EU Considers Banning TikTok Lite Over ‘Addictive’ Rewards 

Ross Jukes
Last updated: May 9, 2024
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The European Union has launched a formal investigation into TikTok for the second time, focusing on the addictive elements of its TikTok Lite app. The probe, which was announced on Monday, will look into whether the platform is breaking the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which is a law meant to keep an eye on online content and platform governance.

This inquiry specifically targets TikTok Lite, a streamlined version of the popular video-sharing app that is optimized for devices with limited storage and slower internet connections. The EU is worried that the app’s reward systems might be too addicting, which would be against the DSA’s rules for good digital government.

EU expresses concern over TikTok Lite’s reward system

The European Union is closely examining TikTok Lite’s use of a point system where users can earn digital currency, typically used to tip content creators. The EU Commission is worried that this “task and reward” method could hurt the mental health of young users by encouraging them to become addicted. 

While no specific violations of the Digital Services Act (DSA) have been confirmed yet, the Commission is considering taking precautionary measures. These could include mandating ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company to temporarily suspend TikTok Lite in the EU during the ongoing investigation.

Further, the Commission is contemplating a temporary measure that would require suspending access to TikTok Lite across the EU to safeguard users against potential mental health risks. People at TikTok have until April 24 to make their case against this move. Until then, TikTok Lite remains accessible to EU users.

TikTok faces potential suspension and heavy fines

3D TikTok logo with a judge's gavel and money around it, on a dark background

The European Union is increasing its investigation of TikTok Lite due to concerns about the product’s compliance with regulatory standards. These actions show that the EU is willing to crack down on new products that could put customers at risk, especially when a platform fails to adhere to expected procedures. If TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is found to have violated the Digital Services Act (DSA) it could face fines up to 6% of its global annual turnover.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton expressed readiness to implement interim measures under the DSA which could include suspending TikTok Lite if it is found to encourage addictive behavior. He said, “Unless TikTok provides compelling proof of its safety, which it has failed to do until now, we stand ready to trigger DSA interim measures including the suspension of TikTok Lite feature which we suspect could generate addiction”

In response, TikTok expressed disappointment with the Commission’s stance, citing efforts to ensure safety within its platform. The company noted that the TikTok Lite rewards scheme is not accessible to users under 18 and has a daily limit on the number of videos users can watch for rewards. “We are disappointed with this decision – the TikTok Lite rewards hub is not available to under 18s, and there is a daily limit on video watch tasks. We will continue discussions with the commission,” a TikTok representative stated.

Additionally, the Commission has given TikTok a 24-hour deadline to provide a risk assessment report on TikTok Lite, with a potential fine of up to 1% of its global annual turnover if it fails to comply. The business has until May 3 to give the desired information as well.

Regulatory pressures mount for TikTok in the EU and US

ByteDance, which is the parent company of TikTok, has had to make big changes in order to keep doing business in the EU. As part of ongoing investigations, the company introduced several user privacy options, including allowing users to opt out of algorithm-driven suggestions on the ‘For You’ page. Also, TikTok made it easier to report harmful content and stopped showing personalized ads to EU users ages 13 to 17.

In the US, on the other hand, it’s becoming more likely that TikTok will be banned. The US House of Representatives recently included a revised bill targeting TikTok in a foreign aid package. Because of this law, ByteDance would have to sell TikTok within a year, or the app could be taken down from app shops. The bill is now going to the Senate, where it will likely be voted on later this week. The outcome is uncertain, particularly whether the Senate will maintain the provisions concerning TikTok in the foreign aid legislation. President Biden has indicated he would support a TikTok ban should Congress approve it.

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Ross Jukes
Ross Jukes
Ross Jukes is an accomplished American copywriter with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing. Based in the United States, Ross is a language expert, fluent in English and specializes in creating compelling and engaging content. With years of experience in the industry, he has honed his skills in various forms of writing, including advertising, marketing, and web content. Ross's creativity and keen eye for detail have made him a valuable asset in the field of copywriting, where he continues to excel and innovate.

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