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How does the TikTok algorithm work?

How does the TikTok algorithm work?How does the TikTok algorithm work?

What is TikTok?

To know how the TikTok algorithm works, we need to start from the beginning and explain what TikTok is. It is a video sharing and a social networking smartphone application that was released in September 2016 for IOS and Android. By using algorithms, this application allows users to watch multiple videos that will interest them on their “For You Page”. These videos can be about a variety of subjects (food, fashion, sports, etc).

What is an algorithm?

Algorithms are, in fact, a set of instructions that are followed stepwise to accomplish a goal or a fix problem. An algorithm is basically related to numerical manipulations and it is a set of instructions. This is also a method that sorts things and achieves diverse tasks like localizing cities on a map, multiplying two numbers, etc.

How does the TikTok algorithm work?

First, there is the input. It is the data, numbers or words that are available and useful to make decisions. Second, there is the computation. Arithmetic, decision-making, and repetition are all essential in computations. It makes decisions based on the numbers and words it receives as input. Finally, there is the output. It is the last part of an algorithm and it is where we are going to have our answer. It is usually more data. Nevertheless, output can also refers to the act of presenting information, such as displaying text on a computer, creating audible cues, or as in our example here, engaging in some other sort of communication like videos.

How does it work on TikTok?

Regarding TikTok, what matters is the time spent on a video, regardless of the demographic data of a registrant. In fact, the only time these features are considered is when the account has just been created and the registrant starts watching videos. At that point and because the TikTok algorithm has no data about the registered person other than the information given, it uses the available data and popular videos to get the attention of the user. After watching more and more videos, the TikTok algorithm is able to decode the user’s interests and target videos that will interest them. When the user stops on a video or watches a video more than once, the algorithm takes this information into account. The more the TikTok algorithm will have information about the videos that interest the user, the more the videos will become niche content on what the user likes. In fact, the ultimate goal of TikTok’s algorithm is to make its users stay as long as possible on the application.

You are now able to understand how the TikTok algorithm works.



BBC. (2021) What is an algorithm? Retrieved on

Bastien., L. (2021) Algorithme: mais en fait, qu’est-ce que c’est et à quoi ça sert? Retrieved on

Denny., J. (2020) What is an algorithm? How computers know what to do with data. Retrieved on

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