TikTok will explain why it recommends videos on its ‘For you’ page

The algorithm that powers TikTok’s “For You” page has long been a source of fascination and suspicion. Fans often comment on the app’s uncanny accuracy, while TikTok critics sometimes speculate that the company may be subtly manipulating its algorithm to influence users to follow. more nefarious ways.

Now, the company is taking to elucidate some aspects of its algorithm. The app is rolling out a feature that will “help people understand why a particular video was recommended to them”. With the update, users will be able to tap a new question mark icon, which will list several factors that play a role in the recommendation.

In a blog post, the company notes that its “recommendation system is powered by technical models” and that the feature is intended to make “the technical details easier to understand”. For now, that also means that the details shared are sounding a bit hazy. For example, “this video is popular in the US” and “you are following Hanna” are two of the explanations provided by Tiktok. Other possible explanations are based on “user interactions, such as what you view, like or share, comments you post or search for”.

However, the company says it plans to add “more granularity and transparency” to the feature over time, so eventual explanations may become more detailed. A TikTok spokesperson said future versions may also incorporate other factors that affect the app’s algorithm, such as an individual’s account settings.

Although this feature probably won’t do much those who think that TikTok, or parent company ByteDance, uses algorithms to manipulate users, it might help make recommendations a little more understandable to users. And the change is part of TikTok’s broader move to demonstrate that it’s willing to be more transparent about the workings inside its app. The company also cooperated to conduct a review of its algorithm and content moderation system.

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