In its efforts to comply with the upcoming European Union regulations such as the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok is gearing up to introduce a slew of new features. Despite being widely acclaimed for its entertaining content such as lip-syncing and dance videos, TikTok has drawn scrutiny over its impact on democracies and data security concerns. 

Several lawmakers and regulators have debated with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, over potentially sensitive data exposure to the Chinese government, given that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China. 

TikTok EU Digital Services Act

(Image Courtesy – Freepik)

EU’s privacy regulations aligning with EU’s DSA 2023, mandate online platforms such as Alphabet’s Google, Meta Platforms, and TikTok to take new measures for governing illegal content, sharing data with authorities, and curbing specific advertising practices.

TikTok Prepares In Compliance With EU’s Digital Services Act

The EU DSA’s impending enactment deadline is 28th August 2023. Under the EU’s Digital Services Act, online platforms are accountable for prohibiting illegal content activity. The companies are required to employ independent auditing to ensure that such content risks are put out widely. The platforms that won’t display compliance with the EU’s DSA will be subjected to lofty fines.  

TikTok’s adjustments were propelled by agreeing to a voluntary ‘stress test’ in its Dublin office. European Commissioner Thierry Breton had noted that TikTok’s test results indicated organizational improvements including changes to its content recommendation systems, covering child protection, content moderation, data access, and transparency.

“Recent events have shown the impact TikTok has on democracies, and how important independent EU enforcement is. TikTok has dedicated significant resources to compliance with EU DSA. Now it’s time to accelerate in order to be fully compliant.”

TikTok’s Brussels-based public policy official, Caroline Greer had eloquently discussed with media channels that the entertainment platform is fully dedicated to implementing the DSA to enhance transparency and accountability.   

TikTok’s Measures For The EU DSA

As one of the 19 companies subject to the EU DSA, TikTok is striving to meet its obligations by implementing various measures. TikTok has emphasized its commitment to meeting the EU’s DSA regulatory requirements to establish new benchmarks through innovative measures. 

European users will be able to disable personalized algorithms for the “For You” and “Live” feeds, aligning with the EU DSA’s mandate for platforms to allow users to opt out. These rules of the EU’s Digital Services Act enumerate that large online platforms must let the user decide to opt out of receiving personalized content as this feature quintessentially relies heavily on data tracking and profiling user activity when a user views content recommendations.

TikTok’s search feature will display popular content from the user’s region, with chronological order being applied to the ‘Following’ and ‘Friends’ feeds in the non-personalized view. Users will easily be able to report illegal content.

Furthermore, teenagers between 13 and 17 will automatically be exempted from being targeted with personalized ads based on their online activity. They will have to opt out of these personalizations with a toggle. 

The other major platforms likely to make analogous adjustments to adhere to the new regulations include YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.