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EU tells TikTok to prepare to censor “misinformation,” harmful content

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The EU’s Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton has discussed TikTok’s compliance with the new rules in the Digital Services Act (DSA), which will take effect in September, with CEO Shou Zi Chew. The DSA requires large online platforms to address “harmful” content.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Breton called Shou to discuss how the company planned to comply with the DSA.

“With younger audiences comes greater responsibility,” Breton said. “It is not acceptable that behind seemingly fun and harmless features, it takes users seconds to access harmful and sometimes even life-threatening content.”

Breton added that considering the millions of young users in the region, the platform has a “special responsibility” to make sure harmful content doesn’t proliferate.

On Twitter, TikTok’s Brussels-based public policy and government relations director Caroline Greer said that the exchange between Shou and Breton was good and that the company views users’ safety as paramount.

Greer added that the call was an opportunity for the company to reassure the EU about its commitment to the DSA and to outline the efforts it is taking to comply with the bloc’s rules.

The EU commissioner said that he “explicitly conveyed” to TikTok’s CEO that the platform has to “step up efforts to comply” with the DSA and EU’s rules on copyright and data protection. Non-compliance with the DSA carries huge fines and punishment goes as far as a ban from the region for repeated violations.

Breton is also uncomfortable with accusations that the social media platform is conducting surveillance on journalists and sending troves of personal user data outside the region, which is a violation of rules on privacy.

TikTok’s ties to China have raised concerns in the West. Critics fear that Beijing could use the platform, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, to collect data and push pro-China misinformation and propaganda. The app has been banned from devices issued by the government in Congress, the military, and 22 states.

Shou also met with members of the European Commission earlier this month in Brussels to discuss concerns like user data transfer to China and child safety.

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