How safe is TikTok ?
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TikTok is a social networking app that replaced the popular Musical.ly app when it went offline in 2017. Know as Douyin in China, it gives users the ability to watch and create short clips of up to 60 seconds. With 1 billion active users across 155 countries, it seeks to promote safety and has recently released a range of safety videos to promote its safety tools.
TikTok app safety – What parents need to know
It’s a social media app that gives users the opportunity to share 60 second short videos with friends, family or the entire world. Like Twitter-owned Vine and Musical.ly before it, videos shared range from funny sketches to lip-sync videos featuring special effects. Currently, the app is available in 75 languages with 1 billion active users (December 2019). Like Musical.ly before it, it is most popular with under 16s. It has also now become the most downloaded app of 2019.
What can you find on the app?
Videos featuring comedy sketches or lip-syncs featuring the latest songs or voices over extracts from films.
What is the minimum age for TikTok app?
13 is the minimum age according to TikTok’s terms and conditions.
How does TikTok work?
When you download the app, you can instantly see the videos that others have posted on the channel but are not able to share or post anything until you have set up your own account.
How to create an account
Click on the ‘person’ icon and you can choose to sign up with an email, phone or existing Google, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account.
Once you have selected an option, you are then asked to enter your date of birth, if it is below the age of 13, the app displays the following message: “Sorry, looks like you’re not eligible for TikTok. But thanks for checking us out!”
Your feed highlights what is going on in your community and a separate ‘For you’ feed shows tailored recommendations for you.
There is also a digital wellbeing element which alerts users who have been on the app for more than 2 hours.
Why do teens love the TikTok?
It is a way to express themselves and create short-form video clips to gain a following and build a community around their passions. It also features some great special effects that users can apply to their videos to make them more unique. You can also cross-post the content on other platforms to share it with more people.
What do other parents say about the app?
Seeing inappropriate content
Parents have expressed concerns around the inappropriate language of some of the videos posted which may make this less suitable for younger children.
Contact from strangers
Predators seeking to connect with children is another risk that parents have said to their children.
For more insight on parent review, visit Common Sense Media.
What should parents be concerned about?
When you download the app users can see all the content without creating an account although they are not able to post, like or share anything until they’ve set up an account on the app.
You can set up your account by using your existing Google, Facebook, Instagram account, via email or phone.
By default all accounts are public so anyone on the app can see what your child shares. However, only approved followers can send them messages.
Users can like or react to a video, follow an account or send messages to each other. There is the risk that strangers will be able to directly contact children on the app.
Children may be tempted to take risks to get more of a following or likes on a video so it’s important to talk about what they share and with who.
To delete an account you have to request a code from the app using a phone number.
TikTok have said: “Today’s announcement is about going one step further to put in place stronger proactive protections to keep younger members of our community safe.
We look forward to the feedback of our community and all of our stakeholders as we constantly improve with new features and resources to help our community manage their TikTok experience. ”
Does TikTok have any safety features?
Like Facebook and Instagram, it has a digital wellbeing element (which is password protected) which alerts users who have been on the app for more than 2 hours. You can also turn on ‘restricted mode’ to filter out inappropriate content on the app.
Set your account to private
Also, you can set an account to be private so that all videos can only be seen by the creator and no one else on the platform. With a private account, you can approve or deny users and limit incoming messages to followers only.
Please note that even with a private account, your child’s profile photo, username, and bio are still visible to all users on the platform. You can manage who can comment, duet and direct message your child on the app.
As of late 2019 the following features were rolled out globally:
Live streaming: The minimum age limit to host a live stream will still remain 16.
Additionally, users wishing to use the live streaming feature will need to have a track record of creating quality content that follow TikTok’s Community Guidelines. Users who want to live-stream will be required to have a certain number of fans before they can use this feature.
As of 16 April 2020, the following features will be rolled out globally within the next few weeks:
- Family Pairing (previously Family Safety Mode): TikTok’s new Family Safety Mode which will be rolled out globally in the next coming weeks, is an in-app feature designed for parents to help keep their kids safe whilst using TikTok.
- Changes to the virtual gifting policy: The new policy will only allow those over 18 to purchase, send or receive virtual gifts – read more here.
- You’re in Control Education series: TikTok are continuing this series to help TikTok user understand how they can filter comments, choosing a private account, restricting duets and much more.
- Opening a Trust and Safety Hub in Dublin: The Trust and Safety Hub is designed to strengthen TikTok’s policies, technologies and strategies.
- Voluntary Principles: Supported by Five Eyes nations globally, to counter online child exploitation. Read more here.
- Changes to Direct Messaging – Now, only those aged 16 and over will be able to send and receive Direct Messages.
Internet Matters CEO Carolyn Bunting adds: “The safety of children and young people online needs to be a priority for organisations across the industry.
The disabling of direct messaging on the TikTok platform for under 16s is a significant move in prioritising the safety of their young users and we are pleased to see the protection of their younger users taking precedence in their product changes.
TikTok provides fantastic opportunities to be creative and have fun, especially in these unprecedented times and it is encouraging to see them invest in a number of initiatives that help to create a safer environment for young people.”
Be sure to update the TikTok app to ensure you are kept up to date with the latest features.
How to report inappropriate content on the TikTok app?
You can report content that doesn’t follow TikTok’s community guidelines within the app, click here to find out how to do it on the app.
You can delete followers or ‘Fans‘ by choosing the fan you’d like to remove and selecting ‘Block’ from the menu of options.