By: Alexandra Evans, Head of Safety Public Policy, Europe
In November 2021, we shared the results of a global project we launched to better understand how teens engage with potentially harmful challenges and hoaxes. While not unique to any one platform, the effects and concerns are felt by all – and we wanted to learn how we could develop even more effective responses to better support teens, parents, and educators. We continually strive to create the safest possible environment for our community, and today we're sharing more about our work to foster this experience.
New resources to support mindful engagement with challenges
We're glad to see that since launching a dedicated challenges page on our Safety Centre last November, the information for teens, caregivers, and educators has been a place of support for those who need it. To encourage even more people to engage with these resources, we’ve created an in-app guide to house this information.
Community members will be directed to this new in-app guide if they attempt to search for content that we have designated as potentially harmful challenges and hoaxes. Searches for content that violates our Community Guidelines will continue to be blocked, with this in-app guide being displayed instead.
The guide will encourage community members to follow the 4-step process for engaging with an online challenge: asking them to stop for a moment, think about what they've seen, decide how the content made them feel and how they want to act on those feelings.
Enhanced safety interventions to support mindful engagement with challenges
When Praesidio Safeguarding, an independent safeguarding agency, published their report last November, they found that teens, parents, and educators were seeking better information about challenges and hoaxes. To address this need, we believed it was important to create dedicated resources for our community. These can now be found in our Safety Centre.
We also worked with Dr. Richard Graham, a clinical child psychiatrist specialising in healthy adolescent development, and Dr. Gretchen Brion-Meisels, a behavioural scientist specialising in risk prevention in adolescence to improve the language used in our warning labels. These appear alongside potentially risky videos - for example, stunts performed by professionals.
Should community members attempt to search for content that we have designated as a potentially harmful hoax or challenge, they will be directed to a new in-app guide that encourages people to follow the 4-step process for engaging with online challenges. Searches for content that violates our Community Guidelines will continue to be blocked.
Engaging our community to be #SaferTogether
As part of this ongoing work to help our community understand online challenges and stay safe while having fun, at the beginning of February, we launched new videos from creators like @nichellelaus and @mollycarlson. These call on our community to follow the 4-step process for engaging with an online challenge. These videos were spotlighted in a dedicated #SaferTogether hub on the Discovery page.
To date, these videos made by creators around the world have been viewed more than 18 million times. To further educate our community and help raise awareness of the importance of staying safe online, we're bringing the important message in each video directly to community members. In the coming weeks, those under the age of 18 will begin to see these videos in their For You feed.
Donating to Western Sydney University to support independent research
Since the earliest stages of this project, we have sought to ensure that our findings could be used by a range of stakeholders - from parents and caregivers, to academics and other online platforms. To help with further research into this area, we're supporting Western Sydney University, one of Australia's leading academic institutions. Alongside monetary support, we will also share the research data that formed the basis of the report published authored by Dr. Zoe Hilton and published by Praesidio Safeguarding.
We believe these two contributions will help the Western Sydney University Young and Resilient Research Centre in their interdisciplinary approach to developing evidence-based policies and practices to strengthen the resilience of young people in the digital age.
“This contribution will assist Western Sydney University’s Young and Resilient Research Centre to explore the challenges involved in keeping young people safe online with real world data. TikTok’s support will help us develop research to inform policies, programs and interventions to minimise the risks and maximise the benefits of the digital age for young people.” - Amanda Third, Western Sydney University’s Young and Resilient Research Centre
Making it easier for our community to report challenges
Earlier this month we announced a change to how our Community Guidelines are structured, highlighting dangerous acts and challenges in a dedicated policy category, so it's even easier for our community to familiarize themselves with these guidelines. We're now working to reflect this in our video reporting menu, helping our community to report content that encourages participation in potentially dangerous online challenges.
These steps represent the next phase in our ongoing commitment to support caregivers, teachers and young people. We believe collaboration and transparency will help all of us create an online space that's safe and where creativity and joy can thrive.