TikTok Gives Ability for Creators to Restrict Videos to Adult Viewers

January 10, 2023

TikTok has announced that it is expanding its audience controls feature, which allows creators to restrict their videos to adult viewers. The feature was previously only available for TikTok Live, but will now be available for short-form videos as well. This expansion comes as TikTok aims to better identify which content is appropriate for different age groups, including younger and older teens versus adults.

In a blog post, TikTok stated, "We’ve started to bring our audience controls feature to creators of short-form video and will expand the feature globally over the coming weeks. To be clear: our policies still fully apply to creators who use this feature, and we will remove content which contains nudity and other violations of our Community Guidelines."

It's important to note that the 18+ restriction setting for videos is not intended as a way for creators to display adult content. The content is still subject to TikTok's policies, and the setting is simply a way for creators to prevent minors from encountering content that may be more suitable for an adult audience or not of interest to them. When TikTok first introduced adult-only livestreams, the company stated that the setting could be used by creators who want to share comedy content that is better suited for people over the age of 18, or who may want to discuss difficult life experiences and feel more comfortable knowing that the conversation is limited to adults.

TikTok has also announced the next iteration of its borderline suggestive model, which automatically identifies sexually explicit, suggestive, or borderline content. The updated model is expected to be more effective at detecting such content. These announcements are part of TikTok's ongoing efforts to increase safety features for teens on its app. Last year, the company introduced Content Levels to prevent certain content with more mature or complex themes from reaching teens. As part of these efforts, TikTok claims to have prevented teen accounts from viewing over 1 million overtly sexually suggestive videos in the past 30 days alone.

Child and teen safety is an area where TikTok has faced significant scrutiny, not only from regulators and lawmakers, but also from parents. For instance, last year a group of parents sued TikTok after their children died while attempting dangerous challenges they allegedly saw on the app. TikTok has taken steps to address these concerns, including introducing new safety features and hiring more moderators to monitor content.

However, TikTok's parent company, Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has also faced controversy, particularly over its handling of user data. The company has been accused of sharing user data with the Chinese government and of engaging in censorship on behalf of the government. These concerns have led to calls for TikTok to be banned in several countries, including the United States.

Despite these controversies, TikTok has continued to grow in popularity, especially among younger users. The app has gained a reputation for being a platform for creative expression and has helped launch the careers of many internet celebrities. It has also been credited with popularizing a number of internet trends and challenges.

Overall, TikTok's expansion of its audience controls feature and its efforts to increase safety features for teens are welcome developments. It's important for social media platforms to be proactive in protecting the well-being of their users, especially younger ones. While TikTok has faced its share of controversy, it's clear that the company is taking steps to address these issues and create a safer environment for its users.