EU to investigate ‘addictive’ TikTok reward feature

The European Commission is investigating TikTok over a feature that launched in France and Spain that offers users the ability to earn points for completing certain tasks on the app, the commission said Monday.

The investigation will look into whether TikTok’s “addictive” features of its “TikTok lite” program violated the European Union’s Digital Service Act (DSA) regulations, which include protections for minors online, the commission announced.

The investigation will focus on TikTok’s compliance with the regulations — which went into effect in February — through its “Task and Reward Lite” program, and the measures the company has taken to mitigate risks the program poses around impact on minors’ mental health.

The investigation into the reward program is the second probe of TikTok’s compliance with the DSA since February.

The program, which lets users earn points for tasks such as watching videos, liking content, following creators and inviting friends to join the app, was launched “without prior diligent assessment of the risks it entails” and “without effective risk mitigating measures,” according to the commission.

The formal proceeding was opened after the commission sent TikTok a formal request for information about the program launching in Spain and France last week. TikTok failed to respond with the risk assessment report and other requested information last week within the 24-hour timeline given by the commission, according to the announcement.

The commission gave the company a new deadline to submit the risk assessment report to the commission by Wednesday and until May 3 for additional information requested.

TikTok faces hefty fines if it does not respond within the window.

If TikTok does not reply to the request for information by the deadline, the commission said it may impose a fine up to 1 percent of TikTok’s total annual income or worldwide revenue and period penalties up to 5 percent of TikTok’s average daily income or worldwide revenue.

A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement that the company is “disappointed” with the decision.

“We are disappointed with this decision – the TikTok Lite rewards hub is not available to under 18s, and there is a daily limit on video watch tasks. We will continue discussions with the Commission,” the spokesperson said.

–Updated on April 23 at 10:44 a.m. EDT

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