Trending March 2024 # Dear Anyone: Please Destroy Google’S Pixel 3 Camera # Suggested April 2024 # Top 11 Popular

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Dear anyone: Please destroy Google’s Pixel 3 camera

It’s become painfully clear that Google’s most majorly seemingly unbeatable smartphone feature on the Pixel is its camera. Several of the most major names in Android smartphone reviews and publications continue to use their Pixel device well beyond multiple opportunities to use more expensive and more extravagant phones. It’s the camera that it would SEEM that nobody else can beat. It may be my imagination, but I feel like this one win is holding Google back.

Google’s good at using their cool factor to rally press coverage. Each time a Nexus smartphone was leaked, we reported on it. Every time Google has even a whisper of an update for the Pixel – or any other sort of hardware – it’s newsworthy. With the Pixel smartphone line, Google’s got a bit of a cult surrounding its camera lineup – I’ve been a member of that cult from time to time.

I sought out camera lenses specifically for the Google Pixel XL (the first generation device) well beyond the release of the 2nd gen. I did a review of the lenses I found best – because that Pixel XL still rolls hard. Its camera is still pretty great.

I assumed the Google Pixel 2 was a fluke. I guessed that because of the nature of the design and release cycle on any smartphone line, that a next-generation device is at least partially at the mercy of the decisions made by a design team before the last generation really gets a feel for the market.

I assumed all of this.

I assumed that the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL were going to be as different from the rest of the market as the Pixel smartphone’s first generation was when it was first released. At first, I thought that, then I realized Google must have just gotten wind of the 19:8 ratio display trend and went with it, it and the extra-rounded display corners, and that was OK. It was alright that the Pixel 2 looked and felt a whole lot like the 1st gen.

And the Pixel 2 has a great camera. It’s even better than the first Pixel. The camera on the Pixel 2 is so great, multiple big-name smartphone influencers used the Pixel 2 for the vast majority of the year following its release. Look a this video and see:

Besides MKBHD in that video you’ll find another big name in the Android community, Artem Russakovskii of Android Police. He’s been using his Pixel 2 XL even DESPITE it being “devastatingly and embarrassingly laggy.” To the point where Google sent an engineer and PR representative to his home to address the issue. He’d kept using the device DESPITE that (before they gave him a replacement) because of the Pixel 2’s camera, which to him – and many others – is the most superior smartphone camera on the market today.

Here’s just one example of what I described as “devastatingly and embarrassingly laggy” on my Pixel 2 XL.

— Artem Russakovskii (@ArtemR) August 9, 2023

I’m asking everyone else in the smartphone business right now – PLEASE – for the love of jeepers, put more R&D resources in and on the camera of your top-level phones. There is absolutely nothing more important at this point in the history of mobile devices than that camera.

For me personally that’s always been the most important feature in any smartphone, that camera. But that hadn’t been the most major factor for many other people in deciding which device to use until recently. Now that we’re at a point at which there’s not a whole lot of improvement to be made in any other already-established feature on the phone in general, it’s time to focus up on that camera.

I mean, by all means, keep working on AI and Augmented Reality and VR and your smart assistants or whatever the heck else. Some people care about those things I suppose. But that camera, that’s the thing. That’s the feature that’s going to win the next generation, without a doubt.

If you’re not going to make a boss camera in a phone for yourself, then come on – do it for Google. Do it so the rest of Google’s Pixel team doesn’t do what I’m imagining they’ve been doing for the last year and a half. Don’t let them say “the camera’s the best in the business, right? OK good, let’s just go ahead and add a notch to the display and maybe a 3D camera up front and… we’re good to go!”

I’m looking at you, Samsung. I’m looking at you, Motorola and LG. I’m looking at you, OnePlus, OPPO, and Huawei, and Xiaomi, and maybe even Sony. Look directly at your smartphone camera development crew and say, “YOU THERE! You’re in the spotlight now. Get to work and make this best camera in a smartphone happen! Make it happen now!”

