TikTok adds online safety videos and comment filters to its app

The livestreaming app launches a new "You're in Control" series.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
Tik Tok

Popular video and livestreaming app TikTok, which has reportedly reached more than 1 billion downloads, is facing some criticism over user security.

To try to make the lip-synching app safer, TikTok launched a new educational video series Wednesday called "You're in Control." The series puts safety guidelines in videos instead of in text. In a blog post, TikTok said the videos are meant to entertain as well as educate.

Topics covered by the videos include the site's community guidelines and how to do things like set up a private account, establish screen time limits, enable restricted viewing, and put messaging and comment controls in place.

TikTok's new comment controls let you filter comments by keywords. Users can filter almost any keyword they want, blocking comments about race, religion, gender, politics and more.

On Wednesday, TikTok paid $5.7 million in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC had alleged that the app violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information on kids under 13 without parental consent.

Earlier this week, the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children called out TikTok and other livestreaming apps, saying they're a "hunting ground" for predators. Last December, TikTok came under fire for allowing the creation and distribution of neo-Nazi propaganda. TikTok said at the time that hate speech is forbidden on the platform and that it cancels accounts that violate its rules.

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