Trending February 2024 # Tiktok Algorithm To Be More Transparent, After Concerns About Harmful Recommendations # Suggested March 2024 # Top 4 Popular

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Update: TikTok says it is today launching a new tool to provide greater transparency on how videos are added to a user’s feed. For any video, you can tap the Share panel then the question-mark icon called “Why this video?”. So far, it appears only very generic reasons are being offered – like “This video is popular in the United States” – but the company is promising greater granularity later …

How TikTok’s algorithm works is probably the company’s most closely guarded secret. But the WSJ thinks it was able to work it out using a bunch of bot accounts – and the results were both fascinating and disturbing.

A former Google engineer who worked on YouTube’s algorithm says that it takes essentially the same approach, but in a less extreme form.

Officially, TikTok says that it uses four signals: what you watch, share, like, and follow. But the analysis suggested that one of the four is by far the most important …

The WSJ created a 13-minute video to share its findings.

We found out that TikTok only needs one of these to figure you out: How long you linger over a piece of content.

Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you. Through this one powerful signal, TikTok learns your most hidden interests and emotions, and drives you deep into rabbit holes of content that are hard to escape.

The TikTok experience starts the same way for everyone. Open the app and you’ll immediately see an endless string of videos in your For You feed. TikTok starts by serving the account a selection of very popular videos vetted by app moderators.

From these, it works to identify your interests.

The WSJ programmed bots to have an age, location, and a set of particular interests. Those interests weren’t ever entered into the app, just used as the basis for choosing the videos that the bot watched. The bot checked each video in its feed for hashtags or AI-identified images relating to its interests. It would then stop scrolling to watch these videos, and rewatch some of them.

What the paper found was that the video selections and view counts contracted, from popular videos about anything, to ones tightly focused on the interests it had identified.

The results were analysed by data scientist and algorithm expert Guillaume Chaslot, a former Google engineer who worked on YouTube’s algorithm.

“The algorithm on TikTok can get much more powerful and it can be able to learn your vulnerabilities much faster.”

In fact, TikTok fully learned many of our accounts’ interests in less than two hours. Some it figured out in less than 40 minutes.

One bot was programmed with sadness and depression as “interests.”

Less than three minutes into using TikTok, at its 15th video, [bot] kentucky_96 pauses on this [sad video about losing people from your life]. Kentucky_96 watches the 35-second video twice. Here TikTok gets its first inkling that perhaps the new user is feeling down lately.

The information contained in this single video provided the app with important clues. The author of the video, the audio track, the video description, the hashtags. After kentucky_96’s first sad video, TikTok serves another one 23 videos later – or after about four more minutes of watching.

This one is a breakup video with the hashtag #sad. TikTok’s still trying to suss out this new user, with more high view count videos [but] at video 57, kentucky_96 keeps watching a video about heartbreak and hurt feelings. And then at video 60, watches one about emotional pain.

Based on the videos we watched so far, TikTok thinks that maybe this user wants to see more about love, breakups and dating. So at about 80 videos and 15 minutes in, the app starts serving more about relationships. But kentucky_96 isn’t interested.

After 224 videos into the bot’s overall journey, or about 36 minutes of total watch time, TikTok’s understanding of kentucky_96 takes shape. Videos about depression and mental health struggles outnumber those about relationships and breakups. From here on, kentucky_96’s feed is a deluge of depressive content. 93% of videos shown to the account are about sadness or depression.

TikTok says the bot behavior isn’t representative of real users, but even bots with diverse interests programmed into them very quickly saw their content feed narrowed dramatically.

Given the massive popularity of TikTok among teenagers in particular, this raises obvious concerns. Someone in a depressive state could easily be made even more depressed by watching a stream of such content. A conspiracy theorist could end up with the impression that such views are mainstream. Such an algorithm is also likely to push those with extremist views to increasingly extreme content.

TikTok appears to be prioritizing engagement over mental health, and Chaslot says that YouTube does something similar, but in a less extreme way. That certainly matches my experience, where watching a few videos in a row on the same topic often seems to convince YouTube that this is now my sole interest in life – though it does at least reset.

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Microsoft President Expressed ‘Concerns About App Store’ To House Antitrust Committee

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently agreed to testify to the House antitrust committee, alongside the chief execs of other tech giants, but it appears it has already heard from Microsoft’s president – who reportedly expressed concerns about the App Store.

The committee has a wide-ranging remit to see whether tech giants are guilty of anti-competitive behaviors, with Apple coming under the most scrutiny for the way it operates the App Store …

A paywalled report in The Information says that the Microsoft interview took place a few weeks ago.

