TikTok: Users get to Downvote Comments

TikTok is rolling out an attribute that permits users to downvote comments, the company announced today. The button will appear next to likes on individual comments under videos in the form of a thumbs-down icon that users can click.

The feature announced as a test in April will now be available to users globally, according to TikTok. Users can undo their downvote by clicking the button again, and only the person doing the downvoting will be able to see that they’ve done so.

Users can view TikTok comments with the “like” button and the downvote button side by side. The number of likes is publicly visible, but downvotes are not. So the total number of downvotes won’t be visible. The dislike button is for ‘irrelevant or inappropriate comments. But users won’t see if others have downvoted, unlike other platforms like Reddit.

Unlike the number of likes a comment receives, the number of downvotes isn’t visible, suggesting downvotes will serve more as a back-end moderation tool, though TikTok isn’t clear about how it will use them. TikTok says downvoting comments is “a new way to hear feedback directly from [its] community” and will allow the platform to identify better comments that are “irrelevant or inappropriate.” In addition to downvoting comments, users will still have the option to report comments for violating TikTok rules.

Other platforms like Reddit have long had the option to downvote content, but it’s a public way for community members to signal disagreement and gauge response. More recently, Twitter has experimented with something similar to TikTok’s new feature as a way for the platform to measure what users find relevant and then adjust which replies are surfaced.

Like TikTok, Reddit is a website incorporating user-generated content—with videos, links, photos, and text-based posts—and discussions of this content in what is a bulletin board system. The term “Reddit” is a play-on-words with the expression “read it,” i.e., “I read it on Reddit.” According to Reddit, around 430 million monthly users were comprehended as “Redditors” in 2019. The website’s content is split into categories or communities known on-site as “subreddits,” of which there are 138,000 active communities.

As a network of assemblies, Reddit’s core content has posts from its users. Users can comment on various posts to resume the conversation. A key feature of Reddit is that users can cast positive or negative votes, anointed upvotes, and downvotes for every post and comment on the website. The number of upvotes or downvotes chooses the posts’ visibility on the site, so the most prominent content is displayed to the most people. Users can also earn “karma” for their positions and comments, a status that echoes their standing within the community and their assistance to Reddit. Posts are sometimes automatically archived after six months, meaning they can no longer be commented on or voted on.

The most popular posts from the site’s multiple subreddits are visible on the front page to those who scan the site without an account. For those users, the front page will depict the subreddit r/popular, by default, featuring top-ranked posts over Reddit, excluding not-safe-for-work communities and others most commonly screened out by users. The subreddit r/all initially did not filter topics, but as of 2021, it does not include not-safe-for-work content. Registered users who subscribe to subreddits visit the top content from the subreddits they subscribe to on the front pages.

Front-page rank—for both the typical front page and for personal subreddits—is determined by a blend of factors, including the time of the submission, positive (“upvoted”) to negative (“downvoted”) feedback ratio with the total vote count.