Video-focused social networking service, TikTok on Thursday revealed it is changing its algorithm to avoid harmful streams of negative or problematic content, in an obvious move to tackle rising criticism and concern over social media’s damaging effects on young users’ psyches.
TikTok itself has been embroiled in series of incidents of the nature, the latest being the report that school districts across the United States cancelled classes on Friday due to reports of threats that are supposedly being made on TikTok.
According to local media reports, California, Texas, Minnesota, and Missouri Districts are planning to close down on Friday in response and protest against the incident, with other districts aside the aforementioned planning to have heightened police presence, with some of them having to email parents to say they’ve been investigating the allegations.
The company while responding to the controversies said in a statement:
“At TikTok, we recognize that too many things, whether its animals, fitness advice or personal wellness trips, don’t match the diverse discovery experience we aim to create”.
The For You feed on TikTok makes use of metrics that shows how long a viewer lingers on content to recommend videos, with the personalized recommendations algorithm of TikTok having to come under intense scrutiny.
A survey on the renowned The Wall Street Journal indicated how the TikTok app, having to show similar content over and over again has the ability to push young users into sex and drug burrows, prompting Health experts to say more research is needed on the TikTok app.
The TikTok app, which has surpassed one billion monthly users in September, has the algorithm combining metrics that shows how long a user lingers over a piece of content to inform recommendations, that would prompt users to tone down their addiction to the app at the steep cost of their mental health.
The TikTok management also announced features that would give users the ability to customize what content is shown and not shown to them is in the works, with users having the opportunity to choose hashtags and words related to content they don’t want to see on the For You feed.
TikTok users already have the leverage to choose between options to signal if they’re not interested in a video, with the company saying similar content will be shown less often.
TikTok, developed by ByteDance, has by October 2020 surpassed over 2 billion mobile downloads globally.