TikTok tightens privacy features for younger users

WASHINGTON (AP) – A month after federal regulators ordered it to disclose how its practices affect children and teenagers, TikTok is tightening its privacy practices for the under-18 crowd.

Starting yesterday, default privacy setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15 will be private. That means only someone the user approves as a follower can view their videos, which was not the case previously. But teens can still change this setting to public if they want.

Older teenagers won’t see this default setting change.

For users aged 16 or 17, the default setting to let people download the videos they created will now be “off,” rather than “on.” TikTok is also blocking users’ ability to download videos created by those 15 or younger. This age group will also see direct messaging restricted and won’t be able to host live streams.

TikTok is wildly popular with teenagers and younger kids. A feature called TikTok for Younger Users offers pre-selected, “age appropriate” videos. The feature was added after TikTok’s predecessor, Musica.ly, settled FTC allegations that it illegally collected personal information from children. It also agreed to pay USD5.7 million.

A tool called “family pairing,” meanwhile, lets parents link their TikTok account to their teen’s to enable content and privacy settings.

The TikTok app logo. PHOTO: AP