By Tracy Elizabeth, Global Minor Safety Policy Lead, 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 privacy setting for all registered accounts ages 13-15 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 ages 13-15. 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 to now make these features available on content created by users age 16 and over only. For users ages 16-17, the default setting for Duet and Stitch 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 ages 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 ages 13-15.
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. We regularly publish Transparency Reports, and we continue to show experts and policymakers how we operate, moderate and recommend content, and secure user data at our Transparency and Accountability Centers. We also have privacy information on our Safety Center.
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 youth safety experts are saying
"These latest improvements from TikTok mark a major step forward in enhancing the privacy and safety of children on their platform. Privacy by default, removing the ability for strangers to comment on children’s videos and restricting downloads are important steps in the fight against the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of children online.
We look forward to continuing this vital work with TikTok along with the rest of our members from governments, private sector and civil society, to ensure that children worldwide can enjoy the opportunities technology can bring without the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse.” – Iain Drennan, Executive Director, WeProtect Global Alliance