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TikTok changes privacy, safety features to help protect younger users

Social Media-Data Privacy
Posted at 10:52 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 12:52:40-05

CULVER CITY, Calif. – TikTok announced changes to its platform Wednesday that seek to improve privacy and safety standards for younger users.

Starting immediately, TikTok says it’s changing the default privacy setting to private for all registered accounts for those between 13 and 15 years old. With a private account, only someone the user approves to be a follower can view their videos.

“We want our younger users to be able to make informed choices about what and with whom they choose to share, which includes whether they want to open their account to public views,” wrote TikTok’s Head of U.S. Safety, Eric Han, in a statement.

Additionally, TikTok is tightening the options for commenting on videos created by those ages 13 to 15. Those users can now choose between “friends” or “no one” for their account. The “everyone” comment setting is being removed.

Also, the app’s “duet and stitch” settings are being changed to make the features only available on content created by users 16 and up. The default setting will now be set to “friends.”

TikTok will also now only allow download of videos that have been created by users 16 and up. Other users can decide whether they want to allow downloads of their videos, though for 16 and 17-year-old users, the default setting will now be changed to “off” unless they decide to enable it.

The “suggest your account to others” setting will also be set to “off” by default for ages 13 to 15.

Other changes include restricting direct messaging and hosting live streams to accounts 16 and over, restricting the buying, sending and receiving of virtual gifts to users 18 and over, and lastly – enabling parents and caregivers to set guardrails on their teen’s TikTok experience through “family pairing” features.

“We couldn’t be more pleased about partnering with TikTok to develop better content experiences for users under the age of 13. At Common Sense Networks, we see this engagement as an opportunity to double down on our commitment to elevate the quality of children’s digital media so that age-appropriate content is the rule in our industry and not the exception,” said Eric Berger, CEO, Common Sense Networks