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TikTok tightens privacy controls for under-16s

Girl using TikTok on a phone, with the TikTok logo displayed on the screen

By Marc McLaren

13.01.2021

TikTok has announced a raft of changes to its privacy settings as it seeks to make the platform safer for young people.

From today, the social media giant will make all accounts for 13-15 year olds private by default, meaning that only someone who the user approves as a follower will be able to view their videos.

It’s one of several major changes made by the platform, which has grown massively during the coronavirus pandemic and which is now estimated to have around 1 billion monthly users.  

Videos posted by under-16s will no longer be downloadable, and only ‘Friends’ will be able to comment on them. The default setting for video downloads will also be changed to ‘Off’ for 16-17 year olds, although this can be changed by the user.

The Duet and Stitch features will be changed along the same lines: under-16s won’t be able to use them at all, and the default setting for those aged 16 and 17 will be set to ‘Friends’. 

Finally, the ‘Suggest your account to others’ setting will default to ‘Off’ for under-16s.

Announcing the changes, TikTok said, “We want our younger users to be able to make informed choices and deliberate decisions about what and with whom they choose to share. 

“Adjusting TikTok's default account settings to support stronger user privacy is a meaningful step in our ongoing commitment to keeping our younger users safe. 

“These changes build on previous updates including restricting direct messaging and hosting live streams to accounts 16 and over, and enabling parents and caregivers to set guardrails on their teen’s TikTok experience through our Family Pairing features.”

TikTok has been making a concerted effort to improve the privacy settings for its younger users. Last year, it updated its policies so that under-16s could no longer send and receive direct messages – the first time a major social platform had made such a change.

Image: Tashatuvango/stock.adobe.com


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