The popular TikTok For You Page, as the name suggests, only displays content chosen by an algorithm based on your personal preferences. However, it’s been revealed that not everything you see in there is actually based on your personal behavior.
As per a report from Forbes, six current and former TikTok employees and its parent company, ByteDance, claim that some of the content you see on the For You page is actually chosen by TikTok themselves and not based on your personalized algorithm.
The said allegation is backed by documents and communications.
As per the sources, the move is called internally as “heating”. Apparently, it’s essentially a button that employees can press to make any content they want trending and appear on a user’s For You page.
This is quite concerning since TikTok always claimed that the For you page is solely built using machine learning based on the user’s behavior.
“The heating feature refers to boosting videos into the For You feed through operation intervention to achieve a certain number of video views,” explained one of the internal documents obtained by Forbes, which is called MINT Heating Playbook.
Still, the document states that “the total video views of heated videos account for a large portion of the daily total video views, around 1-2%, which can have a significant impact on overall core metrics.”
So, why does this exposé matter? Well, this backs the creators, influencers, and brands already questioning TikTok’s impartiality. Plus, it demerits the platform’s “personalized feed built by algorithm” speech.
What’s more, some employees are apparently using the heating button for personal gains like boosting their personal accounts or their friends or family.
Even TikTok themselves are allegedly abusing the said button by using it on brands and influencers it wants to have partnerships with.
Both TikTok and ByteDance tried to defend themselves by saying that only a few people have access to the said special button and that they only use it to improve the diversity on the platform.