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Why certain videos show up on your TikTok feed

by Leila Salaverria

EVER wonder why a particular video has appeared on the “For You” page of your TikTok account?

TikTok will now answer the mystery.

The short-form video platform said it has started rolling out a new feature that will explain why a particular clip was recommended for you.

This feature, it said, “helps bring more context to content recommended in For You feeds.”

Users that have this feature can see the explanation by tapping on the share panel from the “For You” feed and then tapping on the question mark icon called “Why this video.”

From there, the explanation will pop up.

The selection of the video could be based on the following:

  • user interactions, such as content you watch, like or share, comments you post, or your searches
  • accounts you follow or suggested accounts for you 
  • content posted recently in your region
  • popular content in your region 

“Our recommendation system is powered by technical models, so we tried to make the technical details more easily understandable by breaking down reasons,” TikTok said in a statement

It said its new explanation feature is intended to “bring meaningful transparency” in the platform. 

The other steps it had taken to encourage transparency include publishing the guidelines for categories, providing tools to customize recommendations, and making available educational resources to explain how content recommendations work. 

“Looking ahead, we’ll continue to expand this feature to bring more granularity and transparency to content recommendations,” it said.

Algorithm concerns 

The rollout of this new feature comes in the wake of a recent report that TikTok’s algorithms are promoting videos about self-harm and eating disorders to vulnerable teens. 

The report centered on the findings of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which created accounts for fictional teen persons and “liked” videos about self-harm and eating disorders to check how the algorithm of TikTok would respond. TikTok then recommended videos about losing weight and self-harm. 

“It is literally pumping the most dangerous possible messages to young people,” said the center’s CEO Imran Ahmed.

But TikTok had disputed the report and said the researchers did not use the platform like typical users, and because of this, the results were skewed.

TikTok does not allow users younger than 13 and its rules also prohibit videos that encourage eating disorders or suicide.



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