By Elaine Fox, Head of Privacy, Europe, TikTok
At TikTok, we know that creativity and expression are personal. And so is privacy. That's why we empower our community with a range of controls to manage their online presence. As young people start their digital journey, we believe it's important to provide them with age-appropriate privacy settings and controls. Today we're announcing changes for users under age 18 aimed at driving higher default standards for user privacy and safety.
Enhanced default privacy settings
Starting today, we're changing the default TikTok privacy setting for all registered accounts under the age of 16 to private. With a private TikTok account, only someone who the user approves as a follower can view their videos. 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.
Additional changes we're rolling out to promote a safe experience for our younger users include:
- Tightening the options for commenting on videos created by those under age 16. These users can now choose between Friends or No One for their account; the Everyone comment setting is being removed.
- Changing Duet and Stitch settings so the broader TikTok community won't be able to use those features with content created by people under 16, though anyone can Duet and Stitch with eligible content from users over 16. For users aged 16-17, the default setting for these features will now be set to Friends.
- Allowing downloads of videos that have been created by users 16 and over only. Other users can decide whether they want to allow downloads of their videos, though for users aged 16-17 the default setting will now be changed to Off unless they decide to enable it.
- Setting "Suggest your account to others" to Off by default for users under 16.
Adjusting TikTok's default account settings to support stronger user privacy is a meaningful step in our ongoing commitment to keeping our younger users safe. These changes build on previous updates we've made to promote youth safety, including:
- Restricting direct messaging and hosting live streams to accounts 16 and over.
- Restricting the buying, sending, and receiving of virtual gifts to users 18 and over.
- Enabling parents and caregivers to set guardrails on their teen’s TikTok experience through our Family Pairing features.
A pioneering approach to privacy
There's nothing more important than the safety and privacy of our community.
In 2020, we established our European data privacy and data protection teams in Dublin to ensure that we are meeting the needs and expectations of our users in these areas. We've also set out a plan to establish a local data centre in Ireland that will be the home of European user data when operational in 2022.
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. 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.
What the experts are saying
The Internet Watch Foundation: “We welcome any changes by companies which make children safer online and the steps taken by Tik Tok today are a meaningful step in the right direction to achieving that. We will monitor with interest the impact of these changes. We are committed to continuing to work with the whole technology sector to make the digital environment a safe place for children and young people.”