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Joint European consumer authorities force TikTok to make changes

TikTok will bring its practices more in line with European consumer rules. This has been the result of various discussions with European consumer authorities. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) was also involved in these discussions. The discussions had been prompted by a complaint filed by the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) and the Dutch Consumers’ Association (in Dutch: Consumentenbond) about TikTok. The most important issue was that the platform does not make a clear distinction between commercial content (advertising) and non-commercial content. Since the platform is mainly used by children, a vulnerable target audience, it is even more crucial that such a distinction is clear. TikTok has implemented changes with regard to this issue.

Commercial content will, in the future, be clearly marked by a label. In that context, various labels will be tested in real life for their visibility and effectiveness. This will determine what works best for this target audience. In addition, users can report content with commercial intent which cannot be recognized as such. In addition, it has become easier for users to reject personalized ads by displaying the option to reject them in a similar manner as the option to accept them.

Visit the website of the European Commission to see what changes TikTok has implemented, and what more it will implement after the summer.

Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “We welcome the steps taken by TikTok. Together with our European colleagues, we keep a close watch on the outcome and effectiveness of TikTok’s commitments. This will, in any case, include the development of a label by TikTok that will be able to separate commercial content from other content, as well as behavioral research to substantiate the effectiveness of that label.”

The digital economy

The digital economy is a key priority on ACM’s Agenda in 2022, too. The basic principle of ACM’s regulatory efforts is that people and businesses reap the benefits of the digital economy. Platform providers play a crucial role in guaranteeing consumer’s rights and in maintaining compliance with the rules among traders that are active on their platforms. Previously, ACM published guidelines regarding online misleading practices, in which ACM explains at what point online persuasion turns into deception. TikTok’s commitments are in line with these guidelines and with the rules of thumb for online platforms.

Also previously, the European Commission formulated key principles for businesses that target children in their ads, and that wish to do so in a fair manner. These principles have been taken into account in the commitments.