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TikTok will switch up For You recommendations to avoid 'repetitive patterns'

It notes that some kinds of videos can be 'problematic if viewed in clusters.'

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TikTok is planning some key changes to the For You page (FYP), the app's home screen. It will adjust the algorithm that populates the FYP with a never-ending stream of videos to stop it from showing too much of the same kinds of content.

"As we continue to develop new strategies to interrupt repetitive patterns, we're looking at how our system can better vary the kinds of content that may be recommended in a sequence," TikTok wrote in a blog post. "That's why we're testing ways to avoid recommending a series of similar content — such as around extreme dieting or fitness, sadness or breakups — to protect against viewing too much of a content category that may be fine as a single video but problematic if viewed in clusters."

The service is also working on a way to identify when the algorithm only shows a user limited kinds of videos. It notes that, while videos about loneliness or weight loss might not violate the platform's rules, those kinds of videos could have a negative impact if they make up most of what a user sees on the For You page. So, preventing that from happening is important.

"Our goal is for each person's For You feed to feature a breadth of content, creators, and topics," TikTok said, noting that too many similar videos appearing in the feed doesn't reflect the kind of experience it wants to foster. The service is consulting with its Content Advisory Council and the community, as well as experts from the fields of medicine, clinical psychology and AI ethics.

In addition, TikTok is developing an option that will let users block videos linked to certain words or hashtags on the For You page. That will give them more control over what they see on the home screen.

The FYP recommendation algorithm is TikTok's secret sauce and one of the main reasons why the app became incredibly popular. The app's systems monitor users' engagement habits, such as how long the screen stays on a particular piece of content and the videos someone likes, to determine the kinds of videos that might keep them hooked on the FYP.

At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in October on the effect of social media on children and teens, senators pressed representatives from TikTok, Youtube and Snap on several matters. Among them was how their algorithms might promote content about issues like eating disorders and self harm.

TikTok's latest announcement might help to soothe the lawmakers' concerns. The platform notes that it'll take some "time and iteration" to make these changes to systems and tools and to get them right.