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TikTok tightens privacy by default, for the kids

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If you don't know what TikTok is, you're too old for this game. For the youth of today, TikTok is the social media platform. The short video app today it was announced that it is making young teens’ accounts more private by default, updating the privacy settings for 13 to 15-year-old users.

The tighter privacy rules centre around options for commenting on videos made by younger users, even if their accounts are public. TikTok users aged 13 to 15 will only be able to choose between 'Friends' or 'No One', with the 'Everyone comment' setting being removed.

In addition, TikTok's Duet and Stitch features will only be available on content created by users age 16 and over. Anyone under the age of 16 will also no longer be able to download videos. For users aged 16-17, the default setting for Duet and Stitch will now also be set to 'Friends'. Finally, the setting "Suggest your account to others" will be switched off by default for users ages 13-15.

TikTok says it wants its 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," wrote Eric Han, Head of US Safety, TikTok.

The move is not the first time TikTok has made positive efforts to tighten its privacy and protect younger users. Last year, TikTok added features that allow parents to set restrictions for their children remotely. The company also has a separate app that only shows curated videos called "TikTok for Younger Users".

Keen for some positive PR, TikTok went to the trouble of finding several security experts to share their thoughts on the new privacy policy decision. Eric Berger, CEO, Common Sense Networks, said: "We see this engagement as an opportunity to double down on our commitment to elevate the quality of children’s digital media so that age-appropriate content is the rule in our industry and not the exception."

Leslie Boggs, President, National PTA, said: "National PTA applauds TikTok for advancing safe and age-appropriate experiences where teens can have fun and be creative. With TikTok's thoughtful changes to teens' privacy settings, National PTA continues to recommend that families sit down together, explore the app's safety controls and tools, and have open and ongoing conversations to help teens be safe and responsible online."

"Putting these new measures in place is another positive step forward in TikTok's safety and privacy efforts," said Stephen Balkam, CEO, Family Online Safety Institute. "Thinking ahead about what is appropriate for teens of different ages creates an opportunity for these younger users to learn and grow responsibly on the platform, and serves as an important teachable moment when they do gain those abilities."

Source: TikTok Newsroom

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David McCourt

David McCourt

David enjoys staying abreast of the latest technology and newest Android apps. Outside of the office, he can be found playing snooker and writing bad 00s indie songs.

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