TikTok Is Attempting A New Method To Limit The Amount Of Potentially Triggering And Toxic Videos In Users Feed

TikTok is attempting a new strategy to help reduce harmful and toxic content in users “For You” feed, by trying to limit the amount of videos in certain potentially sensitive categories.

The attempt to address toxic and harmful content is one that many social media platforms constantly struggle with. Of course, when I say many, let it be noted that Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and essentially anything that Meta has its hands in forms part of that exception. The tricky business regarding content moderation is that you literally cannot achieve it without adhering to some form of censorship in day to day business. The stifling of free speech is a definite red flag, but how does one balance that while also making sure some lunatic raving about cleansing other minorities from America doesn’t keep popping up every now and then? All platforms have different approaches to this.

YouTube, for example, has a very strict and rigorous set of community guidelines. It should be clarified, however, that said guidelines were established in the interest of being more advertiser-friendly, as opposed to genuine concern for harmful content affecting users. However, the downside to this is that YouTube has become far too strict in terms of moderation. It’s incredibly difficult to monetize content that can be perceived as being even slightly adult or mature. If a video is tagged as being for individuals of a younger age group, comments cannot be posted underneath them. Finally, YouTube also recently removed dislike counts in the interest of preventing coordinated hate attacks. All of these measures come at the cost of a community that feels stifled, and much less expressive than it once was.

Meta’s taken a very different route, i.e. actively profiting from all of the harmful content posted. Since toxic and provocative posts naturally lead to more engagement, and therefore ad revenue, ex-employee and current whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed that Meta had taken a strategy of non-interference, actively leading to the mental detriment of many users. TikTok needs to strike somewhere between Meta’s nefarious nonchalance, while also not falling by YouTube’s overbearing strictness. The platform’s answer to such a concern comes in the form of limited content restriction.

TikTok’s answer to avoiding potentially unhealthy or triggering content, without leading to active suppression of a creator’s time and effort, is by utilizing its algorithm. The Feed algorithm will now space out videos in a manner via which multiple videos from the same creator or categories will not appear at any one time. This rule will especially apply itself to videos regarding weight gain/loss, breakups, sadness, traumatic experiences, racially sensitive politics, and other such potentially triggering content. This way, creators can keep on making their content, while users still get to enjoy a relatively sparse number of worrisome videos. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s one that may prove to be just enough for users to keep holding on to TikTok.

Read next: TikTok Is Testing The Addition Of A New Live Studio Interface Through Which Creators Can Go Live On The Platform
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