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TikTok’s content algorithm will soon be optional in Europe

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TikTok users in Europe will be able to switch off the personalized algorithm behind its For You and Live feeds as the company makes changes to comply with the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA). According to TikTok, disabling this function will show users “popular videos from both the places where they live and around the world” instead of content based on their personal interests.

These changes relate to DSA rules that require very large online platforms to allow their users to opt out of receiving personalized content — which typically relies on tracking and profiling user activity — when viewing content recommendations. To comply, TikTok’s search feature will also show content that’s popular in the user’s region, and videos under the “Following” and “Friends” feeds will be displayed in chronological order when a non-personalized view is selected.

Another change is that European users between the ages of 13 and 17 automatically won’t be targeted with personalized ads based on their online activities, rather than having to opt out with a toggle.

TikTok is one of 19 companies beholden to the DSA’s rules — alongside other services like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter (which Elon Musk is currently rebranding to X) — so it likely won’t be the only platform to make similar changes in Europe. TikTok hasn’t provided a release date for any of these changes, but it says that it’s aiming to meet the required obligations by the DSA’s deadline of August 28th.

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