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Italy regulator fines TikTok $11 million over content checks




By Reuters | Updated: March 14, 2024

ROME, March 14 (Reuters) – Italy’s competition watchdog has fined three units of social media giant TikTok 10 million euros ($10.94 million) in total for inadequate checks on content potentially harmful to young or vulnerable users, it said on Thursday.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and other social media companies including Facebook and Instagram parent Meta Platforms (META.O), opens new tab, are under pressure from regulators around the globe to protect under-age users.

The Italian regulator referred to videos showing young people performing a practice known as the “French scar”, a challenge popular among users which involves pinching cheeks to leave a lasting bruise on the cheekbone.

“We disagree with this decision”, a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement on the antitrust fine, adding that the platform had “long ago restricted visibility” of French Scar videos for under 18s.

Last month, Italy’s communications authority AGCOM – a separate regulator – forced TikTok to remove the videos.

The antitrust authority on Thursday said the potentially dangerous videos had also been spread through profiling algorithms.

“TikTok has not taken adequate measures to prevent the spreading of such content, and has not fully complied with the guidelines it has adopted, reassuring customers that the platform is a ‘safe’ space,” the watchdog said.

In the United States, where it has about 170 million users, the social media app faces a ban unless its Chinese owners sell within about six months, under the terms of a draft bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

($1 = 0.9142 euros)

© Thomson Reuters 2024