TikTok’s Resolutions: Safety for Minors, Success for Black Creators
TikTok is kicking off 2021 with two major moves. On Wednesday, January 13 the app announced that it was updating the default settings for users aged 13 to 15, which would automatically render their accounts private and shield them from comments unless they’ve added the commenter as a friend. The same day, TikTok also unveiled an incubator program for Black creators, a three-month partnership with 100 eligible Black creators and music artists on the platform that aims to support their careers and connect them with mentors.
TikTok’s new default settings don’t prohibit young users from later setting their accounts as public. But it will limit the visibility of under-18 accounts in other ways: In addition to the the limit on comments mentioned above, users will not be able to duet or stitch videos from users between 13 and 15, and no one will be unable to download videos made by users under 16. Restrictions are a bit looser for 16 and 17 year olds. Their settings will default to disabling downloads, but they can choose to allow it, and only their friends will be able to duet and stitch their videos.
These restrictions will hopefully help prevent underage users from going viral, like the young user whose video that used a remix of “We Own The Night” from Disney’s Zombies 2 was widely mocked in a trend that it inspired.
“Your hate, it’s not working,” the user, @cyclone_floof, responded in a video.
The TikTok for Black Creatives program comes after an outcry from users over the summer. Black users have pointed out that their videos seem to appear less often on the For You page, a crucial path to popularity, and protested what they say has been unfair and uneven enforcement of community guidelines by switching their profile pictures to an image of a raised fist.
"First, to our Black community: We want you to know that we hear you and we care about your experiences on TikTok,” TikTok previously said in a statement. “We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed. We don't ever want anyone to feel that way. We welcome the voices of the Black community wholeheartedly."
In December, TikTok’s biggest rival, Dubsmash, was acquired by Reddit. Dubsmash’s success is largely credited to its Black and Latinx users, and now TikTok hopes to amplify its own diversity.
TikTok for Black Creatives will welcome 100 eligible creators into a three-month program that will connect users with Black celebrities, entrepreneurs, and executives to help promote their content and facilitate their professional growth. TikTok has also partnered with media company MACRO to create a grant for a select group of creators and music artists.
Interested users have until January 27 to apply for the program, and finalists will be announced in February.