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Is TikTok Safe for Kids? Change These 11 Privacy Settings Right Now

TikTok can be a dangerous place, especially for teenagers. Here's how you can help protect them.

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Nelson Aguilar
Nelson Aguilar is an LA-based tech how-to writer and graduate of UCLA. With more than a decade of experience, he covers Apple and Google and writes on iPhone and Android features, privacy and security settings and more.
Nelson Aguilar
7 min read
TikTok logo on a phone screen

Before diving into TikTok, consider who you want accessing your videos and profile.

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TikTok is the second-most-popular social media site among teenagers in the US. It not only offers kids an endless stream of entertaining videos, TikTok also connects people with their friends and family and with people who have similar interests. And it gives folks the chance to go viral with one of their own creations. But there's also a dark side of TikTok.

Many kids and teens who have their videos go viral are subjected to harassment, ridicule and bullying. There's also the worry of violent and obscene videos coming up in their timelines. Not to mention anonymous users sending inappropriate messages.

If you have kids on TikTok, or even use the service yourself, it's important to become familiar with the features and settings TikTok offers to keep you safer while you're online. Here are 11 settings that can help protect you from unwanted followers, harmful comments and violent videos on TikTok.

See everyone who views your TikTok profile

If you have a public account and you're over 16 years old, anyone on TikTok can access your profile and watch your videos. (Accounts for people under 16 are automatically set to private.)
For many users, widespread exposure is the attraction of TikTok. It's a chance for your content to be seen around the world. But you may not want everyone, like bullies or even some family members, to be able to view your TikTok account.

Luckily, it's easy to find everyone who has looked at your profile.

  • On TikTok, go to Profile and tap on the three-dash menu in the top right.
  • Tap Settings and privacy and go into Privacy.
  • Hit Profile views and toggle on Profile view history.
Profile views setting on TikTok

If you enable the profile views setting on TikTok, other people will be able to see when you check out their profile.

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You'll now be able to see everyone who's viewed your profile in the last 30 days. If you find someone that you don't want to have access to your profile and videos, you can then block them.

Block accounts on TikTok so they can't see your profile

If you want to stop a certain account from being able to see your profile, you can block them -- whether they're harassing or stalking you, or for any reason you like.

  • First, find the account you want to block and go to their profile.
  • Next, tap on the three-dot icon in the top right. 
  • Finally, hit the Block button in the small menu that appears and then hit Block again when prompted.
Blocking people on TikTok

Block someone's account so they can't see your profile, send you messages and more.

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Not only will a blocked account be unable to view your profile, they also can't send you messages or even find your profile by searching for it. However, if your video is in a duet or you're on a livestream with multiple hosts, it's possible that a blocked account may be able to see those videos.

Set your TikTok account to private to control who can see it

The easiest way to maintain your privacy on TikTok is to make your account private, meaning only people you actively allow can view your profile and videos. To make your account private:

  • Go to Profile in the nav bar at the bottom of the page.
  • Tap the three-dash menu in the top right.
  • Hit Settings and privacy > Privacy
  • Toggle Private account to On
Private account setting on TikTok

If your TikTok account is private, only those you accept as friends will be able to see your videos.

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After changing to a private account, only users that you approve can follow your account and watch your videos, but existing followers are allowed to continue following you. If that's a problem, you'll need to individually block any followers that you don't want seeing your videos.

Stop people from downloading your TikTok videos

By default, anyone who stumbles across your video on TikTok can download it using the site's built-in video download feature. If you don't feel comfortable with other people having your videos saved on their devices, you can disable that feature.

  • Go to Profile > three-dash menu > Settings and privacy
  • Tap Downloads underneath the Interactions heading
  • Toggle Video downloads to Off
Video downloads setting on TikTok

There are still other ways to download videos from TikTok, especially with third-party services.

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Unfortunately, there are other ways that people can download your videos, such as screen recording, third-party apps and shortcuts, but this setting will prevent one of the most popular (and easiest) ways of downloading videos from TikTok.

Report problematic accounts, videos or comments on TikTok

Blocking an account may not always be enough. If an account is pretending to be someone else or harassing people in general, you might be able to report the offending actions and have the account restricted or permanently banned. Not only can you report individual accounts, but also specific videos, comments and direct messages. 

To report hateful, violent or other prohibited content on TikTok:

  • Account: Go to the account profile of the offending party, tap the three-dot icon in the top right, hit Report and follow the instructions.
  • Video: Long press on the video, tap Report and follow the instructions.
  • Live: Long press on the live video, tap Report and follow the instructions.
  • Comment: Long press on the comment, tap Report and follow the instructions.
  • Direct Message: Long press on the message or messages, tap Report and follow the instructions.
Reporting a video on TikTok

You can report TikTok accounts, videos, comments and other improper behavior.

