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TikTok Under Fire: EU Launches Investigation Over Online Content Breaches

The European Union initiates a formal investigation into TikTok over potential breaches of online content rules, focusing on child protection and transparent advertising practices, with potential fines looming.

The European Union has initiated a formal investigation into ByteDance’s TikTok over concerns regarding potential breaches of online content rules aimed at safeguarding children and ensuring transparent advertising practices. This move places the popular social media platform at risk of significant penalties.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton announced the decision after reviewing TikTok’s risk assessment report and its responses to requests for information. The investigation will focus on various aspects, including addictive design, screen time limits, age verification, and default privacy settings.

Under the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into effect on February 17, stringent measures are imposed on very large online platforms and search engines to address illegal online content and threats to public security. If found guilty of violating DSA regulations, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, could face fines of up to 6% of its global turnover.

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TikTok has expressed its commitment to collaborating with experts and the industry to ensure the safety of young users on its platform. The company emphasized its efforts to implement features and settings aimed at protecting teenagers and preventing children under the age of 13 from accessing the platform.

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The investigation by the European Commission will delve into TikTok’s system design, particularly its algorithmic mechanisms that may encourage addictive behaviors and the creation of ‘rabbit hole effects.’ Additionally, scrutiny will be placed on whether TikTok has implemented adequate measures to uphold privacy, safety, and security standards for minors.

Aside from concerns related to minors, the Commission will examine TikTok’s transparency in advertising data, aiming to assess potential online risks. By scrutinizing TikTok’s advertising database, researchers seek to gain insights into the platform’s advertising practices and their implications for online safety.

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As the investigation unfolds, TikTok and ByteDance face a critical juncture in addressing regulatory concerns and ensuring compliance with EU regulations. The outcome of this investigation will not only impact TikTok’s operations in Europe but may also influence broader discussions surrounding online content governance and user protection worldwide.


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