Creating a safe space for teens on TikTok
Since its launch in 2019, digital entertainment platform, TikTok, has exploded to 100 million users in Europe alone. This diverse community comes together to share jokes, songs and challenges, but also to speak their truth, advocate for change, and to express themselves authentically.
To do this, they have to feel safe. Alexandra Evans, Head of Child Safety Public Policy, for TikTok in Europe, recently spoke to the IAB Digital Trust Forum about child safety, and how trust and security are the cornerstone of everything we do.
She revealed that, despite being only two years old, we already have over 10,000 moderators worldwide, with safety hubs in Singapore, San Francisco and Dublin to reinforce our security strategy across the world. Our moderators work 24/7, 365 days a year to make sure our community feels safe and empowered to be their authentic selves.
But as well as addressing issues as they arise, we’re also committed to building safety into every aspect of the platform. For example, on TikTok it’s not possible to send an unsolicited private message – both users must already follow each other – or to send images or videos via DM, so no-one gets surprised with anything they may not want to see.
We’ve broadened these measures even further when it comes to child safety, as we strive to create a safe environment for young people to express themselves. This work has two main strands.
First, enforcing our minimum age requirements through, for example, dedicated underage reporting tools and our industry-standard age gate.
Second, working hard to make TikTok’s design age-appropriate for teens. We understand that teens are still learning and growing, and need additional support and guardrails to use our platform. We’ve put the following measures in place to ensure TikTok is age appropriate by design for early and late teens including:
Under-16s aren’t able to send or receive DMs, or host a livestream
All under-16s’ accounts are private by default
We’ve tightened who can comment on under-16s’ videos
Users can’t respond to videos via the duet or stitch feature with content created by under-16s
Only friends can duet or stitch with 16 to 17-year-olds
Nobody under 18 can send or receive a virtual gift
These are just a few of the ways we’re keeping TikTok’s young people safe. And, because every teen is an individual, we’re also giving parents and guardians the tools to work with their children to set the parameters of use on TikTok that’s right for their family. Our Family Pairing feature lets parents link their TikTok accounts with their teen’s, allowing them to collaborate on their privacy and safety settings; such as whether an account is public or private, who can comment on their videos, and how long they spend on the platform each day. When they’re ready to do so, teens can also set these restrictions for themselves.
We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in protecting young people, but we know that, when it comes to child safety, we have to always be innovating to keep up with the changing online landscape. Our regular focus groups with young people help us dig into the difficult issues of online safety and help us understand what they want and expect from us.
Our top priority is protecting the privacy and safety of all our users, and we know that, to do this, we need to be entirely transparent in everything we do. This is why, as well as posting a twice-yearly Transparency Report, we’re opening a virtual European Transparency and Accountability Centre, giving the opportunity for stakeholders to understand how we deal with our users’ safety, privacy and data.
TikTok may only be two years old, but we’ve worked hard to establish our users’ trust across our worldwide community. We’re committed to promoting creativity and individuality, and building an online space where everyone can speak their truth in a safe, supported environment.