Expert: The TikTok algorithm is unique, but buyers can’t wait to develop it themselves.

A deal to quickly sell TikTok’s US operations is “unlikely” if the recommended algorithm is not available, the sources said. While many experts don’t see ByteDance’s recommended algorithm as unique, users and investors may not want to wait for the new algorithm to be developed. When ByteDance acquired the karaoke app Music.ly and re-established TikTok in 2018, it was widely seen as just another regular short-video app for American teenagers. Today, TikTok is the world’s most downloaded app, and its popularity is so high that it has become the focus of the U.S. government’s attention.

The move comes after the US government asked ByteDance to spin off TikTok’s US operations. Musical.ly may have given ByteDance a foothold in the U.S. market, while TikTok’s business has been vacated by ByteDance’s artificial intelligence recommendation algorithm, which provides filtered content based on user interests and activities.

Expert: The TikTok algorithm is unique, but buyers can't wait to develop it themselves.

ByteDance has been a supporter of content recommendation systems since its inception in 2012 and has been widely used in other products such as today’s headlines. According to ByteDance in June, TikTok considered three main factors in developing the recommendation algorithm:

User interactions on the app, such as enjoying a video or following an account;

What you’re interested in – in short videos, information such as music and hashtags;

and the user’s environment, such as language preferences, country and region settings, and device type.

At the same time, the TikTok app pushes video content that is of direct interest to some users.

A deal to quickly sell TikTok’s US operations is “unlikely” if the recommended algorithm is not available, the sources said.

Why is this algorithm so important? Is it because no one else can imitate it?

After ByteDance acquired Musical.ly and merged it with TikTok, it introduced the recommendation algorithm into the platform, significantly increasing the time users spend on applications. Eugene Wei, a product expert, said on his personal blog that the change was “subtle”.

Last year, TikTok users on Android phone platforms spent a total of 68 billion hours on the app, more than three times as many as the year before, according to App Annie, a market research firm. According to byteDance’s lawsuit against the U.S. government at the end of August, TikTok had nearly 92 million monthly active users in the U.S. market as of June 2020, more than eight times as many as in January 2018.

In the first half of 2020, TikTok was the world’s most downloaded non-gaming app, with more than 596 million installs, not including jitters, according to Market Analytics.

Huang Jinhui, an engineering professor at Chinese University in Hong Kong and an expert in artificial intelligence, says that while TikTok uses basic algorithms similar to those used in other technology companies’ applications, each company adds special features to the AI engine to make a difference.

Huang doesn’t think TikTok’s AI engine is unique. He said it could take about a year to build a new referral system for TikTok based on new user data, but the loss of existing tools would have a “very big impact” on TikTok’s current valuation.

“This technology works only if both the algorithm and the user data are working well. ByteDance’s applications have an advantage in the competition in part because of their user data. Technology blogger Yu Peiqiang said. He was a software engineer and now consults with businesses.

Some users and investors may not want to wait to develop new algorithms, Mr Huang said. “You can’t wait for the TikTok team to redelocate the algorithm because TikTok is already very popular,” he said. “It’s like your favorite TV show is suspended because of a technical problem… I don’t think users will accept this. “

“For bidders like Microsoft and Wal-Mart, they want to buy the app and make it work immediately, ” Huang said. “But if they need to wait a while to make it work, maybe they won’t want to buy it anymore.”

“Tiktok doesn’t exist without a home recommendation system, but that doesn’t exactly mean it’s anything special,” said Julian McAuley, an expert in field studies and an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego.

“Early adopters of the referral system also include e-commerce companies. Amazon, for example, has been using recommendation technology for nearly 20 years, but early systems involved simple product-to-product similarity, not anything based on machine learning,” McAuley said.

“In the first decade of the 20th century, Netflix was also a big driver of recommendation technology, and in 2006 it launched the Netflix Prize Algorithm Competition, which generated interest and research in academia,” McAuley said.

In the modern smartphone age, however, referral technology has been criticized for the so-called “information room” problem, in which users lock themselves in content that fuels their own prejudices and reject all information that is inconsistent with their worldview, thereby preventing people from recognizing the real world.

“The company wants to optimize user engagement metrics,” McAuley said. They don’t want to inject diverse or more balanced content, because doing so undermines their key metrics. He added that the company had no incentive to address the problem, “we live in an era of unprecedented demand for preferred information.” “(Chen)

Expert: The TikTok algorithm is unique, but buyers can't wait to develop it themselves.

