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TikTok employees can decide who (or what) goes viral at the click of a button

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TikTok told Forbes that some of its employees in the US can choose what videos to boost to “introduce celebrities and emerging creators to the TikTok community.”

TikTok admitted that after Forbes reported about the platform’s “Heating” button, which is used to place selected videos on the For You pages of users. That function helps boost the views of videos that have not been selected by the algorithm TikTok uses to recommend content.

According to a spokesperson for the video-sharing platform, increasing the views of selected videos is not the only purpose the “heating” function serves. They said the function helps “promote some videos to help diversify the content experience.”

They further claimed that only “.002% of videos in For You feeds” are heated. But according to Forbes, “heated” videos account for “around 1-2 percent” of videos in the feeds.

The concern is that boosted videos do not carry a label that they have been heated. They appear like any other video on the For You page.

For years, there have been reports that TikTok promises to promote content to convince celebrities, brands, and politicians to use the platform.

The practice means TikTok decides who to promote and who not to, meaning brands and creators might lose a spot on someone’s feed to someone else the company wants to promote. Forbes claimed that there have been reports of employees heating content that they should not, like videos from partners, friends, and even their own content.

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