With Tik Tok, you can take a few seconds to record an impersonal video with either your front or back camera and upload it instantly. Users will see your profile picture, your username and the thumbnail of the video you are sharing – so there’s no need for further explanation.
According to an internal TikTok document titled MINT Heating Playbook, boosting videos into the For You feed through operation intervention can boost them into the For You feed and thereby boost the number of video views. “Heated videos account for 1-2% of daily total video views, which can have a significant impact on core metrics,” the document states.
While all tech giants attempt to amplify specific posts to their users, they usually make it clear when they do so. For instance, Google, Meta, and TikTok have partnered with public health and election organisations to deliver accurate information about COVID-19 and assist voters in finding their polling place, in order to make clear disclosures about how and why they chose to promote these messages. (Disclaimer: In a former life, I held policy positions at Facebook and Spotify.)
Sources of Forbes told that TikTok has often used heating to lure influencers and brands, increasing view counts on their videos to recruit these partners. This implies that some influencers and brands — those with whom TikTok has sought business relationships — may have benefited at the expense of others with whom it has not.
Documents show that staff — including those at ByteDance’s parent company, TikTok, and even freelance contractors working for the company — have considerable discretion when it comes to deciding which content to promote. According to a document called TikTok Heating Policy, employees may “attract influencers” and “promote diverse content” by using heating, but they may also “push important information” and “promote relevant videos that were missed by the recommendations algorithms.” Two sources told Forbes employees have sometimes felt left to their own devices to decide whether a video fits within these parameters.
Jamie Favazza, a spokesperson for TikTok, replied to our questions about how and by whom heating has been used. He wrote: “We help diversify the content experience by featuring a few popular celebrities and new talent on TikTok. We also try to bring them to our audience, especially as they are new to the platform. In the U.S., there are only a few people who have the authority to approve content for promotion and that material accounts for less than 0.002% of the content in our For You feed.”