Several weeks ago, the subcommittee interviewed Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, via videoconference, according to people with knowledge of the meeting. While the committee invited Smith primarily so he could provide Microsoft’s perspective as a big tech company that has previously faced antitrust regulation, during the session the Microsoft executive also discussed his company’s concerns about the way Apple operates its App Store. That issue is at the heart of regulators’ scrutiny of Apple in the U.S. and Europe […]

Smith expressed concerns about what Microsoft and others have viewed as the arbitrariness of Apple’s practices around approving apps, while also criticizing Apple’s requirement that developers use the company’s payment mechanism through their apps. Spotify and others have complained that Apple’s payment requirement allows the company to take a burdensome cut of developers’ app revenue—as much as 30%.

Cook was the last of the big four tech CEOs to agree to testify, with some suggesting that he agreed only when it was clear that he couldn’t afford to be the only one unwilling to do so.

Smith has previously steered clear of attacking Apple by name, but his references to app stores clearly refer both the Cupertino company and Google.

“I do believe the time has come, whether we’re talking about Washington, D.C., or Brussels, for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and the tolls that are being extracted and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created,” Smith said during a POLITICO Live interview […]

“If you look at the industry today, I think what you’ll find is increasingly you’re seeing app stores that have created higher walls and far more formidable gates … than anything that existed in the industry 20 years ago,” Smith said […]

“They impose requirements that increasingly say there’s only one way to get onto our platform, and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created. In some cases, they create a very high price or toll.”

The House antitrust committee is just one of the entities carrying out investigations into App Store practices, as we’ve previously noted.

I’ve argued that Apple’s antitrust issues aren’t going to go away, and that the company needs to take control by acting voluntarily before it is compelled to do so.

Once upon a time, Apple could have said ‘We’re just one company, this is how we operate, go elsewhere if you don’t like it.’ But that’s not a reasonable stance now that it is the gatekeeper to one-and-a-half billion iOS devices. We don’t know how many individuals own those devices, but let’s just say ‘about a billion people’ in round numbers. You can’t control access to a billion people and say it’s nobody’s business but your own what rules you make up and how you choose to interpret and enforce them.

Sooner or later, Apple is going to lose this battle. It’s going to have to be more equitable in the way it competes with third-party services. It’s going to have to revisit its commission rates to ensure they are fair to all concerned. And it’s going to have to come up with a method of setting and enforcing rules which are both just and applied equally to all.

The company does, however, have a choice: it can wait for the law to intervene, and be seen as the bad guy who only does the right thing when forced to do so, or it can take voluntary action, and be seen as the good guy. I urge it to take the latter course while there is still time.

Apple did take some steps in this direction by quietly tackling five antitrust issues in changes introduced by iOS 14.

Photo: Alex Brandon/AP Photo

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How To Adjust Notifications For New App Store Features, Recommendations, Offers And More

Learn how to adjust whether to receive notifications from App Store on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch for new features, app updates, recommendations and special offers.

Does the App Store let you manage notifications?

App Store may send you notifications from time to time regarding special offers, recommended apps, new features and so on. The good news is, Apple allows you to switch those notifications on or off. Follow along with us as we show you how to configure notifications for new App Store features, updates, recommendations and offers. Read: How to hide or unhide your purchases made in App Store on iPhone, iPad and Mac

How to configure notifications for the App Store

Access your account information in the App Store app on iPhone or iPad to manage notifications for new store features, updates, recommendations and offers.

Open the App Store app on your iPhone (iOS 15.4+) or iPad (iPadOS 15.4+)

Touch your profile name and image in the top-right corner of the App Store app

Choose “Notifications” from the root list

Select which notifications you’d like to receive from the App Store, then hit “Done”:

New Features & Updates: Toggle this switch to optionally receive or stop receiving notifications from the App Store regarding new store features and app updates.

Recommendations & Offers: Control whether the App Store will send you notifications for special offers and recommended apps that might interest you.

Apple notes that your notifications viewing and interaction data is associated with your Apple ID, which means the company is using this data for product improvement.

System requirements for managing App Store notifications

The only requirement is that your devices run the iOS 15.4 or iPadOS 15.4 software.

iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 were being tested with Apple’s registered developers and public beta testers at the time of this writing. All users will be able to access the new toggles for App Store notifications when Apple releases iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 to the public in a few weeks. If your device is not running iOS 15.4 or iPadOS 15.4, you will only be able to allow or disallow notifications for the store in Settings → Notifications → App Store.

