The Italian Competition Authority has sanctioned TikTok for unfair commercial practices due to its failure to monitor and prevent harmful content targeting minors and vulnerable individuals on its platform.

The short-form video platform has been fined €10m ($10.89m) by the Italian authority, with three companies of the Bytedance group held jointly responsible.

In a statement released yesterday (14 March), the watchdog alleges that TikTok’s algorithmic profiling system promotes potentially harmful content such as the “French scar” challenge, in which users pinch their cheeks until a bruise forms.

The authority said the platform’s guidelines were inadequate in protecting vulnerable users, and its recommendation system prioritises engagement over user safety, leading to increased platform usage and advertising revenue.

TikTok has faced increasing regulatory scrutiny in Europe, including fines and investigations related to its failure to protect children and concerns over its age verification tools’ effectiveness.

The European Commission launched a formal investigation last month into TikTok‘s compliance with its Digital Services Act, the EU’s online governance and content moderation framework.

The European regulator, the Data Protection Commission, previously fined TikTok $370m for violating laws on handling children’s personal data in the EU in September 2023.

In the US, TikTok faces a potential ban due to concerns over national security threats, with lawmakers raising worries about Chinese Government access to user data through ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company.

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