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Lunch, Anyone? El Pelon Taqueria

Lunch, Anyone? El Pelon Taqueria Eatery’s burritos ranked among the best in the country

Although indoor seating is limited, patrons can dine al fresco at El Pelon’s picnic tables in the warmer months. Photos by Jackie Ricciardi

Favorite Fenway eatery El Pelon Taqueria made the top five when statistician, data journalist, and Mexican-American cuisine fan Nate Silver embarked on a quest to find the nation’s best burrito. Silver mined Yelp scores, then did extensive taste tests with a selection committee that visited restaurants and voted on the burritos. Finalists were chosen from four sections of the country, and El Pelon beat out 67,390 other burrito restaurants to take fourth place nationwide and first in the Northeast. Longtime fans of the restaurant weren’t surprised. Diners have been lining up for 16 years for its authentic fish tacos, burritos, and fried plantains.

With a ranking like that, we wanted to see whether El Pelon’s burritos really measured up.

When you walk into El Pelon, you find a cozy restaurant big on personality. Vibrant sugar skulls and Latin iconography adorn the white walls on the left, and photos of fans in El Pelon gear in places as remote as the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower are on the right. Limited seating (about 10 customers can sit at the few tables and one booth) makes El Pelon much better suited for a grab-and-go lunch than a sit-down meal. We arrived just after the lunch hour rush, so were able to snag a table before ordering.

Our main course decision was easy. We selected the El Guapo (“handsome man”) burrito ($7.95), proclaimed “the best [burrito] in the Bean, and some of the best food in walking distance of Fenway Park” by a FiveThirtyEight judge. When it arrived just minutes after we’d placed our order, we knew what to expect: a combination of classic burrito fillers like Mexican rice, salsa, black beans, and Romaine lettuce. But what makes this burrito a standout is the addition of golden fried sweet plantains, whose subtle sweetness melded well with the savory grilled steak. The marriage of fire-roasted salsa, Jack cheese, cool crema, and smooth guacamole created an excellent balance of flavors. This was, dare we say, the best burrito we’ve ever had.

Also delicious were our tacos. One of the few vegetarian options on the menu, the Rajas con Queso ($6.25) consists of roasted poblano chiles, jack cheese with salsa fresca, and protein-rich black beans nestled in two soft tortillas. Although the dish proved a yummy mess, it wasn’t out of the ordinary. After glimpsing our neighbor’s lunch, we decided the Pescado Tacos ($7.95), crispy cornmeal-encrusted cod topped with a purple pickled cabbage, cucumbers, limed onions, and chile mayo, would have been a better choice. It looked delectable and that’s what we plan to order on our next visit.

We wanted to sample one of the sweet options at meal’s end. A small blackboard near the register announced a special offering that day, coconut flan ($2). This tropical twist on the traditional Mexican dessert proved to be an intriguing delight. The coconut flakes contributed more to texture than taste, resulting in a crumbly version of the typical silky custard one expects in a flan. Served in a three-inch-diameter aluminum pan, the dessert was just the right size for one, and its delicate sweetness was a pleasant ending to our meal.

El Pelon Taqueria, 92 Peterborough St., Boston, is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; phone: 617-262-9090. El Pelon accepts all major credit cards. Indoor seating is limited. Take any inbound Green Line trolley or the 57 bus to Kenmore Square and transfer to an outbound D trolley to Fenway. There is also an El Pelon Taqueria at 2197 Comm Ave in Chestnut Hill. Take a Green Line B trolley to Boston College.

This is part of a regular series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.

Paula Sokolska can be reached at [email protected].

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How Greed Could Destroy The Ransomware Racket

Ransomware scam artists have a good thing going. They infect some computers and inflict a distasteful—but ultimately logical—choice on the victims: Pay up or lose your data.

Ransoms can be an expensive lesson for most. Many consumers opt not to pay and rely on whatever backups they have. Businesses often pay—an act that may require dealing with Bitcoin markets as well as feeling like a chump. Yet, even the FBI has said it understands when victims pay.

Ransomware rules, broken

The fleecing of Kansas Heart Hospital may change that.

This attempt to double-dip has broken the unwritten compact between victim and data-napper. If paying the ransom doesn’t result in a return of the stolen property, victims will quickly lose their incentive to pay.

