TikTok, the social media site known for its popularity among youth, is making its youngest users’ accounts more private.
On Wednesday, the company introduced a new set of privacy rules for users under the age of 18.
From now on, all registered users ages 13-15 will have their accounts set to private by default. This means that those profiles won’t be accessible to anyone that hasn’t been explicitly approved. Furthermore, users in this age group are losing the “Everyone” comment setting, and will now have to choose between “Friends” or “No One” for their comments. The setting “Suggest your account to others” will be switched to Off by default for users 13-15.
Duet and Stitch options (similar to retweet and video reply) will now be available only for users age 16 and over, and for users 16-17, the default setting will be set to Friends. And finally, users will only be able to download videos created by users 16 and over, and for users ages 16-17, the default setting on whether they want to allow downloading of their videos will be set to Off.
“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. By engaging them early in their privacy journey, we can enable them to make more deliberate decisions about their online privacy,” TikTok said in a post.
TikTok has been under scrutiny for not doing enough to protect children on the platform. In May 2020, a coalition of child advocacy, privacy, and consumer organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking for a probe into TikTok’s privacy and data collection practices for minors. And in Feb. 2019, the company was fined $5.7 million for collecting children’s data.
Following the fine, TikTok introduced a new version for children under the age of 13 in the U.S. called TikTok for Younger Users, which allows users to browse a curated library of age-appropriate videos and doesn’t allow the posting of videos. Now, the company has also announced it has partnered with children advocacy group Common Sense Networks to continue to improve this version of the app.