Written by Nick Heer.

TikTok to Begin Showing Users Why a Video Was Recommended to Them

TikTok:

TikTok For You feeds enable people to discover an incredible diversity of ideas, creators, products, and entertainment. Our system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors based on your activity on our app, which includes adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in. Our goal is to serve a range of relevant and entertaining content. To help people understand why a particular video has been recommended to them, we’re rolling out a new tool over the coming weeks.

This sounds like a good step forward, albeit a limited one. The explanations for these recommendations have a similarly limited language and scope as ad transparency efforts like those from Google and Meta. They are often a narrow window into how these systems work, but too vague to understand why that specific material was chosen.

Although coverage of TikTok’s feature did not indicate a specific reason why it is being rolled out, I wonder if it is partially due to the European Union’s Digital Services Act, which requires larger platforms to explain their algorithmic choices. Expect more changes like this.