TikTok announces new package of features before Digital Services Act

The new measures taken by Chinese social media company TikTok are the end result of many months of bargaining and negotiation – but are they enough for the EU?

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TikTok has revealed a series of fresh updates for its European users. These enhancements are designed to improve adherence to upcoming regulations set by the European Union in the form of the long-anticipated Digital Services Act (DSA).

On Friday, the company announced additional DSA-compliant steps, including making it easier for European users to report unlawful content, disabling personalised video recommendations, and deleting targeted advertising for teenagers.

Reminder: The aim of the DSA is to build a more secure online environment that safeguards the basic rights of all digital service users. Additionally, it seeks to create fair conditions that promote innovation, growth, and competitiveness within the European Single Market and on a global scale.

Timeline: In March, TikTok unveiled ‘Project Clover’, a fresh initiative designed to improve data privacy and security for its European users. As part of the project, TikTok plans to build a new data centre in Ireland and set up a ‘Transparency and Accountability Center’ which will offer transparency into the company’s data handling procedures.

In April, the European Commission identified 19 platforms or search engines with a minimum of 45 million monthly active users that would have to adhere to more stringent rules regarding illegal content monitoring, advertising practices and government data-sharing. TikTok is part of this list.

On 17 July, a ‘stress test’ was conducted at TikTok’s European headquarters in Dublin, and the results were subsequently discussed with the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton. Highlighting the importance of ensuring user safety online, Breton called upon the platform to intensify its efforts in adapting to the new EU digital regulations. This led TikTok to open up its data and algorithms to EU researchers, as mandated by the DSA.