A similar revision of the balance between victim and kidnapper took place following the terrorist attacks of  September 11, 2001, points out Christopher Budd, global threat communications manager at Trend Micro. The terrorists who hijacked multiple planes broke with the traditional hostage-for-ransom model, to say the least. Their actions inspired a no-tolerance attitude toward hijackings that took negotiation or ransom out of the picture. 

“One act changed people’s trust in hijackers,” said Budd. “Since 2001, there have been very few hijackings of airplanes.” 

The bad guys are breaking the rules in other ways as well, by threatening additional measures for those victims who don’t pay. In other ransomware incidents, for example, attackers have claimed — falsely, so far — that they would publish a victim’s data. They have also delivered on threats to turn the computer of victims who do not pay into “bots” that are then used to conduct distributed denial-of-service attacks.

“This underscores one of the reason that we say you do not pay the ransom,” says Budd. “At the end of the day, they are a criminals. You cannot trust them.” BitDefender

Half of ransomware victims in the United States paid the ransom, according to a BitDefender poll, while 40 percent of all U.S. users would pay a ransom.

Currently, nearly half of potential victims believe they would pay a ransom, a number large enough to allow ransomware operators to continue to profit. A recent BitDefender study said that in the United States, half of all victims had paid in the past, and 40 percent of all users surveyed confirmed that they would pay.

It’s unclear, however, how many victims actually follow through. In 2012, security firm Symantec analyzed a ransomware management server that gathered global data on 68,000 computers that were compromised in a single month. Symantec found that only 2.9 percent of those victims paid. At the time, however, few people trusted the criminals to pay up. Today, most groups have a reputation for at least trying to help victims recover their data, after they’ve paid, of course.

Protecting against ransomware

Ransomware isn’t dead yet, and you don’t want to get hit. Here’s how to protect yourself.

1. Back up, back up, back up

If you do only one thing, back up your data regularly. Backups prepare computer owners to delete their systems and reinstall, said Barry Shteiman, director of threat research at Exabeam.

“We are still at a very early stage of ransomware,” he said. “It will become a ransom-worm very soon, where they try to encrypt as many computers as possible.” When that happens, you’ll be grateful for that backup.

2. Harden your system against attacks

A variety of measures can help make systems more resilient to attack. Regular updates will ensure that no easy-to-exploit public vulnerabilities are poised like an open door to allow attackers into your system. While anti-malware software is nice, the domain-lookup based security increasingly included with such programs—such as Norton ConnectSafe or Comodo Secure DNS or OpenDNS’s Umbrella service—can block malware from being downloaded to your system.

3. Set up a good firewall

In addition, use an application firewall to be aware of what’s communicating from your computer. While they can require some care and feeding at first, such security applications pay off in the long run. On the Mac, Little Snitch is a popular choice, and GlassWire or Zone Alarm are available on Windows.

An Error Occurred, Please Contact Us Through

ChatGPT is the recent trend that everyone is talking about. However, many users have reported an error with the AI tool – An error occurred. If this issue persists please contact us through our help center at chúng tôi If you encounter this error while trying to use ChatGPT, then please read through this article.

Why does ChatGPT say An error occurred?

The error is encountered when a user tries to communicate with the ChatGPT chatbot. The main cause behind the error is not known but it could occur due to over-protective security software or the ChatGPT server. Browser plugins and extensions, general internet issues, etc, could also cause the issue.

You can try the following solutions sequentially to solve this problem:

Wait for some time

Clear the cache and cookies from your browser

Start a new chat

Check your internet connection

Temporarily disable the Web Protection module of your security software

Find problematic browser extensions and plugins

Try another browser

1] Wait for some time

When other websites cease to work, we check if their server is down. The suggestion won’t be the same with ChatGPT because their server gets overloaded frequently, even if it works fine in the background. Rather, the error preventing the Chatbot from communicating is very frequent. Thus, the best you can do is wait for a while. If it doesn’t help, refresh the page.

