Daniel Sinclair @_DanielSinclair Building for young people. Not reading @danielsunread. Lurking behind likes and thinking about social media, communication, & China. Nov. 18, 2019 2 min read

Again, TikTok videos are algorithmically gated and flagged for review because of politically sensitive — often to China — trigger keywords. The fates of those flagged loops aren’t always clear, but the number of leaked documents (and my own experiments) confirm what is said here:

What is more challenging to confirm, but is implicated in much of these experiments and the leaks, are how these broad algorithmic sortings likely inform the recommendation process. Even if a video becomes ‘public,’ and that is challenging to affirm, it may never reach the public

TikTok is unique in how it approaches public broadcasts; it follows China Tech’s censorship etiquettes by design. Leadership has claimed it merely avoids controversy, but that may simply be a spin for the generic structuring of most of China’s tech companies. This is how it works

There exists gates between you & the platform, your own followers & search, and then there exists a gate between you & the public, the recommendations, & finally, ‘the public’ remains unequal, w/ regions & content ethereally imported or hidden from others. There is no one TikTok.

It is something fundamentally new, a new kind of public social and broadcast, one designed from the template of an ecosystem built for censorship, architected in-part by the state. It remains difficult to study & understand — and I increasingly believe that is simply the point.

In the same way that the broadcast and its barriers of entry are designed, maybe simply unconsciously, the algorithm is designed & architected within, and the sister of, an ecosystem fraught with brilliant actors deciphering every clue & hack. As much a product of difference.

TikTok has intricate elevators in the algorithm. It is designed for addiction more than others we accuse; it may architect your personal reach to wield your interests & attention. It wants your loop to pop-off, when you need the pop to remain interested. It’s ethereal but design.

Unlike a lot of other platforms that over-emphasize influence, TikTok is actually quite (and shockingly so) democratic in how it provides reach. Everyone, even at 1 follower, is within reach — maybe for their sake, yours, or the mysterious elevator conductors’ at the Beijing HQ.

TikTok is a multifaceted casino w/ no timestamps, streered & filtered in a very different & more deliberate way from our familiar. The world is pulling the slot‘s handle — each unaware they might be alone, amidst a hall of projections, in a simulation inexplainable by design.


You can follow @_DanielSinclair.



Bookmark

____
Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Threader is an independent project created by only two developers. The site gets 500,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Running this space is expensive and time consuming. If you find Threader useful, please consider supporting us to make it a sustainable project.