Video-sharing platform Tik Tok has announced changes aimed at improving privacy and safety for teens.

The social networking site said yesterday that it is changing the default setting for all registered accounts belonging to 13 to 15 year olds  to “private”. This means only someone who the user approves can view the videos.

Eric Han, head of US Safety at Tik Tok, said: “We want our younger users to be able to make informed choices about what and with whom they choose to share, which includes whether they want to open their account to public views. By engaging them early in their privacy journey, we can enable them to make more deliberate decisions about their online privacy.”

Other changes announced this week include:

  • Tightening the options for commenting on videos created by those ages 13-15. These users can now choose between ‘friends’ or ‘no one’ only, with the ‘everyone’ option removed.
  • Changing Duet and Stitch settings to now make these features available on content created by users age 16 and over only. For users ages 16-17, the default setting for Duet and Stitch will now be set to ‘friends’.
  • Allowing downloads of videos that have been created by users 16 and over only. Other users can decide whether they want to allow downloads of their videos, though for users ages 16-17 the default setting will now be changed to off unless they decide to enable it.
  • Setting “Suggest your account to others” to off by default for users ages 13-15.

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, welcomed the move.

He told Sky News: “Abusers are taking advantage of the pandemic to target children spending more time online and we urge other platforms to be similarly proactive rather than wait for regulation to come into effect.”