Italy watchdog forces TikTok to remove ‘French scar’ challenge videos

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 11:41 AM

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s communications authority AGCOM on Friday said it had forced social media app TikTok to remove some videos showing young people performing a dangerous practice known as the “French scar”.

The “French scar” challenge involves pinching your cheek to leave a lasting bruise on your cheekbone. It became popular among young Italian users of the app last year, prompting an investigation by Italy’s antitrust authority.

AGCOM said its decision represented the first application of new rules approved in December, which enable the Italian watchdog to order the removal of “harmful content” on video-sharing platforms to protect minors and consumers.

TikTok removed the videos identified as harmful within the five-day period envisaged by the rules, AGCOM said.

“We had already taken measures, including preventing content from being recommended to users,” a TikTok spokesperson told Reuters, adding that the app geoblocked the videos in Italy as requested by AGCOM.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and other social media companies including Facebook and Instagram parent Meta Platforms, are under pressure from regulators around the globe to protect children from harmful content on their platforms.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that his administration has filed a lawsuit against social media companies including Facebook and Instagram for fuelling mental health crises among the young.

(Reporting by Alessandro Parodi and Elvira Pollina, editing by Alvise Armellini, Kirsten Donovan)