TikTok Launches New Feature To Filter Possible Seizure Triggers

KEY POINTS

  • TikTok announced the launch of a new feature to protect those with photosensitive epilepsy
  • It will give users a chance to skip videos with photosensitive content
  • TikTok aims to become the “most inclusive and accessible online platform”

TikTok is adding a new feature that will allow users to skip videos that may trigger seizures.

The video-sharing, social-networking service already warns creators about content featuring effects that can trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy, but TikTok is taking it another step further by giving users the chance to completely opt out of seeing such videos.

“With this new feature, viewers who come across a photosensitive video will receive a notification inviting them to ‘Skip All’ future photosensitive videos,” Joshua Goodman, director of product at TikTok, said in a statement.

The feature that’s set to roll out “in the coming weeks” is a part of the company’s efforts to make TikTok more accessible to everyone and “become the most inclusive and accessible online platform,” Goodman noted. 

The Chinese platform, owned ByteDance, has been working with epilepsy organizations in various parts of the world, including the U.S., Canada, Japan and Ireland, TikTok’s statement explains.

‘Significant Move’

“While the population of those with photosensitive epilepsy is small, the impact can be quite serious,” said Laura Thrall, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, in statement. “It is great to see TikTok addressing this issue by making changes to their platform so that people in our epilepsy community can feel protected when viewing content on TikTok.”

In a separate statement on the matter, the Epilepsy Society also welcomed TikTok’s latest move, calling it a “significant step.”

“TikTok’s move has demonstrated that where there is a will to do so, technology can be developed at speed to protect people from physical and emotional harm,” said Nicola Swanborough, acting head of external affairs at the Epilepsy Society. “Our message to the other social media companies is clear; if TikTok can do it, so can you!”

Photosensitive Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. For about 3% of people with condition, flashing lights at certain intensities or patterns can lead to seizures, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Triggers can include strobe lights, flashing lights on emergency vehicles, and even the effect of natural light shimmering off water.

According to the Foundation, the condition is more common in children and adolescents, becoming less frequent as they age. Often, people aren’t even aware that they are sensitive until they experience having a seizure as a reaction. 

For people with the disorder, it’s important to avoid exposure to the trigger light or pattern whenever possible. 

TikTok's short-form video app has become one of the world's most popular social media platforms TikTok’s short-form video app has become one of the world’s most popular social media platforms Photo: AFP / Lionel BONAVENTURE

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