To see the currently installed version of iOS or iPadOS operating system software powering your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings → General → About on the device. A support document on the Apple website provides a list of all the improvements, new features, enhancements and fixes available with the various iOS 15 versions.

Wrap up: Tame those notifications!

iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 at long last give people much-needed controls to control whether to receive notifications from the App Store. Not only that, but you can turn notifications on or off separately for things that matter (new features and updates) from those for marketing purposes (content recommendations and special offers).

Now, Apple has been accused before of sending unsolicited notifications via App Store to promote its own products. The new toggles available in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 help put an end to that practice. Even if Apple continues using these notifications as a marketing vehicle, you can just opt-out of notifications for recommendations and offers.

How To Get More Likes On Tiktok: 4 Easy Tips

Learn how to get more likes on TikTok to increase your chances of getting on the For You Page and show social proof.

They love you. But do they like you? The number of likes your TikToks receive has a significant impact on the growth of your account—the number of followers, the views on each video, and even how much cash you can make if you’re monetizing your content.

Bonus: Download the free 10-Day Reels Challenge, a daily workbook of creative prompts that will help you get started with Instagram Reels, track your growth, and see results across your entire Instagram profile.

Why are TikTok likes important?

How much does each metric matter? Are likes an integral part of the dip, like guac? Or something useless and maybe kinda gross, like, say, olives? (Don’t get mad, it’s just a blog post.)

Likes are a ranking system for TikTok’s algorithm

A large part of gaining traction on TikTok is showing up on users’ For You feeds. How each individual For You feed is built depends on TikTok’s algorithm—a labyrinth of code that savvy social media marketers are always trying to master.

In other words, every layer of the dip makes a difference. The more likes you have on a video, the more likely that video is to show up on a For You page of a relevant potential follower, and the more you show up on the For You page, the more followers you’ll gain—which again, increases your chances of getting on more For You pages.

They serve as social proof

When it comes down to it, likes are just a tap on a screen. The person who liked your TikTok could have laughed out loud, passed the phone around to their friends, and sent it as a web link to their older sister who refuses to download the app.

Or they could have tapped it by accident, maybe when they realized they’ve spent too much time toilet-scrolling and their boss is probably wondering if they’re okay.

Regardless of how it came to be, every like acts as social proof of the validity of your account and content. Other TikTok users will see the like count on each video, as well as the total likes on your account, and equate lots of likes with, well, lots of people liking your content. And that’s a good thing.

Like counts have such a significant social impact, in fact, that Facebook and Instagram have experimented with hiding them entirely and now give you the option to hide likes. For better or for worse, TikTok likes are public and conspicuous, and the more you have, the more you’ll be seen as a good source of content.

TikTok likes can make you money

This brilliantly written blog post covers 4 strategies you can use to make money on TikTok, but all of them require establishing a good rapport with your audience. The more they like your videos (both figuratively and literally), the more they’ll pay, and the more brands will pay you to show off their goods.

Should you buy TikTok likes?

Wow, that’s a great question. I wasn’t expecting that question. To put it simply, no.

While opening your wallet may gain you a bit of the social clout noted above, it’s a very risky—and ultimately, artificial—way to up that like count.

We already conducted an experiment where we bought TikTok followers, and found that it did nothing for engagement (plus, we got a notification from TikTok warning us about inauthentic accounts and ultimately, removed the followers). The app lists a similar warning when it detects fake likes, and removes them as well.

Buying likes isn’t strictly against TikTok’s terms of service, but continually getting your account flagged for inauthentic likes is not good.

Continue reading if you want to know how to get free likes on TikTok.

How to get more likes on TikTok, even if you’re not famous Strategy 1: Know your audience

Since the dawn of time (or like, when Youtube was invented) creators have been trying to figure out ways to hack the system and gain fame and fortune, fast. Knowing your audience is the best way to do this: figure out what they want, and give it to them. Right?

But trying to fit yourself into a mold is actually one of the worst things you can do (and kind of gives off pick me energy).

No matter what, the folks who make it big on the internet are the ones who are perceived to be authentic—and usually, that’s because they are. Your audience wants you to be yourself. TikTok users not only appreciate genuine content, they like it. For a deeper insight into who your followers are, check out your TikTok analytics.

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Strategy 2: Stay up to date with TikTok trends

If you’re struggling for content ideas, TikTok trends are a great place to look for inspo. From dance challenges to seasonal photoshoots to trends where people fall in love with you, your feed is always full of TikToks that were made to be recreated.

