TikTok fined for Child Privacy Violations

(DailyVantage.com) – TikTok, a social media platform aimed at teens, has been fined 345 million euros, or $368,000, for failing to protect the privacy of teenage users. The Irish Data Protection Committee (IDPC) began an investigation in September 2021 regarding the handling of teen user accounts from July 31 through December 31, 2020. It was discovered that TikTok violated multiple articles of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The discoveries made by the IDPC were concerning and potentially dangerous to teen users of TikTok. The profiles of all teenagers defaulted to public visibility. This made anything posted to the accounts visible to anyone, on and off the platform.

TikTok has a feature called “family pairing” that allows parent accounts to manage settings on their children’s accounts. This feature was determined to be flawed as it allowed adult accounts that were not verified as guardians to link with those of teenagers 16 and above. This allowed the adult user account to enable direct messaging on the child account.

The IDPC also claims teenagers were “nudged” into choosing options that would allow more privacy intrusion when posting videos or signing up. There was also evidence that children under the age of 13 were able to sign up as users even though they were not supposed to be allowed.

TikTok officials stated that they disagree with the decision, especially the considerable amount of the fine. The company argued that the alleged wrongdoings happened over three years ago and that changes were made to correct the issues well in advance of the beginning of the investigation.

A second investigation is also in the works to determine if TikTok complied with the EU’s GDPR when the information from the personal accounts of users was transferred to China. ByteDance, the parent company for TikTok, is based in China.

TikTok has opened a data center in Dublin to localize user information in response to accusations of user information ending up in China and posing a security risk.

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