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EU Threatens TikTok Lite's Reward Program

The European Union against ByteDance's TikTok, initiating proceedings and threatening to ban its newly launched TikTok Lite
April 22, 2024

The European Union took action against ByteDance's TikTok on Monday, initiating proceedings and threatening to suspend its newly launched TikTok Lite rewards program. This program allows users to earn points by liking content or inviting friends to the app.

According to the European Commission, TikTok has 24 hours to provide a risk assessment report for TikTok Lite, or it may face fines. Additionally, the social media app has until May 3 to provide further requested information.

The commission expressed concerns that TikTok Lite's "Task and Reward Program" was launched without a proper assessment of the risks involved, particularly those related to the platform's addictive effects. The EU is particularly worried about children, as effective age verification mechanisms on TikTok are suspected to be lacking.

This is the second formal proceeding launched by the EU against TikTok. In February, the EU began investigating whether TikTok violated rules related to the protection of minors, advertising transparency, and the management of addictive design and harmful content.

Under the Digital Services Act, online platforms are responsible for assessing and addressing any potential risks their users may face. EU Antitrust Chief Margrethe Vestager emphasized that TikTok must submit an assessment and provide more information on how it is protecting its users.

TikTok Lite, launched in France and Spain last month, is an app designed for users aged 18 years and older. The app's rewards program allows users to earn points by watching videos or following creators, which can then be exchanged for rewards such as gift cards or Amazon vouchers.

According to the EU's sweeping Digital Services Act, companies with more than 45 million average active users in the EU are considered very large online platforms and must comply with stringent rules to combat illegal and harmful content.

EU Industry Chief Thierry Breton expressed concerns about the potential risks associated with TikTok Lite, stating, "Endless streams of short and fast-paced videos could be seen as fun, but also expose our children to risks of addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, [and] low attention spans."

Breton warned that unless TikTok provides compelling proof of the safety of TikTok Lite, the EU is prepared to trigger interim measures under the DSA, including the suspension of the TikTok Lite feature.

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