TikTok faces trouble in Europe after it narrowly escapes U.S. ban

TikTok (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • TikTok is facing complaints from European consumer bodies.
  • The BUEC and 15 other bodies accused the company of being lax with data and having skewed terms of service.
  • By way of response, TikTok offered a meeting with BEUC representatives to "listen to their concerns."

TikTok is facing multiple complaints from the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), and other consumer organizations in 15 European countries over privacy rights violations. The BEUC today argued that the social media app breached EU consumer rights and failed to protect children from both inappropriate content and stealth advertising. It called for a comprehensive EU investigation into TikTok's policies and practices and requested more transparency from the company.

More specifically, the BEUC alleged that TikTok was unclear in its terms of service with the terms drafted to give outsized benefits to TikTok rather than users when it came to content ownership and remuneration.

The BEUC also took aim that TikTok's virtual coins as well as its hashtag challenges, noting that both provided significant financial benefit for TikTok with little benefit for users. when it came to hashtag challenges, the body also accused TikTok of not doing due diligence in protecting teen and child users from suggestive content.

Finally, the BEUC stated that TikTok violated the GDPR by being unclear about what personal data it collected and how it used it.

Monique Goyens, BEUC Director, said in a statement:

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. We have discovered a whole series of consumer rights infringements and therefore filed a complaint against TikTok.Children love TikTok but the company fails to keep them protected. 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.Together with our members - consumer groups from across Europe - we urge authorities to take swift action. They must act now to make sure TikTok is a place where consumers, especially children, can enjoy themselves without being deprived of their rights.

Speaking to Reuters, TikTok responded:

We're always open to hearing how we can improve, and we have contacted BEUC as we would welcome a meeting to listen to their concerns.

The company has faced more challenges than most nascent social media did in their early years including attempted U.S. bans, temporary bans in Pakistan, and a seemingly permanent one in India leading to potential divestment.

Michael Allison