Not For You

An automated confusion system for TikTok

Not For You (2020)
demonstration video 10x timelapse (see below for real-time video)

Install

Description

Not For You is an “automated confusion system” designed to mislead TikTok’s video recommendation algorithm, making it possible to see how TikTok feels when it’s no longer made “For You.” The system navigates the site without intervention, clicking on videos and hashtags and users to find the nooks and crannies TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t show us, to reveal those videos its content moderators suppress, and to surface speech the company hopes to hide. Through its alternative personality-agnostic choices of what to like, who to follow, and which posts to share, Not For You should make the For You page less addictive, and hopefully steer users away from feeling like the best path to platform success is through mimicry and conformity. Perhaps most importantly—on the precipice of yet another critical election in the USA—Not For You aims to defuse the filter bubbles produced by algorithmic feeds and the risks such feeds pose for targeted disinformation and voter manipulation. Finally, the work stands in opposition to letting corporations opaquely decide what we see and when we see it, to their intentional crafting of addictive user interfaces, and to the extraction of profit from the residual data left behind by users. Ultimately, Not For You asks us to think about who most benefits from social media’s algorithmic feeds, and who is made most vulnerable.

Images and Additional Videos

Not For You starting up

Not For You running (10x speed)

The Not For You web console (10x speed)

The Not For You hashtag / logo

Screenshot of Not For You running (feed view)

Screenshot of Not For You running (thumbnail index view)

Screenshot of Not For You running (video detail view)

Not For You (2020)
demonstration video (2 hour run at 1x speed)

How To Use

  • Install Not For You on Firefox or Chrome (desktop OS only).
  • Visit/reload https://www.tiktok.com/foryou. Not For You should start automatically.
  • Click play and unmute on the first video if you want to watch/listen to Not For You Run. Also, on Firefox you’ll need to enable media autoplay.
  • Use a test account if you want 100% certainty of preserving your main account. Even though I’ve tested this extensively and tuned it so that TikTok’s bot detectors don’t notice it, they could still catch on and place your account in ‘TikTok Jail’ for an hour or a day (or worse). I don’t expect this will happen, but I make no guarantees.
  • Run for a limited amount of time/day. One hour/day seems quite safe. I run it for days at a time for 2-3 hours/day with no issues.
  • If you want to watch the text reporting output, open a “console” using Option+⌘+K (use J for Chrome), or Shift+CTRL+J (on Windows/Linux)
  • To stop Not For You, close the tab with TikTok, or click the #nfy icon in the extensions area and switch the ‘Yes’ to ’No’ under ‘Confuse TikTok?’

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