What the Tech: TikTok risk warning

Local News

More controversy with the popular app TikTok. The platform has been working to remove a video showing a man committing suicide. The video has reportedly been showing up in the “For You” video feed and since the videos begin playing automatically, it’s impossible to avoid it. Users have been uploading the video to TikTok since Sunday.

TikTok responded to our questions about the removal of the video with this statement:

On Sunday night, clips of a suicide that had originally been livestreamed on Facebook circulated on other platforms, including TikTok. Our systems, together with our moderation teams, have been detecting and removing these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide. We are banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who’ve reported content and warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the person and their family. If anyone in our community is struggling with thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone who is, we encourage them to seek support, and we provide access to hotlines directly from our app and in our Safety Center.”

TikTok Spokesperson

TikTok is one of, if not the most popular app among teenagers and was downloaded over 315 million times between January and April, setting the record of the most downloads of any app ever in a quarter.

TikTok’s “For You” feed is generated using an algorithm created by a user’s previous experience on the app. Using likes, hashtags, reactions and the length of time one plays a video goes into building the algorithm. The other feed tab “Following” shows only videos posted by people you are following.

The longer one spends scrolling through videos in the “For You” feed, the greater the risk in seeing content that may be offensive or even disturbing.

Earlier this year TikTok introduced a “digital wellbeing” setting that limits the length of time someone can use the app each day. Options include setting limits of 40 minutes,1 hour, 90 minutes, or two hours. If that limit is reached a passcode is required to keep using the app.

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