TikTok announced on its official website on December 20 that the platform has added new features allowing users to learn more about their personalized content recommendations. Users can simply click on “why this video” in the share panel to find out why the particular video appears on their For You page.
TikTok’s recommendation algorithm is designed to recommend videos for users’ For You page based on the following types of actions – user interactions, including videos they watch, like, share, comment on, follow; recent or trending videos in the user’s region, among others. After clicking on “Why this video”, users can see what actions led to the video appearing on their For You page.
TikTok stated in its blog post that the new feature “is one of many ways we’re working to bring meaningful transparency to the people who use our platform, and builds on a number of steps we’ve taken towards that goal.”
The addition of the new feature does not change or restructure the algorithmic mechanism of TikTok’s content recommendations, but simply presents the rationale of the recommendations directly to users, in an effort to improve the personalized content customization and data transparency of its platform.
The new feature comes at a time when there are growing concerns about data security among the general public. Nearly half (48%) of consumers in the United States have experienced a personal data breach, according to the latest Thales Consumer Digital Trust Index. With more cyberattacks occurring than ever before, netizens are paying increasing attention to the safe storage and fair usage of their information, as well as data transparency on the platforms they use.
The fact that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China has also raised concerns among US netizens. The growing tensions in the U.S.-China relationship, as well as perceptions of data sharing issues relating to Chinese-related platforms and electronic devices, has led U.S. lawmakers to start pursuing strict regulation of Chinese social media platforms. Recently, state-level governments across the U.S. have implemented TikTok bans on government phones to protect against the perceived information threats posed by TikTok’s China-based parent company, including Texas, Virginia, Utah and South Carolina.
Within this context, TikTok’s move could somewhat increase the data transparency of its platform and serves as an attempt to win the trust of its users while building up credibility in overseas markets.