Part 2: The TikTok System
Read part one of this post, “Leveraging TikTok for growth,” on TechCrunch.
So what do we mean when we say “then, the post is reviewed by an AI?” TikTok is the most extensive content moderation system that has ever existed.
The 411 on content moderation
To make that claim, we need to understand the status quo in moderation today. Content moderation was one of the first product problems of user-generated content that computer-vision scientists were tasked with solving (ie. filtering out porn). With very little content moderation on one end of the spectrum (like 4chan) and heavy moderation on the other end (like TikTok), “what’s the right balance?” is a complex product question that touches all the major platforms today — especially when you as a consumer might not even be aware that it’s being filtered out because of the “content bubbles” we live in.
From a product perspective, designing for content usually only involves three variations on a theme:
- Search: goal-oriented, I know what I’m looking for (Google)
- Browse: aimless, not sure what I want, anything good? (Netflix)
- Contextual: finding something else along the way (Wikipedia)
These systems are present in some form or another in almost every piece of software we use. When browse-based systems are the priority in a product: algorithmic feeds or “discover” screens (like the FYP), the possibility of users living in a content bubble at scale is inherent in the design. We know that if platforms can influence your consumption of content if it’s viable and profitable to them… then, of course, they can influence public opinions.
Due to these content bubbles (like the FYP) In the last few years, the word “algorithm” has worked its way into the vernacular of non-nerds talking about their Facebook feeds, why their Insta post isn’t doing well or what Netflix and Spotify are serving them up to enjoy.
Censorship in Entertainment