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Italian Regulator Fines TikTok $11m Over Inadequate Checks on Harmful Content 

Italy’s competition watchdog imposed fines on TikTok after young users were seen participating in a harmful challenge.

Italy’s competition watchdog has imposed fines totalling €10 million ($10.94 million) on three subsidiaries of social media titan TikTok for inadequate oversight of content potentially harmful to young or vulnerable users.

The regulator’s decision, announced on Thursday, underscores the global pressure facing social media platforms, including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, owned by Meta Platforms, to safeguard underage users.

The Italian authority highlighted videos depicting young individuals engaging in the “French scar” challenge, a trend popular among users involving pinching cheeks to produce lasting bruises on the cheekbone.

A spokesperson for TikTok, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, expressed disagreement with the antitrust fine, asserting that the platform had implemented restrictions on the visibility of French Scar videos for users under 18.

Last month, Italy’s communications authority, AGCOM, mandated TikTok’s removal of such videos.

In its ruling, the antitrust authority emphasized that the potentially hazardous content had been disseminated through profiling algorithms.

The watchdog said, “TikTok has not taken adequate measures to prevent the spreading of such content and has not fully complied with the guidelines it has adopted, reassuring customers that the platform is a ‘safe’ space.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, where TikTok boasts approximately 170 million users, the social media app faces potential prohibition unless its Chinese parent company divests within approximately six months. This stipulation arises from the terms of a draft bill endorsed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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