TikTok Lite axes ‘addictive as cigarettes’ reward-to-watch feature under the EU’s watchful eye

The EU has effectively defeated a TikTok feature that Europe’s digital commissioner described as “toxic” and “as addictive as cigarettes”. Owner ByteDance said on Wednesday that TikTok Lite’s reward-for-watch feature will be discontinued. It’s been a brutal day for TikTok as President Biden signs bill into law (also on Wednesday) forcing ByteDance to sell the platform’s US operations or may face a ban.

Launched in France and Spain earlier this month, TikTok Lite lets users earn rewards by watching and liking videos. They can then exchange their points for in-app bonuses, such as Amazon vouchers or TikTok’s virtual currency, which is used to tip creators. The EU Commission said the “task and reward” feature can stimulate “addictive behavior” in childrenn.

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton: “Our children are not guinea pigs for social media” placed on Wednesday at X (Twitter). “I note TikTok’s decision to end the #TikTokLite ‘Rewards Program’ in the EU.”

However, he added a parting shot to remind us that ByteDance is not out of the woods: “The case against TikTok regarding the risk of platform addiction is ongoing.”

Breton fired a warning shot at ByteDance earlier this week, saying it was launching a formal investigation against TikTok for violating the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA). It provides landmark legislation passed in 2022 European regulators are forcing significant changes on social media platforms to protect consumers.

Companies that break the rules can risk fines of up to six percent of their global revenue — enough to force even the wealthiest companies to comply. Wednesday’s suspension is the first concrete example of the EU using the DSA’s enforcement powers to force significant changes on a social platform.

The official EU investigation into TikTok Lite is the second to target the platform this year. The previous case, filed in February, brought legal action against TikTok and Meta as they deal with the privacy and safety of minors. Guardian notes that both cases remain active.

“TikTok is always looking to engage constructively with the EU Commission and other regulators,” the platform’s Policy Europe X account said. placed on Wednesday. “Therefore, we are voluntarily suspending premium features on TikTok Lite while we address the concerns they have raised.”

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