TikTok halting reward feature after pressure from EU regulators

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TikTok will halt a feature that rewards its app users in France and Spain for watching videos in the wake of scrutiny from European Commission regulators.

“TikTok always seeks to engage constructively with the EU Commission and other regulators. We are therefore voluntarily suspending the rewards functions in TikTok Lite while we address the concerns that they have raised,” TikTok Policy Europe wrote Wednesday in a post on the social platform X.

The announcement comes just days after the European Commission said it will look into whether TikTok’s “addictive” features of its TikTok Lite app violated the European Union’s Digital Service Act (DSA) regulations.

TikTok Lite was launched in France and Spain and features a “Task and Reward Lite” program that allows users to earn points for tasks like watching videos, liking content, following creators and invited friends to join the app.

The commission says the app launched “without prior diligent assessment of the risks it entails,” and “without effective risk mitigating measures.”

It sent TikTok a formal request for information about the program’s launch last week, but TikTok failed to produce the risk assessment report and other requested information within the 24-hour timeline.

The commission gave the company a new deadline to submit the risk assessment report to the commission by Wednesday and until May 3 for additional information requested before facing hefty fines.

Last week, a TikTok spokesperson said the company was “disappointed” by the commission’s choice to open a probe, noting the feature is not available to those younger than 18 years and has a daily limit on video watch tasks.

“Our children are not guinea pigs for social media,” European Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a social media post following the announcement. “I take note of TikTok’s decision to suspend the #TikTokLite ‘Reward Program’ in the EU. The cases against TikTok on the risk of addictiveness of the platform continue.”

The investigation marks the second probe of TikTok’s compliance with the DSA since February. In that probe, the commission is looking into whether the social media platform is doing enough to curb “systemic risks” in its designs that could stimulate “behavior addictions.”

The decision comes on the same day as President Biden signed landmark legislation that could lead to a ban on TikTok in the U.S. The bill gives a timeline for TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app or face a ban from U.S. app stores and networks.

ByteDance will have up to a year to find a buyer, but the process is likely to be disrupted by Chinese rules over the export of technology and a court challenge from TikTok.

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