If you’re a regular TikTok user, you may have noticed some accounts appearing in your following list that you don’t recall choosing to follow.
This can lead to questions about whether TikTok automatically follows accounts without your permission.
The answer is no—TikTok does not automatically make your account follow others. Any follows must be initiated by a user tapping the follow button, whether on purpose or by accident.
However, there are some understandable reasons why you may end up following an unfamiliar account that’s left you scratching your head.
Reasons You Are Auto-following Random TikTok Accounts
You may be wondering: why is TikTok making me follow random accounts? Here are some reasons why that is happening and what you can do in each instance.
1. Accidental Tap of the Follow Button
TikTok’s interface places the red follow button right next to the heart-shaped button on individual video pages and profiles. It only takes one errant tap to switch from liking content to following the creator.
This can happen if you use your phone one-handed or simply tap hastily without precision. It’s an easy mistake since the two buttons are exactly the same size and just one swipe apart.
Bulk liking videos to show support for entertaining creators is popular on TikTok, which unfortunately primes the app for accidental follows.
You intend to tap the like button your tap hits “follow” instead. Even meticulously reviewing each video first can set you up for mishits once you start rapidly scrolling and tapping again.
Yes, you can accidentally follow someone on TikTok. It only takes a few accidental taps throughout your TikTok browsing to rack up some mystery follows.
Yet since the actions happened unintentionally over time, you likely won’t remember the slips next time you review your full following list.
When scanning for recognizable names, some random additions can definitely seem concerning or make you think, “I never followed them!”
2. Algorithm Suggestions Based on Watch History
Make no mistake, TikTok has impressively accurate heuristics and machine learning algorithms powering its backend. These allow it to study each user’s engagement and serve up videos aligned with your tastes.
TikTok auto-generates suggested accounts for you to follow based on your watch history, likes, shares, searches, and more.
For example, if you watch a flood of Harry Potter fan edits one day, you’ll soon see various Wizarding World fan accounts recommended to you.
TikTok picks up signals that you enjoy that content niche and uses them to personalize your experience. In theory, you’ll appreciate and more actively follow suggestions aligned with the videos the app knows you already love watching.
However, as with any AI, TikTok’s algorithms aren’t foolproof. The follow recommendations aren’t always spot-on fits for every user’s eclectic interests.
And just rapidly tapping through lots of recommended accounts in your feed can unintentionally make some sticks. Again, this follows without clear intent or true interest in the accounts themselves.
3. The Risks of Third-Party Growth Hacking Apps
In the quest for TikTok fame and rapid audience growth, an unfortunate underground marketplace has emerged. You may see ads for third-party apps and services that claim they can escalate your growth.
They promise enticing results like thousands of automatic views, likes, and new followers flooding your account overnight. However, they achieve such inflated numbers through artificial engagement and spam accounts.
These growth hacking apps pose multiple dangers beyond just TikTok’s terms of service violations. Downloading them can open your device and account access to malicious actors.
They may automatically generate hundreds of follows and unfollows from fake bot accounts. That explains sudden spikes and drops in your following count absent of your own actions.
What’s more, these shady apps mimic organic activity poorly in volume, timing, and sources. So they’re likely to trigger TikTok’s fraud detection filters and get your legitimate account banned.
Avoid the temptation to artificially inflate your numbers, as that will only stunt your long-term, authentic growth goals on TikTok.
4. Participating in Follow Chains
A more ethical yet still messy tactic some people use to gain followers is participating in follow chains. These involve TikTok creators directly asking their viewers to follow 5, 10, or 20+ other accounts in exchange for follows backs.
It’s common during a TikTok LIVE to hear “type your location and follow everyone in the comments section” or a variation of this statement.
Instructions vary, like “follow everyone on my favorites list and leave a comment when you’re done.”
The written exchanges involved make it clear you’re willingly engaging with follow chains to rapidly accumulate followers. However, it rarely leads to genuine connections with accounts posting content related to your interests.
And directly following dozens of random accounts per chain still clutters up your feed with unrelated videos. Over time, this actually makes it harder to rediscover old favorites you want to keep watching amid the noise.
Sure, you can always go back later and prune those accounts from your following list after reaping reciprocal follows.
