Inside Tiktok’s real-life frenzies – from riots
It is feared that addressing the issue would slow the growth of the social media app, say former employees.
According to interviews with former staffers, app users, and analysis of wider social media data, TikTok drives disproportionate amounts of engagement on some topics. Consequently, they have disrupted and disordered everyday life.
As a result of TikTok’s algorithm and design, people are seeing videos that they wouldn’t normally be recommended – which incentivizes them to create videos with unusual content.
The billion-user app has previously distanced itself from outbreaks of disorder, including a threat to loot Oxford Street last month, which politicians blamed on TikTok.
The has, however, identified four incidents of disproportionate TikTok engagement that have been linked to harmful behavior in recent months: Ex-TikTok employees describe these frenzies as “wildfires” and as “dangerous”, especially given the app’s young and impressionable audience.
According to a spokesperson for TikTok, its algorithm “brings together communities while prioritizing safety”. Different types of content are recommended to interrupt repetitive patterns, remove “harmful misinformation” and reduce the reach of videos containing unverified information, according to the company.