A billion people worldwide use Tiktok at least once a month. A leaked document now shows: The video platform primarily wants to increase the screen time of its users.

Tiktok has been reaching every month since September more than a billion users.

 Internal document shows how Tiktok wants to make you addict

A document now shows how the Tiktok algorithm was programmed.

internal document shows how Tiktok wants to make you addict

The app's algorithm is not primarily aimed at user satisfaction, but is geared towards increasing screen time.

That's what it's all about

  • Part of the success secret of the Chinese video platform Tiktok seems to have been revealed.

  • Internal documents show that the app's algorithm is geared towards increasing users' screen time.

  • Because of the addiction risk, an expert compares the video platform with tobacco companies.

The video platform Tiktok of the Chinese parent company ByteDance manages like no other medium to bind its users to itself. At the end of September, Tiktok said it had exceeded one billion monthly active users. For some, this can even result in addiction. At the end of March 2019, Tiktok announced that it was worried about its users. That's why you can control your screen time in the app immediately and limit it if you wish – to 40 to a maximum of 120 minutes per day.

The “New York Times” and “Spiegel” are now reporting on an internal document entitled “TikTok Algo 100”, which is intended to describe in detail how the previously unknown Tiktok algorithm works. The findings from this leaked document do not suggest that Tiktok is seriously interested in less time being spent on the app. On the contrary.

According to the English-language documents, the primary goal is that more and more people use the app on a daily basis. Similarly important to Tiktok is a strong bond and a high level of customer loyalty. However, it is easier to measure and influence how much time someone spends on the app. The document says: «All improvements in the length of stay also improved customer loyalty.»

The algorithm aims at the longest possible screen time

Tiktok's algorithm is therefore consistently designed for the longest possible service life of the app. There is no mention of a limitation or measures to curb screen time in the document, the “Spiegel” continues. Instead, it explains, for example, what can be done about the “problem of boredom”.

Boredom can arise when users are only shown videos that they like anyway. Tiktok's fear: If someone gets bored, they close the app. The algorithm is now apparently intended to prevent precisely that. For example, through a broader thematic spread of the videos displayed.

The algorithm excels in recognizing the smallest signals from users. This includes how long someone watches a video, where a comment is posted or a like is posted, or when someone moves to the next video ahead of time. According to the document, the interests of friends play almost no role. Instead, the app focuses entirely on analyzing user interaction.

Tiktok as an “addiction machine”

Nicolas Kayer-Bril from the Berlin research organization AlgorithmWatch describes Tiktok as “an addiction machine” in an interview with “Spiegel”. The goal of the video platform is clear: the time spent on the app should be increased. Tiktok should actually rename the “For-You-Feed” to “For-Us-Feed”, Kayer-Bril continued.

The app doesn't primarily suggest videos that would increase user satisfaction, but rather videos that would increase screen time. Kayer-Bril compares the video platform with tobacco companies: “They also know what to do to make their products less addictive. But they still design it differently. »

Instagram introduces pause function

Instagram has introduced a function that encourages young users of the platform to take a break. In addition, the social media platform owned by the Facebook parent company Meta announced further functions on Tuesday to protect young users from harmful content. The “Take A Break” function encourages teenagers to stop scrolling after a while, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri announced in a blog post. It was introduced on Tuesday for the USA, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and should also reach the rest of the world at the beginning of next year.

The tech giant was accused of not doing enough to protect young users and is faced with new laws that want to impose restrictions on it. Instagram also announced on Tuesday that the first tools for parents will come on the market early next year, with which they can see how much time their children spend on Instagram and also set time limits. In addition, functions would be developed to prevent people from marking young people in posts or from mentioning them who do not follow them in the network. In addition, work is being done on a function that notifies young users when they have focused on a topic for a while. The recommendations for posts, hashtags and accounts should also be geared more towards protecting young people.

Do you or someone you know have a game, purchase, online or one other behavioral addiction?

You can find help here:

Sucht Schweiz, Tel. 0800 104 104

Play without addiction, self-test and information

Safezone.ch, anonymous online advice on addiction issues

Feel-ok, information for young people

Center for gambling addiction and other behavioral addictions

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By Teresa Tapmleton

Teresa Tampleton has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Nizh TEkegram, Teresa Tampleton worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teresa@ntelegram.com 1-800-268-7341

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