A lot of the tech companies have woken up to the fact that there are a lot of young users on their platforms and they are vulnerable to various nefarious elements that may seek to harm them. Recently we’re seeing Google, YouTube, and Instagram introduce more tools to help protect kids and teens. One of the most popular social media platforms, TikTok, is the latest brand to introduce enhanced measures to help minors feel safe as they post their short-form videos and use the app.
Direct Messaging for minors who join TikTok will have their Direct Messages set to “No One” by default. Of course, this will not prevent them from actually wanting to send or receive messages but they will have to actively switch to that sharing option. Existing users who have never DMed with someone before will get a prompt asking them to review their privacy settings. There have also been previous messaging protections in place like not allowing videos and images to be sent in messages.
When teens under 16 are ready to publish their video, they’ll get a pop-up message asking them who can watch the video. The options are followers, friends (those that follow them back), or “only me”. They will not be able to publish their video until they choose which one. You’ll notice that there’s no option for “Everyone” as accounts for ages 13-15 are set to private by default and that option is not available for them.
Teens will also be able to choose who can download their videos. For accounts of those aged 16-17, if they choose to turn the downloads option on, they will be asked to confirm if they understand that other people will be able to download their posted video and share it to other platforms. For those under 16, downloads are permanently disabled for them and they cannot turn that option on. It’s important that teens understand the risks that come with letting people download their posted videos.
TikTok will also be drawing on the research that comes from consultations with leading paediatric experts and youth well-being advocates to make changes to the platform. Accounts for aged 13-15 will not receive notifications from 9 PM while those aged 16-17 will not receive them from 10 PM. Expect more changes and improvements in the next few months for TikTok’s younger users.