Caroline Greer, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, Brussels
This article first appeared in EURACTIV.
At TikTok, we are focused on providing our community with a joyful, creative and, above all, safe experience. Our community's safety is top of mind for us every day, and we wholeheartedly believe in helping our community make informed decisions about their online presence. Ultimately, we believe that when people feel safe, creative expression can truly flourish.
Parenting in the digital age is tough at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic, and suddenly the myriad rules that parents had painstakingly negotiated with their teenagers to manage their digital lives have been thrown out of the window. All of us have had to enter into new relationships with the screens in our lives, with many jobs and social interactions now almost entirely dependent on them. And that is what makes Safer Internet Day particularly relevant today.
Since Safer Internet Day last year, we have continued on our journey to keep TikTok safe, especially for our community's youngest members. In January, we announced that we have set all under-16 registered accounts to private by default, and we switched off direct messaging for under-16s too. With a private TikTok account, only someone who the user approves as a follower can view their videos. We believe that by engaging users early in their privacy journey, we can help them make more deliberate and educated choices.
We also introduced Family Pairing, allowing parents to link their account with their teen’s so they can set guardrails as they explore TikTok, with features like Screen Time Management. We’ve refreshed our Community Guidelines to clarify what is not acceptable on our platform, and we’ve launched a variety of new initiatives to address COVID-19. For example, in December we introduced a new vaccine tag to denote all videos with words and hashtags related to the vaccine and directing our community members to verifiable, authoritative sources of information.
Of course, new safety features are only part of the story. We want to inspire and teach our community how to use them too. And so, to celebrate Safer Internet Day, we've launched a campaign with European creators to show our community how to use our in-app tools to manage their TikTok experience.
As part of the campaign, we are encouraging our community to:
💭 Think - before you post, comment, or share online. Think about who might see it and what they might feel.
✅ Check - your privacy, content and safety settings to make sure you're engaging with those you care most about.
🕊 Contribute - good vibes in the content and comments you share with your community.
We are also continually bring in partners who can share their knowledge and expertise with us on anything from hate speech to misinformation. We are delighted to announce today that we will be working with INHOPE, a global network of 47 child protection hotlines, to bolster our fight against child sexual abuse material where we take a zero tolerance approach.
Keeping the Internet safe will continue to be a priority for TikTok in Europe this year. As we continue our work, we look forward to reviewing the European Commission’s recent proposal for an EU Digital Services Act and discussing the opportunity this reform presents to strengthen how platforms keep their communities safe online. Though negotiations are just beginning, we think it’s a very good proposal which is sophisticated and modern in its approach to online responsibility. We are also looking forward to contributing to the European Commission’s upcoming plans for a comprehensive framework to effectively tackle child sexual abuse online, which will be complementary to the DSA.
This year’s motto is “Together for a better internet”. We believe that by giving people the tools to shape what they see on TikTok, we can help create a safer internet for everyone in Europe. We know there is no finish line when it comes to online safety and we will continue to evolve our policies, invest in our people and technology, and work hand in hand with European policy makers.