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The EU's European Commission has launched an official probe to investigate TikTok

The TikTok app on a phone

The European Union is officially launching an investigation into the TikTok social network. Its regulatory body, the European Commission, says this probe is to find out if TikTok has violated the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA) in a number of different ways.

The EC's press release says the TikTok investigation will look into if the social network's overall design and algorithms "may stimulate behavioural addictions and/ or create so-called ‘rabbit hole effects'". The agency will seek to find if TikTok's design could present content that is harmful to children, and if the social network's age verification tools do not work to keep this content away from minors.

The probe will also look into if TikTok's privacy and safety features are effective. In addition, the EC will try to find out if TikTok is in DSA complaints for offering a "searchable and reliable repository for advertisements", and if the social network has offered researchers access to its publicly accessed data, which is also a DSA requirement.

The EC says that now that an official investigation into TikTok is underway, it will continue to send out requests for more info, along with conducting interviews and launching inspections. There's no word on when the EC will end the probe. If it finds TikTok has violated the DSA, it could place some big fines on the social network.

In a statement sent to TechCrunch, a TikTok spokesperson stated:

TikTok has pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with. We’ll continue to work with experts and industry to keep young people on TikTok safe, and look forward to now having the opportunity to explain this work in detail to the Commission.

The Irish Data Protection Commission has already fined TikTok $368 million in September 2023 for violating the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), due to failing to correctly process the personal data of minors on the platform.

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