Can TikTok Predict Users' Sexuality? It May be More Complicated Than That.
In a recent USA Today article about the lifestyle predictive behaviors of certain apps like TikTok, Chargebacks911 COO Monica Eaton weighed in regarding the pattern-identifying features built into interactive software.
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In the article TikTok user Sarah Kelly cited the app as the source of an epiphany about her sexual identity. She expressed her opinion that Tik Tok somehow understood her sexual preferences before she did. "Seeing people who came out later in life and that that narrative was a possibility also really helped me feel more comfortable in this space," Kelly said.
TikTok and other social media apps use algorithms to better predict the content you want to see. The unconscious selection of material that you didn’t even know you favored can be a side effect of this. Many LGBTQ+ individuals have agreed the app understood their sexuality before they did, and helped them embrace their lifestyle.
While this perceived phenomena can be incredibly positive and affirming for queer users, experts argue that apps are not actually predicting a person’s identity but rather subtly tailoring content to suit your scrolling habits. "Does our sexuality impact which social media content we want to view? Sure," Monica suggested. "Is it also possible that the viewing patterns of people who're still trying to determine their sexuality will have certain commonalities that an algorithm could exploit? Sure. But the algorithm still wouldn't 'know' that you're gay or straight or anything else."