New TikTok feature lets you update your For You feed and retrain your algorithm

TikTok is introducing a new feature that allows you to reset your For You feed and start over to retrain the app’s algorithm on the content you enjoy. The company announced today that it will launch “Refresh,” a new option for users who feel that their feed recommendations no longer match their interests.

The new feature should not be confused with the app’s dropdown update option, as the new tool basically resets your For You feed to its original settings in some way. When the refresh feature is enabled, the app will display content on the For You page as if you just signed up for TikTok. The app’s recommendation system will start showing more content based on new interactions.

If you enable the new feature, your tracking feed, profile, and inbox will not be affected. In other words, while your For You feed will have a fresh start, the rest of your app experience will remain intact.

The new feature is a welcome addition for people whose tastes may have changed in recent years or for those who feel that their recommendation system no longer truly understands their interests. For example, you may have liked watching baking recipe videos in the past, but you are no longer interested in them, but you may be inundated with them in your For You feed. Or let’s say you were totally obsessed with a TV show at one point and you still see it all over your For You page even though you’ve moved on to other interests. The new feature could help in situations like these.

TikTok notes that the new feature complements its current content controls that allow you to shape your experience on the app. For example, you can choose to automatically filter content that uses specific hashtags or phrases. There is also a “not interested” option that you can select when you come across a video that you don’t like. Sometimes it can feel like the “not interested” button isn’t enough, which makes the refresh feature a useful option. It’s worth noting that the update feature won’t override any settings you’ve already chosen to enable or affect accounts you’ve followed.

Image Credits: Tik Tok

You can access the new feature by navigating to your settings, clicking on your content preferences, and then selecting the “Update your feed for yourself” option. From there, you need to click on the “Update” button. TikTok will alert you that this action cannot be undone.

TikTok also provided an update on its efforts to ensure viewers discover a variety of content while minimizing content that doesn’t necessarily violate its policies. The company says it filters adult-themed content from teen accounts. For example, more than 65,000 cosmetic surgery videos were ineligible due to the viewing experience of teens in the first two months of this year.

The company says it works to ensure its systems display a variety of themes. For example, it says that viewers generally won’t watch two videos in a row made by the same creator or that use the same sound.

TikTok also works to limit some content that doesn’t violate its policies, but can affect users if viewed repeatedly, particularly content that is sad, extreme exercise or diet-themed, or sexually suggestive. TikTok allows recall or educational content, but limits how often such content is eligible for recommendation.

“Our systems do this by looking for repetition between topics like sadness or extreme diets, within a set of videos that are eligible for recommendation,” TikTok said in a blog post. “If multiple videos are identified with these topics, they will be replaced with videos on other topics to reduce the frequency of these recommendations and create a more diverse discovery experience. This work is ongoing, and in the last year alone, we have implemented more than 15 updates to improve these systems, as well as expanding to support more languages.”

TikTok’s update on its progress comes as a report from the nonprofit Center to Counter Digital Hate recently revealed that the app offers videos on eating disorders and self-harm to young users. TikTok isn’t the only social media platform facing scrutiny for its influence on youth, as Instagram has also come under scrutiny for promoting disordered eating.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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