European Union digs into TikTok’s teen troubles

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The European Union isn’t just scrolling through TikTok for the latest dance trends. On Monday, it announced a formal investigation into the platform over concerns about how it protects minors online. This move comes under the new Digital Services Act (DSA), which aims to police digital content and hold tech giants accountable.

Brussels’ beef with TikTok? It’s worried about the platform’s “rabbit hole” effect, where users can get sucked into a vortex of content, sometimes stumbling upon dangerous material. The EU is also questioning TikTok’s age verification tools, wondering if they’re up to snuff.

But it’s not just about the kids. The EU is also eyeing TikTok’s advertising transparency and data access for researchers. It’s not all finger-wagging, though. The EU says it’s willing to work with TikTok to address these concerns.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton emphasized the importance of protecting young people online, given TikTok’s massive reach among European youth. With over 142 million monthly users in the EU, TikTok is a digital playground that needs careful monitoring.

TikTok, on its part, insists it’s already taking steps to protect minors, pointing to features that keep teens safe and keep those under 13 off the platform. The company says it’s committed to working with experts and industry to ensure safety.

But the EU isn’t just waving its finger. Under the DSA, Brussels can slap heavy fines on companies that violate the rules, potentially reaching up to 6% of a firm’s global revenues. Repeat offenders could even be blocked from operating in the EU.

There’s no timeline for when the investigation will wrap up, but TikTok better be ready to dance to Brussels’ tune if it wants to avoid a regulatory beatdown.

(Source: NYT | WSJ | Associated Press)

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