TikTok agrees to improve child protection

Under pressure from the European Commission, ByteDance, owner of video-sharing app TikTok, has agreed to do more to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content.

The Chinese-owned company came under the spotlight in February last year following complaints from the European Organization of Consumers (BEUC) that it did not comply with the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Consumer Rights Directive and the Directive on abusive contractual terms.

But now it has agreed to make a number of changes, most notably by allowing users to report ads and offers that could push or trick children into buying goods or services.

There is a new policy for branded content, which prohibits the promotion of inappropriate products and services, such as alcohol, get-rich-quick schemes, and cigarettes.

Other changes include the introduction of a toggle that users are prompted to activate when posting captioned content with specific brand-related keywords, such as #ad or #sponsored; and if a user has more than 10,000 followers, TikTok will review their videos against their Brand Content Policy and Community Guidelines to ensure the content is appropriate.

Paid ads will be identified with a new label, which will be tested for effectiveness by a third party, and users will be able to report undisclosed branded content, and new rules for hashtags and labels will also be implemented.

Finally, there is more clarification on how to buy and use coins, how to get TikTok rewards, and how to send gifts.

“All social media platforms must comply with the rules and ensure that commercial content can be easily identified by consumers, even when promoted by influencers,” says Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.

“We welcome TikTok’s commitment to greater transparency in how it does business. Through our dialogue, consumers will be able to spot all types of advertising they are exposed to when using this platform.”

BEUC, however, believes the moves do not go far enough. TikTok’s copyright clause, he says, still gives the platform too broad a license to make use of content generated and posted by its users.

It is also concerned about the lack of a mechanism to protect young users from abuse by influencers when they buy TikTok ‘virtual currencies’; And, he says, TikTok hasn’t made a commitment to stop profiling and targeting children with personalized advertising.

“We are particularly concerned that TikTok is not stopping the profiling and targeting of children with personalized advertising. This is in contradiction to the five principles on advertising targeting adopted children adopted by data protection and consumer protection authorities last week. “, says the BEUC deputy. CEO Ursula Pachl.

“We now urge authorities to closely monitor TikTok’s activities and to take national enforcement action if commitments are not met. This should not be the end of the story. BEUC and our members will closely monitor developments.”

In a report earlier this year, UK regulator Ofcom found that half of British children, including 16 per cent of three- to four-year-olds, used the platform, despite age The official minimum is 13 years old.

The Commission says it plans to continue monitoring TikTok, and particularly how it handles child users. His main concern, he says, is children’s understanding of the business aspects of TikTok’s practices, such as personalized advertising.

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