EU moves against TikTok over child-targeted ads

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Brussels: The EU on Friday said TikTok must address concerns of aggressive advertising methods targeting children in a case launched by consumer authorities in several member states.

The European Commission said the popular video-sharing app had one month to respond, saying “hidden marketing, aggressive advertising techniques targeted at children, and certain contractual terms in TikTok’s policies” were of “specific concern”.

TikTok has faced many such cases globally, and the EU claim comes a month after Britain accused the video-sharing app of illegally collecting personal data from millions of children in Europe.

The case by the EU executive came after a signal in February by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) about TikTok’s alleged breaches of EU consumer rights.

Taking up a case launched by Ireland and Sweden, the BEUC said TikTok had failed “to protect children and teenagers from hidden advertising and potentially harmful content on its platform”.

It pointed to the use of online influencers to promote brands, but with the commercial intent hidden from young users.

The BEUC also said that a virtual gift system operating on TikTok represented a danger to children.

In response, TikTok said it was no longer making virtual gifts available to under-18s and that all accounts belonging to under-16s were private by default.

Caroline Greer, director of public policy for TikTok Europe, said the company was engaging with the authorities in Ireland and Sweden and looked forward to “discussing the measures we’ve already introduced”.