2] Clear the cache and cookies from your browser

Websites store offline files in the form of cache and cookies, so it becomes easier to load the website when you visit them next time. However, if these cache and cookies are corrupt, you might not be able to interact with the website properly. The same is the case with ChatGPT. You can clear the cache and cookies from your browser.

3] Start a new chat

3] Check your internet connection

If your internet connection is down, the webpage might not load. But if your internet connection is too slow, you will encounter the error. In this case, you are suggested to check your internet speed using free internet speed test tools. If possible, use another connection and see.

4] Temporarily disable the Web Protection module of your security software

Users have confirmed their problem was resolved by disabling the Web Protection or Web Antivirus module of their antivirus software. So locate this feature on your security software and temporarily disable it.

5] Find problematic browser extensions and plugins

Just like over-protective security software, problematic browser extensions, and plugins could have the same impact on ChatGPT. To isolate this cause, please open the browser in Safe or Incognito Mode. If it helps, then use the hit-and-trial method to find the problematic extension and disable it.

7] Try another browser

At times, the problem can be with the browser itself. If this is the case, then use another browser and see if that helps. If it helps, you can switch to the other browser for this purpose permanently. I would personally suggest Microsoft Edge for this purpose.

Related: We’ve detected suspicious behavior on ChatGPT

Read: Fix Bing Chat not working

Why can’t I access OpenAI?

There could be many issues with not being able to access OpenAI. The issue could be with the login platform or the OpenAI server. If you use the free option, then access to the server will not be on priority. As for issues with the login platform, you can contact the provider for help.

Predatory Customers Who Want To Destroy Your Business

Did You Know?

You should respond to all online reviews – positive and negative. Responding to negative reviews gives you a chance to fix the problem, and responding to good customer reviews shows you care about all your customers.

5 types of predatory customers

This chart provides a quick overview of the five types of predatory customers and how to spot them:



What attracts this customer

The Arranger

Demands options that don’t exist, refuses to compromise

A lack of options

The Corruptor

Says or does anything to get what they want 

Poor boundaries

The Disruptor

Demands special treatment and to be in charge

An aversion to conflict

The Slanderer

Guilts you into giving them what they want

A willingness to bend over backward to keep customers happy

The Schemer

Doesn’t think the rules apply to them 

Businesses that aren’t very unique

The Arranger: Tries to adjust deals, circumstances and events

The Arranger always wants a win-lose situation that ends in their favor. They change terms and agreements, demand options that don’t exist, and push for concessions that benefit only them.

An Arranger cautionary tale

Mitchell ran a temp agency, and his company had just won a major contract with a well-known business. If all went well, this contract would be 10 times his revenue in one year.

But things didn’t go well. The Arranger had Mitchell sign a contract forever waiving his right to take legal action if something went wrong.

Not realizing his mistake, Mitchell hired hundreds of workers and took out a loan to cover payroll while waiting for The Arranger to pay. But The Arranger decided they weren’t going to pay. The bank demanded payment, and the Arranger’s refusal to pay meant Mitch’s business was forced to shut down.

Dangerous marketing that attracts the Arranger

The Arranger looks for flexibility. Offering free estimates to anyone who asks and including concepts like “we’re here to make you happy” and “the customer is always right” in your marketing attracts Arrangers.

While the specifics in each situation are different, the general idea is the same. Arrangers are drawn to marketing that communicates one of two things:

Fear of losing their business: When we’ve got plenty of options and lots of prospects, we’re usually more focused on fairness than being “flexible.” Experienced Arrangers know your inability to walk away gives them leverage. They use this leverage to get the terms and conditions they want.

An unhealthy willingness to be flexible: You can afford to be inflexible when you have lots of options. When you’re feeling desperate, it’s easy to do whatever it takes.


When handling nonpaying clients who have left you empty-handed, consider talking to a lawyer, going to small claims court, or hiring one of the best collection agencies.

The Corruptor: Reliably dishonest and consistently unethical

The Corruptor will say or do anything to get what they want. They’ll lie to you, pester you to do things you’re not comfortable with and ask you to lie for them. They’re always trying to erode your morals and values.

A Corruptor cautionary tale

Jan sells cupcakes online. While her business is new, things are going well. Along comes a Corruptor who places an order for 336 cupcakes for an upcoming birthday party. They request a custom design, fresh strawberries, German chocolate – the works.

