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TikTok to start banning 'problematic' content from its For You feed

Next month, content that would be "problematic if viewed in clusters" won't be eligible to be on the FYF.
TikTok to start banning 'problematic' content from its For You feed
Posted at 7:45 PM, Apr 19, 2024

TikTok will let you mess up once, maybe even a couple times, but repeating your mistakes a little too often is going to cost you.

The social media platform announced Wednesday it's updating its standards for what's allowed on the algorithmically-generated For You feed, which provides users a personalized experience with videos and creators the app believes they would like. 

But come May 17, those who create content the company considers "fine if seen occasionally but problematic if viewed in clusters" won't be eligible to be on it, making their account temporarily ineligible from being on the FYF. TikTok will also make their content harder to find in search, thereby reducing a person's ability to reach a larger audience in multiple ways.

In its announcement, TikTok specified some types of "repetitive content patterns" it will start interrupting to ensure they're viewed less often. Those include "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)."

Its policy also makes any TikTok users under the age of 16 ineligible from reaching the FYF at any time.

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Creators who go against TikTok's FYF standards will be given a warning strike on their first violation, but the next will be an actual strike, which can add up to a permanent ban, the app's head of operations and trust and safety, Adam Presser, said in another TikTok blog post.

If users think a mistake has been made in revoking their FYF eligibility or account suspension, they'll be able to appeal, but zero-tolerance policies like age violations or incitement to violence won't get reminders or appeals, Presser wrote.

And if you're now worried you might be close to being banned from the app right now without knowing it, future you won't have to worry. TikTok is rolling out an "Account Check" feature that will allow users to "quickly audit" their last 30 posts to see if they're in danger of any strikes from violations. 

TikTok also released Wednesday a Creator Code of Conduct, which it says will take effect in the coming weeks. Presser said it includes standards the company expects creators involved in its features and campaigns to follow "on and off-platform." 

"We believe that being a part of these programs is an opportunity that comes with additional responsibilities, and this code will also help provide creators with additional reassurance that other participants are meeting these standards too," Presser wrote. 

The revised standards come as TikTok has increasingly come under scrutiny for how it protects its users, particularly younger ones, from harmful content and its effects. 

In November, an Amnesty International investigation found TikTok's FYF draws young people into "rabbit holes" of potentially dangerous content, "including videos that romanticize and encourage depressive thinking, self-harm and suicide." This, its report said, risks worsening existing mental health challenges.

The policy shift also comes as Congress considers a potential nationwide ban of the app unless it separates from its Chinese parent company ByteDance. Some lawmakers fear TikTok could become a national security issue if ByteDance had to divest its data on American users because of Chinese law. The bill still needs to clear the Senate.

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