TikTok announced Wednesday a new privacy setting that will make all accounts belonging to users ages 13-15 private.
Users of the short-form video app must now approve their followers as part of the new set of restrictions.
TikTok is also introducing the option to limit who can comment on videos created by minors. These users can choose between Friends or No One for their account, but the Everyone comment setting will be removed.
Other restrictions include removing “Suggest your account to others” by default for users ages 13-15.
“By engaging them early in their privacy journey, we can enable them to make more deliberate decisions about their online privacy,” said TikTok’s Head of U.S. Safety Eric Han in a blogpost.
For Valeria Irizarry, 15, the new features guarantee a step ahead to keeping her safe.
“Young people like me must be oriented around the damages of the internet and especially with TikTok, which (presents) itself as a fun platform,” said Irizarry from San Juan, Puerto Rico. “Strangers could look at our TikTok accounts and learn a lot about our personal (information).”.
In December, the Federal Trade Commission ordered TikTok and other social networks to provide details by late January on how they collect and use personal information, and how those practices affect children and teens.
Duet and Stitch features, which allow users to create reaction videos in a split screen and integrated into each other, will only be available to TikTokers age 16 and over only. For users ages 16-17, Duet and Stitch will be set to Friends by default.
“These changes may translate to a drop in users in those age brackets due to a potential lower viewership since they will not be able to have their accounts suggested to others and a reduced volume of comments will be shown,” said Ian Marlow, president cybersecurity firm FitechGelb. “Ensuring that ages are accurate for users going forward will be critical to getting the value from these new security policies.”.
All TikTok users will only be allowed to download videos created by users 16 and over.
Although these new policies ensure the security of teenagers under the age of 16, TikTok could see a decline in engagement by users.
Follow Coral Murphy on Twitter @CoralMerfi.