EU Commission initiates proceedings against TikTok

The European Commission has reopened proceedings against the online platform TikTok. The aim is to investigate whether the Chinese company is endangering the mental health of minors with the TikTok Lite app and thus violating EU rules, as the Commission announced on Monday.

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The company is particularly concerned about a task and reward program. This allows users to collect points when they complete certain tasks in the app version TikTok Lite - such as watching videos or positively rating ("liking") content. This can be addictive and is particularly worrying for children, as it is not clear that the age of users is effectively checked.

With an endless stream of short and fast-paced videos, TikTok offers fun and a sense of connection for children, but it also harbors risks, said the responsible EU Commissioner Thierry Breton. These include addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and poor attention spans.

The Commission criticizes the fact that the company released the version of the app in France and Spain without first assessing the associated risks in a report. Such a report was supposed to be submitted by April 18 - according to the Brussels authority, TikTok failed to do so.

Threat of high fines

The online platform is now being asked to submit a risk assessment of the new reward features within 24 hours, otherwise it could face daily fines. According to the Commission, TikTok could, for example, face fines of up to 1 percent of its total annual revenue or global turnover and regular fines of 5 percent of its daily turnover.

According to reports, TikTok has an annual turnover of several billion euros. The company itself does not publish any figures. The Commission is also giving TikTok 48 hours to prove that it has complied with EU rules and that no serious harm has been caused. After that, the authority could order the platform to suspend the new functions for the time being.

Proceedings already in February

The Commission had already opened proceedings against TikTok in mid-February. According to the Commission, the aim was to examine whether the online giant was taking sufficient action against the distribution of illegal content and whether it was violating EU rules on the protection of minors and advertising transparency, for example.

It had previously conducted a preliminary investigation. Brussels had already initiated similar proceedings against X (formerly Twitter). Online platforms are obliged by a new EU law on digital services (DSA) to take strict action against illegal content such as hate speech and incitement to hatred online. (SDA/swi)

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