TikTok has reached 1.5 billion monthly users across the globe and is now a popular social platform for product recommendations, restaurant reviews, memes and more.
But it's under scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers about how the Chinese company handles user data and whether it's doing enough to protect younger users from social media addiction. On Wednesday, TikTok said it would limit users age 18 and younger to 60 minutes of daily usage. Later this month, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will respond directly to U.S. lawmakers' concerns in a congressional hearing.
Despite these concerns, many users say TikTok has the potential to build community and serve as a resource and a source of inspiration.
With its overflowing stream of content, TikTok can be overwhelming. You might be scrolling through makeup tutorials and then come across racy videos that ruin your experience. Or you might spot a restaurant recommendation you want to save for later.
Whether you're a creator or basic viewer, here's how to curate your best TikTok experience.
1. Understanding the algorithm
The TikTok algorithm is constantly learning from your actions and inaction. Use this to your advantage: If you want to see more of a certain type of content, engage with it by liking it, commenting on it, sharing links or liking comments.
If you're wondering why you keep getting soothing ASMR videos when you haven't liked any, it's probably because you clicked on a creator's profile after watching or you interacted with the comments. If you didn't click anything, it's because you're watching them all the way through or multiple times. The feed knows you like them. You've signaled that you want to know more.
TikTok spokesman Zachary Kizer said TikTok is working on a new feature that would allow users to refresh their algorithm.
2. Change your behavior
When you start seeing content that you don't want, you can make explicit and implicit changes. Explicitly, you can either report the video for inappropriate content or flag the video as something you're not interested in by pressing the middle of your screen on any video. A menu will appear and you can choose whether to report the video to TikTok or you can select "More" next to "Not interested," to hide videos from a specific user. This is direct feedback to your algorithm to avoid this sort of content.
Implicitly, you can also quickly skip videos you don't want more of. Try not to linger too long and don't click anything on the screen, signaling to the algorithm that you're not interested.
3. Hiding from your friends?
Yes, your friends can see what videos you liked, what profiles you've viewed and whom you follow. People can also direct-message you and spam your inbox. TikTok has privacy settings that can hide your actions from others.
Go to your profile, then click the three lines for "Settings and privacy." Here, you can click "privacy" to make your account private, turn off or on the ability for others to view your liked posts, the list of whom you follow and what you've downloaded. TikTok can also stop suggesting your account to your peers, and you can turn off whether people can message you, see profiles you've visited and see what posts you've viewed.
4. Organize your content
You might want to save seven chicken sandwich reviews or shelve book titles for your next read. Hit the bookmark button on the right side of a video, then hit "manage" to store the video in a file. To make a new file for your videos, click "create new collection." You can also make bookmarked files private.
5. Let's speed things up
Sometimes, people talk slowly - really slowly. To speed up your content, click on the "Share" button for additional settings such as "Playback speed" to adjust the speed of videos from half-speed to one-and-a-half speed to double speed. Now you can rush through that fashion brand analysis without pulling out your hair over a Kardashian-esque monologue. This feature is available only for some videos and the latest version of the app.
6. Watch videos without distractions
Tired of not being able to see the entire video frame because of the profile picture or the description below? You can use Clear Mode to remove all icons and description text blocking your view. Click and hold the middle of your screen on any video and a pop-up screen will appear with options to save or report a video. Choose "Clear mode" to watch in a pure video format. This feature will reset when your next video begins.