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EU probes TikTok over child protection and content risks

Hands holding phone with TikTok displayed on screen

TikTok is facing an investigation in Europe for a reported failure to safeguard minors and controlling harmful content on the platform. 

The European Union is probing whether the social media giant has violated the bloc's Digital Services Act.

This inquiry, initiated by the European Commission, is the second under the legislation.

It follows similar action against X (previously Twitter) for illegal content and misinformation issues.

Implemented last year, the Digital Services Act mandates major online platforms to mitigate illegal content and risks associated with their use, among other requirements. 

TikTok, owned by ByteDance, claims to have developed features to protect teens and prevent children under 13 from accessing the platform. 

A company spokesman said: “We’ll continue to work with experts and industry to keep young people on TikTok safe, and look forward to now having the opportunity to explain this work in detail to the commission.”

Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, said: “The protection of minors is a top enforcement priority.” 

He added that the probe intends to “ensure that proportionate action is taken to protect the physical and emotional well-being of young Europeans.”

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TikTok faces massive fine if found guilty

While TikTok faces a potential fine of up to six percent of its global revenue if found in violation, the probe's launch does not imply guilt or inevitable sanctions.

The investigation will scrutinize TikTok's compliance with risk assessment and mitigation obligations.

It particularly focuses on its algorithm's role in content dissemination and the potential for leading users into content "rabbit holes." 

The EU's concerns extend to age verification tools, privacy protection for minors, and the overall safety of young users on the platform. 

TikTok's adherence to transparency requirements, including establishing a searchable advertisement database, will also be evaluated.

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