TIKTOK harnesses the power to make anyone into a celebrity overnight.
Its most popular users and the app itself have become some of the hottest topics of conversation across showbiz and tech.
Experts have been fascinated with the rise of so-called influencers – social media users with large followings.
But it appears there’s a secret behind the popularity of some users and widely circulated videos.
TikTok reportedly has a behind-the-scenes feature which can make anyone go viral.
The top-secret feature is known by staff internally as ‘heating’, according to a report by Forbes, which got hold of office documents.
The term ‘heating’ refers to a manual button which staff can push that makes sure specific videos “achieve a certain number of views,” sources told the American outlet.
Employees at TikTok and its parent company ByteDance apparently engage in ‘heating’ quite frequently – as they choose who can have the privilege, or curse, of internet virality.
Under the hood of the social media beast, TikTok has reportedly used heating to woo influencers and brands into partnerships by ramping up the view count on their videos.
“The heating feature refers to boosting videos into the For You feed through operation intervention to achieve a certain number of video views,” an internal TikTok document titled MINT Heating Playbook said.
“The total video views of heated videos accounts for a large portion of the daily total video views, around 1-2%, which can have a significant impact on overall core metrics.”
Another document called TikTok Heating Policy said that employees may use heating to “attract influencers” and “promote diverse content”.
And also to “push important information” and promote “relevant videos that were missed by the recommendations algorithms”.
TikTok has never publicly disclosed that it engages in this practice.
The social media platform exploded in popularity during the early stages of lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic.
TikTok’s early stars include Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio, who now have a combined net worth of around $35million, both before hitting the age of 25.
The app gives the illusion to users that the ‘For You’ pages are personalised feeds that are based off of its clever algorithm.
TikTok’s algorithm has been praised for being shockingly astute at picking up people’s interests, no matter how niche they are.
However, the so-called heating button suggests that videos on the For You page might not be there because the algorithm knows its users inside and out.
But instead because staff at TikTok, for whatever reason, want a particular brand or creator to get more views.
The Sun has contacted TikTok for comment.
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