Is any social media platform truly troll-free? My theory is that LinkedIn will be our last bastion of exclusively earnest posting. In the meantime, TikTok continues to update ways for users to limit the hate and harassment thrown their way.
According to their Q2 Community Guidelines Enforcement Report earlier this week, TikTok removed 81,518,334 hate and harassment videos in just the last three months. Sure, that’s a devastating number in terms of the sheer magnitude of hate (assuming the bulk of those community violations are actual hate, and not just videos featuring the fearsome female nipple). At the same time, it’s a hopeful number in terms of TikTok’s efforts to handle hate on their end, rather than putting that burden on individual users. For instance, last July TikTok added a feature that prompts users to consider whether their comment is inappropriate or unkind before they post it; nevertheless, trolls persist.
Whether you’re a TikTok creator or want to keep your TikTok-ing kids safe, here are the tools to keep the experience as troll-free as possible.
Going LIVE? Use the updated mute settings
Following their report, TikTok is rolling out updated mute settings for comments and questions during livestreams, including the removal of muted individuals’ comment histories that viewers can see. TikTokers have always had the option to block accounts or remove the ability to comment on their posts (more on that below), but that route introduces a major roadblock to how to get views from audiences who aren’t nasty little trolls.
For the uninitiated: “Going LIVE” allows TikTokers to connect with their followers in real-time using comments; on the flip side, these livestreams give trolls a real-time channel to harass TikTokers. In a blog announcement titled “Our continued fight against hate and harassment,” Eric Han, head of U.S. Safety at TikTok, wrote that “livestreaming on TikTok is an exciting way for creators and viewers to connect, and we’re building safety into the experience by design…We hope these new controls further empower hosts and audiences alike to have safe and entertaining livestreams.”
Quick anecdotal aside: As a creator, livestreams significantly boost views on your most recent video. This (unofficial) incentive for TikTokers makes sense from a business perspective: Livestreams are a hub for viewers to donate to hosts through in-app purchases.
But even if you aren’t going LIVE, you can still take steps to block accounts and filter comments on all your videos.
You have a few options to filter comments. First, tap the Profile tab at the bottom of your home page and select the settings menu—those three horizontal dashes—at the top of the screen.
Under the Account page that pops up, choose Privacy and scroll down to Comments (under the Safety subheading). From the comment filters section, you’ll see options for “Filter all comments,” “Filter spam and offensive comments,” and “Filter keywords.”
- Filter all comments: Prevent any comments from appearing on your posts without your approval. If you want to approve which comments show up under your videos, click on the “review filter comments” at the bottom of the screen.
- Filter spam and offensive comments: The mystical algorithm takes a stab at identifying potentially harmful comments and prevents them from showing up on your posts (unless you approve them).
- Filter keywords: Choose certain keywords and block any comments that include them from appearing in your posts without your approval. Personally, I’m about to filter “Shaun White” so people will stop pointing out just how much I look like him.
Sometimes you just need to block a troll at the source. Go to their account and tap the settings button in the top right corner of their profile page. Next, tap Block and select Confirm. This prevents the blocked account from seeing your profile or any of your content in their feed. Also under the Safety tab, you can choose who can or cannot send you direct messages.
Protect your videos
To keep your account safe without going fully private, you can play around with all the video settings in the Privacy menu. Consider whether you want people to duet, stitch, and download your videos.
Hate and bullying are highly contextual issues, so if you’re interested in how TikTok aims to make their platform a safer environment, I recommend reading their most recent report here.