DSA: TikTok will let EU users turn off personalised content

4 Aug 2023

Image: © AdriaVidal/Stock.adobe.com

The video platform is pushing to be DSA-compliant ahead of its 28 August deadline, while a potential multimillion-euro fine looms for breaching children’s privacy.

TikTok is bringing in new measures to become compliant with EU regulation this month, including an adjustment to personalised content.

The platform’s new measures are being undertaken in relation to the Digital Services Act (DSA), the landmark batch of EU measures to tackle illegal content online, by imposing new rules on larger companies.

In order to meet these requirements, TikTok said it will let users in the EU turn off personalisation. This is when the content a user sees is tailored to suit their personal interests, usually based on algorithmic data.

“When using non-personalised search, they will see results made up of popular content from their region and in their preferred language,” TikTok said in a blogpost. “Their Following and Friends feeds will continue to show creators they follow, but in chronological order rather than based on the viewer’s profile.”

EU users will also have an additional reporting option, so they can report content that they believe is illegal, “including advertising”. The new measures will also give EU users information about a “broader range of content moderation decisions”.

These measures follow a voluntary stress test undertaken by TikTok last month, which showed the platform was not yet compliant to DSA rules. The deadline for TikTok to be compliant with these rules is 28 August.

A fine for processing children’s data

Meanwhile, TikTok is expected to receive a multimillion-euro fine for breaching children’s privacy, based on a decision by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).

The decision follows an investigation into TikTok that began in 2021, which looked into how TikTok processed the personal data for users under the age of 18 and verified the ages of users under 13. This investigation was led by the Irish Data Protection Commission.

The EDPB said its binding decision ensures the “correct and consistent application of the GDPR” by national data protection authorities. The DPC now has one month to adopt its final decision.

Based on previous interventions by the EDPB, it is likely that TikTok will face a large fine for its GDPR breaches. Last December, the EDPB issued three “dispute resolution decisions” regarding Meta’s advertising practices, which led to fines and new measures being imposed on the company by the DPC.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic