Several consumer associations in Europe have filed a complaint against TikTok for the use of data from the platform.
The European Consumers Organization (BEUC) announced the complaint on Tuesday, accusing the popular social network of exploiting the rights and data of its young users.
“TikTok incurs multiple infringements of EU consumer rights and does not protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content,” BEUC said in a Press release.
The organization has also urged authorities in 15 European countries to further investigate TikTok’s conduct.
After months of investigation, the popular platform was found to have “unclear and ambiguous terms of service,” BEUC said.
“Their copyright terms are equally unfair, as they give TikTok an irrevocable right to use, distribute and reproduce the videos posted by users, without remuneration,” he added.
TikTok is also facing scrutiny over a feature that allows users to purchase coins as virtual “gifts” for influencers online. BEUC said that the platform’s policy on this feature contains “unfair terms and deceptive practices,” given that TikTok has the ability to only change the online exchange rate between coins and “gifts.”
This potentially “skews the financial transaction in its favor,” BEUC said.
The video-sharing network has faced pressure from Italian data protection authorities to prevent underage users from using the app.
BEUC has also accused TikTok of “failing to perform due diligence when it comes to protecting children” online.
“Inappropriate content, such as videos showing suggestive content that are only a few scrolls away,” the office added.
Meanwhile, the app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, also allegedly does not clearly inform users about what personal data is collected and for what purposes.
“We consider that some of these … practices are potentially in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation and have made them known to the Data Protection Authorities in the context of their ongoing investigations into the company,” said BEUC.
“In just a few years, TikTok has become one of the most popular social media applications with millions of users across Europe,” said Monique Goyens, CEO of BEUC, “but TikTok is disappointing its users by violating its rights on a massive scale. “
“Kids love TikTok, but the company doesn’t keep them protected. We don’t want our little ones to be exposed to ubiquitous, hidden advertising and unknowingly turn into billboards when they’re just trying to have fun.”
In a statement to Euronews, TikTok said that it had made changes to ensure that younger users could understand its privacy policies.
“Ensuring the safety of our community, especially our youngest users, and respecting the laws in force where we operate are responsibilities that we take very seriously,” said a spokesperson.
“We are committed to protecting our community on a daily basis and have taken important initiatives, such as changing all default privacy settings for users under the age of 16 to private.”
“We are always listening to improve our practices,” the spokesperson added.
TikTok says it has reached out to the European Consumers Organization to arrange a meeting and address concerns.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism