TikTok has revealed new privacy settings for teens, aiming to protect them from predatory DM slides and harassment. The new features rely heavily on teens to self-regulate, but at least they draw a bit more attention to privacy issues.
Announced in a blog post on Thursday, TikTok will now automatically switch off direct messaging for new users aged between 16 to 17. Teens can still easily switch their DMs on via the settings menu, but it will have to be an active choice. The video sharing app will also prompt current users in this age range who haven’t used DMs before to review and confirm their privacy settings when they eventually do try to use it.
These changes should help ease younger users into the lawless carnage of DMs when they’re ready, TikTok having previously disabled direct messaging for all users under 16 in April. Users aged 16 to 17 will also get a new pop-up when they opt to allow people to download their videos, asking them to confirm that choice and warning them their content could be shared on other platforms.
Downloads are already permanently disabled on videos by users under 16, but they get their own new alert too. TikTok is adding a privacy pop-up that will appear when children in this age group go to publish a video, forcing them to select what categories of users will be able to see their video: followers, followers that they follow back, or just themselves. TikTok already sets accounts for people under 16 to private by default, meaning they don’t have the option to allow everyone to see their videos.
Again, kids can still choose to make their profile public by heading into the settings, which will let them publish to everyone. But it does provide a small hurdle to them immediately sharing their faces across the world wide web without a second thought.
Finally, TikTok is curbing nighttime push notifications to younger users, because growing bodies need to get good sleep.
“We want to help our younger users in particular develop positive digital habits early on, and we regularly consult with leading paediatric experts and youth well-being advocates,” TikTok wrote. “Accounts aged 13 to 15 will not receive push notifications from 9 p.m., and accounts aged 16 to 17 will have push notifications disabled starting at 10 p.m.”
Children under 13 aren’t allowed on regular TikTok, the company having deleted over 7 million accounts suspected of falling in this age range in June.
It isn’t clear at what time TikTok’s push notifications to under-16s will resume. Personally, I don’t need push notifications to remind me that I have a veritable smorgasbord of distracting, fun videos to keep me up at night just a simple tap away. But maybe kids are just built different.
TikTok’s new features will roll out globally over the next few months.