TikTok Updates Its Privacy Rules

Published on January 14, 2021

TikTok has once again adjusted its privacy rules for its app, but this time, the company is focusing on its younger users.

On Wednesday, the social media platform announced that it would be adding new rules to its privacy policy. These new TikTok updates focus on two categories of users under the age of 18.

For the 13-15 age group, registered accounts will stay set as private by default. With this, no one can follow those profiles without any explicit approval; this age group also loses the “Suggest your account to others” feature. Additionally, those users no longer have the “Everyone” comment setting and will only be allowed to choose between “Friends” and “No One” for comments.

TikTok users that are 16-17 years old still have access to the Stitch and Duet options when it comes to creating collaborative content. Unlike their 13-15 counterparts, this age group will have their accounts set to “Friends” by default, so any account they are friends with will be able to view their content without issue.

Furthermore, videos created by those who are 16 and up can still be downloaded, but those who are 16-17 will have the setting to allow downloads of their videos set to Off by default.

Eric Han, TikTok’s Head of Safety in the U.S., said that with these new updates, they want the users to be able to make informed choices about what they share and who they share that with; he also said that this will help enable younger users to make more deliberate choices when it comes to their online privacy.

Protections for Users Under 13

The new TikTok updates for privacy also include users who are under the age of 13. Han said that they accommodate these users by giving them a limited app experience. Said experience allows minors to view a library of age-curated content.

TikTok also announced a partnership with Common Sense Networks. The company will help provide the company with additional guidance as it works to create an enjoyable and safe viewing experience.

What Brought These TikTok Updates On?

You could say that TikTok was put through the ringer over the last few years or so, especially when it comes to protecting its younger users.

Back in February of 2019, TikTok paid a fine of $5.7 Million after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleged that the app collected privacy data from children. The case also hails back to 2017, when it still functioned as the short-form video app known as Musical.ly.

The FTC said that the app violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by not seeking parental consent when it came to collecting personal information; this includes things such as phone numbers, email addresses and more.

The FTC and several child advocacy groups hit them with more allegations last May. The groups said TikTok continued to collect the privacy data of minors on the app and did not delete existing data of current underage users, even after the settlement took place.

Lexi Jones is an award-winning journalist and Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Las Vegas, she covers startup brands in entertainment, internet and LGBTQ+ startup news. She is also an editor of Grit Daily's "Top 100" entrepreneur lists.

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