This seems to be the season when every platform seems to be concerned about the safety and privacy of young users. Facebook-owned Instagram started it. Apple joined the bandwagon, albeit controversially. Then Google and YouTube followed suit. Now, TikTok is also on to it.
TikTok is to limit the direct messaging abilities of accounts belonging to 16 and 17-year-olds by turning off the DM feature by default.
“We want to help teens make active decisions about their privacy settings, so when someone aged 16-17 joins TikTok, their Direct Messaging setting will now be set to ‘No One’ by default. To message others, they will need to actively switch to a different sharing option.”
The direct messaging option for all existing accounts of users under the age of 16 is already switched off by default.
No push notifications after 9 p.m.
As part of the new update, young users can choose to publish content to all their followers, only friends or just themselves. A pop-up alert, at the time of video upload, will ask young users to specifically choose who can watch their clip.
TikTok also said it wanted its younger users to “develop positive digital habits early on” and managing screen time was a key aspect of this.
In this context, a new mindfulness feature has also been introduced, and the accounts of 13 to 15-year-olds will now have their push notifications disabled from 9 p.m. each night. The push notification feature will switch off at 10 p.m. for those aged 16 and 17.
“Through our work with teenagers, parents, NGOs and academics, we’ll continue to develop new ways to allow teens to express their creativity and find joy on TikTok whilst ensuring they have a safe experience,” TikTok said.
TikTok said the changes will be rolled out “over the coming months”.
For the record, TikTok allows anyone aged 13 or over to open an account.