When a young teenager signs up for TikTok, their account will now be more private by default. TikTok said today that it’s updating the default settings for users aged 13 to 15, limiting who can see and comment on their videos. Only users who they add as friends will be able to view their videos, and their account won’t be suggested to other users.
TikTok will also completely disable the option to let anyone comment on these users’ videos, even if they make their account public. Users between 13 and 15 will only be able to allow their friends to comment on their videos, or they can turn off comments altogether.
The app’s Duet and Stitch features, which allow users to repost and respond to another person’s video, will be disabled for videos posed by users under 16. The ability to download videos of users under that age is also being disabled.
For users between 16 and 17, TikTok is disabling the ability to download their videos by default and restricting the Duet and Stitch features to just their friends.
The suite of tweaks should add up to a TikTok that’s more protective of its youngest users. Those users can still, by and large, use TikTok the way anyone else can, but the app is doing more to shield those users and their videos from the community at large.
TikTok has been gradually adding more privacy controls for teenagers’ accounts over the past year. In 2020, the app started allowing parents to remotely set restrictions on a child’s account and later began allowing parents to tweak their kid’s privacy settings, too. TikTok also previously disabled direct messaging for users under 16.
This is all a substantial turnaround from how TikTok’s predecessor handled kids’ accounts. TikTok had to pay $5.7 million in 2019 to settle allegations that the older app, Musical.ly, failed to gain parental approval for kids under 13. TikTok now has a separate app experience called “TikTok for Younger Users” that just shows curated videos.