If you’ve ever wondered why TikTok is suggesting a particular video in your feed, you may start to get more clarity.
TikTok said on Tuesday that it has begun rolling out a new feature to add more context about how the platform’s algorithms recommend videos in its “For You” feed. With the new option, you can tap the Share button on the video and then select the question mark icon dubbed Why This Video.
From there, TikTok said you can gain more insight into some of the reasons why a particular video was recommended to you. Some of these reasons include: “User Interactions”, which refers to content you view, like or share as well as comments you post and things you have searched for on the App; “Accounts you follow or accounts suggested to you”; “Content recently published in your area;” or “Content that’s popular in your area.”
Like other social networks, TikTok relies on algorithms to display personalized content to users in hopes of keeping them engaged and scrolling for as long as possible. But these algorithms are usually black boxes.
The new feature goes a long way from demystifying this black box by providing more granular details about specific activity or accounts that influence the algorithm’s recommendations. But TikTok said it has plans to build out the feature in more detail in the future. “Looking forward, we will continue to expand this feature to bring more accuracy and transparency to content recommendations,” the company said in a blog post.
The new update follows renewed scrutiny that TikTok’s aggressive algorithm may be leading users, especially its younger users, down rabbit holes, including directing them to potentially harmful topics such as content related to suicide and eating disorders.
It also comes as a growing number of state and federal lawmakers continue to pressure TikTok over its ties to Beijing through its parent company. Criticism mounted earlier this year after a Buzzfeed News report said some US user data was repeatedly accessed from China, and cited an employee who allegedly said, “Everything is seen in China.” TikTok, for its part, confirmed that US user data could be accessed by some employees in China.
Last week, three lawmakers led by Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill aimed at banning TikTok from operating in the United States. In a statement announcing the proposed legislation, Rubio accused TikTok of collecting data to “manipulate feeds” and criticized the app as a “CCP”. [Chinese Communist Party]Doll company.
TikTok has been negotiating for years with the US government over a potential deal that would address national security concerns and allow the app to continue serving customers in the US. TikTok has also taken steps to isolate US user data from other parts of its business.
TikTok has made a number of announcements in recent years in an effort to ease concerns, including publishing tools to help users customize content recommendations, rolling out parental controls to give users more options to limit what their children can see on the app, and pledging more transparency regarding content moderation systems to researchers. .
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