TikTok has announced that it's expanding its audience controls feature, giving creators the ability to restrict their videos to adult viewers. Prior to this expansion, the adult-only audience controls feature was only available for TikTok Live. Now the company is bringing the feature to its short-form videos as well.
"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," TikTok wrote in a blog post. "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."
As is the case with adult-only livestreams on TikTok, the 18+ restriction setting for videos isn’t a way for creators to display adult content, as the content is still subject to the app’s policies. TikTok instead sees the setting as a way for creators to prevent minors from encountering content that’s aimed toward an adult audience or may be uninteresting to them. When TikTok rolled out adult-only livestreams, the company said the setting could be used for creators who want to share comedy content that is better suited for people above the age of 18. Or, creators may want to talk about a difficult life experience and would feel more comfortable knowing the conversation is limited to adults.
The expansion of the audience controls setting comes as TikTok previously said it wanted to start identifying which content is appropriate for younger and older teens versus adults. TikTok had said it was developing a system to identify and restrict certain types of content from being accessed by teens and that it would start asking creators to specify when their content is more appropriate for an adult audience. We are now seeing this in practice with the app's audience controls feature.
TikTok has also announced that it’s launching the next iteration of its borderline suggestive model, which automatically identifies sexually explicit, suggestive or borderline content. The next iteration of TikTok's borderline suggestive model is expected to be better at detecting such content.
These announcements are part of TikTok's broader push toward ramping up safety features for teens on its app. Last year, TikTok rolled out Content Levels to prevent certain content with more mature or complex themes from reaching teens. As part of these efforts, TikTok says it has prevented teen accounts from viewing over 1 million overtly sexually suggestive videos in the last 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 after attempting dangerous challenges they allegedly saw on TikTok.