TikTok's mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy, while its vision is to provide a window to discover, a canvas to create, and bridges for people to connect.
Unlike other social media apps, TikTok's algorithm shows people what they like instead of who they know, giving everyday people a platform to be discovered.
The algorithm tracks user behavior to recommend videos and allows content personalization.
TikTok's success stories include a Senegalese factory worker with 160 million followers.
The app has given a stage to anyone with enough talent, from taco restaurant owners to individuals looking for communities.
TikTok's community guidelines prohibit content like pornography and child sexual abuse material.
TikTok CEO Shou Chew also discusses a range of issues facing the platform, including age gating and privacy, STEM content, addiction and screen time, commercial goals, content creators, moderation and safety measures, mental health concerns, and data privacy.
Chew explains that TikTok is focusing on creating a balance between giving users control over their privacy while also employing tools to keep them safe and informed.
The platform is also dedicated to promoting healthy habits, limiting screen time, and fostering creativity and knowledge sharing.
- TikTok's mission is to inspire creativity and its vision is to provide a window to discover, a canvas to create, and bridges for people to connect.
- TikTok's algorithm shows people what they like instead of who they know, giving everyday people a platform to be discovered.
- TikTok's success stories include a Senegalese factory worker with 160 million followers.
- The app has given a stage to anyone with enough talent, from taco restaurant owners to individuals looking for communities.
- TikTok's community guidelines prohibit content like pornography and child sexual abuse material.
- The app is designed to optimize for smartphones and short, portrait-mode videos.
- TikTok aims to balance age gating and privacy through public profile tools.
- The platform has a significant presence in STEM content.
- TikTok encourages healthy screen time habits and limits use for under 18s.
- Commercial goals prioritize a healthy relationship with users.
- Moderation and safety measures include both machines and human beings.
- TikTok invests a lot in content moderation and takes mental health seriously.
About TikTok's mission and vision 02:50
- The mission of TikTok is to inspire creativity and bring joy.
- The vision of TikTok is to provide a window to discover, a canvas to create, and bridges for people to connect.
- The mission and vision of the company provide a North Star for the product managers working on the platform every day.
TikTok's unique discovery engine 03:39
- TikTok's whole discovery engine is what makes it unique and different from other social media apps.
- Earlier apps were built for different purposes, e.g., search or social graphs.
- TikTok's machine-learning algorithms show people what they like instead of who they know, giving everyday people a platform to be discovered.
- The algorithm is based on math and tracks user behavior to recommend videos.
- As long as users have talent, they have a chance to succeed on TikTok.
Examples of success on TikTok 04:21
- The biggest creator on TikTok is a guy called Khaby, who was a factory worker from Senegal living in Italy and had talent but didn't speak in any of his videos.
- Khaby kept posting videos and now has 160 million followers on TikTok.
- TikTok is providing a platform for businesses and people with talent to be heard and have a chance to succeed.
TikTok's mission and vision in practice 05:05
- Most of us have grown up with network television, where thousands of brilliant, creative people have been toiling in the trenches, trying to imagine something amazing for an audience.
- None of them ever remotely came up with anything that looked like many of TikTok's creators.
- TikTok's algorithms have discovered things that thousands of brilliant humans never discovered just by observing people's behavior and what they look like.
- The algorithm tracks obvious things like if someone presses or stays on a video for a long time, but it also tracks subject matter and an array of other things that provide useful clues.
How AI and machine learning enables content personalization 06:27
- AI and machine learning have allowed TikTok to personalize content at a large scale
- The algorithm learns interest signals of users quickly and displays relevant content
- This is done through pattern recognition based on user's interest signals
- The app is designed to organically capture user's interests through their interactions with content
Collaborative filtering and social validation 06:44
- The recommendation algorithm is a form of collaborative filtering
- The algorithm works on the idea that if one person likes something, others with similar interests are likely to like it as well
- This is based on social validation, where users are influenced by the actions of others
- The algorithm matches patterns in user behavior to suggest content
Optimizing for the mobile experience 07:51
- TikTok was designed to optimize for smartphones
- Short, portrait-mode videos are more mobile-friendly and better suited for the app's format
- The app fills the whole screen and is designed to be a window for users to discover new things
- The app's format and recommendation algorithm have helped it become popular
Examples of TikTok's impact 08:50
- The app has given a stage to anyone with enough talent
- TikTok has helped businesses and individuals gain exposure
- Example of a taco restaurant owner, Samuel, who generated $1 million in revenue through TikTok
- The app has helped people find communities and connect with others
Identifying talent and creating virality 11:25
- TikTok aims to give everyone an equal chance to have an audience
- The algorithm recognizes people's interests, so simply giving something a lot of exposure won't make it go viral
- There is no way to push content to go viral by artificially increasing likes or followers
- The message needs to resonate with people to gain traction on the app
The Virality of User-Generated Content 12:50
- TikTok's user-generated content has virality built into it, which means that if the content is resonating with the audience, it will automatically gain traction.
