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European political leaders ponder how to move against TikTok

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The upcoming elections will prove a testing ground for how Brussels and EU member states can deal with continue pressure from extremist groups and 3rd party actors in spreading disinformation.

Many MEPs have voiced concern over the social media platform’s ability to spread false information especially amongst young voters. Ursula von der Leyen, the centre-right European People Party’s lead candidate, will forgo TikTok in the run up to the vote, her campaign team confirmed.

MEPs from various countries argued that the increasing number of TikTok users as percentage of the total EU population might pose a danger for the upcoming elections especially with the rise of far right groups.

Others like Renew MEPs say that a possible ban on the TikTokplatform should be part of a wider public debate. “We had a study done by the European Parliament related to what young people watch in all member states and I think that if we look at where young people get their information, a very large part of their information is not only from TikTok, but also from Instagram, which does not have any problem affiliating itself with China and others”, one RENEW MEP was quoted saying.

A Romanian MEP says that a possible ban on TikTok in Romania during the election campaign would be anti-democratic. "As for limiting TikTok, I think that now, during the campaign, we have to ask ourselves some questions, that is, if the ruling coalition wants to ban TikTok now, because it doesn't suit them, I have to I admit that although I understand the danger related to China, it seems to me that they are trying to get ride of things that make them uncomfortable, including opposition parties, so this measure I would see it as slightly anti-democratic in this period . Such a measure should be part of a wider public debate and not be done because you don't like a communication channel suddenly, overnight, because you saw a survey", concludes the MEP.

The debate over TikTok has been going on for several months. In a recent pre-election debate, von der Leyen mentioned that the European Commission is aware of the "danger of TikTok" and recalled that the institution she leads was the first to ban installing the application on corporate devices. The stance comes at a time when tensions between China and the West are rising, with the United States also considering banning TikTok over its ties to the Chinese government.

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Under her mandate, von der Leyen emphasised that significant progress has been made in regulating digital services, to ensure accountability of online platforms and to prevent digital markets from being monopolized by large companies. Ahead of the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, these statements highlight the EU's concerns about cyber security and the protection of its citizens' data. 

With these developments, the future of TikTok in Europe remains uncertain, and the political decisions that will follow the European elections will be crucial in determining whether the app will continue to operate on the continent or will be subject to severe restrictions.

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EU Reporter publishes articles from a variety of outside sources which express a wide range of viewpoints. The positions taken in these articles are not necessarily those of EU Reporter.

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