Jan completes the order and delivers the cupcakes herself. A week later, the Corruptor initiates a chargeback with their credit card company claiming they never received the order. They follow up by posting a nasty review on Yelp.

Their credit card company gives the Corruptor a full refund, and Jan loses a ton of money. Her business suffers as potential customers take their business elsewhere.

Dangerous marketing that attracts the Corruptor

Corruptors are attracted to marketing that conveys you’re willing to accept a one-sided relationship or abuse. Firm boundaries and the ability to say no give you power and protection against the Corruptor.

Corruptors are drawn to marketing that communicates the following.

Poor boundaries: It’s common for the Corruptor to feel out their targets. The last thing they want is to take the fall for their bad behavior. Questions about hypothetical scenarios involving “gray areas” are red flags. Questions about what you’re willing to do to earn their business or loyalty are also red flags.

No quid pro quo (this for that): If you’re negotiating with a customer and they ask for a concession, they must be willing to give you one in return. If you give them a discount, they should be willing to do something for you.


To avoid chargebacks, create detailed product or service descriptions, and post a clear refund policy prominently in your store and on your website.

The Disruptor: All about control

Disruptors demand special treatment and want to be in charge. They throw tantrums when they don’t get their way and refuse to use your products as intended. They boss your employees around and hoard access.

Real-life Disruptor example 

Apple’s design focus comes from a strongly controlled, perfectionist culture. It knows its way is the right way. Apple feels that those who don’t like its aesthetic shouldn’t buy its products. Disruptors wouldn’t have much success with Apple.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has a strong peace-making culture. For example, when Windows 8 came out in 2012, customers threw a collective tantrum about its design. Microsoft, being more vulnerable to disruptors, announced it was fixing the problem with Windows 10. 

Dangerous marketing that attracts the Disruptor

Businesses with peace-making or fun-loving cultures are most at risk. If your marketing tells customers that you prefer to avoid conflict or you’re all about fun, you’re an easy target for the Disruptor. Messages about how the customer is always right are music to a Disruptor’s ears – and a cash flow disaster when you’re missing the right systems.

Businesses unknowingly attract Disruptors with marketing messages like these:

Designed around you.

Have it your way.

The customer is king.

The Slanderer: Uses guilt and shame to control or punish you

Slanderers will tell you that you’ve let them down. They’ll lie to you or call you names – whatever it takes to get you to lose your cool. When you do, they have the justification for reneging on their commitments.

A Slanderer cautionary tale

Fitz treated his vendor like “the help” – because it was. A thousand other firms could do the same job for less, and Fitz made sure his vendor knew it.

“I’m your biggest client. My company pays your bills.”

His vendor suffered for it. It struggled to keep employees and constantly discounted its prices to “earn” more work.

Dangerous marketing that attracts the Slanderer 

If your business lacks measurable uniqueness, you’re leaving yourself open to the Slanderer. Businesses that lack uniqueness feel the sting of being beaten by competitors and passed over by customers.

They realize there’s no compelling reason (besides price or terms) that compels a customer to do business with them. So their marketing signals to customers that they’re willing to abuse themselves to make customers happy.

You’ve seen the marketing pieces:

We care about our customers! [Aren’t you supposed to do that?]

We never stop working for you!

The customer is king!

The Schemer: Looks for loopholes

The Schemer uses their resourcefulness to find a way over, under, around or through your rules. These customers use creative ways to game the system and manipulate you.

Real-life Schemer example

A man in China purchased a first-class ticket on Eastern China Airlines and used it to scam a year’s worth of free meals at the VIP lounge in Xi’an Airport.

He arrived before his flight and ate at the lounge. After he finished, he changed his flight’s departure date to another day.

He repeated this process over and over and over, eating some 300 meals in a year. Then, when the airline started investigating, he canceled his ticket before it expired and received a full refund.

