TikTok fined €10 million by Italian regulator over harmful content

The Italian Competition Authority has fined TikTok €10 million for failing to protect users from a harmful game known as the French Scar Challenge.

According to the press release, TikTok “failed to implement appropriate mechanisms to monitor content published on the platform, particularly those that may threaten the safety of minors and vulnerable individuals.”

The Autorita' Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) claims that the harmful content in question was “re-proposed” to users due to the nature of TikTok’s algorithm.

The AGCM has imposed a fine of €10 million on three separate factions of Chinese-owned ByteDance – Irish TikTok, British TikTok, and Italian TikTok.

In the press release, the AGCM states that “the investigation has allowed to ascertain the responsibility of TikTok in the dissemination of content – such as those related to the "French scar" challenge – likely to threaten the psycho-physical safety of users, especially if minor and vulnerable.”

The French Scar challenge is a viral game where individuals pinch their cheek hard enough to inflict markings on the skin.

The Italian regulator claims that TikTok has avoided taking “adequate measures to prevent the dissemination of such content, not fully complying with the guidelines it has adopted and which it has made known to consumers by reassuring them that the platform is a 'safe' space.”

The AGCM claims that these guidelines are enforced without “accounting for the specific vulnerability of adolescents,” who are less likely to distinguish reality from fiction and have a tendency to “emulate group behavior.”

Finally, the AGCM cements its claim by stating that the algorithm recommends this content to vulnerable individuals based on “algorithmic user profiling.”

This mechanism aims to select videos targeted to individual users in the ‘For You’ and ‘Followed’ sections of the platform.

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