If you’ve scrolled through TikTok, you’ve likely seen the hashtag #fyp, followed by #foryoupage. They mean the same thing: For You page, TikTok’s portal into content it thinks you might like.
Because it shows you content from anyone, and not just people you follow, the FYP has become a coveted spot for creators looking to get more eyes on their work. But how you end up there, and what kind of content gets distributed on the FYP, is a little more complicated.
What does FYP mean?
FYP stands for For You Page, the default landing page for anyone who opens the app. After downloading TikTok and scrolling through the FYP, the app starts to recommend content based on what you’ve previously engaged with, showing you similar content, or more videos within a popular challenge or trend.
The “for you” part is pretty spot on. Maybe a little too spot on? I kept track of recurring themes or trends that showed up on my For You page over the course of a week in May, and found that roughly half of the videos contained trends I’d written about (or searched for) recently, and the other half was random content in line with my tastes (animals stealing food, the “Oh my god he on X Games mode” meme, the Hip Hop Harry song) with a dash of “Maybe... this too?" (Watching people stuff burritos in their mouths is a no from me, TikTok.) I’ve never looked for Call of Duty content on TikTok, but my boyfriend (like many boyfriends right now) started playing more in the last few months and we joke and talk about it. And now, Call of Duty videos show up on my FYP. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
How do you get on the FYP?
The algorithm that serves the FYP page is, by design, a mystery. It doesn’t necessarily serve up the popular or trending content, like Instagram or YouTube. Videos on the FYP can have hundreds of thousands of likes or less than 10, and though many TikToks contain #fyp, it’s not clear if that automatically qualifies it for the FYP.
Still, there's no shortage of tutorials about when to post and how to “hack” the FYP. How to get on the FYP has even become a source of content for creators, who’ve made TikToks investigating different theories, or parodying the page.
In 2019, Vice reported on the “batch” theory: Showing a small batch of viewers the same content to see how they react, then showing a larger batch the same content if it’s engaged with. TikTok also measures how long you watch a video, and whether you rewatch or comment. Using a popular (and widely used) audio sample also helps.
Though the FYP shows a wide variety of content, it doesn't include everyone: TikTok has faced criticism for suppressing content from Black, trans, disabled, and unattractive creators. It also allowed misinformation and conspiracy theories to reach the FYP, though the company has tried to combat misinfo about COVID-19. More recently, as protests took place around the country, the FYP saw an increase in content relating to Black Lives Matter and police brutality. But, as BuzzFeed detailed, TikTok's algorithm might feed into a "filter bubble," which shows users what it thinks they want in an effort to keep them scrolling, instead of broader content.
TikTok has tried to be more transparent about how and why content ends up on the FYP: In a June blog post, the company detailed factors that contribute to what users see, like captions, hashtags, user interactions, location, and how long a video is viewed. TikTok also addressed the "filter bubble" challenge, stating that "sometimes you may come across a video in your feed that doesn't appear to be relevant to your expressed interests or have amassed a huge number of likes." That is an "intentional component" in opening up that bubble.
Why do people comment 'FYP'?
If you see FYP or #FYP in the comment section of a TikTok, it could mean the commenter is trying to help the creator out and get the TikTok more views. Or, ideally, get it on the FYP.
Since creators don't get a heads up that they've made it to the FYP, commenting with FYP lets them know that they have, or that it's where the commenter saw it.
Why is getting on the FYP important?
TikTok has surpassed 2 billion downloads, and beat out Facebook for most downloaded app of 2020. Its user base is vast, and cutting through the noise isn’t easy. Landing on the FYP can be a guide to what kind of content hits, and what newer users should aim for.
Being a TikTok “star” is now a tangible (and lucrative) profession, so follower count often factors into the FYP. But getting on the FYP can also elevate users to a certain level of fame: In the summer of 2019, “kombucha girl” Brittany Tomlinson posted a simple TikTok of her reacting to tasting kombucha, and just months later had brand sponsorships and a manager. TikToks going viral on Twitter can also push creators to the FYP.
The FYP is also important in the growth of TikTok communities and subcultures. What "side" of TikTok you're on is a signifier of what content you interact with and want to see.
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