EU Threatens TikTok Lite Feature Ban Over ‘Addictive’ Rewards

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Key Takeaways

  • The EU has threatened to ban TikTok Lite over an "addictive" quality for children.
  • The app's reward program allegedly incentivizes poor behavior.
  • This could be the first time the EU restricts social companies based on the Digital Service Act.

TikTok could face additional legal trouble in Europe as the European Union has threatened to ban a key feature in TikTok Lite over its alleged harm to children.

As The Guardian reported, the European Commission opened new proceedings against TikTok over concerns Lite’s task-and-reward system would be as “addictive as cigarettes”for kids as it rolled out across the continent.

TikTok Lite rewards users for watching and liking videos, as well as following creators and inviting friends. Participants can get TikTok’s in-app currency as well as Amazon coupons, PayPal gift cards and other perks.

The company allegedly launched TikTok Lite in France and Spain earlier in April without making an effort to protect children. It did so knowing there was an ongoing investigation of child safety on the regular app under the Digital Service Act, the European regulator added.

TikTok had been given a one-day deadline to provide a risk assessment this month, but the European Commission said it didn’t get sufficient answers.

The new case wouldn’t block TikTok as a whole. However, it and the investigation into the regular app could prompt significant changes if the social network intended to keep functioning.

It also comes just days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban TikTok in the country unless its parent company ByteDance sold it to another firm and severed links with China. Politicians have worried that the Chinese government could either compel TikTok to hand over sensitive user data or else manipulate recommendations to manipulate the public.

TikTok and ByteDance have denied acting on behalf of Chinese officials. The regular app also has parental controls, including a Restricted Mode that bars access to “mature or complex” content.