Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

The European Union (EU) has officially launched an investigation into TikTok for alleged violations of its obligations to safeguard minors online, marking the second major probe under the Digital Services Act (DSA), a groundbreaking law regulating digital content.

The inquiry, announced on Monday, underscores Brussels’ growing scrutiny of tech platforms, following a previous investigation into Elon Musk’s X in December.

Of particular concern to the EU is TikTok’s potential failure to adequately address the adverse effects its platform may have on young users. One worry is the “rabbit hole” effect, where algorithm-driven content recommendations may lead users, including minors, to increasingly harmful material. Additionally, the EU questions the effectiveness of TikTok’s age verification tools in ensuring the safety of underage users.

The European Commission has initiated formal proceedings to assess TikTok’s compliance with the DSA, focusing on areas such as advertising transparency and access to data for researchers. This action follows a thorough review of TikTok’s risk assessment report and its responses to inquiries regarding measures taken to combat illegal content and protect minors.

The Commission stressed its commitment to gathering evidence and taking further enforcement actions if necessary, emphasizing TikTok’s responsibility as a platform with millions of young users. Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, underscored the imperative to prioritize the well-being of young Europeans and pledged to spare no effort in ensuring their protection online.

TikTok, with over 142 million monthly users in the EU, has pledged to cooperate with regulators and reiterated its commitment to online safety measures for minors. The formal investigation will scrutinize TikTok’s risk assessment processes, privacy and safety measures for minors, advertising practices, and transparency efforts.

Under the DSA, the EU possesses the authority to impose substantial fines, potentially amounting to six percent of a digital firm’s global revenues, for violations. Serious and repeated breaches could lead to platforms being blocked in the 27-nation bloc. The law, which took effect last year, applies to major online platforms like TikTok and X, as well as social media giants like Facebook and Instagram, with a focus on enhancing content moderation and consumer protection online.

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