Dangerous business and marketing practices that attract the Schemer

Businesses often make promises without adding conditions. A Schemer typically targets these areas first. If you’re offering a money-back guarantee, Schemers want to see that your guarantee gives them the right to demand a refund indefinitely and keep your product. It’s ideal when there are no conditions they have to meet. It’s a bonus if you give them cash or incentives.

Ask yourself a couple questions to avoid attracting Schemers:

Does your product or service come with a guarantee?

Do you make promises to your customers?


Predatory customers can damage your brand’s reputation. To stay on top of what people are saying about your business, consider using one of the best online reputation management providers.

How should you handle predatory customers?

If you get any of these customers, should you show them the door right away? It depends.

If you’re unprepared and unsure about dealing with the kind of behavior we’ve covered here, it’s a good idea to move on.

On the other hand, getting a new customer is expensive. It takes time, money and effort. If you’re able to turn them into all-stars, these customers often spend as much as 10x more than your average customer.

If you have established customers who exhibit predatory behavior, your decision is the same.

If you make the changes to your marketing plan as discussed, customers will have to decide if they’re interested in changing with you. If old marketing habits brought these customers in, they won’t be happy. Expect things to get worse before they get better as these customers try to put things back to the way they were.

If they accept the changes, their behavior will change. Those who refuse will leave (on their own or with help).

Your marketing shouldn’t attract predatory customers

All-star customers trust you, so they’re more understanding and insist on giving you control. You’re no longer expected to bend over backward or take abuse for a chance to earn their business.

They don’t fight, bully or manipulate you for the best deal. They realize you’re unique and the only one who can offer the one thing you provide. Getting and retaining customers is so much easier when they’re loyal, trusting and easy to please.

Jamie Johnson contributed to the writing and research in this article. 

Tiktok’s Secret ‘Heating’ Button Can Make Anyone Go Viral

TikTok and ByteDance employees regularly engage in “heating,” a manual push that ensures specific videos “achieve a certain number of video views,” according to six sources and documents reviewed by Forbes.

TikTok’s Secret ‘Heating’ Button Can Make Anyone Go Viral. Image: Forbes

For years, TikTok has described its powerful For You Page as a personalised feed ranked by an algorithm that predicts your interests based on your behavior in the app.

But that’s not the full story, according to six current and former employees of TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, and internal documents and communications reviewed by Forbes. These sources reveal that in addition to letting the algorithm decide what goes viral, staff at TikTok and ByteDance also secretly hand-pick specific videos and supercharge their distribution, using a practice known internally as “heating.”

“The heating feature refers to boosting videos into the For You feed through operation intervention to achieve a certain number of video views,” an internal TikTok document titled MINT Heating Playbook explains. “The total video views of heated videos accounts for a large portion of the daily total video views, around 1-2%, which can have a significant impact on overall core metrics.”

TikTok has never publicly disclosed that it engages in heating — and while all tech giants engage, to some degree, in efforts to amplify specific posts to their users, they usually clearly label when they do so.

With a billion users, TikTok has rapidly become one of the most powerful social media platforms in the world. Image: Getty

Google, Meta, and TikTok itself, for example, have partnered with public health and elections groups to distribute accurate information about COVID-19 and help users find their polling place, making clear disclosures about how and why they chose to promote these messages. (Disclaimer: In a former life, I held policy positions at Facebook and Spotify.)

But sources told Forbes that TikTok has often used heating to court influencers and brands, enticing them into partnerships by inflating their videos’ view count. This suggests that heating has potentially benefitted some influencers and brands — those with whom TikTok has sought business relationships — at the expense of others with whom it has not.

“We think of social media as being very democratising and giving everyone the same opportunity to reach an audience,” said Evelyn Douek, a professor at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. But that’s not always true, she cautioned.

Employees have also abused heating privileges. Three sources told Forbes they were aware of instances where heating was used improperly by employees; one said that employees have been known to heat their own or their spouses’ accounts in violation of company policy.

Documents reviewed by Forbes showed that employees have heated their own accounts, as well as accounts of people with whom they have personal relationships. According to one document, a heating incident of this type led to an account receiving more than three million views.

Moreover, documents show that staff — including those at TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and even contractors working with the company — exercise considerable discretion in deciding which content to promote.

