TikTok and ByteDance employees are secretly “heating” videos to create viral content
What is Heating videos on TikTok?
‘Heating’ involves manually boosting videos into the For You feed to account for 1-2% of daily total views. While tech giants like Google and Meta usually disclose when they amplify specific posts, TikTok has never publicly admitted to heating. Sources also claim that TikTok has used heating to attract influencers and brands into partnerships by inflating their videos’ view counts. TikTok has not openly stated that they engage in “heating”. Other social media platforms use similar practices however they usually clearly label when they do so.
Employees of TikTok have been caught abusing this “heating” button to boost engagement on their own content. There have been 3 recorded instances where this process was used improperly by TikTok employees. Employees have even been caught boosting their own partners, friends & families’ TikTok accounts. Heating is generally used in accordance with influencers promoting a specific product/service. Heating has shown us that videos on your “For You” page arent always there because TikTok thinks you will like them. They’re in your “For You” page because TikTok wants a particular Brand/Influencer to generate more views.
TikTok spokesperson Jamie Favazza has responded to inquiries about the use of heating, stating that the company promotes certain videos to introduce new creators and diversify the content experience. Only a small number of individuals based in the US are authorised to approve content for promotion, and these videos account for roughly 0.002% of the videos in the For You feed.
Industry leaders are concerned about where ‘Heating’ may lead
TikTok is worried about political manipulation, specifically that the Chinese government may force ByteDance, the platform’s Chinese owner, to promote or hide certain narratives on TikTok. In the past, TikTok has censored content that is critical of China, and former employees of ByteDance have claimed that the now-defunct news aggregator app TopBuzz had displayed “pro-China messages” to U.S. users. ByteDance has denied these allegations. As technology improves it will become harder to differentiate what content is organically going viral and what content is being manipulated by TikTok to go viral. Not only this, but concerns continue to rise about whether this new “heating” technology may be misused to endorse political candidates and/or other public figures.