The Algorithm Trick

Social media sites are known for having their algorithms. Algorithms are key to each app, including Instagram, TikTok, and more, as they figure out your interests and show users material that will keep their attention and make them want to stay on the app and continue using it. Michelle Drouin is a professor of Psychology at Purdue Fort Wayne who has studied social media and how it impacts humans and relationships. When discussing algorithms, she tells how certain components, such as fear, anger, happiness, and catastrophic events cause attention and can make things become viral. Social media algorithms tend to the general public, as well as each person’s interests.

            This article interests me because social media sites try to keep their algorithms secretive, but people feel that they have somewhat figured out aspects of each algorithm. People know what others want to see and they make their content based on what emotions appeal to other viewers. Algorithms are interesting and a tricky subject because I do not believe they work if you do not let them. When I use apps, I try not to fall into the algorithm trap. I will mute things I do not want to see so that my feed is tailored to me by what I deem interesting. The algorithm is interesting, but I suggest that people try and stay focused and not spend too much time on social media apps because they want you to fall into that trap and get sucked into their algorithms.

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Connecticut Attorney General Requests Meeting with TikTok over ‘Slap A Teacher’ Challenge

(Image from Solen Feyissa on Flickr || https://www.flickr.com/photos/solen-feyissa/50179261657)

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D) has requested to meet with Tiktok CEO Shou Zi Chew over concerns of potential safety issues of a rising ‘Slap a Teacher’ Challenge trend and other impacts of Tiktok on Connecticut students.

In the letter that was addressed to Tiktok’s CEO, Attorney General Tong notes that a high school in New Britain, Connecticut recently had to shut down because of the “Devious Lick” trend on Tiktok. Educators in the school gave reports of “stolen school property, clogged toilets, and excessive vandalism” due to the challenge that was viral on the app in September. Tiktok has since removed “Devious Lick” content from its platform and Tong commends the company for that in his letter.

However, Attorney General Tong is calling upon Tiktok again because of the threat to educators with the rising “Slap a Teacher” Tiktok challenge. According to an article by The Hill, this dangerous challenge was set to begin in October, but does not seem to have caught on significantly. The challenge “involves a student calmly approaching a teacher and slapping them”. While attempts of this challenge have not yet been reported in Connecticut, parents in Lancaster County, South Carolina, were warned of an incident where an elementary student allegedly participated in the challenge, striking a teacher in the back of the head.

The Connecticut Attorney General ends the letter with a request for a detailed outline of the platform’s policies and procedures against misuse and abuse of content by Tiktok users and to “thoroughly analyze” why these measures are currently inadequate. He finally asks the CEO to meet with himself, educators and parents to hear first hand the effects the content on their app has on the youth of Connecticut. You can read the full letter below:

Overall, we see the real life effects social media has on today’s youth and how it can be harmful or dangerous to themselves or others. While being able to proceed without large consequences in the past, many social media companies are now having to create new regulations for their user base in order to protect children and other groups.

Choi, Joseph. “State AG seeks meeting with TikTok CEO over ‘Slap a Teacher’ challenge” The Hill, 04 October, 2021. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/575273-state-ag-seeks-meeting-with-tiktok-ceo-over-slap-a-teacher-challenge?rl=1

TikTok has reached 1 billion active global users

Image via Variety

On Monday, TikTok revealed that it has crossed a major milestone, by reaching more than 1 billion monthly active users. TikTok, which is privately held by the Chinese internet giant ByteDance, is the successor to Musical.ly and was originally a platform for lip-syncing videos. During a rapid growth in the last few years, the app has expanded to other categories and is now considered one of the most used interactive platforms, especially among teens and young adults.

“Each month, over a billion people from around the world come to TikTok to be entertained, inspired or discover something new, like sports, music, arts and culture, fashion, DIY and more.”

TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas

In my opinion, this is a relevant article because TikTok is one of the most successful apps, and therefore has an impact on further developments in social media brands, as well as user behavior. Moreover, I find the statements Sofia Hernandez made an interview last week very interesting. Talking to Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit, the head of North American business marketing at TikTok explained: “TikTok runs on a content graph so we consider us as more of an entertainment platform. What we’re finding is our users are spending a movie’s worth of time-consuming content on TikTok daily. So, while people will go check social platforms they came to watch TikTok.” I was wondering why Hernandez wants TikTok to be considered as an entertainment platform, rather than a social platform. Maybe, this definition is more profitable or honorable for TikTok.