TikTok Pauses ‘Lite’ Feature in EU Amid Safety Fears

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In a move aimed at appeasing European regulators, TikTok has suspended its ‘TikTok Lite’ rewards feature in the European Union.

The decision comes after the European Commission threatened to ban the feature, citing concerns over its potential to encourage addictive behavior among users.

Confirming this latest development, TikTok wrote on X: “TikTok always seeks to engage constructively with the EU Commission and other regulators. We are therefore voluntarily suspending the rewards functions in TikTok Lite while we address the concerns that they have raised.”

The TikTok Lite rewards feature, which was introduced early this month, used a gamified system to incentivize users to spend more time on the app. The feature was designed to reward users with badges, points, and other virtual items for completing certain tasks, such as watching videos or engaging with content. However, critics argued that the feature was manipulative and could lead to excessive screen time and addiction.

The European Commission’s threat to ban the feature was part of a broader crackdown on Big Tech’s handling of user data and online safety. The commission has been increasingly vocal about the need for tech companies to prioritize user well-being and take steps to mitigate the negative effects of their products.

Under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), TikTok is obligated to address potential risks related to child protection and mental health. The DSA, which came into effect in November 2022, requires online platforms like TikTok to assess and mitigate the risks associated with their services, including the potential for addiction and harm to children and adolescents.

TikTok Lite EU Suspension Comes Amid US-China Tensions

TikTok’s decision to halt the feature in the EU comes at a time when the company is facing intense scrutiny from regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. Just yesterday, President Biden signed an aid bill that requires ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, to sell the app or face a US ban. The move is seen as a major escalation in the ongoing geopolitical tensions between the US and China, with TikTok caught in the middle.

While the suspension of the reward feature in the EU is a notable concession, it remains to be seen whether TikTok will make similar changes in other markets. The company has faced criticism for its handling of user data and online safety lately, and regulators are likely to continue to apply pressure until meaningful changes are made.