The European Commission launched an action on Friday May 28 against the social network TikTok, accused of using disguised advertising targeting children, to comply with European Union consumer protection rules, according to a communicated.
The European executive is giving this video-sharing application, owned by Chinese Internet giant ByteDance and very popular with children and adolescents around the world, one month to respond. Commitments are expected from the platform, failing which the procedure may ultimately lead the national authorities to decide on fines against it.
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“In the European Union, it is prohibited to target children and minors with disguised advertisements such as banners in videos. The dialogue we are launching today should help TikTok to comply with European consumer protection rules ”, said European Commissioner Didier Reynders.
This action follows a complaint lodged in February with the Commission by the European Bureau of Consumers’ Unions (BEUC), which brings together consumer defense associations from 32 countries in Europe. TikTok is also particularly criticized “Certain contractual terms (…) which may be considered as misleading and confusing”.
The French organization UFC-Que Choisir denounced in February “The deceptive system” of “Virtual gifts” aiming to reward the favorite videos of Internet users, believing that TikTok put “Doing everything to ensure that the user forgets that it is real money”.
TikTok has indicated that it is ready for a dialogue. “We have taken a number of steps to protect our youngest users, such as making all accounts under 16 private by default, and disabling their access to direct messages.”, said Caroline Greer of TikTok Europe. “In addition, those under the age of 18 cannot buy, send or receive virtual gifts and we have strict measures prohibiting advertisements directed at those under the age of digital consent.”, she added.