Around the World: TikTok users in Europe get more choices, but the app is banned in Senegal

By 08/04/2023
Around the World: TikTok users in Europe get more choices, but the app is banned in Senegal
Senegalese President Macky Sall recently announced a TikTok ban

Welcome to Around the World, our summary of top digital media headlines from countries other than the United States. We’re always looking for stories that don’t get enough Stateside attention, so hit us up at  if you have one.


TikTok users in Europe will be able to turn off the app’s addictive algorithm

The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) is bringing big changes to the For You Page. Among other regulations, the DSA mandates that major platforms must allow users to opt out of personalized recommendation algorithms. So if you’re looking to kick your TikTok addiction and you live in an E.U. territory, you now have a chance to break the habit.

“As part of our efforts to meet DSA requirements, we will soon be giving our European community another way to discover content on TikTok by allowing them to turn off personalization,” reads a TikTok blog post. If users choose that option, their home region and preferred language will determine the videos they see on their respective For You Pages.

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A French news organization is taking X to court

TikTok isn’t the only tech company affected by E.U. regulations. A 2019 law states that online platforms must negotiate financial remuneration for publishers that share news with users. Under Elon Musk‘s leadership, the platform formerly known as Twitter has flaunted those rules, and that’s led to a lawsuit from one of France’s largest newswires.

The Agence France-Presse (AFP) has sued X, claiming that the recently-rebranded company has dodged discussions about payments. “As a leading advocate for the adoption of neighboring rights for the press, AFP remains unwavering in its commitment to the cause,” AFP said in a statement. In response, Musk called the lawsuit “bizarre” and questioned why he should pay companies that reap ad revenue from his platform.


Senegal bans TikTok amid political tensions

In mainland Africa’s westernmost country, partisan clashes have indirectly led to a TikTok ban. Opposition party Pastef has used social media in its bid to challenge the ruling government of President Macky Sall. “The TikTok application is the social network favored by people with bad intentions to spread hateful and subversive messages,” Senegal’s Communications Minister Moussa Bocar Thiam said in a statement.

Are there connections between the Senegalese situation and the U.S. government’s proposed TikTok regulations? TikTok has developed a reputation as the voice of the political minority, and attempts to restrict the app are becoming part of the ruling party playbook.


As YouTube Shorts captivates India, local video apps are struggling to keep up

Last year, the app known as Josh raised a whopping $805 million Series J round. Josh is virtually unknown in the West, but in India, it made a name for itself by serving videos to the “Bharat” community of non-English speakers.

If you follow along with our Global Top 50 charts, then you know that non-English Indian channels like KL Bro Biju Rithvik regularly rank among the most popular YouTube Shorts hubs. Shorts’ inroads into Bharat communities is bad news for Josh. According to a recent report in The Economic Times, Josh and its contemporaries have suffered subscriber attrition as they struggle to keep up with YouTube’s short-form juggernaut. It’s hard out there for a tech unicorn.


Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share

In the United States, creators are trying to clean up the ocean, and their environmentalist messages are echoing across the world. An Indonesian TikTok group called Pandawara has gained millions of followers by sharing videos in which they remove trash from rivers and beaches.

“We have a team of river hunters who identifies rivers with urgent trash issues, where flooding can happen after rainfall,” Pandawara member Gilang Rahma told The Guardian. During a recent cleanup effort at a beach on Sumatra, more than 3,000 people responded to a call for volunteers. They helped Pandawara remove 300 tons of waste.

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