TikTok agreed on June 21 to change its sponsored content policies to comply with EU rules. The short video sharing application was accused in February 2021 by the European Bureau of Consumers’ Unions (BEUC), a federation of consumer associations, of ” fail to protect children from disguised advertising and inappropriate content “.

    TikTok more strictly regulates sponsored content

    BEUC criticizes the platform for not putting in place protections aimed at protecting the youngest users. UFC-Que Choisir, a member of this group of associations, gives the example of brands using influencers to present their products or organize competitions without revealing their true intentions.

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    In response to these accusations, the social network, owned by the Chinese giant ByteDance, will make several changes to its application. The European Commission said in its statement that “ TikTok has pledged to align its practices with European advertising and consumer protection rules “.

    Now, TikTok users will have an easier time reporting ads and offers that might entice children to purchase goods or services. The Commission states that ” promoting inappropriate products and services, such as alcohol, cigarettes and “get-rich-quick schemes” ” are forbidden.

    Regarding sponsored content, videographers will have to use settings specially designed for the occasion. These allow you to add specific keywords such as #ad or #sponsored to warn viewers of a commercial approach. The advertising inserts appear every three, four videos watched are not affected.

    In addition, videos from users with more than 10,000 subscribers will be reviewed by TikTok to ensure that the content complies with the social network’s policy. Those with paid product placement will be differentiated from the others using a new label.

    In addition to these measures, there are new rules concerning the application’s donation system. TikTok uses a system of gifts that subscribers can offer to their favorite content creators for coins, the virtual currency of the social network. This money can be obtained by paying a few euros. An estimate of the price of the gifts will be displayed next to its cost in TikTok coins to inform users of the true value of the virtual item. Consumers will also be able to opt out within 14 days of purchase.

    Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, welcomed, “ TikTok’s commitment to greater transparency in the way it does business. Through our dialogue, consumers will be able to spot all types of advertising they are exposed to when using this platform. Despite today’s promise, we will continue to monitor the situation in the future, paying particular attention to the effects on young users. “.

    Insufficient measures?

    If for the European Commission these measures will further protect minors from intrusive advertisements, for BEUC, they are not sufficient. The Bureau, which brings together 43 consumer associations in around thirty European countries, points to certain points that have not yet been dealt with.

    Among them, TikTok’s copyright clause which gives the platform the possibility of modifying or reproducing the content created and published by users for possibly commercial purposes or the excessive presence of targeted advertisements which may mislead younger users. Ursula Pachl, BEUC Deputy Director General requestauthorities to closely monitor TikTok’s activities and take national enforcement action if commitments are not met “. She warned that the office would be monitoring developments very closely, “ this doesn’t have to be the end of the story “.

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