Italy’s Data Protection Authority has blocked TikTok for users whose age can’t be verified. This comes after a 10-year-old girl died while allegedly participating in a “blackout” choking challenge. Officials say it was too easy for kids under 13 to sign up using a fake birth date, suggesting that the loose safeguards are responsible for taking a life.
The DPA also accused TikTok of violating Italian law requiring parental consent when kids under 14 sign up for social networks. The data policies are also a problem. TikTok doesn’t customize risk warnings and other info for children, and posts are public by default. The company is apparently not clear about how long it keeps data, how it anonymizes info and how it transfers material outside of the EU. These are all concerns.
The block lasts until February 15th, and TikTok will have until then to meet the DPA’s demands and make things right.
A TikTok spokesperson stressed that safety was TikTok’s “absolute priority” and that the social media giant didn’t allow any content that “encourages, promotes or glorifies” dangerous behavior.
This tragedy certainly illustrates the difficulties of monitoring for underage users on social networks. We hope that they can do better and avoid this sort of thing.