Short video sharing service TikTok has launched a new update to increase the safety of its app, and it gives parents more control over teenage accounts, while social media companies are under increasing pressure to make their platforms safer for children.
The company said today, Tuesday: The “Family Pairing” feature allows parents to now turn off comments on their children’s videos altogether, or allow them only to friends. Parents whose accounts are linked to their children’s accounts will also be able to activate the private mode in children’s accounts, turn off the function of searching for content, users, hashtags, or sounds, and determine who can see the videos their children liked.
It is noteworthy that Family Pairing feature was launched last March, and it allows parents to know how long their children spend on TikTok each day, and restrict the content they see in their feed.
TikTok allows children to register and create an account if they are over the age of 13. All they need to do is provide their date of birth. However, because TikTok does not require age verification, some children under the age of 13 have registered by lying about their ages, according to the British organization Ofcom.
Alexandra Evans, head of child safety policy for TikTok in Europe, told CNBC: The (family pairing) feature has “struck a chord for parents” since its launch. “If we think of it as a toolbox, we want to introduce more tools,” she said in a video call ahead of the announcement.
Evans said the new “Family Pairing” feature, rolling out worldwide starting Tuesday, provides kids with a “buffer” while exploring TikTok content.
“The updates we’re making today are the latest in a series of steps we’ve taken to give families the tools they need to create the right TikTok experience for them,” Evans said. “We know that when people feel safe, they feel free to express their creativity,” she added. This is why safety is at the core of everything we do. ”
Last April, TikTok banned people under the age of 16 from sending direct messages on its platform, becoming the first social media company to ban private messaging by teens on a global scale.