Can you trust every user you come across on TikTok? The answer to that may depend on how use the service, but the real question is — can you trust every user that sees your content? Not everyone on TikTok is someone you want viewing or interacting with your content, and there's a way to prevent them from doing so.
Anyone can lurk on your public short-form video content without an account, and it's easy to create an anonymous or false account to make derogatory and harassing comments. There's also a real fear that stalkers can reach out to children pretending to be someone else. As a TikTok user or a parent of a child who uses TikTok, it's important to be aware of these dangers.
Going private on TikTok is the best way to make sure you're only sharing content with family and friends you know on the service. Plus, it's the best thing to do if you're not into the whole TikTok community but just want to use the app on Android or iOS to make cool videos for other social apps like Instagram or Snapchat. (Mimicking popular songs, dances, and TV show scenes are great for stories!)
In the Android or iPhone app, tap the profile icon in the bottom right. Next, tap the ellipsis (•••) icon in the top right, followed by "Privacy and Safety." Here, you can enable "Private Account" so that only people you accept as friends can see your videos. However, if you already have followers, they won't be erased, so make sure they're all people you're okay with having access to your videos.
Now, whenever you view your own content, you'll see the private badge in the corner reminding you that your content is not public. And when somebody happens to come across your TikTok profile, it will say it's private. Whenever they tap on "Follow," you'll get the request on your end to approve or deny it.
If you want to beef up your privacy even more, you can also disable "Allow Others to Find Me," which means you won't show up as a suggestion to other users, which can happen when you have mutual friends or your phone number is attached to your account and another user has that info saved on their smartphone.
Once you start accepting friends on TikTok on a case-by-case basis, you can further refine how they interact with your account using the other options in the "Privacy and Safety" menu. You can also block individual users after the fact if they turn out to be someone that was masquerading as another user.
This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' special coverage on becoming a social media expert on your phone. Check out the whole Social Media series.