TikTok Under EU Investigation Over Addictive Design, Privacy And More

hero tiktok app on phone
The European Union (EU) has set its sights on ByteDance’s TikTok app concerning a range of potential violations, including an overly addictive design, privacy shortfalls, and other concerns. EU industry chief Thierry Breton remarked the EU is launching an investigation into the app over a suspected breach of transparency and obligations to protect minors.

In a tweet, Thierry Breton announced the EU has opened an investigation into TikTok, claiming the app had an addictive design and screen time limits, a rabbit hole effect, no age verification, as well as other concerning aspects. According to the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), ByteDance could look at being fined up to 6% of its global revenue if TikTok is found guilty of breaching DSA rules.

thierry breton
EU industry chief Thierry Breton

A TikTok spokesperson remarked, “TikTok has pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with.”

TikTok was under the gun in the US recently, as Shou Zi Chew of TikTok joined the likes of Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Linda Yaccarino of X (formerly Twitter) at a very heated US Senate Hearing discussing the roles of the companies in the safety of children on their respective platforms. At that hearing, Zuckerberg awkwardly apologized to parents of victims in the audience following a harsh scolding from Senator Josh Hawley.

Along the same line of thought as the US Senate hearing, the EU remarked it plans to examine whether the app has put into place an appropriate and proportionate amount of measures to make sure there is a high level of privacy, safety, and security for minors. It will also look into whether TikTok provides a sufficient and reliable database on advertisements on the platform so researchers can properly analyze any potential online risks.

The EU stated it will focus its investigation on the design of TikTok’s system, which includes its algorithmic systems that have been one of the driving factors behind the app’s popularity. It is easy to find someone these days that will say they have spent hours at a time going down the proverbial “rabbit hole” of TikTok, which is one of the key concerns of the EU.