The Impact of TikTok's Chatbot Is Bigger Than "Content Recommendations"

Tako, like other #AI chatbots, is being marketed as a content recommendation engine; it'll be accessible near the "your profile" of the TikTok interface.

When tapped, the new icon (designed in the shape of a ghost 👻) will kick off Tako, which will:

✅  talk w/users,

✅  respond to questions,

✅  and make content recommendations.

The continuing challenge with these Tako-like, persuasive technologies (now boosted further by AI chatbot tech) is the developing company's devotion to keeping users glued on-screen for as long as possible.

Keeping audiences glued to their platforms or extended durations requires social media companies, like TikTok and others, to intentionally build persuasive designs and experiences (like Tako) that keep users engaged for as long as possible. Such features can, over time, erode our sense of our agency and autonomy.

Yet most users don't notice or consider such challenges when they're having so much fun swiping, engaging with, and consuming entertaining and interesting content.

Users pretty much just want to be entertained, discover new content, and stay connected.

This non-chalant passiveness, however, is akin to an en-masse surrender our collective psyche; one where we voluntarily — and effortlessly —  hand over our precious mindshare and finite attention to social media platforms without resistance or repercussion.


Because users derive way too much "entertainment" or "utility" or "inspiration" from said platforms; they see/believe/think/conclude "the good" far outweighs "the bad."

It's that very kind of succumbed thinking and collective surrender that TikTok and other social platforms bank on  because their ad models require keeping users engaged for as long as possible.

Getting back to TikTok

The company admits its Tako AI chatbot goal is "to encourage users to watch more videos."

This "more" goal, subsidized by endless scroll features and the like, is a typical staple of ad-based engagement models common to such platforms, where the driving force is to arrest your attention (increasingly so) at any and all algorithmic costs.

So while TikTok positions Tako as a helpful feature, I hope users who care about monitoring their screen times and longterm exposures to AI chatbots and addictive algorithms will proceed with more mindful caution.

With endless waves of AI chatbot deployments across digital media & cybertechnologies, we must do even more to protect our vulnerable psyches.

Until next time,

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson, PhD(c), MA, MFA
Advancing Humanity In An AI-Enabled & Media-Laden World
Cyber/Media Psychologist (dissertation in progress)

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