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EU sets TikTok ultimatum over 'addictive' new app feature

April 22, 2024

The European Commission is threatening to suspend the TikTok Lite rewards programme, unless the Chinese-owned app provides answers within 24 hours.

TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has launched a new application in France and Spain, called TikTok Lite
TikTok Lite is a slimmed down version of the normal appImage: Kiran Ridley/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission on Monday gave TikTok a 24-hour deadline to submit an assessment of potential health risks related to its new app TikTok Lite or face daily fines.

It comes after TikTok "failed to provide" information earlier this month.

TikTok Lite, a slimmed down version of TikTok, launched in France and Spain in March. It is optimized for slower internet connections and uses less memory.

It enables users over the age of 18 to earn points that can be redeemed for vouchers or gift cards.

The Commission says it wants the Chinese-owned company to show how it assessed the addictiveness and mental health risks of the scheme"

If TikTok fails to reply within the 24-hour deadline the company faces fines amounting to one percent of its annual revenue.

EU probing TikTok over possible Digital Service Act breach

The bloc's, executive, also announced Monday it was launching a second probe to determine if TikTok breached the EU's Digital Service Act.

Under the act the video sharing platform was supposed to have submitted a "risk assessment" before launching TikTok Lite in Europe.

What is the Digital Services Act supposed to achieve?

The Commission is worried TikTok launched the app without assessing how to mitigate "potential systemic risks." 

"With an endless stream of short and fast-paced videos, TikTok offers fun and a sense of connection beyond your immediate circle," said European Commissioner Thierry Breton, said.

"But it also comes with considerable risks, especially for our children: addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, low attention spans."

It threatened to suspend an "addictive" feature on it that rewards users for watching and liking videos.

"We are disappointed with this decision," TikTok said in a statement.

"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."

ac/lo (AFP, AP, dpa)