EU Launches Investigation into TikTok Over Potential Violations of Online Content Regulations

The European Union (EU) has initiated an investigation into the popular social media platform TikTok, owned by ByteDance, amidst suspicions of breaching online content regulations designed to protect minors and ensure transparent advertising practices.

The probe, spearheaded by EU industry chief Thierry Breton, stems from a comprehensive evaluation of TikTok’s risk assessment report and its responses to inquiries.

Breton announced the investigation, citing concerns over TikTok’s alleged failure to meet transparency requirements and obligations to safeguard young users. The issues under scrutiny include addictive design features, screen time restrictions, age verification protocols, and default privacy settings.

This investigation is conducted under the framework of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which mandates stringent measures for major online platforms to combat illegal content and threats to public safety. If found guilty of breaching DSA regulations, ByteDance could face fines of up to 6% of its global turnover.

In response, TikTok reiterated its commitment to collaborating with experts and the industry to ensure user safety, particularly among young individuals. The platform expressed readiness to provide detailed explanations of its efforts to the European Commission.

TikTok emphasized its proactive measures to protect teenagers and prevent under-13s from accessing the platform, asserting its leadership in addressing industry-wide challenges.

The investigation will scrutinize TikTok’s system design, including its algorithmic mechanisms, to assess their potential contribution to addictive behaviors and the dissemination of harmful content. Furthermore, it will evaluate TikTok’s measures to uphold privacy, safety, and security standards for minors.

The Commission aims to assess the platform’s transparency regarding advertisements to enable effective scrutiny of potential online risks by researchers.

This investigation marks the second inquiry under the DSA framework, following a previous probe into Elon Musk’s social media platform X in December of last year.

Quest: Cris-Edesiri Odjomah

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