Jul 19, 2020

Marc Faddoul on How TikTok’s Algorithm May Perpetuate Harmful Body Image Content

From NBC News

'It's not worth it': Young women on how TikTok has warped their body image

Seven women in their teens and 20s told NBC News that the content they viewed on TikTok had pushed them to fixate more on their diets and exercise regimens to a dangerous extent.

By Sarah Kaufman

Kayla Christine Long, 17, did not give particular thought to posting a video to TikTok on New Year's Eve saying that all she had consumed that day was a jug of ice water. She hashtagged it "#whatieatinaday..."

Marc Faddoul, an associate researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Information, said that “the one thing research scientists are sure about with the TikTok algorithm is that engagement matters...”

Another question for TikTok is whether its moderators should be more involved in user communities, Faddoul, the algorithm expert, said.

“The more difficult question is whether a broader solution calls for having a much more collaborative process. This means engaging the community and being involved to moderate the process,” Faddoul said. “But I don’t think at TikTok that’s really their vision.”


Marc Faddoul graduated from the I School's Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program in 2019. He currently works as an associate researcher with Professor Hany Farid.

Last updated:

July 21, 2020