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What is TikTok and How is AI Making it Tick?

  • Mallika Rangaiah
  • Jan 16, 2020
  • Updated on: Jan 19, 2021
What is TikTok and How is AI Making it Tick? title banner

Being the hot new trend for the youth and teenagers while prompting raised eyebrows from the adult section of the populace, TikTok, the video-sharing app which lets it’s users create and share 15-second videos on an array of topics, has taken the digital world by storm and emerged as the social network hub for amateur music videos. 


 If you want to read this article in Hindi then click here- “TikTok में AI की क्या भूमिका है ?

Now, about Tik Tok


Tik Tok is an app that enables its users, largely the youth, to fulfill and satisfy their fun buried desires by creating an assortment of videos ranging from various fun challenges to dance to magic tricks to funny videos. 


What started as an app acclaimed and known for its lip-syncing feature, restricted to various areas of Asia, soon gave way to the merry world of dancing, gymnastics, cheerleading, parkour, and comedy, now finding its place and creating a buzz in various parts of the world.


This image highlights the present, latest statistics of TikTok. Analytics Steps

TikTok’s  Present Statistics, Source -  Wallaroo Media


The app is known widely for its act-out memes, accompanied by music and other sound clips that get incessantly reproduced and remixed among its users. It’s got a varied collection of tunes be it pop, rap, R&B, electro, and DJ tracks, which accompany its 15-second video clips, backed by a wide mixture of effects and filters. 


Presently as of December 2020, Tiktok recently overtook Facebook to emerge as the most downloaded app globally, being available in around 154 nations and has over a billion active monthly users. 


But what makes the renowned Tik Tok really tick? What technologies are handling the reins behind this popular, entertaining app? 


Answering the above question, Tik Tok is powered by Artificial Intelligence technology. This technology optimizes its content creation, curation, and recommendation. 



Let’s dive into AI


In layman’s terms, Artificial intelligence is basically the simulation or imitation of human intelligence to use it in machines and program them to think in terms of humans and to mimic their actions. The term can also be applied to define any machine or software which manifests traits that are associated with the human mind. 


You can check out the Differences between AI and human intelligence through this blog. 


The AI algorithms can tackle learning, perception, problem-solving, language-understanding and logical reasoning. 



Applications of AI


There is a multitude of ways in which AI has changed our daily lives. Let me sum up some points to help shed a better light on the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence in various areas of our modern world :


1. Social Media


  • LinkedIn: Assisting in matching employees to jobs by performing LinkedIn Analytics, to create better employee-employer matches, 
  • Pinterest: Helping to identify similar objects in images on Pinterest.
  • Facebook: Detecting patterns between users indicating any sort of self-harm and sending mental health resources to the person or even their friends on Facebook.


2. Transportation 


The credit for autonomous vehicles and their rise can also be attributed to AI. Many companies such as Tesla have brought the trend of self-driving vehicles into the limelight.



3. Smartphones


We have daily interaction with AI through our smartphones. Everything we do, from the apps we download to our phone’s software, to the Google Assistants we encounter, even apps like Spotify and Apple Music make use of weak AI to magnify our listening experience. 


Speaking of Spotify, check out how Spotify uses Big Data.



4. Healthcare


AI in healthcare has a plethora of integral applications. One of the noble roles AI is essaying is its assistance in saving lives and helping patients across the world. For example, Cambio HealthCare programmed a clinical decision support system to assist in stroke prevention by using it to pass a warning to the physician when a patient is at risk of having a stroke. Yet another example is Coala Life, a company that has a digitalized device that it uses to find cardiac diseases.



AI in Tik Tok


While advertisements have managed to fetch TikTok a large degree of exposure, its cutting edge AI is what keeps its users addicted to the app.


Within a day, the app can get to know you so well it feels like it’s reading your mind.” - Bloomberg


Basically TikTok banks on AI technology in two ways. Both from the consumer and producer’s side.


Consumer Side: Tik Tok’s algorithms quickly absorb individual preferences. They capture both the “likes” and the comments of the user as well as record the duration for which they watch each video. With the clips being quite short, it’s algorithms quickly build vast datasets.


