ByteDance’s TikTok Faces Risk Assessment on TikTok Lite App

ByteDance’s popular video-sharing platform TikTok faces scrutiny from the European Commission, with a 24-hour ultimatum issued on Wednesday demanding a risk assessment for its newly launched app, TikTok Lite, in France and Spain.
TikTok Lite on smartphoneThe move, spearheaded by EU industry chief Thierry Breton under the Digital Services Act (DSA), reflects growing concerns over the potential impact of the app on children’s welfare and users’ mental health, Reuters news report said.

Thierry Breton’s action follows a two-month investigation into TikTok over potential violations of EU tech regulations, marking a pivotal moment in the implementation of the DSA. This landmark legislation imposes stringent obligations on companies to combat illegal and harmful content, with penalties reaching up to 6 percent of their global annual turnover for non-compliance.

According to the Commission, TikTok should have conducted a comprehensive risk assessment before rolling out the new app across the 27-country European Union, highlighting the imperative to safeguard minors and address potential risks associated with addictive behaviors.

“Is social media ‘lite’ as addictive and toxic as cigarettes ‘light’? We have just sent a request for information regarding the launch of #TikTokLite. We will spare no effort to protect minors under the #DSA,” Thierry Breton emphasized on X social platform.

The TikTok Lite app, launched in France and Spain in April 2024, has a new functionality aimed at users aged 18+. The Reward Program allows users to earn points while performing certain “tasks” on TikTok, such as watching videos, liking content, following creators, inviting friends to join TikTok, etc. Users can exchange these points for rewards, such as Amazon vouchers, gift cards via PayPal or TikTok’s coins currency that can be spent on tipping creators.

The Commission underscored concerns regarding the “Task and Reward Lite” program embedded within TikTok Lite, particularly its potential impact on minors’ protection and users’ mental well-being. The program incentivizes users aged 18+ to earn points by engaging in various activities on the platform, including watching videos, liking content, following creators, and inviting friends to join.

In response to the Commission’s directive, TikTok has been instructed to furnish the risk assessment for TikTok Lite within 24 hours, along with additional requested information by April 26. The Commission will analyze TikTok’s response before determining the next course of action.

“We have been in direct contact with the Commission regarding this product and will respond to the request for information,” assured a TikTok spokesperson.

In addition to the risk assessment, the Commission has sought detailed insights into the measures implemented by TikTok to mitigate systemic risks, underscoring the imperative for robust safeguards within digital platforms.