Emily Baker-White, reporting for Forbes:
For years, TikTok has described its powerful For You Page as a personalized feed ranked by an algorithm that predicts your interests based on your behavior in the app.
But that’s not the full story, according to six current and former employees of TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, and internal documents and communications reviewed by Forbes. These sources reveal that in addition to letting the algorithm decide what goes viral, staff at TikTok and ByteDance also secretly hand-pick specific videos and supercharge their distribution, using a practice known internally as “heating.”
We’d be foolish to assume this is only happening on TikTok. I would expect Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others to have similar systems.
Any social algorithm that goes beyond a simple reverse chronological timeline should be treated with skepticism by default and avoided whenever possible.
(Via Roger Stringer.)