Producer side: AI also supports the content creators in devising viral videos. It simplifies video editing and suggests enhancements in components like music, hashtags, and filters that are trending or have proved to be popular based on the category.

This image shows TikTok's dependency on AI, in the area of consumption, dissemination, discovery, interaction, search, filtering, operation and creation, both from the consumer and the producer's side

AI supporting TikTok from Consumer and Producer side


Tik Tok takes advantage of AI not only for the production of videos but also for their delivery. There’s no necessity for the users to specify their preferences upon joining the platform. 


As opposed to simply delivering recommendations the AI Algorithms are immediately prompted into interpreting their user’s behavior and delivering content based on these interpretations. 


In a very short span of time, they absorb enough to make remarkably spot-on predictions regarding which videos will catch a user’s interest. This, in turn, drives user engagement


TikTok’s full-screen design allows every video to interpret both positive and negative signals from its users. The positive signal is deciphered from the user liking, following or watching the video till the end. 


A negative signal is deciphered from the viewer swiping away or pressing down on the video. Signals are even interpreted from the speed at which the users swipe away a video. 


What makes TikTok stand out from other platforms applying recommendation algorithms such as Netflix, Facebook and YouTube are that this platform entirely interprets and decides what the user will watch instead of presenting a list of recommendations to the users like Netflix and YouTube.


Yet alongside a boon, the power of AI has also proven to be a bane for its users and investors. 


With high powered technology comes a high degree of obstacles and complications. Often inappropriate content gets generated and delivered to users. 


  • In China, Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company has paid the price through large degrees of fines for pornographic content and fraudulent ads. 


  • The company was also charged with the accusation that it had collected the personal data of users below the age of 13 without taking parental consent, leading to a fine of US$5.7 million. As per a statement by the Federal Trade Commission, the company willingly chose to “pursue growth even at the expense of endangering children”.


  • Owing to the border dispute in June, the platform has been banned in India. The U.S. is also among the first countries to impose an outright ban on TikTok, while there are other countries around the world deliberating likewise measures. Japan has also been considering imposing a ban on the platform, while Indonesia had actually enacted a temporary ban on the platform back in 2018.


Yet the firm has contrived to channelize the very cause of its scrape as the tool for its solution. Creating a unique hybrid of AI and human censorship, it has attempted to monitor the videos through AI-based tools.





As quoted by Connie Chan, a renowned Chinese investor :


“TikTok is the first mainstream consumer app where artificial intelligence IS the product. It’s representative of a broader shift.”


TikTok’s rise has slowly beckoned a whole new era led by AI consumer apps. The knowledge garnered from this app can be applied to a vast array of consumer behavior, be it in news, music, streaming apps, retail, etc.


Presently the app has proven to be a huge stride towards conveying the power of Artificial Intelligence and a shift towards a more technologically advanced and evolved world. 


The article thus sheds light on AI being the driving force behind TikTok’s rise and also establishing that Artificial Intelligence while holding ceaseless potential and dynamism has to be channeled and controlled accurately for it to be secure and reliable. 

Latest Comments

  • sovya.rao

    Feb 04, 2020

    Great Insights...!!!

    Mallika Rangaiah

    Feb 05, 2020


  • Hassan Abdul-Azeez

    Feb 25, 2020

    please am a student disturbed curious to know how to understand linear discriminant analysis. can somebody help me

    Mallika Rangaiah

    Feb 26, 2020

    You can refer to our blog on Linear Discriminant Analysis to clear your concepts. Here is the link - https://www.analyticssteps.com/blogs/introduction-linear-discriminant-analysis-supervised-learning

  • George

    Aug 18, 2020

    That's very cool article! Thank you! It would be also very interesting to see how AI influence on development time

  • George

    Aug 18, 2020


  • George

    Aug 18, 2020


  • George

    Aug 18, 2020

    That's very cool article! Thank you! It would be also very interesting to see how AI influence on development time and cost (like here - https://www.cleveroad.com/blog/tiktok-app-development-cost). Search engine is a crucial aspect in this and and it's very interesting to see ways of approach to this issue

  • brigitasolutions

    Sep 05, 2020

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    May 21, 2021

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