EU Prepares Action Against ‘Addictive’ TikTok Lite Features

European Commission may ban rewards feature in recently launched TikTok Lite that it calls ‘toxic and addictive’

The European Commission may suspend a rewards feature built into TikTok Lite as soon as Thursday over mental health concerns for young people, the Commission has said.

The EU’s new Digital Services Act places obligations on the largest online platforms to do more to control harmful and illegal content or face fines of up to 6 percent of global annual turnover.

Commissioner Thierry Breton said the feature, which pays users to spend time on the app, is “toxic and addictive”, particularly when used by children.

“Unless TikTok provides compelling proof of safety – which it failed to do until now – we stand ready to trigger DSA interim measures including the suspension of the TikTok Lite ‘reward programme’,” Breton said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Thierry Breton. Image credit: European Parliament  european comission tiktok
Thierry Breton. Image credit: European Parliament

Addiction risk

Under the DSA platforms are required to submit a risk assessment before making major changes to their offerings.

The Commission said TikTok failed to do so before launching TikTok Lite in France and Spain earlier this month.

TikTok has until Wednesday to provide its assessment to the Commission, or face suspension of the “Task and Rewards” programme on Thursday, the Commission said.

The feature is built into TikTok Lite, which uses less data and space on users’ phones compared with the main app.

The app was launched last year in some parts of Asia but France and Spain are the only Western countries in which it is currently available.

Rewards programme

There are currently no plans for a broader roll-out in Europe.

The programme offers users the equivalent of a few pence per day for tasks such as watching videos, liking content, following creators and inviting friends to join.

TikTok says the feature is only available to users over the age of 18, but the Commission said it suspects “lack of effective age verification mechanisms”.

In February the Commission opened a formal probe into potential DSA breaches related to the protection of minors, advertising transparency, data access for researchers and risk management for addictive design and harmful content.