EU Pressures TikTok on Digital Safety with New Risk Assessment Request

Jasper Beaumont

19 Apr 2024

EU Pressures TikTok on Digital Safety with New Risk Assessment Request

The European Union is taking a stand for digital safety and responsible platform management as it closely monitors TikTok's latest venture, TikTok Lite. The EU's proactive approach underscores the significance of the Digital Services Act (DSA), a comprehensive framework designed to hold large tech companies accountable for the impact of their services. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, finds itself under the EU microscope to demonstrate how it's preventing systemic risks, particularly to young users' mental health.

The crux of the issue revolves around TikTok Lite's in-app reward mechanism, which could potentially encourage addictive behavior. The DSA mandates a preemptive risk assessment to safeguard users, and the EU is now enforcing these rules by demanding details on the measures TikTok has implemented. Specifically, ByteDance must demonstrate how TikTok Lite addresses the DSA's system risk requirements, focusing on the protection of minors and the mental health of its users.

With only 24 hours to provide the risk assessment and additional information due by April 26, TikTok's response will significantly shape the app's future in the European market. ByteDance not only faces the prospect of robust scrutiny but also hefty fines if TikTok Lite is found in violation of the DSA. This would not be the first time TikTok's practices have been challenged in the EU; previous investigations have delved into the platform's protection of minors and content moderation policies.

The EU's rapid response to TikTok Lite's trial launch is a reflection of the broader implications of the DSA – an overhaul of platform accountability that could push tech companies to reconsider the very foundations of their business models. The EU's emphasis on preemptive action is notable, as it suggests a move towards stringent regulation to tackle systemic issues from the ground up, rather than a reactive approach to individual concerns.

ByteDance's situation exemplifies the shifting online governance landscape, where platforms are no longer merely facilitators but are also accountable for the welfare of their users. The EU's firm stance with TikTok Lite signals the determination to see that digital environments are not only engaging but also safe and conducive to the well-being of all users, particularly the younger demographic. As the deadline for the DSA's system risk element looms, this could very well be a pivotal moment, reshaping how social media operates within the secure bounds of the EU's digital framework.