- The beauty of user-generated content is that it cannot be engineered or over-thought.
TikTok's Algorithm and Sophistication Compared to Competitors 13:11
- TikTok's algorithm is another order of magnitude more sophisticated than its competitors like Facebook or YouTube.
- Although there are many companies with a lot of resources and talent to figure out even the most complex algorithms, TikTok's mission and how they started the company is different.
TikTok's Mission and Differentiated Experience 13:40
- TikTok's main use case and the most important use case is for users to see recommended content.
- Other apps are built for a different original purpose, and their users are used to that kind of experience, so it's not a matter of just engineering and algorithms but rather what the company is built to begin with.
- TikTok's vision and mission are the North Star, and it's important to have a clear one to avoid shifting the company halfway.
Avoiding Filter Bubbles and Ensuring Diversity of Content 14:28
- TikTok's start point has been interest algorithms rather than social graph algorithms, allowing them to avoid some of the worst filter bubbles that have happened in other social media platforms.
- The diversity of content that TikTok's users see is very key to fulfilling its mission to discover.
- Bad actors who come on the internet post bad content, and TikTok has very clear community guidelines to prevent that.
- TikTok is very transparent about what is allowed and what is not allowed on its platform.
- TikTok has built a team of tens of thousands of people and machines to identify and actively remove bad content from the platform.
- TikTok's community guidelines are published on the website, and a new version was iterated in March to make it more readable.
- The guidelines prohibit content like pornography, child sexual abuse material, and violence.
- The app experience is more restricted for users below 18 years old, where users below 16, by default, cannot go viral, and users below 16 cannot use the instant messaging feature in-app.
- Parents have a whole set of tools to control their teenagers' experience as well.
Age Gating and Privacy 16:34
- In the industry, age gating is used when users sign up for the app for the first time.
- TikTok has built tools to go through users' public profiles to match the age that they said with the video they just posted.
- TikTok aims to balance between telling users' ages and privacy, and it's a challenge that they are working through with the industry and regulators.
STEM Content on TikTok 17:48
- TikTok has created a platform for millions of people who never thought they were going to be a content creator.
- STEM content has over 116 billion views on TikTok globally, making it so significant that TikTok has started testing creating a feed just for STEM content in the US.
- Two popular teachers on TikTok are Claudine, an English teacher from Arkansas who uses the platform to reach out to students, and Chemical Kim, who teaches chemistry and uses the platform to reach out to a much broader student base than she has in her classroom.
- TikTok is a platform for anyone to express themselves and showcase their talents, knowledge, and creativity.
Addiction and Screen Time 19:25
- Shou Chew addresses the issue of human addiction to the internet and how the internet is good at activating our animal cells.
- The question of human addiction is an important issue and Chew wants to have an honest, heart-to-heart conversation about it.
- Chew explains that the goal of TikTok is not to optimize and maximize time spent on the platform.
- To address people spending too much time on the platform, TikTok has built in tools to limit screen time and will proactively send videos to tell users to get off the platform.
- Depending on the time of day, if it's late at night, the video will come sooner.
- The app has a 60-minute default time limit for users below 18 years old.
- Parents and users can set their own time limit.
- Parents can pair their phone with their teenager's phone and set the time limit.
- Chew encourages parents to have conversations with their children on what is the right amount of screen time.
- Chew explains that it's important to develop healthy habits early on in life and have a healthy relationship with screens.
- Chew believes that balance needs to be met and it's not true that TikTok just wants to maximize time spent.
TikTok's Commercial Point of View 23:26
- Chew explains that it's always best when customers have a very healthy relationship with the TikTok platform.
- If customers have a very unhealthy relationship with the platform, they may drop it at some point.
- Chew believes that everything should be in moderation and the company wants a healthy relationship with its users.
- Chew mentions that in the United States, TikTok has an under-13 experience that is much more restricted than the under-14 experience in China.
- The under-13 experience in the US is only available in the US and is not available in Canada.
