How to dislike a TikTok video (and how it helps the algorithm)

Who doesn’t love content curated to suit our needs and likes? While searching for videos online can be a good way to spend downtime, sometimes it is nice to simply sort through a wealth of options at our fingertips. From maximizing the amount of time we spend watching content to introducing us to content we might otherwise never find, TikTok is many people’s favourite social media website. But what can you do if you run across videos you don’t want to watch?

Don’t worry. We will teach you how to dislike videos and impact the algorithm so that you see the content you love in your feed. First though, a bit of background.

What is TikTok?

Before dive into how our readers can make sure the TikTok algorithm shows them videos relevant to their interests, we will take a quick look at the app. To understand what TikTok has become, however, we must understand its origins.

In 2014, an app called was launched in China with a growing audience both in China and outside of it. In 2016, a similar app hit the markets when ByteDance, a huge player in the technology industry, launched Douyin. Within a year, Douyin collected 100 million users across Thailand and China.

Douyin did not manage to capture the same audience in the West that, which was still thriving, had collected. ByteDance decided in 2018 to expand globally, and the company purchased in the process. They combined with Douyin’s features to create TikTok, which is currently one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.

As of September 2021, TikTok boasts 1 billion uses around the world while reporting steady growth. Nearly 700 million of those users are active monthly. This makes TikTok second only to Facebook in terms of userbase.

Why is TikTok so popular?

Many people have questioned why TikTok grew exponentially over the course of a few short years. While it might be difficult to provide an exact reason, there are a few different characteristics that have made it a hit.

First, TikTok emphasizes the same values that has made YouTube an iconic name among the general public around the world. More specifically, TikTok’s ability to find people based on the quality of their content rather than their subscriber count is an increasingly appealing one as other tech giants place more importance on being advertiser-friendly than in promoting content their users might want to see.

TikTok pulls from users around the world with its algorithm and makes it easy for users to connect, too. Editing and posting TikTok content is easier than it is in Snapchat or Instagram, for example, allowing anyone with a smartphone and a bit of free time the ability to upload. An advanced algorithm that learns user preferences and builds a feed of content around them also ensures that the app is constantly pushing new content. This is an especially popular feature among users who are searching for something to occupy them during their free time.

Perhaps the biggest reason TikTok has exploded in popularity is the music. People love music, and this is true across cultures and age groups. TikTok users can easily use songs to create trends and encourage content production, such as creating new dance moves or new jokes.

How does TikTok work?

Part of TikTok’s popularity lies in its simplicity. All you have to do is log in and start watching videos. Like (heart) the content you enjoy to help the algorithm learn your interests and tastes. Some people might want to hear about a user’s favourite casino game, for example, while others may prefer to watch cat videos. The content is short – videos range from 15 seconds to 60 seconds – so it is easy to consume a lot of content in a short amount of time. You can even comment on your favourite videos and follow your favourite content creators.

TikTok has virtually no learning curve for people who are familiar with modern social media and the emphasis it places upon new and interesting content. In fact, the one element that can sometimes lead to disappointment is the app’s algorithm. As content moves so quickly in TikTok, the algorithm could quickly make the user experience unbearable if it continuously recommends the wrong kind of content.

The good news is that it is possible to tweak it. The most important tools at our disposal here are liking content (giving it a heart) and disliking content. It’s quite easy to understand how to do the first. The heart icon is prominently displayed, practically inviting the user to click it. The dislike mechanism is less obvious. With a bit of practice, however, it is a straightforward process that can help the algorithm better understand the type of content you would like to see in your feed.

How do you dislike content in TikTok?

When you come across a video you do not like, long-press on the video. This means that you should tap on it and leave your figure in place until a menu pop-ups. The menu will show four options:

  1. Save video
  2. Not interested
  3. Report
  4. Add to favourites

The right selection for your purposes is ‘not interested’. Simply tapping on the menu option is enough to dislike the video. However, there are a few more steps to take if you would like to further elaborate and customize the algorithm.

After you have clicked ‘not interested’, click the word ‘more’ located to its right. This will lead to another pop-up menu with two additional options:

  1. Hide videos from this user
  2. Hide videos with this sound

The first option will behave just as described – it will hide content posted by the same user. The second does something similar, but just a bit differently. As TikTok incorporates music into its content, it is inevitable that a song or sound effect will annoy you. The second option will hide all videos that contain the sound. This means you will miss out on some content, but it also means your experience will be vastly more pleasant.

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