Italy's Antitrust probes TikTok over 'French scar' dangerous content
MILAN, March 21 (Reuters) - Italy's antitrust authority said on Tuesday it had opened an investigation into the Chinese-owned app TikTok as it allegedly breaches its rules by allowing the publication of "dangerous content" inciting suicide, self-harm and poor nutrition.
The probe involves TikTok's Irish unit, which is responsible for its European customers relations, as well as the British and Italian divisions, the watchdog said in a statement. Italy's tax police visited the Italian headquarters of the app on Tuesday, it added.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, denied wrongdoing and said it would cooperate with the investigation.
The company is facing tighter regulation globally, with growing international concern about the potential for the Chinese government to access users' location and contact data.
The Italian authority said that on the platform there are numerous videos of young people adopting self-harming behaviour, such us the recent 'French scar' face-marking challenge which has become viral.
According to the watchdog "adequate systems to supervise content published by third parties are lacking" and the app violates TikTok's guidelines which provide for the removal of dangerous content.
The antitrust body also takes issue with the exploitation of artificial intelligence techniques capable of "causing undue conditioning" of TikTok's users.
A spokesperson for TikTok rejected the allegations, saying the company does not "allow content showing or promoting dangerous activities and challenges, suicide, self-harm or unhealthy eating behaviours."
"More than 40,000 dedicated safety professionals work to keep our community safe, and we take extra care to protect teenagers in particular," the spokesperson added.
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