EU moves against TikTok over alleged child-targeted ads

Image by amrothman from Pixabay

Online video-sharing platform TikTok has been given one month by the European Commission to respond to claims it has failed to protect children from aggressive advertising.

The commission, working with a network of national consumer authorities, has launched into this formal dialogue with the Chinese-owned TikTok, which is hugely popular with young people, after an allegation earlier this year by The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC).

BEUC raised concerns about TikTok’s alleged breaches of EU consumer rights, with areas of concern including aggressive advertising targeted at children, hidden marketing and misleading terms in contracts.

Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, said: “The current pandemic has further accelerated digitalisation. This has brought new opportunities but it has also created new risks, in particular for vulnerable consumers. In the European Union, it is prohibited to target children and minors with disguised advertising such as banners in videos. The dialogue we are launching should support TikTok in complying with EU rules to protect consumers.”

‘It is prohibited to target children and minors with disguised advertising..’

TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, has a month to reply and engage with the Commission and other consumer protection co-operation (CPC) authorities, co-led by the Swedish Consumer Agency and the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

In a statement, Caroline Greer, Director of Public Policy for Europe for TikTok, said the company had taken ‘a number of steps to protect younger users, including making all under-16 accounts private by default, and disabling their access to direct messaging. “We have strict policies prohibiting advertising directly appealing to those under the age of digital consent,” she added.

Click here for more information on the European Commission’s work with other authorities to investigate and tackle breaches of EU consumer law.

Author: Simon Weedy

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