TikTok may be known for its young, viral dance craze-loving user base…but you still have to at least pretend to be 13 years or older to use it.
On Wednesday, TikTok, the viral video app that blew up in popularity during the pandemic, released its first transparency report of 2021. The report covers the first 3 months of the year.
While TikTok has released these reports before, which detail how the company deals with various forms of policy-breaking content, there was a “first” this time around.
“For the first time, we’re publishing the number of suspected underage accounts removed as we work to keep the full TikTok experience a place for people 13 and over,” TikTok says in the report.
And the number of accounts removed here is certainly eye-opening.
Of the 11,149,514 (yes, that’s more than 11 million) accounts removed for breaking the service’s community guidelines or terms of service, a whopping 7,263,952 of them were “suspected underage accounts.”
And “suspected” should be stressed. There’s no way to know exactly how many users under the age of 13 were actually using the service…or still are. These are accounts where users willingly entered their birthdate, identifying themselves as 12 years old or younger when signing up for the service.
That number may be high but, according to TikTok, it makes up less than 1 percent of all registered users. The company also highlighted how users under the age of 12 can sign up for a special curated version of the platform oriented to their age group — a service called TikTok for Younger Users.
While users 13 and over are allowed on the TikTok platform, the company did roll out special settings for those under the age of 18 earlier this year. The default account setting for users between 13 and 15 is set to private, and there are restrictions on who can download their videos and engage with their content. There are similar settings restrictions for users between the ages of 16 and 17 as well.
TikTok users who think they’ve found a perfect workaround by lying about their age may not be in the clear either. While TikTok hasn’t addressed this yet, other social media platforms have before. For example, a few years ago Twitter suspended many users who were legally allowed on the platform at the time, but had put a false birth date when they were underage and set up their account.