TikTok sets default account settings for teens under 16 to 'private'

  • The app has also changed settings so only friends can comment - even if the user makes their account public
  • The Duet and Stitch features have been disabled completely for users under 16
Amalissa Hall |

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TikTok's new measures are meant to protect teens' privacy. Photo: Xinhua

TikTok announced yesterday that the default privacy settings for all accounts of users aged 13 to 15 will be changed to private. Users must approve friends who want to follow their account and view their videos. The option to make their account public is still available. 

“We want our younger users to be able to make informed choices about what and with whom they choose to share,” said Eric Han, TikTok’s Head of US Safety, in a blogpost.

TikTok has also changed the comment settings so users can only choose between friends or turning comments off completely. Even if an account is public, the option for just anyone to comment has been removed.

Should people turn to social media for news?

The app’s Duet and Stitch features, which allow users to respond to and integrate other users’ videos into their own, is being disabled for users under 16. For users aged 16 to 17, the default settings for using these features are being set to friends.

In addition, TikTok is removing the ability to download videos from users under 16 entirely. Users will only be able to download videos created by users aged 16 and over. The default settings to download videos from 16 to 17 year olds will be turned off, unless they decide to enable it. 

These changes come in addition to other privacy measures TikTok has introduced, including restricting direct messaging and live streaming to users over 16, as well as restricting the sending and receiving of virtual gifts to users over 18.