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The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) filed a complaint against TikTok, claiming the social network “falls foul of multiple breaches of EU consumer rights” and fails to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content.
The Brussels-based consumers’ group outlined its findings in a Tuesday press release, suggesting TikTok’s terms and practices are “unfair” and “misleading.”
“In just a few years, TikTok has become one of the most popular social media apps with millions of users across Europe. But TikTok is letting its users down by breaching their rights on a massive scale,” BEUC Director General Monique Goyens said in a statement. “We have discovered a whole series of consumer rights infringements and therefore filed a complaint against TikTok.”
The organization cited several issues, including “unclear [and] ambiguous” Terms of Service that “favor TikTok to the detriment of its users,” as well as “equally unfair” copyright terms granting the site “an irrevocable right to use, distribute, and reproduce the videos published by users, without remuneration.”
TikTok is intended for users aged 13 and over, but does allow younger children in the US to register for a separate experience with additional safety and privacy protections. In January, the company introduced a new default privacy setting for all registered users aged 13 to 15.On failing to protect children and teenagers specifically, the BEUC explains, “TikTok is also potentially failing to conduct due diligence when it comes to protecting children from inappropriate content such as videos showing suggestive content which are just a few scrolls away.”
Goyens, backed by consumer groups across Europe, urged authorities to “take swift action” to ensure TikTok is safe for all users—especially kids. “Children love TikTok but the company fails to keep them protected,” she said. “We do not want our youngest ones to be exposed to pervasive hidden advertising and unknowingly turned into billboards when they are just trying to have fun.”
TikTok did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment. A spokesperson, however, told the BBC that it has requested a meeting with the BEUC.
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