UPDATED: EU threatens TikTok Lite suspension over addiction concerns

The TikTok Lite rewards program, which compensates users for their time spent on the app, faces potential suspension by the European Commission as early as this Thursday. Commissioner Thierry Breton has labeled the feature “toxic and addictive,” particularly concerning its use by children. TikTok faces a deadline until Wednesday to defend the program, failing which it could face suspension.

Commissioner Breton stated on X (formerly Twitter) that they are prepared to enact interim measures, including suspending the TikTok Lite rewards program. The Commission has initiated formal proceedings against TikTok to assess potential breaches of EU law.

According to EU regulations implemented last year, significant platforms like TikTok must conduct risk assessments before implementing substantial changes. Despite the Commission’s request for TikTok’s risk assessment regarding the Task & Rewards program, the social media company failed to submit it on time, raising concerns about potential mental health risks for users.

TikTok Lite introduced the “Task and Rewards” program recently in France and Spain. This feature, available on the slimmed-down version of the app, allows users to earn small incentives for engaging with content. However, the Commission is investigating whether this could lead to negative mental health impacts, especially among children, due to potential addictive behaviors.

TikTok has emphasized that rewards are restricted to users over 18, with verification mechanisms in place, but the Commission suspects the effectiveness of these age verification methods. Currently limited to France, Spain, and select Southeast Asian countries, TikTok has no immediate plans for further expansion.

This marks the second formal investigation into TikTok by the EU, following a previous inquiry in February regarding data protection, child protection, and content moderation. Under the Digital Services Act, companies could face fines of up to 6% of their global revenue for non-compliance.

TikTok halts TikTok Lite reward programme amid EU concerns

TikTok has announced its voluntary decision to pause the reward programme on its new app, TikTok Lite, as it endeavors to address concerns raised by the EU. The European Commission, leveraging its Digital Services Act (DSA) regulations, is pressuring major online platforms to take more decisive action against illegal and harmful content, singling out TikTok for its impact on young users.

In response, the EU executive had set a deadline for ByteDance-owned TikTok to resolve worries regarding the potentially addictive nature of the reward program aimed at children, threatening a temporary suspension of the feature if not met.

“TikTok consistently strives to collaborate constructively with the EU Commission and other regulatory bodies. As such, we have chosen to voluntarily suspend the reward features within TikTok Lite while we work to address the concerns raised,” stated the company on X social media platform.