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TikTok to hide graphic videos behind warning screens

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Covering clips users may find disturbing

The TikTok music note logo against a dark background. Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

TikTok has unveiled a newly updated set of community guidelines and tools, which include new warning screens on graphic videos, a new text-to-voice accessibility feature, and updated health resources. The update brings new vaccine information which will be added to TikTok’s coronavirus resource hub as well as resources to be shown if people search for certain terms, like those related to self-harm.

According to TikTok, the graphic content warning screens are meant to prevent the accidental viewing of content that some might find disturbing. The screen gives two options, letting users either view the clip or skip it entirely. More extreme content is removed from the service entirely, but the new warning labels cover clips that might be allowed for “documentary reasons,” scenes from horror movies, or violent scenes of animals hunting. This content is already not distributed via the service’s For You feed, TikTok says.

Searching for certain terms will now link users to helpful resources.
Image: TikTok

Also announced today is a new text-to-voice accessibility feature which will read out text as it appears in a video. Its release follows the epilepsy warnings that the service recently started adding to photosensitive videos. Meanwhile, users who search for terms like “selfharm” or “hatemyself” will be shown help resources, and links to organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Textline.

Vaccine information is also being added to TikTok’s coronavirus resource hub, which is accessible from the service’s Discover page, search results, and banners on videos related to the disease or vaccines generally. The hub will be updated to include commonly asked questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccines from public health experts like the Centers for Disease Control. TikTok says the resource hub has been viewed over 2 billion times in the last six months.