Coming together to support body positivity on TikTok
By Julie de Bailliencourt, Head of Product Policy, EMEA & Antonia Rofagha, Head of European Ad Policy, TikTok
At TikTok, we strive to create an environment where our community feels comfortable, confident, and safe to be exactly who they are while expressing themselves freely. We're inspired by seeing our community lift each other up, lend support during challenging times, and celebrate the unique qualities that make us all who we are. These daily moments of empathy across our community help make TikTok feel incredibly unique and special.
As a society, weight stigma and body shaming pose both individual and cultural challenges, and we know that the internet, if left unchecked, has the risk of exacerbating such issues. That's why we're focused on working to safeguard our community from harmful content and behavior while supporting an inclusive – and body-positive – environment.
We want to share some of the steps we're taking in this regard to the body positivity movement, including nurturing the ways in which a global community like ours can help those who may be struggling find support, affirmation, and empathy from those around them.
Improving our ad policies on weight loss and dieting products
Brands play an integral role on our platform, and our advertising policies are developed to help establish parameters for the ad content within that community experience. To that end, we're introducing new ad policies that ban ads for fasting apps and weight loss supplements, and increase restrictions on ads that promote a harmful or negative body image. These types of ads do not support the positive, inclusive, and safe experience we strive for on TikTok.
Additionally, we're introducing new ad policies to combat problematic and exaggerated claims in diet and weight loss products, and placing stronger restrictions on weight loss claims and references to body image. These policies include:
Weight management products can only reach users age 18+
Stronger restrictions on weight loss and implied weight loss claims
Further restrictions to limit irresponsible claims made by products that promote weight loss management or control
Ads promoting weight loss and weight management products or services cannot promote a negative body image or negative relationship with food
Building community partnerships and resources
In the UK, today's news has been welcomed by Beat, the UK's eating disorder charity.
Tom Quinn, Beat's Director of External Affairs, commented, "We welcome TikTok’s new measures to limit the amount of harmful advertising on their platform and look forward to seeing the results of these changes.
"Weight loss products can be very attractive to people affected by eating disorders. We know that the spread of these damaging weight loss claims, particularly the spike in fasting adverts shown on social media platforms, has caused great distress and risked triggering eating disorder behaviours in many of those suffering.
"Using social media can be a helpful way of finding supportive recovery communities, but also has the potential to be a trigger. We would encourage anyone struggling to report harmful content wherever possible, but also consider taking a step away and instead focusing on other positive sources of support like Beat."
Putting controls into the hands of our users
To support community members who might be struggling with weight stigma or an eating disorder, we offer a number of in-app controls to manage your TikTok experience, including:
Reporting: If you come across ads or content that promote harmful behaviors or imagery, you can report it by long pressing on the video, selecting "report," and choosing "self-harm"
Not interested: If you come across content that might be triggering or upsetting to you, long-press on the video, select "not interested," and choose to hide future videos from the creator or hide videos that use the same sound
Comment filters: We offer two ways to quickly and easily filter comments you don't want to see. In the Privacy section of our app settings, select "comment filters." The first option automatically hides offensive comments our systems detect on your videos; the second options lets you create a custom list of keywords so that comments containing those words will be hidden automatically, too
Blocking: If you're experiencing unkind behavior from a member of our community, you can block and report them directly from their profile so that they can't find or engage with your content
UK TikTok creator and body positivity advocate Flo Simpson (@florence.simpson), said: "I feel like this move is a massive step in the right direction on TikTok. Since joining the app in May my experience has been super positive, I wanted to share my own journey in the hope that this would promote a realistic and healthy lifestyle and inspire others to have confidence in their body; I have been amazed by the support I have had. There is a massive community on TikTok, so removing these ads is hopefully going to work wonders and help to reduce the impact unsafe and unhealthy weight loss methods can have and hopefully enable more creators to share their own positive experience instead."
TikTok creator and body positivity advocate, Anna O'Brien (@glitterandlazers), said: "These changes to the ad policies make me feel safer, more welcome and prouder to be a TikTok creator. Diet culture isn't welcome on Tiktok, because diverse voices are."
Though there's always more work we can do in this critical area, we think these are steps in the right direction. We continue to look for new ways to support our community and foster a positive environment for everyone on TikTok.