How TikTok's Anti-Bullying Feature Empowers Creators

Bye, bye, bothersome comments

Key Takeaways

  • Popular video app TikTok has introduced new features to delete up to 100 comments or accounts at a time.
  • The feature is rolling out first in six countries first.
  • The feature builds on previous abilities to filter comments and offers additional safety options for users between 13-17.
Closeup of a smartphone showing the TikTok app.

DeFodi Images / Getty Images

Popular video app TikTok recently rolled out a series of features aimed at keeping bullies from bothering users, including the ability to delete comments and block accounts in bulk.

The new features include the ability for TikTok users to delete up to 100 comments at once or block the same number of accounts in bulk, creators of the popular app announced in a May 20 post. "We hope this update helps creators feel more empowered over their experience on TikTok," Joshua Goodman, the company's director of product, trust, and safety, wrote in the announcement. 

"I think that allowing users to more easily block comments and accounts is a good thing, but it remains to be seen if it will be helpful in stemming the tide in bullying," University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Professor Justin Patchin told Lifewire in an email. "It will probably help when users are ganged-up on for one particular incident—where a number of other users are coming after them at one time."

Patchin is also co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, which has formed a partnership with TikTok to better understand bullying on and off the platform and support those using the app. 

Delete in Bulk 

TikTok’s new features to delete comments and block accounts in bulk will debut first in Great Britain, South Korea, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Thailand, before rolling out to other corners of the world in coming weeks, a TikTok spokesperson said. 

"We’ve been working with TikTok to better understand the problematic behaviors on their app and to help them develop strategies to combat those problems."

The bulk delete feature makes it much easier for TikTok users to delete comments or accounts, as before the app only allowed users to get rid of one at a time. The feature builds on a previous tool to filter comments to those only approved by the person who uploaded the video.

Features for Younger Users

TikTok is especially popular among younger users, with teenagers holding 25% of active US accounts on the platform. according to Statista and App Ape. So, in addition to broader features like blocking accounts and filtering comments, TikTok also has introduced some privacy controls for users between the ages of 13-17. 

Earlier this year, TikTok announced that any accounts held by users registered as 13-15 years old would be automatically set to private. Also, only users 16 and older can have their content used with the Stitch video editing feature and Duet option that allows users to create a video while an existing one is running. 

Users also have to be at least 16 to use direct messaging or host live videos, and parents can even link their TikTok accounts to their children’s to help control the content they see. 

Will the Measures Work? 

TikTok isn’t all fun and games for everyone. Like other social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, TikTok has been trying to address bullying through a mix of tweaks to the app and outreach educating users about how they can identify and respond to harassment. 

A screenshot of a confirmation when deleting in bulk on TikTok.

TikTok

For example, TikTok published a guide to preventing bullying to help show its users what those behaviors look like and how to avert them. This information is designed to work alongside features built into the app, such as encouraging people to be nice to one another with messages prompting them to rethink leaving rude comments on another person’s content. 

While allowing users to delete comments and accounts in bulk will likely help in certain situations, it does have its limitations. Patchin noted that because it is relatively easy to set up new accounts, those TikTok users who want to keep their profiles and videos public will still have to identify problematic accounts and block them. 

Patchin says that, according to research, the most effective way to deal with bullying is to block and report users who are bullying others—assuming that the apps respond to these reports. For adolescents, specifically, involving adults like teachers and parents in bullying-related incidents is also important because it often happens offline, too.

"We’ve been working with TikTok to better understand the problematic behaviors on their app and to help them develop strategies to combat those problems," Patchin said. "So far they have been very responsive to input and I believe they are willing to do whatever they can to minimize bullying on the app."

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