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EU threatens to suspend TikTok Lite’s reward programme

EU threatens to suspend TikTok Lite’s reward programme
The logo for ByteDance Ltd.'s TikTok app is displayed on a smartphone in an arranged photograph in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on Monday Sept.14, 2020. *** SECOND SENTENCE HERE ***. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

BRUSSELS, April 22 (Reuters) - TikTok Lite's reward programme may be suspended in the European Union on Thursday if TikTok is unable to address concerns about its possible addictive effect on children, the European Commission said on Monday as it opened a probe into the new app's launch in France and Spain.

By Foo Yun Chee

Brussels is applying the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) which requires leading online platforms to do more to tackle harmful and illegal content or risk fines up to 6% of their global annual turnover.

“Unless TikTok provides compelling proof of its safety, which it has failed to do until now, we stand ready to trigger DSA interim measures including the suspension of TikTok Lite feature which we suspect could generate addiction,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said in a statement on Monday.

TikTok, owned by Chinese group ByteDance, has been given until Wednesday to argue its case before the Commission decides whether to go ahead with a suspension.

TikTok said it was disappointed with the Commission’s decision.

“The TikTok Lite rewards hub is not available to under 18s, and there is a daily limit on video watch tasks. We will continue discussions with the Commission,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

The Commission said TikTok has also been given 24 hours to provide a risk assessment report on TikTok Lite or risk a fine up to 1% of its global annual turnover. It has until May 3 to provide other requested information.

TikTok launched TikTok Lite in France and Spain this month but the Commission said it had done so without first submitting a risk assessment report as required under the DSA.

Its key feature is a reward programme that allows users to earn points while performing certain tasks on the platform such as watching videos, liking content, following creators or inviting friends to join.

TikTok is already the target of another investigation opened in February on whether it may have breached DSA rules aimed at protecting children and ensuring transparent advertising.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey, Alexander Smith and Tomasz Janowski)

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