Kids who use TikTok may find some changes the next time they log into the popular video app.
TikTok announced changes to its privacy settings today that will affect all users under the age of 18. In addition to default privacy settings designed to keep various age groups safe, the app will change features like the ability to download minors' TikTok videos to a device and which age groups can create certain types of videos.
Additionally, TikTok is partnering with Common Sense Networks, a division of Common Sense Media that curates age-appropriate content for kids and families, to improve upon TikTok for Younger Users, a limited version of the app designed for kids under age 13.
"At Common Sense Networks, we see this engagement as an opportunity to double down on our commitment to elevate the quality of children's digital media so that age-appropriate content is the rule in our industry and not the exception," Eric Berger, CEO of Common Sense Networks, said in a press release about the changes.
For kids 13 and older, the new changes are age-specific.
For all accounts created for kids ages 13-15, the default setting will automatically set to "private," a welcome change to this mom, who had to manually activate that setting when my kids got TikTok accounts a few months ago.
With a private TikTok account, only approved followers can view videos, meaning the entire community of TikTok creators won't be able to view your child's videos unless the "private account" setting is toggled off.
TikTok says allowing a child to choose the setting is a way to get them involved in understanding their online footprint.
"By engaging them early in their privacy journey, we can enable them to make more deliberate decisions about their online privacy," the press release reads.
Additionally, young TikTok users can no longer allow "everyone" to comment on their videos, only having the choice between "friends" and "no one" when it comes to who is able to communicate with them through their posts.
Kids under 16 will no longer be able to post "duet" or "stitch" videos, which use parts of another user's video to create their own. And, videos created by users under 16 will not be available for download by another user.
The ability to suggest a child's account to other TikTok users to be followed will be turned off unless enabled by the user.
For users ages 16-17, the default setting for creating "duet" and "stitch" videos will be automatically set to "friends" only, although this setting can be disabled.
Older kids may also choose whether to allow their videos to be downloaded by other users, though the settings will initially default to the restrictions for kids ages 13-15.
TikTok's changes today are not the app's first attempt at keeping young users' privacy protected. Other recent updates have involved restricting direct messaging and the ability to host live streams to kids age 16 and older and restricting the buying, sending and receiving of virtual gifts to users 18 and older.
"These latest improvements from TikTok mark a major step forward in enhancing the privacy and safety of children on their platform," said Iain Drennan, executive director of WeProtect Global Alliance in a statement. "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."