TikTok charged with utilizing hidden promoting, exhibiting inappropriate content material
TikTok, a short Chinese-owned video-sharing app, has a month to respond to several complaints from EU consumer groups that allegedly violate the bloc’s consumer laws and allegedly fail to protect children from hidden ads and inappropriate content.
TikTok’s marketing is intended to make offers to companies that want to advertise in the app that help spread hidden marketing. For example, users are encouraged to take part in branded hashtag challenges that ask them to create content for specific products. Since popular influencers are often the starting point for such challenges, commercial intent is usually masked for users, according to consumer protection group BEUC.
The group claims that TikTok has been in a widespread violation of consumer rights.
TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance and has grown rapidly around the world, especially among teenagers. However, a number of incidents have raised concerns about privacy and security policies.
The European Commission announced on Friday that it had entered into a formal dialogue with TikTok and national consumer groups to review the company’s business practices and policies.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said increased digitization from the Covid-19 pandemic has created new risks, especially for vulnerable consumers.
“In the European Union it is forbidden to target children and minors with camouflaged advertisements such as banners in videos,” he said in a statement.
TikTok said it would be in discussion with the Irish Consumer Protection Commission and the recently introduced measures by the Swedish Consumer Agency. Both bodies lead the talks.
“We have taken a number of steps to keep our younger users safe, including by default privatizing all accounts under the age of 16 and disabling their access to direct messages,” the company said in a statement.
“Additionally, users under the age of 18 cannot buy, send, or receive virtual gifts. We have strict policies that prohibit advertisements that target people under the age of digital consent.”