TikTok confirms that its own employees can decide what goes viral

TikTok confirms that its own employees can decide what goes viral

TikTok has confirmed to Forbes that some of its employees in the US have the ability to promote videos to “introduce celebrities and up-and-coming creators to the TikTok community.” The statement is part of a report on TikTok’s “Heating” button, which Forbes it says it can be used to put selected videos on users’ For You pages, helping boost views by bypassing the algorithm that supposedly powers the TikTok experience.

Jamie Favazza, a spokesperson for TikTok, said Forbes that boosting views of particular videos isn’t the only reason to get hot. TikTok will also “promote some videos to help diversify the content experience” (read: make sure your feed isn’t made up entirely of one or two trends), he said. Favazza also suggests that TikTok doesn’t do this as often, stating that they only heat up “.002% of the videos in the For You feeds.” According to an internal document obtained by Forbeshowever, heated videos reportedly make up “about 1-2 percent” of “total daily video views.”

The heat of TikTok can make creators and brands feel like they are winning on the platform

According to the report, hot videos do not come with a tag to show that TikTok pushed them, like ads or sponsored posts do. Instead, they appear like any other video the algorithm has selected for you.

The news is not necessarily a surprise. Has been years reports that TikTok used promises of promoted content to convince politicians and companies to use its platform, and companies, especially in the music industry, have made no secret of using the platform to promote their brands.

TikTok would also be far from the only social media company promoting videos in unnatural ways. Supposedly, Facebook knew it was displaying inflated view counts and didn’t immediately fix it to help lure advertisers and media companies onto its platform. (He ended up paying $40 million to settle a lawsuit over the issue.) While that’s not quite the same scenario, TikTok videos actually seem to get genuine views, even if they don’t go viral organically, the effect could be similar; people end up thinking they’ll do better on TikTok than they really will.

It also means TikTok is picking winners and losers: creators and brands may lose a spot on someone’s For You Page to someone who has a closer relationship with the company. According to ForbesThere have been incidents where employees heated up content they shouldn’t have, promoting videos from friends, partners, and even their own accounts.

Creators may also lose interest in the platform if their videos underperform those being boosted, as TikTok’s lack of transparency around warming up makes it hard to tell which videos made it to the top organically.

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