TikTok introduces new protections for teen users

TikTok introduces new protections for teen users

Anatoliy Sizov/iStockBy KELLY MCCARTHY and BECKY WORLEY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — TikTok has unveiled new privacy protections for teens on the popular social media platform.

The app which has been behind some of the biggest video, dance and other viral trends during the pandemic has announced new privacy settings for users under 18.

TikTok told ABC News in a statement, “starting today we’re changing the default privacy setting for all registered accounts ages 13 to 15 to private.”

This means that all followers must be approved by the user. The setting can be changed manually to switch to a public account.

TikTok will also limit comments on videos created by users in the same age group.

Those 13 to 15-year-olds can now choose to allow comments only from friends or from no one at all on their posts.

Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, told ABC News’ Good Morning America that this limit on comments could be beneficial for the younger creators on the app.

“When there is extensive commenting on a video, very frequently there’s bullying going on,” he said. “TikTok has a very young audience, and with that young audience comes a lot of responsibility.”

Additionally, TikTok is also changing the Duet and Stitch settings to now make these features available on content created by users age 16 and older only.

“For users ages 16 to 17, the default setting for Duet and Stitch will now be set to Friends,” the company said.

Direct messaging and hosting live streams will now be limited to accounts of users who are 16 and older. Downloads will only be available on videos that have been created by users 16 and older as well.

“Other users can decide whether they want to allow downloads of their videos, though for users ages 16 to 17 the default setting will now be changed to Off unless they decide to enable it,” TikTok said.

While these changes reflect TikTok adapting to help prevent bullying, kids can still bypass these protections since the app does not have age verification for setting up an account.

Additional tips for parents of teens on the platform:

  • Switch on restricted mode.
  • Make sure their TikTok accounts are set to private so that only friends can view their posts.
  • Turn off commenting by strangers.
  • Limit direct messages to only friends.
  • Limit their time using the app.
  • Parents who prefer to block the app entirely have parental controls in the operating system that locks out downloads on Apple and Google.

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