Accused of violating European Union rules on advertising and consumer protection, the social network said it would harmonize its practice.
Commitment after more than a year of dialogue. On June 21, the European Commission announced that TikTok had committed itself to respecting EU rules regarding advertising and user protection within the bloc. This dialogue is related to a complaint filed by the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) in February 2021. It accused the Chinese platform of not protecting children from advertisements and inappropriate content. Together with the Network of National Consumer Protection Bodies (CPCs), the Commission then launched a discussion on the application, considering a number of issues that have been raised.
“Through our dialogue, consumers will be able to discover all the types of advertising they are exposed to when using this platform”said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, adding that the institution and the CPC would continue “Monitor the situation in the future, paying special attention to the effects on young users”.
Commitments partially accepted
In particular, the obligations assumed by TikTok include the possibility for users to report advertisements and offers that may encourage children to buy goods and services or mislead them for that purpose, but also to report undiscovered branded content. They are also required to activate a button to indicate that they are releasing the video as part of a commercial partnership with the brand. Paid video advertising will also be tagged with a new tag.
The Commission further explains that the promotion of inappropriate products and services, such as alcohol, enrichment schemes and cigarettes, will be prohibited by consumer protection policy. In addition, the rules clarify how coins are bought and used, while others specify how to receive prizes from TikTok and how to send gifts.
Although the Commission and the CPC welcome these commitments, this is not the case for BEUC, which indicates that certain points set out in its complaint have not been resolved. It provides an example of TikTok’s copyright clause, which continues to give the platform very broad permission to use user-generated and posted content. He is also concerned about the lack of a mechanism to protect young consumers from the abuse of influential people when shopping “virtual coins”. Finally, he criticizes the fact that the social network has not committed to stop profiling and targeting children with personalized ads. “We now call on the authorities to closely monitor TikTok’s activities and take national measures if the obligations are not met. This does not have to be the end of the story. BEUC and our members will closely follow developments. ”said Ursula Pachl, Deputy Director General of BEUC.