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TikTok Fined 10 million euros in Italy for Content Oversight

TikTok Fined 10 million euros: Italy’s competition regulator said on Thursday (March 14) that it had fined three branches of Chinese social media giant TikTok a total of 10 million euros ($10.94 million) for failing to punish minors who may have harmed TikTok and take effective supervision measures for the content of vulnerable users.

The regulator said in a statement that TikTok “fails to adopt appropriate mechanisms to regulate content published on its platform, especially content that may endanger the safety of minors and vulnerable individuals.”

Also, systematic recommendations through algorithmic analysis stimulate a significant increase in the use of this content on social networks,” the statement said.

The three subsidiaries of TikTok in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Italy were punished.

TikTok, owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance, and other social media giants such as Facebook and its parent company Metaverse (META) platform have come under pressure from regulatory authorities in many countries around the world to strengthen the protection of underage users.

The questions raised by the Italian government relate to the so-called “French scars” video popular among young people. The video shows young people pinching their cheeks so hard that bruises appear. This behavior has caused unease among many parents, educators, and health departments.

A TikTok spokesperson responded, “We do not accept this (TikTok Fined 10 million euros) decision” and explained that the TikTok platform has long restricted the “visibility” of videos of French scars posted by users under 18 years old.

Italian communications authorities also ordered TikTok to delete such videos last month.

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The media quoted the Italian antitrust authority as saying, “TikTok failed to take sufficient measures to prevent the spread of such content and failed to fully implement the guidelines it had accepted to ensure that customers had a ‘safe’ space on the platform. “

In the United States, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on March 13, requiring TikTok to break away from ByteDance’s control within six months; otherwise, it will face a complete stoppage of its U.S. business operations.

TikTok is one of the most popular social media sites in the world, and it is the fastest-growing company in the world. It uses short videos to share and push various themes to users. It has 1 billion users worldwide, and the number of users in the United States alone is 170 million.

The reason why the U.S. government requires TikTok to get rid of Bytedance’s control is mainly because it is worried that the CCP controls the huge amount of user information collected by TikTok through Bytedance. After all, according to Chinese law, any company must cooperate with the work of the national security department, including providing national security services. The department provides the user data it requires.

Another issue that makes TikTok uneasy for the U.S. government is that it has become an integral part of the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign propaganda, spreading the CCP’s ideology to its users through various forms and interfering in the internal affairs of the United States. During the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian extremist organization Hamas, TikTok released a large amount of content condemning Israel’s support for Hamas.

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Recently, when the U.S. Congress was considering taking sanctions against TikTok, TikTok even publicly called on its American users to call congressmen in their respective regions to prevent congressmen from voting for relevant bills in the name of voters.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on March 11 that the intelligence community is concerned that the Chinese government can directly or indirectly control and influence TikTok’s algorithm through its parent company, ByteDance.

In response to a question from Senator Marco Rubio, Wray stressed that such influence operations by the Chinese government are “extremely difficult to detect, which is part of the reason why TikTok represents such an important national security issue.”

Wray told lawmakers in 2022 that the dangers of allowing TikTok include “the Chinese government potentially using [TikTok] to control data collection on millions of users or control algorithms, which could be used for influence operations.”

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