French President Emmanuel Macron took aim at TikTok on Thursday, accusing the Chinese social network of censoring content and encouraging online addiction among young people.
“TikTok is the most disruptive (psychologically), the most effective network among young people,” the 44-year-old said during an event to discuss mental health.
“This network is deceptively innocent,” he said before discussing its algorithms which help identify content to push to users.
“It knows very well what you like… pushes incredibly well-made things that are much more creative than the American equivalents,” he said in Fontaine-le-Comte in central France.
“Behind this, there’s a real addiction,” he added.
He also said the platform kept off information banned by Chinese censors such as human rights violations in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
A United Nations report in August cited possible crimes against humanity there against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, which Beijing denies.
“I defy you to find content on what is happening in Xinjiang,” Macron added.
He said the network also included “hidden Russian propaganda”, without elaborating.
Macron has a TikTok account himself with 3.2 million followers which he has used to relay messages about bullying, autism and health.
Since coming to power in 2017, he has overseen the passing of new laws in France to force social media platforms to tackle harmful content.
His wife Brigitte, a former school teacher, has also made online bullying one of the focuses of her philanthropic work.
Macron met the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, last week during a trip to the United States.
He urged the billionaire entrepreneur to respect content moderation requirements in Europe after Musk announced significant staff cuts.