After a tragic incident involving a 10-year-old girl, the Italian ‘privacy watchdog’ has issued a decision that TikTok must block all users whose age it has not verified. The blockade will last at least until February 15 but may provide a permanent measure for the platform.
A 10-year-old girl recently died of suffocation, presumably as a result of the dangerous Blackout Challenge on TikTok. Such ‘challenges’ ask the participants to suffocate themselves for as long as possible and post a video of it on the platform. While these kinds of challenges are dangerous for all users, this is more the case for underage participants, who cannot foresee the consequences of such actions.
This is not the only incident that a person has lost his life creating a TikTok video. In one incident a Pakistani TikToker was hit by a train trying to walk in slo-mo in front of a train.
It is striking that TikTok says it prohibits young people under 13 from registering on the platform – at the same time, it does not perform any age checks, so users can pretend to be older. Hence, after the incident involving the ten-year-old girl from Palermo, the Italian privacy watchdog has directed TikTok to block users whose age it cannot verify.
TikTok must block these users until at least February 15; until then, users cannot post or comment on existing videos. We don’t know what measures the Chinese TikTok will have to implement after 15 February. God knows how many accounts there are on TikTok whose age has not been verified. The measure follows an earlier warning from the Italian privacy watchdog to TikTok.
In a response, TikTok said that ‘privacy and security’ are top priorities for the platform. They also said that it is working to “strengthen its policies, processes and technologies” to protect the community on TikTok. Previously, it made the decision to impose restrictions that affect TikTok users between 13 and 15 years old.
In Italy, it is currently being investigated whether the ten-year-old girl has been encouraged to participate in the Blackout Challenge, Reuters reports. Furthermore, the privacy watchdog has contacted Ireland – TikTok has its European headquarters there.
We have yet to see to what extent this incident will affect the way in which it verifies users across Europe. Do you think TikTok should implement stricter verification actions? Let us know in the comments.