TikTok asked by EU about risks of TikTok Lite to children after France, Spain launch

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with a displayed TikTok logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken February 23, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -ByteDance's TikTok has been given 24 hours to provide a risk assessment on its new app TikTok Lite launched this month in France and Spain because of concerns about its potential impact on children and users' mental health, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The move by EU industry chief Thierry Breton under EU tech rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) comes two months after he opened an investigation into TikTok over possible breaches of the law.

The landmark law requires companies to do more to tackle illegal and harmful content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6% of their global annual turnover for violations.

TikTok should have done a risk assessment on the new app before launching it in the 27-country European Union, the Commission said.

"Is social media "lite" as addictive and toxic as cigarettes "light"? We have just sent a request for information regarding the launch of #TikTokLite. We will spare no effort to protect minors under the #DSA," Breton said on X social platform.

The Commission pointed to the potential impact of the new "Task and Reward Lite" programme on the protection of minors, as well as on the mental health of users, in particular in relation to the potential stimulation of addictive behaviour.

TikTok Lite, aimed at users aged 18+, has a "Reward Program" that allows them to earn points while performing certain tasks on the platform such as watching videos, liking content, following creators or inviting friends to join.

These points can be exchanged for rewards such as Amazon vouchers, gift cards via PayPal, or TikTok’s coins currency that can be spent on tipping creators.

The Commission said TikTok must provide the risk assessment for TikTok Lite in 24 hours and the other requested information by April 26, after which the Commission will analyse TikTok's reply, and then assess next steps.

"We have already been in direct contact with the Commission regarding this product and will respond to the request for information," a TikTok spokesperson said.

The Commission also asked for details on measures the company has implemented to mitigate systemic risks.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Jason Neely, Louise Heavens and Tomasz Janowski)

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