India is one of the largest markets for TikTok with over 250 million downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, according to data by app analytics company Sensor Tower. Though the app recently came under fire for encouraging pornography and was briefly banned in India in April this year by the Madras High Court. The ban was lifted with the condition that the platform should not be used to host obscene videos.
The app is owned by China’s Bytedance Technology Co and allows users to create short videos and then share them. Following the ban, TikTok removed over six million videos in India which violated their community guidelines since July 2018. TikTok also has several safety features such as Parental Control, Comment Filter, etc to avoid misuse. Let us take a look at some:
Age bar of 13 years
To ensure that underage users do not use the platform, TikTok has set the age bar as 13 years for its new users. This means TikTok allows only those people over the age of 13 years to login and create an account on its platform.
Restrict screen time, inappropriate content
There are options in the Digital Wellbeing tab in Settings to restrict the screen time a user spends on TikTok as well as the content they deem inappropriate. A user can decide to restrict the time they spend on TikTok from 40, 60, 90 or 120 minutes per day after which they will require to enter a password to continue.
Of course, the idea is that someone else sets the password so that the user can not continue to use TikTok after the restricted time.
Users can also define content they find inappropriate by, then they can turn on the Restricted Mode that uses machine learning algorithms to identify content that may not be appropriate for minors. Once the mode is enabled, such content will not appear on a user’s feed. The feature is, again protected by password, which will be valid for 30 days.
A user can either automatically hide comments that may be spam on videos or they can choose up to 30 specific words that they find undesirable to stop seeing comments that have these words. The words can be in Hindi and English, which will be filtered by the platform automatically.
Other privacy settings
Users can control who can follow them, post comments, make duets with them, send messages, etc. So for instance, users can choose from ‘Everyone’, ‘Friends’ while choosing who can post comments. There’s a third option to turn comments off altogether as well. There are similar options to choose who can react to their videos, who can send them messages. TikTok also allows for blocking people. The blocklist can be accessed in the privacy settings.
Report content or behavior
In addition to the option of in-app reporting, TikTok has in place a Grievance Office in India, which can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To report a profile on TikTok app, click on the three dot menu on the top right of the profile and select ‘report’ from options. Next, select a reason from the list to continue. A comment can blocked by tapping on it and selecting ‘report’ from options. To block a video, click on the ‘share’ icon, then ‘Report’.
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