TikTok Tweaks Privacy Policies for Underage Users

Teens ages 13 to 17 get further limitations

TikTok announced significant changes to its policy on Thursday to ensure the safety and privacy of underage users.

The new restrictions rolling out to users ages 13 to 17 in the coming months include a setting to choose who can watch minors’ videos and a private setting by default for videos made by 13- to 15-year-olds, according to Engadget

TikTok app

Getty Images/Drew Angerer

On the direct messaging front, TikTok automatically will turn off DMs by default to new 16- to 17-year-olds’ accounts (or existing accounts who have never used DMs before). This means users will have to manually change the settings on who can message them before using the feature. Any user under 16 still cannot use the direct messaging feature. 

Finally, TikTok will stop sending push notifications to users between the ages of 13-15 beginning at 9 p.m., and users 16-17 starting at 10 p.m. TikTok said this new limitation is to encourage young people to develop better habits with technology, and since push notifications make you check the app, disabling them might keep users off the app more than they would be. 

"These changes continue to build on our ongoing commitments as there's no finish line when it comes to protecting the safety, privacy, and well-being of our community," TikTok said in its blog post announcing the changes. 

"We’re working with teens, community organizations, parents, and creators to further innovate and we're excited to share more over the coming months."

TikTok is the latest platform to prioritize underage users’ safety and implement new policies and features. Just recently, Google announced YouTube videos created by 13- to 17-year-olds would automatically default to private, and added automatic break and bedtime reminders for the same age group.

Instagram also announced updates in July that automatically default any new user under the age of 16 to a private account.

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