TikTok rolls out new features to make teens think about their online safety


TikTok has announced a string of new privacy controls for users aged 13 to 17. These safety features, which began rolling out globally last Aug. 12, aims to keep teenagers safe on the platform by prompting them to make decisions on who to share their content with.

These new measures include setting the accounts those under the age of 16 private by default, reserving features like Direct Messaging to those 16 years old and older, and enabling parents to guide their teen’s TikTok presence with Family Pairing

Limit who can send you direct messages

TikTok wants to help teens make active decisions about their privacy settings, so when someone aged 16-17 joins TikTok, their Direct Messaging setting will now be set to ‘No One’ by default.

To message others, they will need to actively switch to a different sharing option. Existing accounts that have never used DMs before will receive a prompt asking them to review and confirm their privacy settings the next time they use this feature.

These updates build on their current messaging protections, such as not allowing images or videos to be sent in messages and disabling messaging for accounts under age 16. 

Decide who can watch your videos

The process of making a TikTok is fun and creative, but it is just as important to choose who that video will be shared with. To help teens understand the sharing options available to them, TikTok is now adding a pop-up that appears when teenagers under the age of 16 are ready to publish their first video, asking them to choose who can watch the video. They won’t be able to publish their video until they make a selection. 

With each video going forward, creators can decide who can watch before they post. Accounts aged 13-15 are set to private by default, and private accounts can choose to share their content with Followers or Friends, as the ‘Everyone’ setting is turned off. Duet and Stitch are also disabled for accounts under 16

Choose who can download your public videos

TikTok is also providing additional context to help teens aged 16-17 understand how downloads work, so they can choose the option that’s most comfortable for them. If they opt to turn the feature on, they’ll now receive a pop-up asking them to confirm their choice before others can download their videos. Note that downloads are permanently disabled on content from accounts under the age of 16.  

A mindful approach to push notifications

TikTok prioritizes and supports the well-being of their community members, with features like Screen Time Management, which can be enabled both by account holders or by parents as part of Family Pairing.

They want to help their younger users in particular develop positive digital habits early on, and they regularly consult with leading pediatric experts and youth well-being advocates to develop their Youth Portal, bullying prevention guide, and other features that support youth-well being.

Now, they will be drawing upon this research to make changes that reduce the time period during younger teens can receive push notifications. Accounts aged 13-15 will not receive push notifications from 9pm, and accounts aged 16-17 will have push notifications disabled starting at 10pm.

These changes continue to build on Twitter’s ongoing commitment to protect the safety, privacy, and well-being of their community. They are working with teens, community organizations, parents, and creators to further innovate and share more updates in the coming months.

Read next: TikTok surpasses Facebook as most downloaded app in 2020


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