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May 28, 2024
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TikTok to restrict users who repeatedly post problematic topics from ‘For You’ feed

TikTok to restrict users who repeatedly post problematic topics from ‘For You’ feed

TikTok will make entire accounts temporarily ineligible for its For You feed if users have a pattern of posting about extreme fitness, conspiracy theories, sexually suggestive material, and a wide range of other topics that the platform won’t promote on the feed. The change was included in an update to TikTok’s Community Guidelines issued on Wednesday. While videos about such topics are still technically allowed on TikTok, the content itself and the accounts of those who post them could be temporarily restricted.

“We’re introducing a policy to make an entire account temporarily ineligible for recommendation in the For You feed if a creator repeatedly posts content that goes against our For You feed standards. Their account and content will be harder to find in search. We will notify creators when their account has been restricted in this way, and they will be able to appeal,” wrote Adam Presser, TikTok’s head of operations and Trust and Safety.

The change, which goes into effect on May 17th, appears to be the first to directly target the accounts of creators who post videos about topics that TikTok considers unfit for a broader audience, even though the content itself doesn’t violate the Community Guidelines. This could further discourage certain creators from posting about such topics entirely to avoid the risk of being temporarily hidden from the For You feed. For example, a fitness influencer may avoid talking about extended intermittent fasting or posting “Before and After” videos, both of which are ineligible for the For You feed.

In an update to its For You feed eligibility standards issued today, TikTok also stated it would also interrupt any cases of “repetitive content patterns,” even if such videos are still eligible for the feed.

“Certain types of content may be fine if seen occasionally, but problematic if viewed in clusters. This includes content such as dieting, extreme fitness, sexual suggestiveness, sadness (such as statements of hopelessness, or sharing sad quotes), and overgeneralized mental health information (such as a quiz that claims to diagnose someone). This type of content may be eligible for the FYF, but we will interrupt repetitive content patterns to ensure it is not viewed too often,” the update reads.

TikTok, along with Instagram, has long been criticized for promoting harmful or objectionable content to its young user base. The platform began cracking down on “problematic” content in its For You Feed back in 2021 when it announced it would break up clusters of videos on extreme fitness, breakups, sadness, and other topics to keep users from going down harmful content holes. But such content still thrives on the platform. An Amnesty International investigation from November concluded that TikTok’s For You feed amplified depressive content that risked worsening the mental health of children and young people.

Given that a potential ban from Congress is looming, TikTok is taking more drastic action now to improve its public image. But there’s also a possibility that this effort could backfire. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and others have taken similar steps to crack down on “problematic” sexual or nude content over the years that had the effect of discriminating against women and LGBTQ users. It’s left to be seen whether TikTok can learn from their errors.

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