And if challenge-style trends don’t tickle your fancy, using a trending song can be just as effective.

Have you ever been so obsessed with a singer, you bought all their albums, went to their concerts, plastered your bedroom with posters of them and loved everything even moderately affiliated with them? Don’t pretend the answer is no. You seem like an ex-Directioner.

Using songs that are trending is an easy way to make TikToks that immediately resonate with viewers. It’s a way to piggyback off the success of a well-known artist, and create content that’s instantly identifiable—a like for Olivia Rodrigo might translate to a like for you.

Strategy 3: Follow TikTok influencers

Your favourite influencer might seem like they’ve got it all figured out, but even super famous TikTokkers have videos that get less traction than others. Bella Poarch has over 84 million followers on the app, and while this video had 5.4 million likes, this one has a measly 700,000 likes (we’re kidding, 700k likes is a lot—but not compared to her other videos).

Paying attention to the like counts of influencers is a good technique to see how different kinds of videos perform on a large scale. The first TikTok makes a reference to a hugely popular TV show, and the second is a pretty basic lip synch (in a notably fabulous outfit). Watch what influencers do, and try and translate those strategies into your own content.

Strategy 4: Just ask for them

Sometimes, the most obvious answer is the best answer. One asking-for-likes technique involves making videos in two parts, then asking your audience to “like for part two.” This feels like an exchange with your viewers. They hit that like button, and in return see how the story ends.

But you don’t need TikToks with multiple parts in order to request likes from your audience. We’re not here to tell you to beg on every TikTok, but there are clever, humorous, and effective ways to simply ask for likes. Here’s an example.

How can you resist that?

Grow your TikTok presence alongside your other social channels using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and publish posts for the best times, engage your audience, and measure performance. Try it free today.

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2024 Is About To End And Spotify Hifi Is Nowhere To Be Seen

But Where is Spotify HiFi?

During its announcement, Spotify promised to roll out Spotify HiFi in “select markets later this year”. Nine months later, 2023 is about to end, and there’s no word on Spotify HiFi’s availability. We hoped the streaming giant might launch HiFi as a Christmas surprise (but that didn’t happen), and it looks like the company may fail to keep up its promise.

Spotify Has ONLY a week to Deliver ON its Hifi Promise

What’s Delaying Spotify HiFi Release?

From what we can tell from the outside, the delay in the Spotify HiFi release doesn’t seem like a technical problem. That’s because the feature seems to be ready behind the scenes for some time now. In fact, users on Reddit have accidentally spotted the HiFi menu and managed to record the onboarding flow as well.

Spotify HiFi delay doesn’t seem to be a Technical problem

Image Courtesy: Reddit/u/themonarc

Compatible Speakers and TWS Earbuds

One possible reason why Spotify is facing hurdles could be because of partner OEMs. To recall, the company said it was working with speaker manufacturers to make Spotify HiFi available via Spotify Connect. Given the supply chain woes due to the pandemic, it’s possible that the companion Spotify HiFi-enabled speakers are not quite ready for prime time.

Strategic Shift Towards Podcasts

Another possibility why Spotify HiFi is still not available could be due to a perceivable change in priorities. As you might be aware, Spotify has been heavily focusing on podcasts lately and has been striking deals with high-profile personalities such as Joe Rogan and Michelle Obama. Although unlikely, pushing podcasts and podcast-centric features might have forced the company to put Spotify HiFi on the backburner.

Licensing Woes!?

And let’s not forget the complex world of music licensing deals. Spotify might be facing hurdles with leading music labels to kickstart the transition and expand deals. The streaming giant is no stranger to such hurdles, as we have already heard of (and seen) music labels hold Spotify’s expansion in India hostage for close to two years. A massive chunk of the Spotify library was missing in India due to a licensing issue with Warner Music Group.

What Spotify Could Do Now

Often regarded as a company that takes feedback from the community seriously, the least Spotify could do right now is share an update on the current status of Spotify HiFi. Even if it is delayed, possibly to next year, revealing the updated timeline will help customers decide if they would rather wait or switch to competing services like Apple Music, Qobuz, or TIDAL.

Spotify still has time to turn things around if it releases HiFi at no additional cost right in time for New Year’s, possibly alongside Spotify HiFi-enabled hardware from partner OEMs. Although Spotify hasn’t officially promised or said anything, Hi-Res audio support (24-bit/ 192kHz) would be sweet and would justify the delay. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Spotify in the lossless music streaming space, as only a 2023 release seems likely now.

