TikTok becomes next social media company to introduce new child safety features

ByteDance Ltd.-owned TikTok today announced some changes regarding safety for teens, following other social media companies that have recently done the same.

This comes as new regulations from the U.K. under the “Age Appropriate Design Code” will come into effect next month. It’s likely other countries will soon follow suit, while in the U.S. politicians have for some time now aired their concern about the safety of such apps for kids.

TikTok said in a blog post that from now on, 16- and 17-year-olds will have their direct messages set to “No one” by default when they sign up for the app. If they want to message someone, they’ll have to go into their settings and make the change. Users already signed up will now also receive a prompt asking them if they want to use the messaging feature. As it stands, no one under the age of 16 can use direct messaging.

The company is also addressing the issue of young folks spending too much time on the app, a concern that has been shouted from the rooftops for years now. Users who are aged 13 to 15 won’t receive any push notifications after 9 p.m. The same thing will happen to 16- and 17-year-olds, but not until after 10 p.m.

Teens in general will be seeing more pop-ups from now on. If those under 16 want to publish a video, the app will ask them who they would like to see that video. Those above 16 will be asked if they would like to turn on downloads, with the warning that if they do, anyone can download that clip and share it on other platforms. Turning on downloads isn’t an option for those under 16.

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

The child safety features are in line with what Facebook Inc. has also done of late, including with its Instagram app. Earlier this week, Google LLC added some extra child safety features to its search engine, while YouTube also implemented a slew of changes.

Photo: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

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