Monday Aug 16, 2021
TikTok has introduced new safety and privacy features to make the app a safe and welcoming space for teenagers aged 13-17. The platform has announced that the new changes will be rolled out globally in the upcoming weeks.
A statement released by the video-sharing platform said that it offers a range of safety and privacy controls to empower people to make decisions about who they share their content with, especially for its teenage users.
To ensure even stronger proactive protection for teens, TikTok has continually introduced changes to support age-appropriate experiences on the platform. The latest enhancements include making accounts belonging to those under the age of 16 private by default, reserving features like Direct Messaging to people 16 and older, and enabling parents to guide their teen's TikTok presence with Family Pairing.
Under the new enhancements, when a user aged 16-17 joins TikTok, their Direct Messaging setting will now be set to 'No One' by default. To message others, they will need to actively switch to a different sharing option.
Existing accounts that have never used DMs before will receive a prompt asking them to review and confirm their privacy settings the next time they use this feature. These updates build on TikTok's current messaging protections, such as not allowing images or videos to be sent in messages and disabling messaging for accounts under age 16.
TikTok will now allow teens to choose who they can share their videos with. To help teens understand the sharing options available to them, TikTok is adding a pop-up that appears when teens under the age of 16 are ready to publish their first video, asking them to choose who can watch the video. They won't be able to publish their video until they make a selection, the statement said.
With each video going forward, creators can decide who can watch before they post. Accounts aged 13-15 are set to private by default, and private accounts can choose to share their content with Followers or Friends, as the 'Everyone' setting is turned off. Duet and Stitch are also disabled for accounts under 16.
TikTok will be providing additional context to help teens aged 16-17 understand how downloads work, so they can choose the option that is most comfortable for them. If they opt to turn the feature on, they will now receive a pop-up asking them to confirm that choice before others can download their videos. For accounts under the age of 16, downloads on content are permanently disabled.
TikTok prioritises and supports the well-being of its community members, with features like Screen-Time Management that can be enabled both by account holders or by parents as part of Family Pairing.
To help younger teens develop positive digital habits early on, TikTok regularly consults with leading paediatric experts and youth well-being advocates to develop content policies, a bullying prevention guide, and other features that support youth's well being.
Drawing upon this research, TikTok will make changes that reduce the time period during which younger teens can receive push notifications. Accounts aged 13-15 will not receive push notifications from 9pm, and accounts aged 16-17 will have push notifications disabled starting at 10pm.
TikTok said that it is continually working with teens, community organisations, parents, and creators to further innovate and introduce enhancements that will ensure the platform remains a safe space for its users.
For more information about TikTok's efforts to support youth and families, please visit the Guardian's Guide.