TikTok’s new feature lets you refresh your For You feed and retrain your algorithm

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TikTok is introducing a new feature that lets you reset your For You feed and start over to retrain the app’s algorithm on content you like. The company announced today that it is rolling out “Refresh,” a new option for users who feel their feed recommendations are no longer in line with their interests.

The new feature should not be confused with the app’s dropdown, as the new tool essentially reverts your For You feed to its original setting in a sense. 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 then surface more content based on new interactions.

Enabling the new feature will not affect your follow feed, profile, and inbox. In other words, while your For You feed gets a fresh start, the rest of your app experience remains untouched.

The new feature is a welcome addition for people whose tastes may have changed in recent years or those who feel their recommendation system isn’t really understanding their interests anymore. For example, you may have loved watching baking recipe videos in the past but are no longer interested in them, but you can still be inundated with them in your For You feed. Or say you were obsessed with a TV show at one point and still see it all over your For You page, even though you’ve moved on to other interests. The new feature can help in situations like this.

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

Image Credits: TikTok

You can access the new feature by navigating to your settings, clicking on your content preferences, and then selecting the “Refresh your For You feed” option. From there, you need to click on the “Refresh” button. TikTok will warn 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 the policy. The company notes that it filters adult-themed content from teen accounts. For example, more than 65,000 cosmetic surgery videos were ineligible for teen viewing in the first two months of this year.

The company says it is working to ensure its systems surface a variety of topics. For example, it says that viewers usually don’t get to see two videos in a row that are made by the same creator or use the same sound.

TikTok also tries to restrict certain content that doesn’t violate the policy, but could affect users if viewed repeatedly, especially content with themes such as sadness, extreme exercise or dieting, or that is sexually suggestive. TikTok allows recovery or educational content, but limits how often such content is eligible for recommendation.

“Our systems do this by looking for repetition between themes such as sadness or extreme dieting, within a range of videos eligible for recommendation,” TikTok said in a blog post. “If multiple videos with these themes are identified, 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, along with extensions to support more languages.”

TikTok’s progress update comes as a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit organization, recently revealed that the app is pushing videos about eating disorders and self-harm to young users. TikTok is not the only social media platform under scrutiny for its influence on young people, as Instagram has also come under scrutiny for promoting disordered eating.

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