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TikTok Launches New Tools to Help Protect Users from Potentially Offensive and Harmful Content

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TikTok Launches New Tools to Help Protect Users from Potentially Offensive and Harmful Content

Amid various investigations into how it protects (or doesn’t) younger users, TikTok has announced a new set of filters and options to provide more ways to limit unwanted exposure in the app.

First off, TikTok has launched a new way for users to automatically filter out videos that include words or hashtags that they don’t want to see in their feed.

As you can see in this example, now, you can block specific hashtags via the ‘Details’ tab when you action a clip. So if you don’t want to see any more videos tagged #icecream, for whatever reason (weird example TikTok folk), now you can indicate that in your settings, while you can also block content containing chosen key terms within the description.

Which is not perfect, as the system doesn’t detect the actual content, just what people have manually entered in their description notes. So if you had a phobia of ice cream, there’s still a chance that you might be exposed to disturbing vision in the app, but it does provide another means to manage your experience in a new way.

TikTok says that the option will be available to all users ‘within the coming weeks’.

TikTok’s also expanding its limits on content exposure relating to potentially harmful topics, like dieting, extreme fitness, and sadness, among others.

Last December, TikTok launched a new series of tests to investigate how it might be able to reduce the potentially harmful impacts of algorithm amplification, by limiting the amount of videos in certain, sensitive categories that are highlighted in user ‘For You’ Feeds.

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It’s now moving to the next stage of this project.

As explained by TikTok:

“As a result of our tests, we’ve improved the viewing experience so that viewers now see fewer videos about these topics at a time. We’re still iterating on this work given the nuances involved. For example, some types of content may have both encouraging and sad themes, such as disordered eating recovery content.”

This is an interesting area of research, which essentially seeks to stop people from stumbling down rabbit holes of internet information, and becoming obsessed with possibly harmful elements. By restricting how much on a given topic people can view at a time, that could have a positive impact on user behaviors.

Finally, TikTok’s also working on a new ratings system for content, like movie classifications for TikTok clips.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll begin to introduce an early version to help prevent content with overtly mature themes from reaching audiences between ages 13-17. When we detect that a video contains mature or complex themes – for example, fictional scenes that may be too frightening or intense for younger audiences – a maturity score will be allocated to the video to help prevent those under 18 from viewing it across the TikTok experience.”

TikTok censored content

TikTok has also introduced new brand safety ratings to help advertisers avoid placing their promotions alongside potentially controversial content, and that same detection process could be applied here to better safeguard against mature themes and material.

Though it would be interesting to see how, exactly, TikTok’s system detects such content.

What kind of entity identification does TikTok have in place, what can its AI systems actually flag in videos, and based on what parameters?

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I suspect that TikTok’s system may be very well advanced in this respect, which is why its algorithm is so effective at keeping users scrolling, because it’s able to pick out the key elements of content that you’re more likely to engage with, based on your past behavior.

The more entities that TikTok can register, the more signals it has to match you with clips, and it does seem like TikTok’s system is getting very good at figuring out more elements in uploaded videos.

As noted, the updates come as TikTok faces ongoing scrutiny in Europe over its failure to limit content exposure among young users. Last month TikTok pledged to update its policies around branded content after an EU investigation found it to be ‘failing in its duty’ to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content. On another front, reports have also suggested that many kids have severely injured themselves, some even dying, while taking part in dangerous challenges sparked by the app.

TikTok has introduced measures to combat this too, and it’ll be interesting to see if these new tools help to reassure regulatory groups that it is doing all that it can to keep its young audience safe, in more respects.

Though I suspect it won’t. Short-form video requires attention-grabbing gimmicks and stunts, which means that shocking, surprising and controversial material generally performs better in that environment.

As such, TikTok’s very process, at least in part, incentivizes such, which means that more creators will keep posting potentially risky content in the hopes of going viral in the app.
 

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Meta Launches New Reels Features, Including Stories to Reels Conversion and Improved Analytics

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Meta Launches New Reels Features, Including Stories to Reels Conversion and Improved Analytics

As it works to latch onto the short-form video trend, and negate the rising influence of TikTok, Meta has announced some new updates for Reels, across both Facebook and Instagram, including additional Reels insights, the expansion of the ‘Add Yours’ sticker, and ‘auto-created’ Reels clips. Yes, automatically created Reels videos.

Here’s how the new additions work.

The main addition is the expansion of the ‘Add Yours’ sticker from Stories to Reels, providing another way to prompt engagement from other users via Reels clips.

As you can see in these example images, you’ll now be able to post ‘Add Yours’ questions via Reels clips, while you’ll also be able to view all the various video responses to any prompt in each app.

It could be another way to spark engagement, and lean into the more interactive ethos of the short form video trend. Part of the appeal of TikTok is that it invites people in, with the participatory nature of the app essentially expanding meme engagement, by making it more accessible for users to add their own take.

Meta will be hoping that the ‘Add Yours’ sticker helps to facilitate the same, prompting more engagement with Reels clips.

Next up is auto-created Facebook Reels, which, as it sounds, will enable users to automatically convert their archived Stories into Reels clips.

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Reels updates

As you can see here, you’ll soon see a new ‘Create from Your Story Archive’ prompt in the Reels creation flow, which will then enable you to convert your Stories into Reels clips.

So it’s not exactly wholly automated Reels creation, as it’s just flipping your Stories clips into Reels as well. But it could provide another, simple way for users and brands to create Stories content, utilizing the video assets that they already have to link into the trend.

Worth noting that Meta also recently added a tool to convert your video assets into Reels within Creator Studio.

Meta’s also expanding access to its ‘Stars’ creator donations to Facebook Reels, which is now being opened up to all eligible creators.

Stars donations in Reels

Meta initially announced the coming expansion of Stars to Reels back in June, which will provide another critical monetization pathway for Reels creators. Short form video is not as directly monetizable as longer clips, where you can insert pre and mid-roll adds, so add-on elements like this are key to keeping creators posting, and fueling an ecosystem for such in its apps.

Stars on Reels will be available all creators that have maintained at least 1,000 followers over the last 60 days.

Meta’s also adding new Reels performance insights to Creator Studio, including Reach, Minutes Viewed, and Average Watch Time.

Reels updates

That’ll provide more perspective on what’s working, and what’s not, to help optimize your Reels approach – which could be especially valuable in the coming holiday push.

Lastly, Meta’s also expanding some Reels features that were previously only available in Instagram to Facebook as well.

Crossposting from Instagram to Facebook is now available to all Instagram users, while Meta’s also expanding its Remix option to Facebook Reels also.

Reels updates

As noted, Reels has become a key focus for Meta, as the short-form video trend continues to gain traction, and TikTok continues to rise as a potential competitor. By replicating TikTok’s main elements, Meta’s working to negate its key differentiation, which could ensure that more of its users don’t bother downloading a new app, and just stick with its platforms instead.’

Which, whether you agree with that approach or not, has proven effective. Reels content now makes up more than 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram, while video content, overall, makes up 50% of the time that people spend on Facebook.

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Meta additionally notes that it’s seen a more than 30% increase in engagement time with Reels across both Facebook and Instagram.

Meta doesn’t need to ‘beat’ TikTok as such (as much as it would like to), but it does need to dilute its significance if it can, and make it less appealing for users to have to start yet another new account, and re-build their friends list.

That’s why it’ll continue to replicate TikTok at every turn, because millions of people are currently not going to TikTok because of the presence of Reels in its apps.  

You can learn more about Meta’s new Reels updates here.

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