• TikTok has released privacy default changes to its platform.

  • In this article, we explain what the new changes are and discuss their effectiveness.

  • We also share our most recent TikTok safety resources.

TikTok has announced a series of changes to protect children’s privacy and safety on the platform. The announcement comes just as the UK government gets closer to introducing it’s Online Harms Bill, which will place a range of responsibilities on social media companies to protect users on their platform.

Our CEO Jim Gamble QPM commented that:

“We’re familiar with and support the efforts of the Trust and Safety team at TikTok as they work to help make children safer on their platform.

Whilst many of these measures make sense, in the absence of effective age verification, they may unintentionally encourage children to lie about their age to access the features they value most. This can expose younger users to inappropriate behaviour and material.

I believe this announcement presents a great opportunity for parents, carers and safeguarding professionals to talk to young people about these changes, and encourage safer behaviours by reminding them that if they ever feel uncomfortable online that they can talk to an adult they trust.”

What has changed?

  • All accounts for users aged 13-15 are now private by default, this means new followers have to be approved by the user before the new follower can view their videos.

  • The option to ‘Duet’ (when users create videos in response to existing videos).

  • ‘Stitch’ (adding clips of another user’s video into their own) is now only available for users aged 16 and over.

  • For users ages 16-17, the default setting for this option will now be turned to ‘friends only’.

  • Videos can now only be downloaded directly if the creator is 16 or over. For ages 16-17, the default setting will prevent their videos from being downloaded, but the user can change this.

  • The ‘suggest your account to others’ setting has been changed to ‘off’ by default for users ages 13-15.

How effective are these measures?

These measures are a welcome step in the continued efforts to make the internet safer for children and young people. They also give parents, carers and safeguarding professionals a perfect opportunity to talk about privacy and safety on TikTok, especially when most children (and adults) are likely to be spending more time online.

  • Users may still lie about their age – which renders these measures ineffective if a young person has not added their correct age at registration. Users under 16 can also change their profiles back to ‘public’.

  • Users cannot save videos directly from users aged 16 and under – but they can still use other cameras or software to capture screen recordings of videos.

  • Parents and carers should not be lulled into a false sense of security that the platform is safe for children and young people. All platforms can present risks for children online. 

Further Support on TikTok Safety

Top Tips

Supporting children to understand the need for online safety settings increases their digital resilience and encourages safer online behaviours.

Our team of online safety experts have put together some top tips to support your conversations.

  • Use the platform yourself to get an understanding of how it works.

  • Try using it with the children in your care and have an open conversation about the content you see, the risks and what they can do if they see anything that distresses them.

  • Use our TikTok Safety Audit to review privacy settings with the children in your care.

  • Check who the children in your care would talk to if they were worried.  

Our Safety Centre:

Safety Card

4 Things to Watch out for on TikTok

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