In July 2022, TikTok launched a instrument referred to as Filter Video Key phrases to let customers block movies with phrases or hashtags they didn’t wish to see. Cormac Keenan, Head of Belief and Security at TikTok, described it as an important safety feature to “assist viewers customise their viewing preferences and proceed to have a secure and entertaining expertise.” Keenan promised it will “be obtainable to everybody within the coming weeks.” Greater than a yr later, lots of of TikTok customers mentioned they didn’t have entry to the setting or, in the event that they did, that it didn’t work.
After being contacted by Gizmodo, the corporate mentioned it stepped in to unravel the issue.
Final month, I posted a video on my personal TikTok account about utilizing the setting to dam content material concerning the company’s retail store, which launched Sept. 12. The video included a tutorial and display screen recording that confirmed precisely the place to search out Filter Video Key phrases. However because the feedback rolled in, dozens of individuals mentioned their apps didn’t have the setting.
“My content material preferences don’t have ‘filter video key phrases,’” one consumer wrote, punctuating with a tragic little emoji. “I don’t have the setting, can’t determine why,” mentioned one other. Some speculated the corporate sabotaged the setting due to my video, which is a flattering however enormously inflated view of my degree of social media affect. “I simply tried to do that & do not need the choice to dam key phrases,” a consumer mentioned. “Did TikTok get hip to this hack??” A month glided by, and I posted two extra movies on the topic. Related feedback poured in.
Tons of of different individuals mentioned they did have the setting however it didn’t operate as described. Customers reported they have been seeing movies with hashtags they blocked utilizing Filter Video Key phrases, together with #tiktokshop, #taylorswift, and others. One consumer mentioned they’d blocked over a hundred hashtags however recurrently noticed movies that characteristic them.
There are only a few legal guidelines governing the social media enterprise within the US, however the one that usually journeys up tech giants is the prohibition on unfair and misleading enterprise practices. The Federal Commerce Fee has issued opinions stating that breaking guarantees about privateness and security settings violates the regulation. So I contacted TikTok concerning the feedback. In keeping with a cheerful spokesperson, the entire thing was a glitch.
“I spoke to the crew, and we recognized a latest situation that briefly impacted a small variety of customers,” the spokesperson mentioned. “We have been in a position to situation a repair. As all the time, we encourage everybody to make use of the newest model of the TikTok app.” The spokesperson mentioned that anybody lacking the setting ought to see it once they replace the app. The spokesperson declined to say how many individuals have been affected, or what the supply of the drawback was.
Nonetheless, a repair to the setting’s disappearance doesn’t clarify the complaints of customers who mentioned the Filter Video Key phrases instrument didn’t work even once they did have entry to it.
In TikTok’s description of the setting (and on the web page within the app the place Filter Video Key phrases is discovered), the corporate says you’re not allowed to dam sure hashtags, together with #advert and #sponsored. However the spokesperson confirmed that customers are free to dam #tiktokshop, although they didn’t supply a proof for why individuals would see movies with a beforehand blocked hashtag.
In 2019, an investigation by yours really discovered that millions of people were missing a Facebook privacy setting that turned off facial recognition a yr and a half after the corporate promised to ship it. In that occasion, the Federal Commerce Fee received concerned, and cited the issue as one in all its key complaints in a $5 billion settlement with Fb, the corporate now generally known as Meta. In the end, Facebook disabled facial recognition altogether and deleted faceprint information for over a billion individuals.
In different phrases, Gizmodo simply saved TikTok. All in a day’s work.