ISLAMABAD: TikTok has given more powers to parents, allowing them to curate the content viewed by their children and filter out what they deem inappropriate videos.

The new content filtering feature is designed to “prevent content with mature or complex themes from reaching users between the ages of 13 and 17 years”, the social media platform said in a statement.

The tool will allow parents and caregivers to “curate a tailored viewing experience” for their children by filtering out specific words, hashtags and themes they deem inappropriate or unsuitable.

TikTok said the feature has been launched following demands from parents to enhance the safety and well-being of teenagers on the platform.

The tool was initially launched last year when TikTok empowered viewers to automatically filter out videos with words or hashtags they don’t want to see on their feeds.

Now, the platform has extended the scope of the tool and added it to Family Pairing, which allows parents to pair accounts with their children to manage their interaction with the app by controlling screen time, limiting the appearance of inappropriate content on their feeds and restricting who can send them messages.

The new option has largely been welcomed by digital rights activists as it would help prevent cyber crimes including child pornography and luring or trapping of youngsters into any illegal act.

However, Digital Rights Foundation’s Nighat Dad said there was a need for parents to understand the rightful digital space for their children. She added that too much intrusion, with the aim of protecting children, could lead to the reduction of social media usage by teenagers, especially girls.

“It is now becoming normal for girls to have social media accounts but over-protection could reduce their place in the digital space,” she said.

TikTok said it acknowledged the unique needs of every teenager and empowered caregivers to create a safer and more personalised environment for their teens within the app.

TikTok has said the new feature has been developed in collaboration with renowned experts, including the Family Online Safety Institute, while keeping in view the inclusive safety framework.

“The experts have maintained the delicate balance between the caregivers’ concerns and respecting the teenagers’ rights to engage and participate in the online world,” TikTok has said.

This transparency not only fosters open conversations about online boundaries and safety but also enco­urages mutual understanding bet­ween teenagers and their parents.

Apart from the content filtering feature, TikTok has also introduced ‘Youth Council’ to give “young users a voice and actively involve them in shaping TikTok’s policies and features”.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2023

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