TikTok is reported to the European Commission for misleading advertising among minors, data collection and abusive practices
TikTok is the fashion network among the youngest and brands know it. The influence of these viral videos is very high and the advertisements or promoted products are not always well marked. Now the European Consumers Organization (BEUC) has denounced TikTok to the European Commission, for not protecting the little ones on its platform and hiding inappropriate content. The complaint has added 17 partner organizations from 15 countries of the European Union, among which are organizations such as TO FATHER The ASUFIN.
In a extensive report, TikTok practices are reviewed and it has been concluded that minors are too exposed. According to the organizations, their policy of use is ambiguous, the policy of use of virtual items (coins to buy gifts) contains deceptive practices and minors are encouraged to participate in promotional hashtags where they are encouraged to buy certain products. A whole series of practices that organizations believe are against consumer rights in the European Union.
Hidden advertising and little transparency
Different problems come together; on the one hand the complaint about its policy of use and on the other the hidden advertising, with aggressive marketing that can be harmful to children if not controlled. The complaint includes part of the report carried out by the Catalan Audiovisual Council, where it was found that there were videos with millions of views that contained all kinds of Covert advertising for fast food, sugary drinks, beauty products, clothing, consoles, and video games.
3⃣ In many 🇪🇺 countries, the policies are only available in English, making them unintelligible to many consumers, in particular children and teenagers who may not be able to read English. This observation also applies to other TikTok policy documents. #TikTokWithoutFilters pic.twitter.com/Nxvp1mMVmV
— The Consumer Voice (@beuc) February 16, 2021
BEUC demands that an investigation be launched by the European Commission and TikTok modify its conditions of use to correctly reflect its business model. Organizations also demand that TikTok transparently explain the financial consequences of buying virtual gifts for influencers. In particular, children and adolescents should be better protected and remember that “data collection, profiling and targeted advertising for all users under the age of 18 must be severely restricted.”
Monique Goyens, CEO of the European Consumers Organization (BEUC), states that “In just a few years, TikTok has become one of the most popular social media applications with millions of users across Europe. But we have discovered a whole series of violations of consumer rights and therefore we have filed a complaint against TikTok. We do not want the little ones to be exposed to omnipresent hidden advertising and that unknowingly turn into billboards when they’re just trying to have fun”.
Since November 2020, the Council of Ministers approved the Royal Decree of commercial communications, regulating, among other aspects, advertising, sponsorship and promotion. Regarding minors, the law establishes that operators must have instruments that “guarantee that their advertising is not directed at minors.” In terms of privacy, it is the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) who must determine whether TikTok complies with the provisions.