The European Commission officially opened an investigation into TikTok

Technology Author: EqualOcean News, Sun Chang Feb 20, 2024 03:20 PM (GMT+8)

The European Commission, the executive agency of the European Union (EU), announced on February 19 that it would launch a formal investigation into the operating company of the video sharing service platform "TikTok". Under the Digital Services Act, the investigation will examine whether the online platform took sufficient measures to prevent the spread of illegal content and violated relevant regulations such as the protection of minors and advertising transparency.


TikTok claims to have 135.9 million monthly active users in the EU and was designated a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP) on April 25 last year. As a very large online platform, TikTok must start complying with a series of obligations stipulated in the Digital Services Act within 4 months of being designated.

Thierry Breton, the European Commission’s Commissioner for the Internal Market, posted on Twitter, saying, “Today we open an investigation into TikTok over suspected breach of transparency & obligations to protect minors: Addictive design & screen time limits, Rabbit hole effect, Age verification, Default privacy settings and more.”

Regarding TikTok's current age confirmation mechanism, the European Commission pointed out that the method of preventing minors from viewing sexual and violent content may not be reasonable and effective enough. If the recommendation algorithm on the application is allowed to develop, the audience will only see videos with similar themes, and the audience's attention span will become narrow or even dependent. This is the so-called "rabbit hole effect."

After the investigation process has been formally launched, the European Commission will continue to collect evidence, for example by sending requests for additional information, conducting interviews or inspections. Once formal procedures have been initiated, the European Commission has the power to take further enforcement measures, such as provisional measures and non-compliance decisions.

As early as December 2023, the European Commission launched an investigation into X (formerly Twitter). The investigation mainly focused on issues such as insufficient preparation for measures to combat false information. TikTok is accused of violating the EU's Digital Services Act in aspects such as minor protection, advertising transparency, researcher data access, addictive design and harmful content risk management. This is the second investigation launched under the Digital Services Act, following Elon Musk’s social media platform X.

The Digital Services Act does not provide for a statutory deadline for the conclusion of a formal investigation. According to Reuters, if TikTok is found to have violated the provisions of the Digital Services Act, it may face fines of up to 6% of its global turnover.