According to several current and former employees of TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, the social media platform engages in a practice known as “heating” in order to artificially inflate the view count of certain videos.
TikTok uses it to artificially boost the view count of certain videos, benefitting some influencers and brands that the company has sought business relationships with, at the expense of others.
It suggests that the videos on the “For You” page may not be there because the algorithm thinks users will like them, but rather because TikTok wants a particular brand or creator to get more views. Sources reveal that employees have been known to heat their personal contacts, spouses, or own accounts, leading to the account receiving millions of views.
About 1-2% of daily total video views are coming from heated videos, which gives concerns that the Chinese government can influence ByteDance into pushing certain narratives on their platform.
TikTok has denied these allegations, stating that it promotes some videos to help diversify the content experience and introduce celebrities and emerging creators to the TikTok community, but it only makes up 0.002% of videos in For You feeds.