TikTok Announces New Privacy Protections to Safe-Guard Popular App for Teen Users

The changes include defaulting all accounts for users between the ages of 13 and 15 to private and limiting comments to friends-only or no one

TikTok. Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

TikTok is unveiling its newest privacy settings for its teen users.

In a press release on Wednesday, the popular video-sharing app announced it is implementing new privacy settings and controls in order to better protect TikTok users who are under 18.

As of Wednesday, accounts registered to users ages 13-15 will have their privacy setting defaulted to private, meaning that only the user's approved followers can view their videos, according to the release.

If they choose to do so, those users can also manually change their privacy settings to public so that their videos are viewable to all, the company stated.

"By engaging them early in their privacy journey, we can enable them to make more deliberate decisions about their online privacy," the release reads.

A number of other changes were also included in the announcement, such as limiting the comments section for users ages 13-15 to friends-only or no one at all, and only allowing video downloads for users 16 and over.

Duet and Stitch settings will also be changed so that they're only available on content created by users age 16 and over. Users ages 16-17 will have their default setting on Friends only, the release stated.

Similarly, the "Suggest your account to others" setting will be switched to off by default for users ages 13-15, according to the release.

In addition to new policies, TikTok said they're also building on previous updates to promote youth safety.

These include restricting direct messaging and hosting live streams to users 16 and over, restricting any buying, sending or receiving of virtual gifts to users 18 and over, and enabling a Family Pairing feature, which allows parents/guardians to set guardrails on their teen's TikTok.

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For an even more protective experience, there is a TikTok for Younger Users option, "which offers additional safeguards and privacy protections" designed for younger audiences, per the release.

"We know there is no finish line when it comes to protecting users and their privacy, and our investment in this important area won't stop here," the company stated. "We'll continue to evolve our policies, work closely with regulators and experts in minor safety, and invest in our technology and teams so that TikTok remains a safe place for everyone to express their creativity."

Though these policies are in place, it is important to note that children and teens can still get around the age-restrictive barriers by falsifying their age, as TikTok does not currently have an age verification process in place.

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