The Struggles of Black Tik Tok Content Creators
In June 2021, black TikTok creator, Erick Louis, had enough and organized a strike for black
TikTok to stop creating dance videos. It had become visibly noticeable that white Tiktok creators were stealing black content and gaining virality and substantial profit. This strike exhibited the massive impact black creators had on the platform and their impact on the culture.
Some artists rely on created Tik Tok dancers to develop a two-step to their song for it to go viral. For instance, Megan thee Stallion's song, "Savage" gained over 16 million video creations. Unfortunately, this strike began with the new release of her song, "Thot Shit" and the song suffered due to the strike.
"The strike is the latest move in a long-running fight for Black creators to get their dues on the platform, not only from fellow influencers but also from the business itself. (huffpost.com)
Long before the strike, dance creator Jaliaiah Harmon shared her experience as a black content creator. She shared how her song, the Renegade, gained more attention with the New York Times from white TikToker, Charli D'Amelio. Initially, her dance was dubbed by TikTok creator @global.jones without credit. Later the exposure increased, and the dance landed in Charli D'Amelio's feed.
To add more salt to the wound, Tik Tok influencer Addision Rae, performed her dance on the Jimmy Fallon show and earned about $5 million from Tik Tok views. Although Jaliaiah started to bring awareness of what happened to her, she still feels counted out for not initially receiving credit. Jaliaiah was not afforded the opportunities nor the income she deserved from creating "the Renegade". "I think I could have gotten money for it, promos for it; I could have gotten famous off it, get noticed", Jalaiah said. "I don't think any of that stuff has happened for me because no one knows I made the dance". (www.nytimes.com)
The Post-Strike Impact
A year after the strike, black Tik Tok content creators are still struggling to make the same
traction as white creators. According to Rolling Stone, "Tiktok took a series of steps to show support for Black creators. This included a page titled "Crediting Creators", which outlined how to acknowledge originators of a trend properly". They also created the hashtag " #supportblackbusiness "; and introduced the MACRO grant that gifts $50,000 to 10 Tik Tok creators. Although Tik Tok put some measures in place to absolve the issues, per Rolling Stone, there aren't any concrete laws against stolen choreography. A creator can opt into copyrighting their dance; however, it has to be a series of dance moves within the same sequence for it to be labeled as stolen.
Another possible facet is the change in algorithm, "Tik Tok recently tweaked its algorithm, with a goal of diversifying the types of clips that show up on the For You pages". (Rolling Stone) I can attest to this as I see more and more food tutorials, small business ads, funny stories, and skits on my home feed. Their reasoning for this could be a way for them to diversify the content racially, yet it still damages black Tik Tok dancers. Is there a solid solution for balance in content creation, virality, and credit? I don't think so, but creators need to ensure they protect themselves and credit their work as much as they can to reap the benefits.
Posted by : Laydie Fluent
Written by : Renita Betts
Owner of the Be Your Own Kind Platform