TikTok reinforces privacy controls for teenagers

Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok on Thursday announced stricter privacy controls for teenagers, seeking to address criticism that it has failed to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content.

Owned by China’s ByteDance, TikTok has grown rapidly around the world, particularly among teenagers. However a number of incidents have prompted concerns about its privacy and safety policies.

TikTok said the changes, targeted at users aged 13 to 17 years old, will be rolled out globally over the coming months.

A pop-up will appear asking teenagers under the age of 16 to choose who can watch their videos before they can post them.

“The process of making a TikTok is fun and creative – choosing music, picking effects, and getting the transitions right – but it is just as important to choose who that video will be shared with,” TikTok’s head of child safety public policy, Alexandra Evans, and its global head of privacy, Aruna Sharma, said in a blogpost.

Users 16-17 years old can turn on a feature that lets a pop-up appear that allows them to choose who can download their public videos. Downloads are permanently disabled on content from accounts under the age of 16.

Direct Messaging settings for the accounts of 16 and 17 year olds will be set to “no one”. Users can change the option.

TikTok said it will reduce the time period during which under 18s receive push notifications. Those aged 13 to 15 will no longer receive push notifications from 9 p.m. while those aged 16 and 17 from 10 p.m.