Italy regulator fines TikTok US$11 million for ‘French scar challenge’

  • Italian regulators have fined TikTok nearly US$11 million for failing to protect children, citing the ‘French scar challenge’
  • TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and other social media companies including Facebook and Instagram parent Meta Platforms are under pressure

Italy’s competition watchdog has fined three units of social media giant TikTok US$11 million in total for inadequate checks on content potentially harmful to young or vulnerable users on Thursday.

Another blow for TikTok  

The antitrust agency (AGCM), said Thursday that TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, had failed to take into account the specific vulnerabilities of adolescents using its platform, such as a tendency toward copying group behaviors.

An example of harmful content mentioned by the AGCM is what is known as the “French scar” trend, which involved TikTok users pinching their own cheeks to leave a lasting bruise.

Last month, the EU launched a formal investigation into the platform to determine whether it is doing enough to protect minors, saying that TikTok’s age verification tools aimed at preventing children from accessing inappropriate content — “may not be reasonable, proportionate and effective.”

This week has also been difficult for TikTok. On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that could ban the platform in the country.

The legislation would shut out TikTok from US app stores unless the platform is spun off from ByteDance and sold to a US company.

Also read: US passes bill that could ban TikTok despite resistance from Trump

Another investigation

Another Chinese-owned platform is also under scrutiny in Europe.

On Thursday, the EU’s executive arm said it had opened a formal probe into AliExpress.

The European Commission will investigate whether the online marketplace, owned by Alibaba, has broken a string of its rules, including those related to the spread of illegal content, minors’ access to pornographic material and the sale of fake food and medications.


Jennifer Yu

Jennifer Yu is an intern reporter at BTW Media covering artificial intelligence and products. She graduated from The University of Hong Kong. Send tips to

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