TikTok commits to ‘aligning’ with EU rules to better protect young users
A new agreement between the European Union and TikTok should ensure that young users of this hugely popular app should be better protected against hidden advertising and inappropriate content.
Social media giant TikTok has committed to ‘align its practices’ with the European Union’s consumer protection policies over
Following dialogues with the Commission and the network of national consumer protection (CPC) authorities, TikTok has committed to align its practices with the EU rules on advertising and consumer protection, namely, the Unfair commercial practices Directive, the Consumer rights Directive and the Unfair contract terms Directive.
This dialogue first originated from a complaint of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC). In February 2021, BEUC raised the alarm regarding certain problematic practices of TikTok allegedly breaching EU consumer rules. For instance, BEUC had found that the social media platform was failing to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content.
Following the complaint, the Commission, together with the CPC, and led by the Irish and Swedish consumer authorities, launched a dialogue with TikTok. The series of concerns have now been addressed and TikTok committed to change its practices.
Didier Reynders, EU Commissioner for Justice, said: “All social media platforms are required to play by the rules and make sure that consumers can easily identify commercial content, including when promoted by influencers. We welcome TikTok’s commitment for more transparency in the way it operates its business activity. Thanks to our dialogue, consumers will be able to spot all kinds of advertisement that they are exposed to when using this platform. Despite today’s commitment, we will continue to monitor the situation in the future, paying particular attention to the effects on young users.”
Overview of main commitments:
- Users can now report advertisements and offers that could potentially push or trick children into purchasing goods or services;
- Branded content now abides by a policy protecting users, which prohibits the promotion of inappropriate products and services, such as alcohol, “get rich quick” schemes and cigarettes;
- Users are prompted to switch on a toggle when they publish content captioned with specific brand-related keywords such as #ad or #sponsored;
- If a user has more than 10,000 followers, their videos are reviewed by TikTok against its Branded Content Policy and Community Guidelines to ensure that the content is appropriate;
- Policies clarify how to purchase and use coins, and pop-up windows will provide the estimated price in local currencies. Consumers are allowed to withdraw within 14 days from the purchase, and their purchase history is also available;
- Policies also clarify how to get rewards from TikTok and how to send gifts, for which users will be able to easily calculate their price;
- Paid advertisement in videos will be identified with a new label, which will be tested for effectiveness by a third party;
- Users are able to report undisclosed branded content, and new rules for hashtags and labels will be implemented.
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