TikTok facing fresh regulatory complaints in Europe
More worries for TikTok as the social media app is facing a new round of regulatory complaints in Europe. According to TechCrunch, consumer protection groups in Europe have filed a series of coordinated complaints where they alleged that TikTok breached multiple EU laws.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) lodged a complaint against the China-owned video-sharing app with the European Commission on the bloc’ network of consumer protection authorities. In the same vein, consumer organisations in 15 countries have alerted authorities in their countries, urging them to investigate TikTok’s conduct, BEUC said per TechCrunch.
Some of the complaints facing TikTok include claims of unfair terms such as copyright and TikTok’s virtual currency, issues bothering on the type of content children are being exposed to on the app, and accusations of misleading data processing and privacy practices.
TikTok is also being accused of failing to protect children and teens from hidden ads and “potentially harmful” content on its platform.
“TikTok’s marketing offers to companies who want to advertise on the app contributes to the proliferation of hidden marketing. Users are for instance triggered to participate in branded hashtag challenges where they are encouraged to create content of specific products. As popular influencers are often the starting point of such challenges the commercial intent is usually masked for users. TikTok is also potentially failing to conduct due diligence when it comes to protecting children from inappropriate content such as videos showing suggestive content which are just a few scrolls away,” the BEUC stated in a press release per TechCrunch.
In related news, a recent event that led to the death of a 10-year old girl while taking part in a “blackout challenge” she saw on TikTok is generating a lot of issues. This led the Italian data privacy watchdog to order TikTok to block the accounts of users in Italy whose age cannot be verified.
Responding to the request, TikTok said: “Privacy and safety are absolute priorities for TikTok and we are constantly working to strengthen our policies, our processes and our technologies to protect our community and younger users in particular,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an emailed comment.
Of course, the order to block unverified underage accounts will only affect users in Italy; but such demand may be extended to other countries with time. The victim, a 10-year old girl from Palermo, Sicily died of asphyxiation after participating in a “blackout challenge” she watched on TikTok.
According to the father of the girl, she had been watching and practicing the challenge by holding her breath while also recording herself on her phone. “TikTok was her world. And YouTube. That’s how she spent her time,” the girl’s father Angelo Sicomero was quoted as saying in Corriere della Sera newspaper.