TikTok Explains How Its Algorithms Work When Suggesting The 'For You' Feed

TikTok, black and white

User retention is important. And on social media, algorithm is the single most important thing that can drive higher engagements on social media.

Algorithms allow Facebook to surface the most interesting posts for specific users, and why Instagram is able to become one of the most engaging social media platforms ever. It's also the thing that makes Twitter the place where important people like to gather and chatter.

Because of this, algorithms are often considered the secret ingredients of social media platforms, and that they're often kept under wrap.

As a result, the algorithms are usually shrouded in mystery.

TikTok the most popular social platform for many youngsters around the world. And because a growing number of states and federal lawmakers in the U.S. continue to pressure TikTok over its ties to Beijing through its parent company, ByteDance, TikTok had to do something to address the issue.

Especially since leaked recordings suggest that some U.S. user data has been accessed from China, TikTok wants to shed some transparency onto the subject.

And that is by showing more context about how its algorithms recommend videos in users' 'For You' feed.

Read: China Had Clear Access To All U.S. TikTok User Data, Revealed Leaked Recordings

With an update, TikTok is giving users a 'Why this video' option they can choose.

From there, TikTok said that users can get more visibility into some of the reasons why a particular video was recommended to them.

For example, some of these reasons can include: "user interactions," which refers to content users have watched, liked or shared, as well as comments users have posted, and the things they have searched for through the app, as well as the "accounts you follow or suggested accounts for you," the "content posted recently in your region," or "popular content in your region."

Just like literally all social media platforms, TikTok relies on algorithms to surface personalized content for users in hopes of keeping them engaged and scrolling as long as possible.

But these algorithms are typically black boxes.

At times, scrutiny suggests that social media's powerful algorithms may lead users into an endless rabbit hole, including directing them to potentially harmful subject matter such as content around suicide and eating disorders.

By providing more context into how its algorithms work, TikTok wants to demystifying that black box by providing more granular details about the thing that affects its algorithmic recommendations.

TikTok, Why this video

According to TikTok in a blog post:

"Our system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors based on your activity on our app, which includes adjusting for things you indicate you're not interested in."

"Our goal is to serve a range of relevant and entertaining content. To help people understand why a particular video has been recommended to them, we're rolling out a new tool over the coming weeks."

TikTok also added that it has plans to build up this feature with more details in the future.

"Looking ahead, we'll continue to expand this feature to bring more granularity and transparency to content recommendations," the company said.

TikTok has made a number of announcements in a span of several 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 restrict what their children can see on the app, and pledging more transparency related to its content moderation systems for researchers.

Read: The 'Autoplay' Feature: YouTube Denies The Existence Of ‘Rabbit Hole Effect’