EU industry chief Thierry Breton on Thursday took TikTok to task over the spread of disinformation on its platform following Hamas’ attack on Israel after similar reprimands to X and Meta, marking the first test of his landmark online content rules.
The Frenchman gave TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew 24 hours to step up efforts to remove illegal and harmful content from the short video app in order to comply with the Digital Services Act (DSA).
The DSA, which entered into force in November last year, forces very large online platforms and search engines to do more to tackle illegal content and risks to public security, and protect their services against manipulative techniques.
Breton’s warning in a letter to Chew, first seen by Reuters, follows similar letters to X, formerly Twitter, owner Elon Musk and Meta Platforms’ Mark Zuckerberg earlier this week. Breton subsequently posted the letter on social media platform Bluesky.
Breton said in the letter to TikTok, owned by Chinese conglomerate ByteDance, that he had indications that it was being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU after the Hamas attacks.
“Given that your platform is extensively used by children and teenagers, you have a particular obligation to protect them from violent content depicting hostage taking and other graphic videos which are reportedly widely circulating on your platform without appropriate safeguards,” he said.
The EU industry commissioner said rules on content moderation were clear in the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) and spelt out certain obligations in his letter.
X CEO Linda Yaccarino said on Thursday that X has removed hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts and taken action to remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content since the attack on Israel.
DSA breaches can cost companies as much as 6% of their global turnover.