TikTok hit with $368 million fine for failing to protect child privacy

TikTok faces a hefty $368 million fine from European regulators for privacy breaches concerning children.

This marks the first instance of the popular short video-sharing app being penalized for violating Europe’s data privacy regulations, according to the Associated Press.

The fine of 345 million euros comes from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, citing violations during the second half of 2020.

The investigation revealed that the sign-up process for teen users made their accounts public by default, risking the privacy of children under 13, the AP reported.

Additionally, the “family pairing” feature meant for parental control allowed adults to enable direct messaging for users aged 16 and 17 without consent. It also pushed teen users toward more invasive privacy options during sign-up and video posting.

TikTok disagreed with the decision, specifically with the amount of money it was fined, highlighting that the problems are about features and settings from three years ago that they had already fixed before the investigation took place in 2021.

The regulator is still investigating whether TikTok followed EU data rules when transferring user information to China, where its owner ByteDance is based.

TikTok is not the only platform that has faced data privacy fines by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission.

Last year, Instagram faced a $402 million fine. WhatsApp received a $5.9 million fine in January of this year, and its parent company Meta was fined a significant $1.3 billion in May.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.