If you’re used to endlessly scrolling through the “For You” tab on TikTok, you’ve probably stumbled upon a video that made you think, “What am I watching this weird video appear on my page”?
Good news, TikTok just announced a new feature that will now allow you to find the answer to this question.
How do I know why a video was recommended to me?
TikTok announced the new feature on their blog. To be able to use it, simply click on the video sharing tab in the corresponding “For You” tab, then select the “why this video” option.
Then there are the reasons why the algorithm recommended the video: it could be a popular video in your region, for example, or you are following the video creator. It may also happen that the algorithm thinks that this video is similar to the videos you like.
years of ignorance
For TikTok, allowing users to understand why certain videos are on their personal page represents an attempt at “significant transparency” between users and the platform. This goal of transparency follows years of user ignorance of how the social network algorithm works.
TikTok explained in 2020 that its algorithm is based on how users interact with videos in the For You tab. On the social network, there is a video in the “For You” tab so that the algorithm can find out what content you want to see.
If you’ve just created your TikTok account, the For You tab first invites you to view trending videos, usually posted by verified creators with millions of followers. The algorithm then learns your preferences—when you watch videos in full, when you like and comment on videos, and when you decide to follow creators—and allows it to show you videos similar to those you’ve already rated.
By interacting with the video, you are telling the algorithm what you like. Conversely, if you skip or click “Not interested” on other videos, the algorithm will tell you what you don’t want to see.
An algorithm that knows too much?
As the app’s popularity skyrocketed in 2020, users have turned to other social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit in an attempt to figure out TikTok’s omniscient algorithm.
TikTok collects data about users through their IP addresses, devices, what they say in TikTok direct messages, how they interact with ads, and through the use of biometric technologies to store facial and voice patterns.
The TikTok algorithm is a sophisticated example of a widely used algorithm that seems to know more about people than they know about themselves. So if you ever thought looking at the For You tab that TikTok knew everything about you… you were probably right.