But that takes effort and risks you continuing to inflate your count with fake engagement for vanity metrics alone. Only follow accounts that spark your curiosity and feel worth your watch time in the long-run.
5. Rare Algorithm Glitches Causing Confusion
No algorithm or piece of technology can ever be 100% foolproof with flawless operations 24/7/365. Though uncommon, once in a rare while, a bug may crop up in TikTok’s systems behind the scenes.
Whether it’s a code bug deployed in an update or server outage, there’s an infinitesimally small chance of a glitch somehow causing automatic follows.
Isolated incidents of hundreds or thousands of users reporting sudden surges of random follows and unfollows at nearly the same time indicate a broader platform problem.
TikTok likely scrambles to identify those technical issues’ root cause for urgent fixing ASAP. After all, messy artificial distortion of accounts’ follow data poses risks for undermining trust and satisfaction with the app itself.
If you personally notice your own following count spike drastically overnight through no actions of your own, technical difficulties could be to blame.
Report the abnormal activity to TikTok right away just in case. But rest assured the follow surge probably results more from a temporary site reliability hiccup than anything intentionally malicious against your individual account.
How To Stop Auto Following On TikTok
If you’ve realized your account has started following TikTok accounts you have no interest or memory of choosing to follow, here are some steps to undo the unwanted follows:
1. Review Your Full Following List
- Open your TikTok profile and tap the Following count to open your full list
- Slowly scroll through your full following list, scanning for accounts you don’t recognize or remember choosing to follow
- Pay special attention to accounts with very few followers or posts themselves, which may indicate bot accounts
2. Prune Your Following With Unfollows
- Tap into any account profiles from your following list that look unfamiliar, irrelevant, or unused
- In their profile, tap the Follow button again – it will change to a Unfollow button
- Tap Unfollow to remove that account from your following list
- Repeat this pruning process until your following list only reflects accounts you do recognize and actually care about
3. Consider Changing Your Password
If you followed a very large number of random accounts involuntarily, it’s wise to change your account password as a security precaution.
- In Settings, tap Manage Account > Change Password and reset your password to something new
- This will log out any unknown third-party apps linked to your account and prevent continued access
4. Report Suspicious Activity to TikTok
If you followed an abnormally high number of accounts without intending to, report it:
- Tap the Share icon on your profile and choose Report a Problem.
- Select “Other” and describe the automatic following situation
- This can help TikTok identify and resolve any bot networks spamming the platform
Be patient, as it may take some time to manually prune a large follow list. But this should return full control over who you do and don’t follow based on your own interests and choices.
Ways to Prevent Auto Following in the Future
Recovering from a bout of unwelcome auto following can be tedious. Fortunately, there are some best practices you can implement to help prevent your account from following others without your intent going forward:
Pay Close Attention to Your Taps
Since accidental taps are a top reason for unintended follows, be more purposeful about how you interact with the app:
- Tap profile icons and buttons decisively to avoid hitbox mishaps
- Drag your finger directly to the intended on-screen button before lifting
- Avoid absentminded, rapid fire tapping around the app
- Use two hands/thumbs on larger phones to allow more precision
Review Your Following Regularly
Make it a habit to periodically scan through your full following list, not just the accounts you interact with often. Look for any names you don’t recognize to uncover accidentally followed accounts sooner.
Disable Suggested Users Notifications
If you find TikTok’s algorithmic follow suggestions more annoying than useful, disable prompts to view them:
- Go to Settings > Notifications > Suggested Users and toggle off
This prevents the temptation to hastily follow recommendations without review.
Ignore Follow Chain Requests
Refrain from participating in follow chains that instruct mass following other users in exchange for follow backs. This is an inorganic way to gather followers who don’t actually care about your content.
Decline Recommendations Irrelevant to Your Interests
Don’t follow TikTok’s suggested accounts purely for the sake of swelling your numbers. If recommendations feel irrelevant to your niche interests, feel free to ignore them. Wait until you discover accounts organically that truly appeal to you.
Avoid Third-Party Growth Services
Steer clear of any third-party websites or apps claiming to boost TikTok followers and engagement. These often use fake accounts and bots which can trigger platform punishments. Focus on building an audience naturally through great content instead.