TikTok introduces feature to help epileptics

Social media network TikTok has announced a new feature that will allow people with photosensitive epilepsy to skip videos that could trigger their seizures, reports the BBC

It comes a few months after it began labelling videos featuring effects such as flashing lights. The Skip All option, to be rolled out in the next few weeks, will allow users to set their profile so that it doesn’t show these videos. An epilepsy charity said it hoped other social-media sites would follow suit.

Users who come across a photosensitive video will receive a notification inviting them to skip all similar videos in future. TikTok said it wanted to make the platform “accessible for everyone”.

“Given the visual nature of our platform, we’re beginning this work with a series of photosensitivity features,” it added.

The UK’s Epilepsy Society has previously raised concerns with TikTok about harmful content, after being alerted to strobe video filters and seizure-challenge trends.

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The challenge encouraged young people to mimic the effects of a seizure on camera, to the song Lucid Dreams, by rapper Juice WRLD, who died following a seizure last year.

The trend was widely condemned by epilepsy charities and described as highly offensive.

Epilepsy Society acting head of external affairs Nicola Swanborough said of the new feature: “It is extremely encouraging to see a platform with such a significant following as TikTok introducing algorithms to detect photosensitive content and protect people with epilepsy.”

TikTok has 3.7 million daily active users in the UK with the charity estimating that about 240,000 of them have photosensitive epilepsy.

Chris Price