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You can report something for a variety of reasons, including minor safety, disordered eating, self-harm, adult nudity, bullying, harassment, spam, harmful misinformation, illegal activities, violent content and more.

Stop TikTok from recommending your account to other people

If you want your account to stay low-key and away from too many people's eyes, you can stop your account from being suggested to other people that might have your contact information on their phone or have mutual friends with you. To stop your account from being recommended by TikTok:

  • Go to Profile > three-dash menu > Settings and privacy > Privacy
  • Tap Suggest your account to others
  • Toggle off all the options
Setting to stop suggesting your account to others on TikTok

By default, your account is suggested to other people on TikTok.

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Your TikTok account is normally suggested to several groups, including your contacts, Facebook friends, people with mutual connections and people who open or send links to you (including links to content on TikTok that are shared outside of TikTok). Disable all of the settings to stop your account from being suggested at all, which will make it harder to find.

Keep your TikTok comment section safe and healthy

Comments on any social media service can quickly turn hostile, and TikTok is no exception. Fortunately there are several features buried in your TikTok settings to help you moderate your comments and eliminate spam and hateful comments.

To find your comment settings, go to Profile > three-dash menu > Settings and privacy > Privacy > Comments. Consider adjusting the following settings:

  • Who can comment on your videos and Stories: Choose between all of your Followers, Followers that you also follow or No one.
  • Comment filters: You can choose to filter all comments, only spam and offensive comments or comments with certain keywords. All filtered comments will be hidden until you individually approve them.
  • Comment management: Here is where you can review your filtered comments, choosing Approve or Delete to decide which comments will appear beneath your videos.
Comments settings on TikTok

Don't like what's going on in your comment section? Use these settings to manage it.

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Restrict who can tag and mention you on TikTok

As long as someone knows your TikTok username, they can tag you in other videos or mention you in comments. If someone is tagging you in videos you don't want to see or mentioning you in comments as a way of targeted harassment, there is a way to prevent unwanted tagging.

First, you'll need to find the mentions and tags settings. Go to Profile > three-dash menu > Settings and privacy > Privacy > Mentions and tags, and configure these settings:

  • Who can tag you: Choose between Everyone, People you follow, People that follow you back or No one.
  • Who can mention you: Again, choose between Everyone, People you follow, People that follow you back or No one.
Mentions and tags settings on TikTok

You can restrict who mentions and tags you on TikTok

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An in-box notification setting can also send you a notification anytime someone you follow likes or comments on videos you're mentioned in, but that doesn't really affect your privacy on TikTok.

Stop direct messages from strangers and stalkers on TikTok

While most content on TikTok is out there for the world to see, direct messages aren't so clear and visible. Many people use DMs to harass, bully and spam other people. However, there is a way to help prevent that from happening to you.

Go to Profile > three-dash menu > Settings and privacy > Privacy > Direct messages, and change these settings:

  • Who can send you direct messages: Choose between Followers that follow you back, People you sent messages to or No one.
  • Message preference: If you toggle Filtered requests on, messages from people that TikTok suspects as being malicious or spammy will appear in your filtered requests until you reply to them.
Direct messages settings on TikTok

Don't let just anyone send you a direct message.

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Restrict who can Duet or Stitch your TikTok videos

On TikTok, you can react to other videos by either inserting yourself into their videos or using their videos in your own. The Duet feature lets you create a reaction split-screen video, combining half of your video with half of someone's else's video to create a single reaction video. With the Stitch feature, your video and someone else's video are integrated into each other -- you can edit a portion of their video into yours.

If you're not a fan of these features or don't want other users putting your videos into theirs, you can disable them so that no one can Duet or Stitch your video. To do this, go to Profile > three-dash menu > Settings and privacy > Privacy and then:

  • Duet: Choose between Followers, Followers that follow back or No one.
  • Stitch: Choose between Followers, Followers that follow back or No one.
Duet and Stitch settings on TikTok

The Duet and Stitch features are fun, but they can also get out of control.

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If your account is set to private, no one but you can create a Duet or Stitch with your videos.

Prevent others from viewing your following list and liked videos

You might post videos on TikTok for everyone to see, but that doesn't necessarily mean you want everyone to be able to see who you're following or which videos you like. Who you follow and what you like can give others more information than you might want to share, but you can easily set TikTok so that no one but you can see your follower list and liked videos.

To stop others from viewing your following list or liked videos, go go to Profile > three-dash menu > Settings and privacy > Privacy and then:

  • Following list: Choose between Followers or Only me.
  • Liked videos: Choose between Followers or Only me.
Following list and liked videos settings on TikTok

Just because you follow accounts and like videos doesn't mean the whole world needs to know it.

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 If you select the "only me" option for the following list, other users will still be able to see your mutual friends.

For more about TikTok and privacy, learn how the company is protecting young users from inappropriate videos and why some US regulators are worried about TikTok sharing private user data with China.