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TikTok introduces changes aimed at improving privacy for younger users

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By Hebe Campbell with AP
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This content is intended for editorial use only. For other uses, additional clearances may be required.   -   Copyright  Kiichiro Sato/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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Social media platform TikTok has introduced a series of changes aimed at making it safer for young users.

It comes after federal regulators in the US ordered TikTok to provide detailed information on how it collects and uses consumers’ personal data and how its practices affect children and teenagers.

The changes, effective from Wednesday, include making the default privacy setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15 to private. That means only someone the user approves as a follower can view their videos, which was not the case previously.

Older teenagers won't see this default setting change. For users aged 16 or 17, the default setting to let people download the videos they created will now be “off," rather than “on".

TikTok is also blocking users' ability to download videos created by those 15 or younger. This age group will also see direct messaging restricted and won't be able to host live streams.

A tool called ``family pairing was introduced in April 2020, allowing parents to link their TikTok account to their child's and moderate content and privacy settings.

Andy Burrows, the head of child safety online policy at NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) tweeted to welcome the changes announced by the platform.

TikTok users are asked to put in their birthday when they sign up for the service, but there is no real verification to ensure the age declared is accurate.