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24 Apr, 2024 20:57

TikTok app as toxic as cigarettes – EU

Brussels has objected to the “addictive” design of the ‘Lite’ version of the popular video platform
TikTok app as toxic as cigarettes – EU

The European Commission has opened a case against ByteDance, alleging that its TikTok Lite application might be dangerous to children and was launched without submitting the proper paperwork.

TikTok Lite was first launched in 2019 in Asian test markets. The lighter version of the short video app made its debut in France and Spain last month. In a statement on Monday, the EC said ByteDance did so without complying with the EU Digital Services Act (DSA).

“We suspect TikTok ‘Lite’ could be as toxic and addictive as cigarettes ‘light’,” said Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, who is in charge of enforcing the DSA.

According to the Commission, ByteDance did not file a “risk assessment report,” required by DSA of Very Large Online Platforms before launching any new functionalities such as TikTok Lite. 

The bureaucrats in Brussels are particularly concerned about the application’s “Task and Reward Program,” which lets users accumulate points for watching videos, following creators, inviting friends and so on. 

ByteDance has said that TikTok Lite – including the rewards program – is not available to minors in the first place, and that it will continue discussions with the Commission on resolving the dispute.

The company was given until Tuesday to submit the risk assessment report and until May 3 to come up with the other information requested by the EC. The bloc has threatened to fine the company up to 1% of its total annual income if it does not comply.

This is the second EC probe into TikTok. The first, launched in February, is investigating whether ByteDance breached the DSA in regard to the protection of minors, advertising transparency, “data access for researchers”, and “risk management of addictive design and harmful content.” 

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed into law the $95 billion foreign aid bill that included a proposal to force ByteDance to sell TikTok to an American owner within nine months. The company has said it would challenge the law in court as unconstitutional. 

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