- Every single piece of content is vetted by a third-party child safety expert in the under-13 experience in the US.
- TikTok does not allow under-13s in the US to publish, post, and use a lot of features.
- Chew believes that reports comparing the under-13 experience in the US and the under-14 experience in China are not doing a fair comparison.
Content Creators and the Race for Attention 24:58
- There are millions of content creators on TikTok.
- All of them are in a sense racing for attention.
Moderation and Safety Measures 25:24
- TikTok addresses sexualized content in their community guidelines.
- Certain themes that are mature are removed from the experience of users below a certain age.
- Safety, especially for teenagers, is a top priority for TikTok.
- Dangerous challenges are not allowed on the platform.
- Moderation is done by both machines and tens of thousands of human beings based in Ireland.
- TikTok proactively invests resources to identify and remove dangerous content from their platform.
- TikTok redirects users searching for dangerous challenges to a safety resource page.
- TikTok works with creators to produce videos that explain the dangers of certain actions and posts them on their platform.
- TikTok invests a lot of resources in content moderation, seeing it as one of the most important cost items on their PnL.
Amplifying Insecurities and Mental Health Concerns 28:14
- TikTok proactively removes mature themes from teenagers' experiences on the platform.
- Users searching for certain terms are redirected to a safety resource page.
- TikTok works with experts to understand and proactively manage new trends that could emerge.
- It's TikTok's responsibility to invest enough to address the concerns and keep the experience as safe as possible.
- TikTok understands and takes seriously the concern that social media can amplify insecurities, especially for teenagers and teenage girls.
- Mental health and safety are top priorities for TikTok.
Data Privacy Concerns and Project Texas 29:28
- The main concern in Congress was data privacy, particularly the fact that TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company.
- There have been instances where data of journalists on the platform was made available to ByteDance's engineers.
- TikTok has Project Texas, where they are moving data to be controlled by Oracle in the US.
- TikTok is not the first company to have engineers in all countries, including China.
- TikTok hears the concerns raised in the US and has built an unprecedented project to localize American data to be stored on American soil by an American company overseen by personnel.
- This kind of protection for American data is beyond what any other company in their industry has ever done.
- TikTok takes data privacy concerns seriously and has taken significant steps to address them.
Protecting User Data and Digital Sovereignty 31:22
- TikTok is localizing user data in a way no other company has done before.
- The company is cautious about pursuing digital sovereignty in the US and Europe without balkanizing the internet.
- TikTok is working on protecting user data while allowing interoperability to continue.
- They are deleting legacy data from their servers in Virginia and Singapore, while all new US data is already stored in the Oracle cloud infrastructure.
- The company is committed to transparency and third-party monitoring to keep TikTok free from government manipulation.
Preventing Foreign Interference 32:44
- TikTok CEO Shou Chew is committed to preventing any foreign interference in US elections.
- The company is building tools to prevent such actions and is confident that an unprecedented amount of transparency will reduce the risk to as close to zero as possible.
- TikTok is allowing third-party reviewers to come in and review their source code, giving a significant amount of transparency to ensure that no hypothetical scenarios that could lead to government manipulation will happen on their platform.
- The company is releasing more research tools for researchers so that they can study the output.
The Future of TikTok 36:14
- Chew believes TikTok's vision is still about window discovery.
- TikTok provides a platform for people to discover new things, beyond just dancing and singing.
- TikTok has become a platform for science content, STEM, BookTok and even golfing.
- The platform is giving a voice to the everyday person and is important to maintain.
- The company is focused on creation and giving people the platform to showcase their talent.
AI-generated content and collaboration with people 37:32
- New AI-generated content technology will help people create even more creative content.
- There will be a collaboration between people and AI to unleash creativity in a different way.
- People who are terrible at drawing can express themselves even better with the help of AI.
Connecting people and communities 38:00
- TikTok aims to connect people and communities together through products and commerce.
- Five million businesses in the US benefit from TikTok today, and the number could be higher.
- The number of businesses benefiting from TikTok around the world, including Canada, is massive.
Making a TikTok video with Chris Anderson 38:22
- Chris Anderson invites Shou Chew to make a TikTok video during the talk.
- They make a selfie video together and say "Hi" to the audience.
- They hope the video goes viral.
- Shou Chew is one of the most influential and powerful people in the world.
- Chris Anderson appreciates Shou Chew coming and sharing his vision.
- Chris Anderson hopes the upside of what Shou Chew is talking about comes about.