The TikTok ForYou page algorithm can be pretty impressive, as it has the ability to show me TikToks that are relevant to my interests the more I use the app. And with the success of it, the app’s parent company ByteDance has started selling TikTok’s AI to other companies.
ByteDance’s new division, BytePlus, will concentrate on selling their “leading” AI technology, offering their customers a chance to access and personalise the recommendation algorithm, as well as data analysis tools. Their client list already includes US fashion app Goat, Singapore travel site WeGo, Indonesian shopping app Chilibeli, and India-based social gaming platform GamesApp.
If you aren’t yet familiar with Tiktok’s recommendation algorithm, it works when you interact with the content on the app. For example, if you like a certain video, you’re more likely to watch the entire thing, watch it over and over again, like, comment and share the video.
The app’s AI would take notice of it and recognise that you’re likely to enjoy content of the same type or category. So, the more you interact with TikTok—even as someone who isn’t posting anything—the more personalised your ForYou page would be.
Their algorithm is a huge part of why TikTok is so popular. However, their main feature has been caught in some pretty controversial topics of conversation. In 2020, it was reported that TikTok moderators were “told to suppress videos from users who appeared too ugly, poor or disabled”.
The algorithm also became a huge reason for the hostility between the U.S. and China. ByteDance, being a China-based company, previously added personalised content recommendation algorithms like TikTok’s ForYou page to its list of export-controlled items.
Before President Biden signed an executive order in June revoking the bans, TikTok was among the China-based companies targeted by a series of executive orders from former President Trump.