TikTok pulls function from Lite app in EU over habit issues

TikTok suspended a gamification function within the European Union following an intervention by the bloc. With consideration on TikTok’s rising pile of US authorized woes, the announcement went largely unnoticed when it occurred late native time Wednesday.

TikTok’s transfer got here simply two days after the EU opened an investigation right into a so-called “activity and reward” mechanism on the TikTok Lite app, citing issues over an addictive design that might pose a psychological well being threat for younger individuals. The function permits customers to earn factors for doing issues like watching and liking TikTok movies. ByteDance, TikTok’s dad or mum, launched this model of TikTok Lite in France and Spain earlier this month.

Beneath the EU’s rebooted on-line governance and content material moderation rulebook, the Digital Companies Act (DSA), TikTok has a authorized obligation to mitigate systemic dangers in areas like baby security and psychological well being. But it failed to provide a threat evaluation report on the function when the bloc’s enforcers got here knocking.

This can be a massive deal as the corporate might face giant penalties beneath the DSA — of as much as 6% of its international annual turnover — if it’s discovered to have damaged the EU’s guidelines.

In a press release posted on X yesterday, TikTok claimed it’s “voluntarily suspending” the rewards function within the area to deal with issues. Nevertheless, on Monday, the Fee signalled it was getting ready to drive TikTok’s hand, saying it was minded to make use of interim measures powers contained within the DSA to shut down the app whereas it conducts an investigation into the function.

The EU gave TikTok two days to supply arguments in opposition to an enforced shutdown. Within the occasion, TikTok opted to preempt enforcement by asserting a “voluntary” suspension.

The event underlines how even the specter of interim enforcement can pack a punch that forces platform giants to rethink. (We’ve seen this form of factor earlier than in relation to comparable powers contained within the bloc’s Basic Information Safety Regulation for instance — akin to a call by Google, again in 2019, to halt human assessment of audio snippets captured by its voice AI after an information safety authority had knowledgeable Google of an intention to make use of an urgency continuing to order it to cease processing the information.)

This acquainted disaster PR tactic goals to get forward of the damaging publicity related to an enforced shutdown by taking motion forward of a proper order.

Nonetheless, the EU is taking the win: Responding to TikTok’s announcement with a counter publish on X, the bloc’s internal-market-commissioner-cum-internet-sheriff, Thierry Breton, warned: “Our youngsters should not guinea pigs for social media.”

Breton went on to put in writing that he “takes notice” of TikTok’s suspension of the reward program for the Lite app within the EU, including: “The circumstances in opposition to TikTok on the chance of addictiveness of the platform proceed.”

TikTok was contacted for affirmation on the standing of the TikTok Lite app in France and Spain. Because the title suggests, TikTok Lite is another TikTok app for customers who’ve older telephones or who largely hook up with 2G or 3G networks.

The EU has two DSA probes open on TikTok: The primary, introduced again in February, is trying right into a broad sweep of suspected non-compliance in areas together with addictive design, baby safety, advertisements transparency and knowledge entry for researchers. The second, introduced earlier this week, is targeted on TikTok Lite.

Nonetheless, Elon Musk-owned X was the primary very giant on-line platform to go beneath DSA investigation again in December, only a few months after the late August compliance deadline had kicked in. That investigation additionally stays ongoing.

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