The Italian competition policeman announced on Tuesday the opening of an investigation against the Chinese social network TikTok, suspected of not applying its own rules for controlling “dangerous content inciting suicide, self-harm and eating disorders” .
The investigation by the Italian Competition Authority targets the Irish company TikTok Technology Limited, responsible for relations with European consumers, as well as the English and Italian companies, she said in a press release. The Italian headquarters of TikTok was also the subject of an inspection on Tuesday by the Authority assisted by the financial police.
The opening of the investigation was motivated by the presence on the platform of “numerous videos of young people adopting self-mutilating behavior”, in particular in connection with the so-called challenge of “the French scar”, which has gone viral in Italy on this very popular network among minors.
In this currently fashionable challenge, explained by many tutorials on TikTok, college students pinch their cheeks very hard to create a fake scar, a dangerous practice according to doctors. This phenomenon has appeared in France and Italy, causing concern in the education and health sectors.
The Italian gendarme notably criticizes TikTok for not having put in place adequate systems for monitoring content, “especially in the presence of particularly vulnerable users such as minors”.
TikTok would also “not apply its own rules, which provide for the removal of dangerous content relating to challenges, suicide, self-harm and eating disorders”, underlines the Authority in its press release.
Finally, TikTok, whose popularity has exploded in favor of the Covid-19 pandemic, is accused of using an algorithm “personalizing advertisements and reproposing content similar to those already viewed”, resulting in “illegitimate conditioning” users.
Owned by the Chinese giant ByteDance, TikTok is also currently in the crosshairs of many countries for national security reasons. Following in the footsteps of several Western powers – the United States, Canada and the European Union – the United Kingdom in turn banned the application on government devices on Thursday.
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