Will TikTok's New Repost Feature Ruin The FYP Experience?

TikTok is testing a ‘Repost’ button that will let users amplify a video in the same vein as retweeting or quote tweeting on Twitter, but with precautions in place so not to ruin its precious recommendations algorithm. For the unaware, the For You page is where users land when they first open the app. It is essentially a personalized feed of content curated by TikTok’s eerily accurate recommendations algorithm that keeps users hooked to the platform with an endless serving of interesting videos.

The For You page shows videos tailored to a user’s specific interests, based on a bunch of factors such as their likes, comments, sharing behavior, hashtag interaction pattern, language preference, and the country they live in. TikTok even takes into account the device type users are accessing its short videos on, as the platform can now be accessed on TVs as well. The formula is simple — the higher the engagement, the more personalized the For You feed. All of which means the FYP has little to do with what a friend or follower likes or shares on TikTok.

Related: TikTok Somehow Ended 2021 With More Internet Traffic Than Google

That's about to change in a Twitter-esque fashion, but in a rather controlled manner. Multiple TikTok users have shared screenshots of a “Repost” button popping up for them, and the company has also confirmed to TechCrunch that it is testing the feature among a small circle of users. The Repost button pops up in the dialog box when users try to share a video via a DM or as a link on other apps. One might assume that resharing a TikTok video would automatically push it to the For You feed of all friends and followers a la retweets on Twitter, but that’s not the case. If the latter were to happen, the quality of the FYP would get polluted with reposted content.

First, the Repost button on TikTok will only appear in the share sheet for videos that have been recommended by the algorithm and pushed to a user's For You page. It won’t show up for videos that have been shared via, say, DMs. Moreover, videos reposted by a user won’t appear on their profile page, which is again a departure from what Twitter does. Another limitation imposed by TikTok to prevent the Repost button from borking its recommendations algorithm is the circle it works for. Put simply, reposted content will only appear for mutual friends, and not the rest of a user's audience.

This is a crucial step that prevents creators from tricking the algorithm, the way it has been abused on Instagram. Creators are known to make small circles of their own and reshare each others’ content to boost visibility and this can often be used to trick an algorithm into pushing content to more users. For reposting on TikTok, the influencer and audience member must follow each other for a reposted video to appear in the For You feed of that follower. This ‘mutual follow’ limitation is a solid step that keeps the recommendations algorithm from losing its precision.

TikTok will also prompt users to write something as to why they are reposting a video, somewhat like the quote tweet system on Twitter. Repost appears to be a far less aggressive way of bumping up genuinely engaging content, but if social media is anything to go by, a workaround will take little time to pop up. Of course, and no matter the protections in place, there will likely be a large chunk of TikTok users that want to stick with a For You page that's completely free of reposts.

Next: TikTok Kitchen: How To Order Viral Food & What You Can Get

Source: TechCrunch, Miguel Lozada/Twitter



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