Incident 117: TikTok's "Suggested Accounts" Algorithm Allegedly Reinforced Racial Bias through Feedback Loops

Description: TikTok's "Suggested Accounts" recommendations allegedly reinforced racial bias despite not basing recommendations on race or creators' profile photo.


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Alleged: TikTok developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed TikTok users and TikTok content creators.

Incident Stats

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Sean McGregor, Khoa Lam

Incident Reports

Tweet: @MarcFaddoul · 2020


The AI-bias techlash seems to have had no impact on newer platforms. Follow a random profile, and TikTok will only recommend people who look almost the same.

Let’s do the experiment from a fresh a…

There’s something strange about TikTok recommendations · 2020

When artificial intelligence researcher Marc Faddoul joined TikTok a few days ago, he saw something concerning: When he followed a new account, the profiles recommended by TikTok seemed eerily, physically similar to the profile picture of t…

Is TikTok’s algorithm actually pretty racist? · 2020

According to an experiment performed by artificial intelligence researcher Marc Faddoul, the algorithm TikTok uses to suggest new users to follow might have a racial bias.

Faddoul, an AI researcher from the University of California, Berkele…

TikTok's Algorithm Shows Unintentional Racial Bias, Researcher Finds · 2020

A little experiment by an artificial intelligence researcher is raising questions about how TikTok's recommendation algorithm suggests new creators to users.

Specifically, the question is whether that algorithm is sorting suggestions based …


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.