Rigging the Algorithm on TikTok

I wrote in my Getting started post that I still have facebook and instagram accounts. I no longer post there, but I’ve not yet deleted them (as much as meta would let me delete them, that is). But I’ve avoided other, more recent, platforms – most notably, TikTok. Still, it’s interesting to learn that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has its own way of controlling the flow of things to maximize their profits. TikTok’s secret ‘heating’ button can make anything go viral.

“We think of social media as being very democratizing and giving everyone the same opportunity to reach an audience,” said Evelyn Douek, a professor at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. But that’s not always true, she cautioned. “To some degree, the same old power structures are replicating in social media as well, where the platform can decide winners and losers to some degree, and commercial and other kinds of partnerships take advantage.”