TikTok gives users of the popular app more control over the types of videos they see in their feed, including flagging videos with “mature or complex themes” aimed at viewers 18 and older.
TikTok Community Rules detail the categories of content prohibited by the platform, including nudity, pornography and sexually explicit content. In these policies, “we understand that people may want to avoid certain categories of content based on their personal preferences,” Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, wrote in a blog post about the new features. . “Or, for members of our teenage community, some content may contain mature or complex themes that may reflect personal experiences or real-world events intended for older audiences.”
Over the next few weeks, TikTok plans to introduce an early version of a new system for tagging content based on thematic maturity — conceptually similar to film and TV industry ratings, according to Keenan. This is designed to “help prevent content with overtly mature themes from reaching an audience aged 13-17”. Officially, TikTok requires users to be at least 13 years old to access the app.
When TikTok’s system detects that a video contains mature or complex themes — such as “fictionalized scenes that may be too scary or intense for younger audiences,” Keenan wrote — a “maturity score” will be assigned. the video to help prevent under 18s from seeing it on TikTok.
“We initially focused on protecting the teen experience, and in the coming months we plan to add new features to provide detailed content filtering options to our entire community to so they can enjoy more of what they love,” added Keenan.
TikTok is also rolling out a tool that will allow users to automatically filter videos with specific keywords or hashtags that they don’t want to see in their For You or Follow feeds. Users can already use TikTok’s “not interested” feature to automatically skip videos from a specific creator or those that use a specific audio clip.
TikTok’s For You feed is algorithmically generated, based on a variety of data points, such as a user’s likes, follows, and videos watched. The app uses it to show people other videos they might be interested in, much like streaming services like Netflix or Spotify suggest new artists or movies based on their content consumption.
Additionally, TikTok tested ways to avoid recommending a series of similar content on topics that may be “problematic” if viewed repeatedly, such as topics related to dieting, extreme fitness, to sadness and other feel-good topics, according to Keenan. Based on TikTok’s testing in the US, the app has “improved the viewing experience so viewers now see fewer videos on these topics at once,” he added.
“We want to play a positive role in the lives of the people who use our app, and we are committed to fostering an environment where people can speak out on a variety of topics, while protecting themselves from potentially difficult viewing experiences or triggers,” Keenan wrote.
TikTok, owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, said last year it had more than 1 billion monthly users. Recently, some US lawmakers have renewed concerns about TikTok’s ties to China, fearing that US user data could be accessed by the Chinese government.