In line with its commitment to provide a safe platform for its young users and to improve digital literacy among parents in the region, TikTok has announced its partnership with the Emirates Safer Internet Society (eSafe). eSafe is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create a positive online experience through advocacy, awareness and engagement with the right stakeholders, and empower children and youth to use the internet responsibly to prevent them from online risks.
Through the partnership, TikTok will work closely with eSafe to educate the wider community on its family safety resources, tools and features. TikTok’s guidelines do not allow children under the age of 13 to use the app, and its moderation team plays a strong role in monitoring this, while also introducing meaningful tools and policies designed to promote a safe and age-appropriate experience for teens between 13-17 years of age.
Farah Tukan, Head of Government Relation & Public Policy at TikTok MENA said, “Since TikTok launched, the number one priority for the platform has been to ensure the safety and privacy of its users. Especially when it comes to our younger users, we believe it is crucial to empower parents to guide their children through their digital journey . We believe the responsibility of creating a safe digital environment requires combined efforts, and as such, TikTok’s role doesn’t stop at providing safety features, but also extends to educating families about staying safe online.
Dr. Najla Alnaqbi, Advisor, eSafe said: “Recently, the use of the Internet by youths has increased, and with the advancement of technology, it has become necessary to have continuous awareness for community members, especially adolescents. Awareness and guidance are two necessary elements for this young generation to arm themselves with in order to overcome many of the dangers that threaten its entity and safety when using cyberspace. It is our duty as an Emirati association to urge the community to use the best practices and methods to avoid falling prey to trolls and criminals. We are educating and empowering family and children to navigate peacefully in the virtual world.”
Eman Noorudin MAAPHP, NRCP, Psychotherapist and counselor said: “Youths have difficulty distinguishing between the online and offline world. This leads many of them into depression and anxiety. Parents can create a nurturing environment to help them overcome these difficulties by providing safety, validation, soothing when needed, and security. This is the optimal environment for their growth and development”.
Since its launch, TikTok has been committed to empowering parents to be involved in their children’s safety and has a wealth of features and resources available to assist parents. This includes a variety of privacy, safety and digital wellbeing features put in place to ensure a safe and positive experience on the platform. ‘Family Pairing Mode’ allows parents and teens to customize their safety settings based on individual needs. Using Family Pairing, parents can help guide their teen’s browsing experience with the following controls:
● Search: Decide whether their teen can search for content, users, hashtags, or sounds
● Screen Time Management: Set how long their teen can spend on TikTok each day
● Restricted Mode: Limit the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for a general audience in their teen’s For You feed
● Comments: Decide who can comment on their teen’s videos (everyone, friends, no one)
● Discoverability: Decide whether their teen’s account is private (their teen decides who can see their content) or public (anyone can search and view content)
● Liked Videos: Many people enjoy finding new videos to watch that others they follow have also enjoyed, but this control empowers families to decide whether others can see the list of videos their teen has liked
● Direct Messages: Turn off direct messaging completely. With user safety in mind, TikTok already has policies and controls for messaging. For example, direct messaging is automatically disabled for those under 16, only approved followers can message each other, and images and videos cannot be sent in messages.
TikTok also has a dedicated “Guardian’s Guide” page within its Safety Center which offers more information and resources to assist parents to review and adjust their teenagers’ privacy settings, help them report any inappropriate behaviour and have an open dialogue with their teenagers about how to be responsible and safe in all online activities. In addition, if parents or their teens see something that might violate TikTok’s Terms of Service or Community Guidelines, TikTok encourages them to report it so the moderation team can take appropriate action. Users can report a specific video, user, or comment right within the app itself.
Earlier this month, TikTok released its first global Community Guidelines Enforcement Report as the platform continues to bring visibility to the critical work of moderating content and earning trust with their community. The report indicated that 11,149,514 accounts were removed for violating TikTok Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, of which 7,263,952 were removed for potentially belonging to a person under the age of 13. This accounts for less than 1% of all accounts on TikTok. This builds upon previous work to strengthen default privacy settings for teens, offer tools to empower parents and families, and limit features like direct messaging and livestream to those age 16 and over.