Antitrust imposed a fine of 10 million euros on three companies of the Chinese group Bytedance Ltd, owner of TikTok. The Competition and Markets Authority, at the end of its investigation, noted that “the controls exercised by the company on the content circulating on the social platform, very popular with the youngest, are insufficient, “particularly those which may threaten the safety of minor and vulnerable subjects.” “. According to Agcm, “these contents are systematically re-proposed to users following their algorithmic profiling, stimulating ever-increasing use of the social network”. In the past, the group has been criticized on several occasions for the management and control of contents, especially in relation to the dissemination of certain potentially dangerous challenges, such as those of the French scar and the super spicy chips. The company has always defended itself by affirming that it intervenes quickly in each case, reporting and removing potentially dangerous content. The AGCM investigation is of a different opinion. As indicated in a note, the Authority “verified the responsibility of TikTok in the dissemination of content likely to threaten the psycho-physical safety of users , particularly if they are minors and vulnerable”. The platform would not have taken “adequate measures to avoid the dissemination of such content, not fully respecting the guidelines which it has adopted and which it has made known to consumers, reassuring them that the platform is a safe space. According to the Agcm, the guidelines should be applied with greater sensitivity to the “specific vulnerability of adolescents, characterized by particular cognitive mechanisms from which derive, for example, the difficulty of distinguishing reality from fiction and the tendency to imitate group behavior. The Authority then points the finger at the For You and Followed sections, powered by “algorithmic profiling of users”, which “aims to increase interactions between users and the time spent on the platform in order to increase profitability advertising revenue. As a result, there is “excessive conditioning of users who are encouraged to increasingly use the platform which constantly selects the videos to be allocated to each consumer”. The company responded through a spokesperson: “We do not agree with this decision. Content related to the so-called “French scar” averaged just 100 searches per day in Italy before the AGCM announced the start of investigations last year. We have long reduced the visibility of this content for users under 18, also excluding them from the For You page. »

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