How To Use Icloud Keychain And Common Concerns

First time checking out the Tech Savvy series? You’ll get the most value by starting at the beginning and checking out the series overview.

Note for regular readers, the already tech savvy, and IT professionals: this series is designed as a resource you can share with those you are helping or for those looking to become tech savvy on their own.

In our previous article we took a look at how to get started with password management using 1Password. Today we’ll look at using Apple’s iCloud Keychain, and answering some of your common password management concerns.

Background, Expectations, & Best Practices

One of the more common questions we have been asked with our password management series thus far is using iCloud Keychain. For the uninitiated, iCloud Keychain is a system of syncing your Safari website usernames and passwords, credit card data, and network information. Apple introduced the tool with iOS 7.0.3 and OS X Mavericks 10.9 and has been making slow improvements ever since.

Getting Started with iCloud Keychain

Let’s take a look at getting started with iCloud Keychain. More likely than not, you may already have iCloud Keychain enabled on your Mac or iPhone, but let’s go ahead and double-check.

On macOS, head to the Apple () menu at the top left of your screen, and select System Preferences. From here, select iCloud and scroll down in the list of items to find Keychain. Toggle it on if it’s not already enabled.

All done!

Now that you’ve enabled iCloud Keychain on both systems, Safari will ask to save your passwords when logging into a website where the credentials were not previously saved. If you chose to save them, the next time you go to login, Safari will have the fields pre-populated with your credentials.

If you’re signing up for a new account on a website, Safari will even suggest a password for you. If you choose to use that suggested password, Safari will autosave it into your iCloud Keychain and use that to pre-populate the username and password fields next time you login!

From both of these sections you can even add new credentials, or remove them if you’d like.

Common Password Management Question and Concerns

1. Why use a password manager over iCloud Keychain?

While password managers may be a much more involved process, they usually contain more options than iCloud Keychain. For example in 1Password you can store software licenses, driver licenses, website password, database passwords, and plenty more. Each of those categories are neatly organized within 1Password to making finding what you need faster.

Password managers also work across various systems. iCloud Keychain only works within the Apple ecosystem. Even though you may use Google Chrome on your Mac, you won’t be able to use your iCloud Keychain in that browser. If you use Google Chrome as your default web browser, saving your user credentials there will most likely default to its password manager (unless you have a third party one configured). Because of this, your credentials aren’t saved into Apple’s iCloud Keychain and thus won’t sync over to your other devices like your iPhone and iPad. It can be potentially confusing when you go to your phone and realize none of your iCloud Keychain passwords are there as expected.

2. Isn’t using a password manager just “putting all your eggs into one basket”?

Short answer: Yes. This is a challenge with maintaining large sets of sensitive data. While you are putting all your eggs in one basket, you’ve also got to make sure that basket is rock-solid, secure, and is less likely to be hacked. Michael discussed some ideologies behind password management a few weeks back.

A concerns some have shared is that you should just remember all of your passwords for increased security, but the simple fact is that for some people the convenience a password manager brings is unparalleled. Personally, I have over 600+ pieces of information saved within 1Password. While I could try to remember all of them, I decided that the convenience 1Password brought was well worth it. To increase my security while keeping all my eggs in this proverbial basket, I also went ahead and started with a strong Master Password.

3. If someone steals my password manager’s password won’t I lose everything?

Short answer: not necessarily.

Different password managers use different ways of separating your password manager’s password and the information contained within. In the case of 1Password, if someone were to guess your Master Password they still wouldn’t be able to get into your password vault without your Account Key as well. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t  with a secure password already. If someone were to take your computer system’s password and iCloud password, they would be able to get into your iCloud Keychain as well. No matter what you do with your passwords, you need to start securely.

Don’t make the front door to your password management your weakest link. 

4. Can someone hack into these password managers?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: The time they do spend trying to do so is often used attempting to hack you in other areas.

Software, even on macOS, is vulnerable to malware and hacking attempts daily. Updating your software can help increase it’s security.

In the case of hacking into your password manager with all your passwords (“all your eggs in one basket”), it is possible and has happened. LastPass was hacked in 2024, but because of the multiple levels of security they use they don’t believe that customer’s data was actually compromised.

Do This

Password management and password managers are a topic of discussion that can span for several posts. It is a topsy-turvy and twisted web of security that we’re all just trying to get a grasp on. At the end of the day it only matters if you’ve gotten to method where you feel comfortable with the way your information is stored and secured.

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