TikTok increases age limits for gifts and streaming

Policy change follows criticism about platform for allowing teenagers to spend relatively large sums of money on virtual gifts.

TikTok: consulted NSPCC before making policy change
TikTok: consulted NSPCC before making policy change

TikTok is increasing the age limit for people who want to live-stream videos or send virtual gifts to other users in an attempt to increase safety.

From today, only those aged 18 and over will be able to buy, send and receive virtual gifts, whereas previously anyone older than 13 could send gifts and anyone aged at least 16 could receive them.

The policy change follows a wave of criticism about TikTok for allowing teenagers to spend relatively large sums of money on virtual gifts for their favourite influencers on the platform.

In July, TikTok said it was "sorry" that young people may have felt pressured into sending money to influencers. A BBC investigation found that young people were spending as much as £100 to send gifts in exchange for "shout-outs" from influencers or access to influencers' phone numbers.

Last month, US senator Marsha Blackburn accused the company of manipulating children’s online purchases in a letter to Alex Zhu, TikTok’s chief executive and co-founder of the platform’s previous incarnation, Musical.ly.

TikTok’s new restrictions follow informal discussions with industry bodies including Internet Matters.

The social media brand, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been growing its policy and sales teams amid an aggressive expansion in international markets. The company has sought to woo brands and ad agencies while recruiting senior figures in the US and EMEA.

Yesterday, Campaign revealed that TikTok had hired Trevor Johnson, a Facebook veteran, who is joining former colleague Blake Chandlee.

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