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ByteDance’s TikTok Faces Mega Fine Threat From EU Probe

The European Union has opened a formal investigation into the video-sharing platform over possible online content breaches

EU flag and TikTok logo are seen in this illustration taken, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
The EU flag and TikTok logo are seen in this illustration taken on June 2, 2023. Photo: Reuters


ByteDance’s TikTok could face an eye-watering fine of up to 6% of its global turnover if a European Union investigation finds it breached online content rules aimed at protecting children and ensuring transparent advertising.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton said the probe had been launched after they had analysed the short video app’s risk assessment report and its replies to requests for information.

“Today we open an investigation into TikTok over suspected breach of transparency and obligations to protect minors: addictive design and screen time limits, rabbit hole effect, age verification, default privacy settings,” Breton said on X.

The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which applies to all online platforms since February 17, requires very large online platforms and search engines to do more to tackle illegal online content and risks to public security.


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TikTok said it would continue to work with experts and the industry to keep young people on its platform safe and that it looked forward to explaining this work in detail to the European Commission.

“TikTok has pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under-13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

The European Commission said the investigation will focus on the design of TikTok’s system, including algorithmic systems which may stimulate behavioural addictions and/or create so-called ‘rabbit hole effects’.

It will also probe whether TikTok has put in place appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors. 

As well as the issue of protecting minors, the Commission is looking at whether TikTok provides a reliable database on advertisements on its platform so that researchers can scrutinise potential online risks.

This marks the second DSA investigation after Elon Musk’s social media platform X found itself in the EU’s crosshairs in December last year.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

TikTok Not Off The Hook With US: Treasury Secretary Yellen

Suspicion And Mistrust Continuing to Shadow TikTok

TikTok Hit With $370m EU Fine Over Children’s Data Breaches

TikTok’s $1.3bn EU Data Centres Plan to Dodge Bans – Wired



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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