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TikTok secretly helps some videos to go viral, says report

TITA Girl, a TikTok content creator with more than 10,000 followers, works hard to think of gimmicks to drive up her numbers on the video sharing site.
by Athena Yap

TITA Girl, a TikTok content creator with more than 10,000 followers, works hard to think of gimmicks to drive up her numbers on the video sharing site.

She always tries to come up with something novel and fresh to get more people to follow her account, whose name she asked not to reveal for this interview. 

This is because she finds it unfair that TikTok is artificially boosting the virality of certain content on the site, as revealed by Forbes

“Unfair, pero kasi karamihan naman ng nag-iisip ng pakulo for sure meron isang video dyan nag-viral, pero syempre give chance to others,” she told republicasia.

What Forbes found

TikTok users and other content creators may think that it’s only the algorithm that influences content virality on Tiktok, but it turns out this is not always the case. 

Over the weekend,  a Forbes report revealed that some posts on the video-sharing site became viral due to human intervention, through a process that it called “heating.”  

This means pushing specific videos on the “For You” page to ensure that these would achieve a certain number of views. 

An internal Tiktok document that Forbes obtained said the heating feature “refers to boosting videos into the For You feed through operation intervention to achieve a certain number of video views.”

“The total video views of heated videos accounts for a large portion of the daily total video views, around 1-2%, which can have a significant impact on overall core metrics,” it said. 

#ForYouPage 

Anyone who uses the TIktok platform is surely familiar with the popular hashtag #ForYouPage, sometimes written as #FYP or simply #ForYou. It is likely to be the foremost traffic driver for any post. 

Infusing posts with a hashtag, particularly #ForYouPage, is believed to be the key for a user to reach others TikTok feeds.

However, the Forbes report said  six current and former employees of TikTok and its head company ByteDance had revealed that their personnel had a hand in deciding what would be viral. 

Forbes, quoting sources, said TikTok also used heating to increase the view counts of influencers and brands to entice them to team up with the site.  

Diverse experience 

Forbes also got in touch with Tiktok for its report.

Jamie Favazza, the Tiktok spokesperson, told the publication that Tiktok promotes some videos in order “to help diversify the content experience.”

Bias heating

Forbes also said  some employees would improperly use the “heat” perks for their family or close friends, and this  is considered a violation of company’s policy.

How would one know if their post was chosen to be heated?

No one would know or notice if a video appearing on an FYP is heated because there is no label for it. These are unlike ads that display the word “sponsored” before the username. 

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