Tiktok Confirms Its Employees Decide What Goes Viral

Six TikTok employees claim that anyone can go viral through “heating”

A recent Forbes investigation, published on January 20, 2023, reports that employees of social media app TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, can determine what goes viral on the platform.

Six former and current employees of TikTok, as well as an internal document called MINT Heating Playbook, reveal this information.

According to Forbes’ recent investigation, some of TikTok’s U.S. staff can alter which content goes popular. They promote videos to “introduce celebrities and budding producers to the TikTok community.”

This approach is called “heating.” According to the MINT Heating Playbook, “The heating feature refers to boosting videos into the “For You” feed. Through operation intervention, they can achieve a certain number of video views.”

The playbook ads, “The total video views of heated videos account for a large part of the daily total video views. Around 1-2%, can impact core metrics.”

Forbes reports that a document called TikTok Heating Policy says that the feature intends to lure influencers and marketers to the platform. The feature also diversifies content and pushes vital information the algorithms overlooked.”

Employees of TikTok and ByteDance can determine what content meets these criteria.

Unlike advertisements and sponsored posts on the platform, devs don’t mark heated videos. Instead, the films appear identical to the other videos the algorithm chose for the user.

According to Forbes, there have been instances of staff abusing the heat feature. They use the feature to push videos from friends, partners, and even their accounts. This is known to be against the business’ policy.

TikTok responds to investigation

Coming from the investigation, Forbes sent TikTok a detailed set of questions regarding heating.

Forbes published an update about the report, which was an answer from TikTok spokesperson Jamie Favazza.

Favazza confirms that they “promote some videos to help diversify content experience.”

She tells Forbes, “We promote some videos to help diversify the content experience and introduce celebrities and emerging creators to the TikTok community. Only a few people, based in the U.S., have the ability to approve content for promotion in the U.S., and that content makes up approximately .002% of videos in For You feeds.”

Banner Image Dani Sison


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