TikTok is adding a way for users to “refresh” For You page content when they want to switch up their feed. In February, the company previously said it was testing the feature. Now, the Refresh button is set to roll out to users globally over the coming weeks.
When users turn on the reset feature, the recommendations algorithm will revert back as if they just signed up for TikTok. As the user watches and interacts with content, the algorithm will begin to serve up recommendations based on the user’s actions after hitting Refresh.
The app’s closely guarded recommendations system takes in user signals like watch time, comments, and likes to suggest related content. TikTok says users may want to reset their feed if they lose interest in the types of videos the app is surfacing or if they feel like they’re getting too much of the same thing. TikTok users also regularly discuss trying to “train” the algorithm to influence what kind of videos they’re shown — the refresh setting could help speed up that process or give users a more direct way to change what they’re seeing.
The reset button also attempts to address another issue with TikTok’s For You page: sometimes it’s a little too good at suggesting related content, overloading users with too much of the same thing. These “rabbit holes” are mostly annoying but, depending on the topic, could also be dangerous. A 2021 investigation by The Wall Street Journal, for example, detailed how teen users were flooded with weight loss and eating disorder videos on TikTok. Shortly before the Journal’s story was published, TikTok said it was working on ways to prevent overly repetitive content patterns from happening.
Though the feature still doesn’t give total control over the For You page to users, it might be nice to have a shuffle button equivalent to use when the feed is feeling too predictable, irrelevant, or just plain boring. I would be perfectly content to never see another “get ready with me” video ever again, but try as I might, they appear near daily. Maybe hitting reset will send TikTok the message.