By Tara Wadhwa, Safety Policy Manager, TikTok US
At TikTok, we strive to create an environment where our community feels comfortable, confident, and safe to be exactly who they are while expressing themselves freely. We're inspired by seeing our community lift each other up, lend support during challenging times, and celebrate the unique qualities that make us all who we are. These daily moments of empathy across our community help make TikTok feel incredibly unique and special.
As a society, weight stigma and body shaming pose both individual and cultural challenges, and we know that the internet, if left unchecked, has the risk of exacerbating such issues. That's why we're focused on working to safeguard our community from harmful content and behavior while supporting an inclusive – and body-positive – environment.
We want to share some of the steps we're taking in this regard, including nurturing the ways in which a global community like ours can help those who may be struggling find support, affirmation, and empathy from those around them.
Improving our ad policies on weight loss and dieting products
Brands play an integral role on our platform, and our advertising policies are developed to help establish parameters for the ad content within that community experience. To that end, we're introducing new ad policies that ban ads for fasting apps and weight loss supplements, and increase restrictions on ads that promote a harmful or negative body image. These types of ads do not support the positive, inclusive, and safe experience we strive for on TikTok.
Additionally, we're introducing new ad policies to combat problematic and exaggerated claims in diet and weight loss products, and placing stronger restrictions on weight loss claims and references to body image. These policies include:
- Weight management products can only reach users age 18+
- Stronger restrictions on weight loss and implied weight loss claims
- Further restrictions to limit irresponsible claims made by products that promote weight loss management or control
- Ads promoting weight loss and weight management products or services cannot promote a negative body image or negative relationship with food
Building community partnerships and resources
TikTok is proud to partner with the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) to connect users looking for support to important resources, directly from our app. As part of this, we'll soon begin redirecting searches and hashtags – for terms provided to us by NEDA, or associated with unsafe content we've removed from our platform – to the NEDA Helpline, where NEDA can then provide our community with confidential support, tools, and resources.
In addition, TikTok will be supporting Weight Stigma Awareness Week (September 28 - October 2) by launching a dedicated page in our app to support NEDA's #EndWeightHateCampaign. This page will be featured in our Discover tab and will educate our community about what weight stigma is, why it should matter to everyone, and how they can find support or support others who may be struggling.
TikTok partner and National Eating Disorders Association CEO Claire Mysko said: "We are encouraged to see a prominent platform like TikTok join the movement to End Weight Hate and challenge fatphobia. Weight stigma has been documented as a significant risk factor for depression, body dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem. Research shows that those who experience weight-based stigmatization are at an increased risk for eating disorder symptoms. Weight stigma and discrimination harms all of us. Social media is a powerful tool to create safe and inclusive spaces where all bodies are accepted and celebrated."
Putting controls into the hands of our users
To support community members who might be struggling with weight stigma or an eating disorder, we offer a number of in-app controls to manage your TikTok experience, including:
- Reporting: If you come across ads or content that promote harmful behaviors or imagery, you can report it by long pressing on the video, selecting "report," and choosing "self-harm"
- Not interested: If you come across content that might be triggering or upsetting to you, long-press on the video, select "not interested," and choose to hide future videos from the creator or hide videos that use the same sound
- Comment filters: We offer two ways to quickly and easily filter comments you don't want to see. In the Privacy section of our app settings, select "comment filters." The first option automatically hides offensive comments our systems detect on your videos; the second options lets you create a custom list of keywords so that comments containing those words will be hidden automatically, too.
- Blocking: If you're experiencing unkind behavior from a member of our community, you can block and report them directly from their profile so that they can't find or engage with your content
TikTok creator and body positivity advocate, Anna O'Brien (@glitterandlazers), said: "These changes to the ad policies make me feel safer, more welcome and prouder to be a TikTok creator. Diet culture isn't welcome on TikTok, because diverse voices are."
Though there's always more work we can do in this critical area, we think these are steps in the right direction. We continue to look for new ways to support our community and foster a positive environment for everyone on TikTok.