EU Launches Formal Probe Against TikTok Lite Over Potentially Addictive Feature

By John Lopez

Apr 22, 2024 02:34 PM EDT

The European Union is not fond of TikTok's latest gimmick.

The Commission announced on Monday that it had initiated a second formal proceeding against the Shanghai-based social media company over potential breaches of the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA).

EU Probes TikTok Over Addictive New Feature

TikTok Lite, which was released earlier this month in France and Spain, includes a "Task and Reward Lite" program that allows users over the age of 18 to earn points for participating in in-app activities such as watching videos, liking content, following creators, and inviting other friends to TikTok.

These points can be exchanged for rewards such as Amazon vouchers, PayPal gift cards, or TikTok coins, which can be used to tip creators.

The EU has particular concerns that this feature of the app might be detrimental to users' mental health as it could be especially addictive, particularly to children. The Commission flagged TikTok for rolling out the platform without conducting risk assessments first.

This photograph taken on April 11, 2024, in Paris, shows the logo of the Chinese social network application TikTok Lite. The social network TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has launched a new application in France and Spain, called TikTok Lite, which allows its users to get paid by watching videos, it announced on April 10, 2024. Users aged 18 or older can "collect points by discovering new content or completing certain actions," the social network said.
(Photo : Photo by KIRAN RIDLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, described TikTok's new feature as addictive, comparable to cigarettes. "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," he said.

Under the DSA, Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs), like Facebook, X, and TikTok, must submit a risk assessment report before launching "new functionalities that are likely to have a critical impact on their systemic risks."

READ MORE: TikTok Begins Testing Instagram Competitor 'TikTok Notes' in Canada, Australia

TikTok to Face Hefty Fines

"Under the Digital Services Act, online platforms have the responsibility to assess and address any potential risks their users may face. So, the Commission has opened a compliance case that urges TikTok to submit an assessment and provide more information on how it is protecting its users from potential risks on its platform," said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age.

Suppose TikTok fails to reply to the Commission's request within the deadlines. In that case, the Commission is set for a massive payday by imposing fines of up to 1% of TikTok's total annual income or worldwide turnover.

The European Commission stated that TikTok had 24 hours to submit a risk assessment report for TikTok Lite. The social media app has until May 3 to provide any additional requested information.

READ NEXT: TikTok Ban: US Passes Bill That Could Lead to Prohibition of Chinese App Unless Bytedance Divest Ownership

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