TikTok now allows users to report misleading ads aimed at children

ICT Tac agreed to let users report ads that might “coax or induce children to purchase goods or services,” according to the European Commission.

The Commission opened a case with TikTok after a complaint in February 2021 from the European consumer organization (BEUC), which “raised the alarm over certain problematic practices by TikTok that allegedly breach EU consumer protection rules,” the Commission said in a statement released today.

By ReutersBEUC’s complaint centered on allegations that TikTok was not doing enough to protect young users from misleading ads or inappropriate content.

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The Commission says that in response to BEUC’s allegations, it – together with a network of national consumer protection authorities and officials in Ireland and Sweden – “has launched a dialogue with TikTok” to discuss what it might to avoid possible punitive measures.

European Commission cases can result in high fees for platforms that violate all European Union internet policies (e.g. Alphabet, the parent company of YouTube, negotiates with the Commission to avoid a fine that could amount to up to 10% of its overall annual turnover).

But TikTok avoided penalties by agreeing to a handful of changes, including the aforementioned new feature allowing users to report ads aimed at children.

According to the Commission, TikTok also accepted:

  • add a way for users to report branded content that is not properly tagged as branded content
  • highlight branded content with a new label whose effectiveness will be verified by a third party, according to the Commission
  • add a toggle that prompts creators to use this tag when writing content with keywords like “#ad” or “#sponsored”
  • add a written policy explicitly prohibiting branded content that promotes “inappropriate products and services, such as alcohol, get-rich-quick schemes, and cigarettes
  • implement a policy that users with more than 10,000 followers will have their content reviewed by TikTok for compliance with its Branded Content Policies and Community Guidelines (unclear if this is of a pre-publication or a post-publication)
  • add policies on its coins on the platform and user rewards clarifying how to buy/obtain and use them, with more information on their cost in real money
  • and add coin purchase history, and the ability for users to refund coin purchases within 14 days

In a statement, the Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said the European Commission “will continue to monitor the situation in the future, paying particular attention to the effects on young users”.

“All social media platforms are required to follow the rules and ensure consumers can easily identify commercial content, including when promoted by influencers,” Reynders said. “We welcome TikTok’s commitment to greater transparency in how it conducts its business.”

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