- TikTok, the video-based mobile app increasingly popular with young users, announced Tuesday new tools for parents to limit their children’s activities on the platform.
- Among other changes, the application, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, will now allow parents to limit whether their teens can use the search function and whether their account is private or public to other users.
- TikTok has been the subject of numerous privacy concerns from US lawmakers related to its Chinese ownership, although the app has made steps toward assuaging fears by securing Oracle as its “technology partner” in the US.
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TikTok, the vertical video-based social media platform immensely popular with Gen Z, announced Tuesday new tools to allow parents to more strictly monitor and police their children’s usage on the app.
Parents of users 13 to 18 years old will now be able to limit whether their children can use the search function, which is used to discover creator profiles, hashtags, and sounds in the app’s expansive library of music and other audio, the company announced. Parents will also be able to decide who can comment on their kids’ videos, whether their accounts are public or private to other users, and whether other users can see what videos their children have liked.
The changes are an extension of TikTok’s Family Pairing program, launched in April, which allows parents to connect their accounts to their children’s accounts to their own in order to monitor and limit how their kids use the app.
Under Family Pairing, the company has previously allowed parents to limit how long their children spend on TikTok, offered a “restricted” mode to limit “content that may not be appropriate for all audiences,” and decide whether their children can use the app’s direct messaging function.
“Our aim is to strike a balance between safety and autonomy for teenagers as we work to create a safe and supportive place for self-expression,” the company said in a statement announcing the new controls on Tuesday.
TikTok has been the subject of concerns from US lawmakers, and namely President Donald Trump, over its ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance (although the company in September reached an agreement for US company Oracle to become its “technology partner” in the US).
Last year, TikTok agreed to pay a $5.7 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations it had illegally collected the personal information of its child users.
The US Commerce Department earlier in November said it wouldn’t enforce the president’s executive order that would have effectively banned the app from operating in the US after a judge previously issued an injunction against the order. TikTok has regularly denied that it shares US user data with the Chinese government.