Tip Sheets

TikTok anti-bullying efforts will drive behavior change

Media Contact

Gillian Smith

TikTok has announced new efforts to combat online bullying, including a Filter All Comments feature, which will allow creators to choose which comments will appear in the replies section. A new prompt will also appear asking users to reconsider posting comments that “may be inappropriate or unkind.”

Vanessa Bohns

Professor of Organizational Behavior

Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior Cornell University’s ILR School, studies how to use nudges to stem bullying and harassment online. She says TikTok’s efforts should have a positive impact on improving the online community.

Bohns says:

"Taken together, these two new features are consistent with what we know from research on social influence about how social norms can be used to impact behavior for good. Social norms are most effective when what is communicated about what we should be doing (what social influence researchers refer to as the “prescriptive norm”) is consistent with what we see other people actually doing (what is referred to as the descriptive norm).

“In this case, Tik Tok’s new prompt feature clearly tells users what they should be doing (i.e., not posting inappropriate or unkind comments), while the filter feature simultaneously indicates to users that, indeed, most people are being appropriate and kind. The consistency between these two messages—what people should be doing, and what people are doing—connects with the science on social influence, and certainly has the potential to drive behavior change on the platform for the better."

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