How TikTok employees handle videos with millions of views
For years, TikTok boasted of For You, a secretive algorithmic video recommendation engine that allowed users to display personalized content. However, these are not all features of the ByteDance platform.
According to six TikTok employees and former employees, as well as internal documents forbes Not only do TikTok and ByteDance let algorithms decide what content is trending, but they also manually select specific videos and then accelerate their delivery with a built-in tool called Warm Up.
“Heating is the feature of placing a video on the For You page by intervening to get a certain number of video views,” according to TikTok’s internal document called the MINT Heating Playbook. “Watching warm-up videos accounts for 1-2% of total daily video views on TikTok. This number can have a significant impact on overall base stats.”
TikTok has never released a heating feature on the platform. In fact, most social networks try to some degree to reinforce certain messages, but often mark them explicitly in the process. For example, Google, Meta has partnered with public health groups to raise awareness about Covid-19, but clearly explained how and why the message should be spread.
But not TikTok. Heat is a tactic short video networks use to generate heat for influencer or brand ads and motivate them to collaborate by increasing video views, sources say.
“We believe that social networks are very ‘democratic’ and offer equal access. But that wasn’t always the case,” said Evelyn Dweck, a professor at Stanford Law School and a senior fellow at Columbia University’s Knight First Institute. Losers, partnerships, and deals will benefit.”
Warm-ups are created to promote a specific video, but are often abused. Three sources said they saw TikTok employees abusing the feature, e.g. B. by promoting videos of acquaintances or their own, which violated social media guidelines. The source said a colleague used the feature to spread his clip in no time, garnering more than three million views.
The leaked documents also show that employees (including employees of parent company ByteDance and contractors) have significant decision-making powers over what content to promote. Employees can use warm-ups to “connect with influencers”, “promote a variety of content”, as well as “get important information” and “appropriate video ads missed by suggestion algorithms”.
Meanwhile, Jamie Favazza, spokesman for TikTok, said the video promotion aims to diversify content and help creators reach a wider audience. This person points out that few people in the US can approve critical content and that it accounts for only 0.002% of For You videos.
However, sources say the heating system is important but not well organized. TikTok and ByteDance initially only wanted to use the heat for legitimate commercial purposes, including diversifying TikTok’s content away from previous lip-sync and dance clips and working on videos that would attract more users.
Some experts fear that warming could be misused for political purposes. TikTok declined questions about this.
Bao Lam (in accordance forbes)