Related reading:

Why are teenagers so obsessed with TikTok? No adults were involved.

TikTok, a popular social media platform for teen phone users, is the world’s second-most downloaded app in 2019 and the most downloaded app in July 2020.

However, the popular short video app is now being pushed to the forefront. In July, TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps were banned in India. In August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning TikTok from September 15.

Kevin Munger, a political scientist who studies social media, examines the uniqueness of TikTok and why young people are so obsessed with it. In short, the app lets users record clips of themselves dancing or playing with music or voice clips, and then use a variety of effects to change the video.

Although the platform may seem a little frivolous on the surface, young people are using it to send messages, coordinate actions, and fly freely in an online space with little adult participation.

TikTok is a short video with 3 to 60 seconds to play. Videos uploaded by users account for the vast majority of the platform’s content. The app offers a wide range of options for making and combining videos, including taking videos from your smartphone, downloading photos from the web, overlaying emojis and other text messages on videos, and adding special effects.

The bottom of the screen contains information about the audio. The audio can be uploaded by the user or selected from a popular sound library. The database includes clips of songs by professional musicians and people’s own hilarious recordings. This has had a huge impact on the music industry, with Old Town Road, for example, one of the most popular songs of all time, initially becoming popular as TikTok’s “Voice.”

When the user opens TikTok, a playback page is displayed, also known as “Recommended”, which plays what TikTok’s algorithm recommends to the user. To watch other videos, just swipe up. To see the account that uploaded the current video, swipe right.

Compare with other platforms.

Comparing TikTok with other digital media platforms shows what makes it unique:

Similar to YouTube, content on the TikTok platform consists entirely of video;

The main way to spend on TikTok compared to Facebook and Twitter is also to browse short, easy-to-understand streams of information;

Like Netflix, the default mode for opening TikTok to see content is provided through a recommendation algorithm, rather than a large number of fan status updates;

Like Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok videos can only be created on mobile phones and are popular with younger users who are more skilled at using smartphones.

TikTok was the first social media platform to combine all of these features, and the result was a unique way to deliver and consume information.

Information density.

The combination of video media and Feed makes TikTok’s presentation extraordinarily dense. Unlike text, video media is presented in two columns, conveying both explicit (like information in a speech or writing) and implicit information (social cues such as TikToker’s clothing and hairstyle, or the emotional impact of music, etc.).

This stream of information allows social media consumers to browse through several small pieces of content per minute to extract information in a more efficient way than from a television broadcast.

If you spend a few hours on TikTok, you’ll understand how it works. Other media are starting to feel “slow”, even for previously-watched services such as YouTube videos or tweets. Young people tend to like loud music and bright lights, so it’s no wonder they’re obsessed with TikTok.

Costs and benefits.

TikTok has also changed the cost and benefits of posting. In terms of cost, because TikTok is designed for smartphones, some people are easier to use and others more difficult to use. In general, the more time a user spends using a technology, and the earlier they are exposed to it throughout its life cycle, the more skilled they become in using it.

TikTok also encourages video shooting in the vertical direction inherent in smartphones, so that users can create video content anywhere they have free time.

In terms of revenue, the recommendation algorithm is important for building a fan base, even on the creator’s first short video, where everyone is guaranteed at least a few views.

TikTok’s “recommendations” don’t make much difference between showing users very popular videos and videos with only a few views, thus promoting greater equality than traditional social networks. Overall, TikTok provides an online platform for young people to feel almost completely separate from the adult world. On this platform, they are sure to get some level of attention.

Ordinary sound, unique action.

Finally, the user’s audio combined with personalized video represents a novel way to classify and navigate social media platforms, a feature unique to TikTok. If you click on the audio at the bottom of TikTok, you can see all the other short video content using the sound file.

The most common example is when a particular dance action matches the accompanying audio. The audio in this set of short videos is constant, but each user provides a unique video of themselves performing a dance.

These dances are TikTok’s “terriers” (funny words or movements). On more text- or image-centric platforms, Terrier includes many fixed formats, which are then remixed by the user who edited the image or text to create a new work. On TikTok, however, the remixed raw material is the user’s body, as the user performs the behavior associated with the fixed terrier format, known as the “embedded terrier”.

This makes the body more prominent on TikTok than on other platforms. While clever word games are more popular on Twitter, TikTok rewards people who are traditionally attractive or otherwise compelling. In addition, more traditional image terriers may appear anonymous or entityless when shared online. But with TikTok, individuals and terriers can no longer be separated. (Small)