TikTok employees routinely engage in algorithm manipulation to boost the popularity of certain videos.
On TikTok, the “For You” feed reflects individual user preferences. Videos are recommended based on their tastes through an algorithm. But this is actually not always the case according to the American media Forbes.
According to the business site, which relies on testimonials from current and former employees of the Chinese social network, as well as internal communications, TikTok staff secretly select specific videos to manually increase their reach. .
Specifically, this feature “refers to boosting videos in the ‘For You’ feed, through operational intervention, to achieve a certain number of views,” explains an internal TikTok document titled “MINT Heating Playbook”. “Total ‘promoted’ video views make up a large portion of total daily video views, around 1-2%, which can have a significant impact on metrics.”
A two-tier system
In fact, TikTok has never publicly revealed that it engages in this type of manipulation while all the tech giants, on a more or less significant scale, use it to amplify the reach of some messages. However, when it does, and unlike TikTok, these companies mention it with a short message that accompanies the post.
For example, Google and Facebook have partnered with public health organizations and government institutions to massively disseminate important information about Covid-19 or help users find their polling station during elections. . This by clearly indicating how and why they have chosen to promote these discourses.
However, according to sources interviewed by Forbes, TikTok has often used this manipulation of its own algorithm for more commercial purposes. The platform used it in particular to artificially increase the popularity of content from certain brands, with the aim of establishing commercial partnerships with them afterwards. To the detriment of other actors who did not have access to this “boost”.
Inappropriate use by employees
In addition, TikTok employees have abused this privilege. Three sources told Forbes that some have put forward content from their own account, or that of a loved one, which nevertheless constitutes a violation of company policy. According to another document, through this channel, a video highlighted on the account of a TikTok employee accidentally garnered more than three million views.
“We highlight certain videos to help diversify the user experience and introduce emerging or well-known creators to the TikTok community. American territory” assures the company.