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How to Stop TikTok From Triggering Your Emetophobia

A woman sat at a table looking at her phone with a shocked expression
Image source: Michael Heise (via Unsplash)

On TikTok, you’ll find everything from memes to travel tips to make-up tutorials. It’s an entertaining and addictive app that brings joy to billions of users worldwide. It can, however, be home to content that is problematic for those with phobias like a fear of vomiting. So, how do you stop TikTok from triggering your emetophobia so that you can continue to engage with the rest of its content? Let’s find out!

Encountering triggering content on TikTok

TikTok’s For You feed enables users to explore a wide range of diverse and entertaining content from every corner of the world. No matter your niche, you’re bound to find something that takes your fancy.

Unfortunately, you’re also likely to encounter content that might not be to your liking. Now, this might be a ‘funny’ skit that fails to raise a chuckle or a tutorial for a hobby you’re not interested in. Not a big deal, right? Well, on the more extreme end of the spectrum, you could end up stumbling across triggering content that is detrimental to your wellbeing.

In the case of emetophobes, this might be a video of someone talking about vomiting or dealing with a stomach bug or, even more distressing, footage of them actually throwing up.

Though the likelihood of this happening to most people is low, it’s enough to make an emetophobe debate swearing off TikTok altogether. If you’re not ready to wave goodbye, however, we have a few tips to help you make your For You feed a safe space.

How to stop TikTok from triggering your fear of vomiting

Person holding an iPhone in their hand with the TikTok app open
Image source: Solen Feyissa (via Unsplash)

1. Don’t interact with triggering content

We know what you’re thinking: this is an obvious point, right? After all, who’d willingly watch a video of something that causes distress? Well, you’d be surprised how many people linger on videos that are weird, disgusting or triggering in some way, just out of curiosity or because they haven’t figured out what’s going on until it’s too late.

Unfortunately, the TikTok algorithm perceives this lingering as an interest in the content. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching it out of sick fascination or by accident, TikTok will assume you want to watch videos with similar hashtags, captions and sounds. In no time at all, your For You feed can be flooded with potentially triggering content, all because you paused for too long on the wrong video.

So, if you’re scrolling through your feed and come across a video that looks suspicious, keep moving!

2. Avoid #emetophobia

Looking to learn more about emetophobia or watch relatable videos of people sharing their experiences of living with a fear of vomiting? You’re not the only one. The hashtag #emetophobia has a whopping 368.4 million views on TikTok.

In just a few minutes, you can find tips on how to manage your fear in public or reduce your nausea before bed. Unfortunately, you can also encounter graphic or triggering content, such as vomit make-up tutorials or real-life footage of people throwing up.

Whilst some of this content will come with a trigger warning, it’s not guaranteed. Additionally, once you open the door to some of this content, TikTok will assume you want to see all of it. It cannot differentiate between safe content and triggering content.

As a result, the safest course of action, especially if you’re very sensitive, might be to avoid all content related to emetophobia.

3. Filter triggering content

Now we’re bringing in the big guns! To reduce the chances of TikTok triggering your emetophobia, you can use the handy filter keywords tool to prevent videos using certain words in their hashtags and descriptions from popping up in your For You feed.

To get started, you need to open up the TikTok app and log in. Next, head to the ‘Profile’ tab and select the menu in the right-hand corner. You’ll then want to click on ‘Settings and Privacy’, scroll down to ‘Content & Display’ and select ‘Content Preferences’. Lastly, you’ll want to select ‘Filter video keywords‘ and add all of the trigger words you want to exclude from your feed.

Not sure where to start? Below, we’ll offer up a list of potential keywords to include in your ban.

If vomit-related words trigger you, please skip ahead or return to the EmetoGo homepage.

  • Emetophobia
  • Emetophobe
  • Food poisoning
  • Gag
  • Gagging
  • Puke
  • Nausea
  • Norovirus
  • Noro
  • Sick
  • Stomach bug
  • Throw up
  • Throwing up
  • Tummy bug
  • Virus
  • Vomit

If you’d still like to engage with content created by people with a fear of vomiting, you might want to leave out ’emetophobia’ and ’emetophobe’. Just remember that this could leave the door open to triggering content.

Though the filter keywords tool is extremely useful and will undoubtedly help to reduce your chances of encountering triggering content, it’s not completely foolproof. It depends entirely on TikTok creators using relevant hashtags and descriptions that relate directly to their video’s content. If they fail to do this, their video might slip through your filters and end up on your feed.

There is hope, however, that in the near future, this filter feature will become more powerful—using the captions used in a video as well, so that you don’t have to depend on creators to be transparent about the content of their videos.

4. Establish your content preferences

If your filters fail to work and a video makes its way through the cracks, you can let TikTok know that you’d prefer not to see similar content in the future with the Not Interested button. To find it, all you need to do is long-press on the video in question.

The TikTok algorithm should then move away from sharing that type of content, allowing you to curate your feed to suit your interests.

If you stumble across a video that is offensive or in violation of TikTok’s Community Guidelines, you can report it. To do this, long-press on the video and select ‘report’. The video and its creator will then be reviewed by a moderation team and appropriate action will be taken.

5. Be more active

If you’re stuck in a cycle of being swamped by triggering or irrelevant content on your For You feed, we’ve got a simple solution for you: engage with content that you like!

Start searching for topics you’re interested in, e.g., K-pop, cooking, travel, reading etc. Once you find videos that bring you joy, you’ll want to:

  • Hit the like button
  • Add them to your favourites
  • Share them with friends
  • Follow the creator
  • Leave a comment

The more you interact with the content you like, the easier it will be for the algorithm to recommend the content you actually want to consume.

6. Reset your feed

If your emetophobia is still being triggered by content on TikTok, despite your best efforts to only engage with the content you like, the last course of action is to delete your account and start over. It sounds extreme, but doing so will help you reset the TikTok algorithm, starting your For You feed off with a clean slate.

And there you have it! You now know how to stop TikTok from triggering your emetophobia so that you can enjoy the app in peace. If you’re looking to learn more about your fear of vomiting, but don’t want to risk doing it on TikTok, head on over to our blog for in-depth guides, advice and tips!