Whenever a person creates a social media profile, they are actively choosing to put themselves at risk of having their personal information viewed by strangers. Ultra short video app, Tik Tok, known as Douyin in China, is this month to buckle down on their privacy control options, due to recent child protection issues that have arisen.
Underage children are notorious for uploading pictures of themselves and their personal life on social media, without concern for who may be viewing their page. When Tik Tok realised their underage users were uploading personal information, without having the option to make their profile private, they immediately made a privacy upgrade.
The concern for lack of privacy came to light for Tik Tok when minor users had participated in pornographic acts in their videos. There is also speculation that the app had been used to stalk and court teenage girls.
This case of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted has come about despite the stated stance of the company, that, “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”.
Even Facebook, the world’s top social network site, had a major privacy breach in April 2018. The company contacted 87 million of its users, informing them that their personal information may have been breached by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that uses personal data to change audience behaviour.
Although Facebook did have a major data breach earlier this year, it still offers far more privacy to its users than Tik Tok currently does. With social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and WeChat, users have the option of making their profiles private, while Tik Tok does not.
Tik Tok is not the only Chinese app that has dealt with issues such as this. According to the South China Morning Post, “Predators were found to be sending messages to children on Musical.ly asking for nude photos, including to one 8-year-old girl in Melbourne and a 7-year-old in the US”.
Therefore, starting this month, Tik Tok plans to give its users the option to make their videos “Private”, so that only users who have been approved can view them. It is also expected to roll out private messaging whereby users can neither write nor receive messages from members with whom they are not connected.
Lastly, Tik Tok will be adding a parental control function to its app. “New functionality will give parents and legal guardians additional tools to help teens use the app in an age-appropriate manner”, reported Business Insider. “For example, the “time lock” feature will allow parents to set a limit on how much time their teen can spend using the app.”