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These social media platforms have been fined more than any other

A Surfshark report published last November revealed that a third of the most fined social media platforms since the introduction of GDPR in 2018 targeted the mishandling of children’s data. Out of 13 total fines, four were related to children, and TikTok got three of them. This pattern puts TikTok, already facing scrutiny in the US for its data practices, squarely under the global spotlight.

No doubt Meta is home to some of the best social media apps. However, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp dominate the overall list of GDPR penalties, racking up €2.6 billion in fines. Instagram was fined €405 million in 2022 for automatically setting children’s accounts to public, exposing their information without consent.

TikTok, with at least €360 million in fines related to children’s data, is the most fined social media app with 3 out of the 4 fines over five years, but it’s far from alone. The Surfshark report highlights that companies across the social media landscape have failed to adequately safeguard younger users. Even platforms like X (formerly Twitter), historically less associated with younger audiences, have not escaped scrutiny. In late 2020, X was fined a total of €450k.

Most fined social media platforms GDPR 2018 2023

US officials take note

The trend of social media platforms mishandling children’s data raises alarm bells for US officials already concerned about TikTok’s potential to spread misinformation or hand over sensitive user data to the Chinese government. In fact, President Biden has just signed the bill to ban TikTok in the US, which perhaps justifies the app topping the list of the most fined social media platforms since 2018. And while the national security risks are specific to TikTok, the broader issue of child safety online transcends any single platform.

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Lawmakers in the US and Europe face the complex task of balancing the popularity of social media with the vulnerability of young users. “TikTok already has a troubling track record of mishandling children’s data, evident from the substantial GDPR fines received in the past, says Lina Survila, Surfshark spokeswoman. “Now, as the European Commission weighs the suspension of TikTok Lite‘s reward program due to its potentially harmful and addictive impact on young users, it’s clear that the platform’s negligence extends beyond data privacy concerns. As we confront these challenges, let’s advocate for responsible digital environments that prioritize the well-being of our youngest members.”

TikTok might be the most fined social media app of the lot. However, the Surfshark report also shows that it isn’t an isolated case, but part of a systemic failure to prioritize child safety in the digital age. As global regulators take note, the pressure will mount on every major social media player to demonstrate accountability and make meaningful changes to protect young users.

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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