particularly when used by children. 

TikTok has a few days to defend the rewards programme, or it could be suspended as early as Thursday 25 April.
In addition, the Commission has opened formal proceedings against the social media company to assess whether it has broken EU law. TikTok has no plans to roll the feature out beyond France and Spain as it stands. It is also available in some countries in South East Asia.

Under EU law which came into force last year, large platforms like TikTok have to produce a risk assessment before they make large changes to their products.

TikTok launched its "Task and Rewards" programme recently in France and Spain. It is a new feature on TikTok Lite, a slimmed-down version of the main social media app, which uses less data and space on users' phones. 
Under the programme, users can earn the equivalent of a few pence per day for watching videos and engaging on the app.The Commission is investigating whether this could have negative effects on the mental health of users, including children, "especially as a result of the new feature stimulating addictive behaviour". 

TikTok says rewards are only open to people over the age of 18, and tools are in place to verify their ages. But the Commission suspects a "lack of effective age verification mechanisms".

This is the second formal investigation into TikTok launched in the EU. In February, the Commission opened formal proceedings against the social media company, investigating whether it broke rules around data protection, protection for children and policing harmful content. At the time, TikTok said it would cooperate with the investigation and continued to work with experts in online safety.

Under the terms of the EU’s  Digital Services Act, companies with more than 45 million average active users in the EU are ed as very large online platforms and must comply with stringent rules to fight illegal and harmful content on their platforms. 

“With our first DSA non-compliance case against TikTok still ongoing, the company has launched TikTok Lite which financially rewards extra screen time. We suspect TikTok ‘Lite’ could be as toxic and addictive as cigarettes ‘light... "

"Unless TikTok provides compelling proof of its safety, which it has failed to do until now, we stand ready to trigger DSA interim measures including the suspension of TikTok Lite feature which we suspect could generate addiction.” Breton said.

EU Commission   |    BBC    |    Yahoo   |    NBC   |    CNBC   |    Reuters    |    AP News    |     

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