On Wednesday, TikTok announced several updates designed to assist users in customizing their viewing preferences and filtering out content that may be problematic or too mature for young users. This news comes amid renewed scrutiny of the potential dangers that social media platforms pose to teenagers.
Head of Trust and Safety at TikTok, Cormac Keenan, informs that the short-form video app is modifying its viewing experience for users to see fewer videos about topics that “may be fine as a single video but potentially problematic if viewed repeatedly.” Keenan gave examples of content issues relating to dieting, excessive exercise, and feelings of melancholy. (In the past, TkTok’s competitor Instagram tried to restrict the visibility of specific advertisements for weight loss goods on its platform.)
TikTok also said it is going to introduce a new system to organize videos according to thematic maturity. This new feature on TikTok will be similar to the rating systems used in the film and television industries. The new feature on TikTok will assign a “maturity score” to each movie that has the potential to include mature or complicated subject matter and has been identified as such. According to Keenan, the purpose of this initiative is “to assist in preventing content with obviously mature themes from reaching audiences between the ages of 13 and 17.”
After a Facebook whistleblower renewed concerns about the impact social media platforms have on their youngest users, senators grilled executives from TikTok, YouTube, and Snap late last year about the steps their platforms took to protect teens online. The questions focused on what Snap, TikTok, and YouTube were doing to protect teens. Additionally, at the beginning of this year, a group of state attorneys general initiated an investigation into the impact that TikTok has had on young people in the United States. TikTok noted at the time, in a statement, it released at the time, that it restricts access to its features based on users’ ages, offers tools and resources to parents, and designs its policies with the health and safety of young users in mind.
In the blog post, Keenen stated that the firm is “committed on further securing the teen experience” and that additional features would be added in the upcoming weeks to enable more extensive content screening options.
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