TikTok employees have been engaging in “heating”, a manual push that ensures specific videos achieve a certain number of video views, according to documents seen by Forbes. Image: Getty

A document called TikTok Heating Policy says that employees may use heating to “attract influencers” and “promote diverse content,” but also to “push important information” and “promot[e] relevant videos that were missed by the recommendations algorithms.” Two sources told Forbes employees have often felt left to their own devices to determine whether a video fell within these guidelines.

In response to a detailed set of questions about how and by whom heating has been used, TikTok spokesperson Jamie Favazza wrote: “We promote some videos to help diversify the content experience and introduce celebrities and emerging creators to the TikTok community.

The purpose of this feature is to promote diverse content, push important information, and support creators

MINT Heating Playbook

Only a few people, based in the U.S., have the ability to approve content for promotion in the U.S., and that content makes up approximately .002% of videos in For You feeds.”

Documentation about heating within TikTok and ByteDance is substantial, but poorly organised. Documents purporting to govern heating exist across multiple teams and regions, including the Content Programming and Content Editorial Team based in Los Angeles, and the Live Platform and Product Operational Teams, based in China. In addition to the MINT Heating Playbook, there are documents titled MINT Heating Operation Policy 101, Heating Quota Guidelines, TikTok Heating Policy and U.S. Heating Strategy Guidelines.

These documents suggest that TikTok and ByteDance initially turned to heating for a mundane, legitimate business purpose: to diversify TikTok’s content away from lip synching and dancing teens, and toward videos that would interest more users.

“The purpose of this feature is to promote diverse content, push important information, and support creators,” says the MINT Heating Playbook. “If you make good use of it, heating resources will bring a leverage effect, a small amount of heating resources will bring about growth of midrange users, and a more diverse content pool.”

‘Heating can help the algorithm’

One source told Forbes that heating has also been used to boost high-profile collaborations between TikTok and external actors, including NGOs and artists being courted by the platform, and that it was also supposed to be used when a creator in one category (e.g. beauty) created a video in another category (e.g. cooking). In those situations, the person said, heating “can help the algorithm find the right audience.”

The headquarters of ByteDance, the parent company of video sharing app TikTok, in Beijing . Image: Getty

There is a fraught history of tech platforms using their discretion to increase specific posts’ reach. Human curation has helped platforms create safe experiences for children and keep misinformation in check, but it has also led to claims that companies use curation to impose their own political preferences on users.

For TikTok, fears of political manipulation are tied to concern that the Chinese government could coerce the platform’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, into amplifying or suppressing certain narratives on TikTok. TikTok has acknowledged that it previously censored content critical of China, and last year, former ByteDance employees told BuzzFeed News that another ByteDance app, a now-defunct news aggregator called TopBuzz, had pinned “pro-China messages” to the top of its news feed for U.S. consumers. ByteDance denied the report.

TikTok declined to answer questions about whether employees located in China have ever heated content, or whether the company has ever heated content produced by the Chinese government or Chinese state media.

TikTok is currently negotiating a contract with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) that it says would address all national security issues raised by the app’s foreign ownership. But an increasing number of lawmakers are seeking to ban TikTok over fears that the CFIUS agreement may be too little, too late. Last month, TikTok parent company ByteDance admitted that a team of employees led by a Beijing-based executive had surveilled the physical location of journalists, including this reporter, in an effort to identify their sources. ByteDance fired employees involved in the surveillance.

In December, TikTok announced that it would add a new panel to recommended videos titled “Why This Video,” which would tell users how a given video had been chosen for them. Examples in the blog post, which touted the new feature as “meaningful transparency,” included explanations like ‘This video is popular in the United States” and “you are following [account]” — but the post didn’t mention heating.

When asked whether the new feature would disclose when videos had been heated, Favazza wrote, “we’re continuing our work to expand our ‘why this video’ feature and provide more granularity and transparency to content recommendations.”

Douek, the Stanford professor, said disclosing where and how TikTok uses heating “would be a first step” to getting users comfortable with the tool. “But sometimes, the reason why they don’t [use clearer labels] is because transparency allows for criticism.”

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