Short video app operator Tik Tok, known as Douyin in China, looks to improve its privacy settings – adding account deletion, private messaging and parental control functions – for all its domestic and overseas users by next month.
“User privacy and protection is a critical issue for all social media and technology companies, and Tik Tok is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for its user community,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The privacy upgrade has come a month after concerns were raised about underage children exposing their identities on the platform.
Disturbing scenes on video, including minors simulating sexual acts, had drawn the attention of other Tik Tok users and heightened speculation that the platform was being used to stalk and court teenage girls.
Tik Tok’s enhanced features will allow users to set their videos on private, so only approved followers can see the content.
The short video service will enable users to permanently delete their accounts, including their profile, videos and comments, as well as protect them from receiving messages from other users they are not connected with.
The service will also enable parents to monitor the amount of time young users were logged on the service and the content they see.
Those upcoming features were designed to “complement existing algorithmic and human moderation systems” adopted by Tik Tok, the company said.
In the first quarter of this year, Tik Tok was the most downloaded iPhone app worldwide, with a total of 45.8 million. That surpassed the downloads recorded by Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, according to San-Francisco based research company Sensor Tower.
Tik Tok reported that its monthly active users on the mainland reached 300 million, reflecting a strong showing since the short video app was launched in 2016.
App developer Beijing ByteDance Technology said Douyin has grown its user base beyond the traditional Generation Z category, with more than 40 per cent of mainland users now aged between 24 and 30 years old.
Overseas, Tik Tok has expanded into more than 20 markets and reached 100 million monthly active users overseas.
It is the most popular photo and video app in Hong Kong, Japan and much of Southeast Asia, and ranks first among iOS apps in Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, according to App Annie.
The user figures from Tik Tok come amid fierce competition in China’s red-hot short video industry, where 353 million Chinese viewers – more than the entire US population – are expected to hook on to short-form, social videos by the end of 2018, according to iiMedia Report.
That industry, however, is also facing a crackdown on content deemed “vulgar” by Chinese authorities and rising demand for more privacy controls to protect minors. — South China Morning Post
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