TikTok gained popularity around the world. However, as in the case of other social networks, it is quite hard to remove all problematic content in a short period of time. Importantly, the Italian Data Protection Authority ordered TikTok to temporarily block the accounts of any users whose ages can’t be verified. It is worth mentioning that, the order comes after the death of a 10-year old girl in Palermo. This tragic case once more underlines the severity of the problem.
Importantly, the country’s data protection authority ordered TikTok to block unverified users in Italy at least February 15th. Based on the information provided by the company, it had not found content on its platform which would have encouraged the child to participate in a “blackout challenge”. Nevertheless, TikTok is cooperating with the authorities.
According to TikTok, privacy, as well as safety, are top priorities for the company. Moreover, the company is constantly strengthening its policies, etc. This way, the company wants to protect all users. It is worth noting that, under its terms of service, users must be at least 13 years old to sign up for an account. According to Italian authorities, it is easy to get around that rule. Interestingly, TikTok has a version of its app in the U.S. for children under 13. The purpose of this version is to limit the content as well as interaction available to those users.
TikTok and interesting details
As state above, TikTok is working hard to cope with various challenges. For example, the company spent much of the past year adding more privacy controls for younger users’ accounts. Notably, it introduced remote parental controls as well as allowed parents to change kids’ privacy settings on the app. Moreover, earlier this month, the company updated the default privacy settings for users between 13 and 15 years old, putting limits on who can see and comment on their videos.
However, the company has the capability to take additional measures. As a reminder, its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance paid a $5.7 million fine to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for a prior version of TikTok called Musical.ly over allegations it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Act. Users under the age of 13 were able to sign up for the app without their parents’ consent.
Social media giants should work with authorities to reduce risk factors. This way it will be easier to make such platforms less dangerous for users in the future.