(CBS Local) – In a move some may consider rare for a social networking service, TikTok is making changes to its app to make it safer for younger users.
The company will now set the accounts for users ages 13 to 15 to private by default, as well as tighten other controls for all users under 18, in terms of how they can interact with other users and TikTok content itself.
TikTok is also partnering with a for profit affiliate called Common Sense Networks, an education and advocacy group that helps parents and educators navigate today’s media landscape, including children’s use of technology.
“We couldn’t be more pleased about partnering with TikTok to develop better content experiences for users under the age of 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,” said Eric Berger, CEO, Common Sense Networks.
The app will now restrict the experience for other minors using the app who are older than 13 as well.
For children ages 13 to 15, accounts will be set to private by default and TikTok will turn the setting “Suggest your account to others” to Off. This will allow users’ videos to only be seen by those they approve as a follower and limits their account from being recommended to others elsewhere in the app.
Commenting controls are also being locked down for these users.
They’ll now be able to choose between “Friends” or “No One” in terms of who can comment on their videos, and the “Everyone” option will be removed. The Dueting and Stitching features will also be removed, which limits how younger users can engage with other TikTok users and their content. They won’t be able to make their videos downloadable either.
For those ages 16 to 17, the default setting for Duet and Stitch will be set to “Friends,” and they’ll only be able to download videos created by users 16 and over as a result of the lockdowns for younger users. Downloads for their own videos will also be set to Off by default, but they can enable this, if they choose.
Non-profit, the National Parent Teacher Association praised TikToks efforts to protect minors.
“National PTA applauds TikTok for advancing safe and age-appropriate experiences where teens can have fun and be creative. With TikTok’s thoughtful changes to teens’ privacy settings, National PTA continues to recommend that families sit down together, explore the app’s safety controls and tools, and have open and ongoing conversations to help teens be safe and responsible online. This is particularly important to ensure teens’ accounts are set up right from the start. PTA looks forward to continuing our important work with TikTok to educate families across the country about online safety,” said Leslie Boggs, President, National PTA
The changes take effect on Jan. 13, 2020.