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TikTok allows parents to control their children's accounts


The short video sharing service TikTok has launched a new update to increase safety in its app, giving parents more control over teen accounts, while social media companies are under increasing pressure to make their platforms safer for children.

The company said Tuesday that family pairing now allows parents to stop comments on their children's videos altogether, or allow them only for friends. Parents whose accounts are also linked to their children's accounts will also be able to activate the special status in children's accounts, turn off the content search function, users, tags, or sounds, and determine who can watch videos that their children liked.

Launched last March, Family Pairing allows parents to know how long their children spend at TechTalk each day, and restrict the content they see in their feed.

The TechTalk service allows children to register and create an account if they are over the age of 13. All they need is to present their date of birth. However, since TechTalk does not require age verification, some children under the age of 13 have registered by lying about their age, according to Ofcom UK.

Alexandra Evans, head of child safety policy at TechTalk Europe, told CNBC that the "family pairing" feature has "hit a parent's chord" since its launch. "If we think of it as a tool box, we want to provide more tools," she said in a video call before the announcement.

 Evans said the new Family Pairing feature, which is published worldwide from Tuesday, provides children with a "protection barrier" while exploring tik tok content.

"Today's updates are the latest in a series of steps we've taken to give families the tools they need to create the right TechTalk experience for them," Evans said. "We know that when people feel safe, they feel free to express their creativity, and that's why safety is at the heart of everything we do."

Last April, TechTalk banned people under the age of 16 from sending direct messages on its platform, becoming the first social media company to ban private messaging by teenagers globally.