The European Union has issued a warning to TikTok over reports that the app is being used to “disseminate illegal content and disinformation” related to the Hamas-Israel conflict in violation of EU law, including “violent content depicting hostage taking and other graphic videos.”
In a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, EU commissioner Thierry Breton wrote, “Following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, we have indications that TikTok is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU. Let me remind you that the Digital Services Act sets very precise obligations regarding content moderation.” He requested a “prompt, accurate and complete response to this request within the next 24 hours.”
Breton’s notice to TikTok comes after he sent similar warnings to X/Twitter owner Elon Musk and Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg. X CEO Linda Yaccarino responded early Thursday, saying the social network has removed or applied labels to “thousands” of posts suspected of including disinformation.
Asked for comment a TikTok spokesperson referred to recent blog posts about its compliance with the EU’s DSA law (here and here). In addition, the rep said TikTok has increased dedicated resources to help prevent violent, hateful or misleading content on the app, including increased moderation resources in Hebrew and Arabic. TikTok also continues to work with fact-checking organizations accredited by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network to help assess the accuracy of content, according to the rep.
In the letter to Chew, Breton wrote in part, “given that your platform is extensively used by children and teenagers, you have a particular obligation to protect them from violent content depicting hostage taking and other graphic videos which are reportedly widely circulating on your platform, without appropriate safeguards. As foreseen in the DSA, you need to put in place appropriate and proportionate measures to guarantee a high level of privacy, safety and security.”
Breton also told Chew that he expects TikTok to “be in contact with the relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol, and ensure that you respond promptly to their requests.”