TikTok is taking a step forward to help black creators on its app.
This move should have come some time ago, but it’s here now and hopefully it’s just a beginning.
On Jan. 13 the company announced the launch of “TikTok for Black Creatives,” described as a three-month incubator program.
A news release from the popular social media app said the new program, “will invest in and support emerging Black creators and music artists on TikTok.” The program will be made up of 100 TikTok creators. Yet according to CNBC TikTok revealed they receive more than 100 million users a month in the United States alone.
According to the statement the program will be made up, “from motivational town halls with some of the biggest, most successful Black entrepreneurs and celebrities, to community-building forums and educational events with TikTok executives, the program aims to further grow and develop an already flourishing Black creative community on TikTok.”
TikTok began accepting applications for those who meet the criteria the same day the program was announced. Applications were open through Jan. 27 with intent on announcing finalists in February.
This initiative comes after black creators have said they have been overlooked and unsupported by the app time and time again. There have been multiple instances where new trends have been set by black creators and have gone viral through TikTok videos.
Most of the time Black TikTok user content goes viral after other creators copy a video and end up getting the recognition instead of the original creator.
One of the most prominent examples is the controversy that occurred with who got credited with the viral “Renegade” dance. The “Renegade” dance was created by a 14-year old Black dancer named Jalaiah Harmon.
The dance was recreated on TikTok by its users after Harmon posted it on other social media platforms, yet those performing her choreography didn’t credit her for the dance. The credit was given to popular TikTok creators most notably Charli D’Amelio who gained a lot of popularity and is well known for her video of the “Renegade” dance.
Harmon ultimately got recognition for her dance, but she had to fight for it.
“She hopped in the comments of several videos, asking influencers to tag her. For the most part she was ridiculed or ignored,” according to an article from The New York Times.
There have been other instances when creators haven’t felt supported by the app and where they have had to continue to fight for fairness.
Black creators produce a lot of content for the app, but according to the app’s statement many users have stated in the past that they have, “felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed.”
These claims from creators caused TikTok to issue a statement in May 2020. In the statement TikTok apologized to users and addressed an incident that made users speak out against the app.
“On May 19, Black creators and allies took an important stance in changing their profile pictures and connecting on the platform to speak out against how they feel the Black community has been marginalized on TikTok,” the response read.
TikTok went on to explain that “a technical glitch made it temporarily appear as if posts uploaded using #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd would receive 0 views. This was a display issue only that widely affected hashtags at large, and powerful videos with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag continued to be uploaded, viewed, and engaged with – in fact, videos with these hashtags have currently generated well over 2 billion views.”
The app did not elaborate any further on the glitch that coincidentally occurred at a pivotal moment for black creators to express themselves through the app.
It is because of events like these that it was important for the app to take this initiative where they can build up creators for success. TikTok can show inclusivity through this new program and in the long run these creators could be creating impactful and successful content for the app itself.
“These are long-term and ongoing measures we hope will effect change on our platform, and we recognize that real commitment requires years of engaging and listening. However, the near-term matters too,” the company said.“Establishing a creator diversity council and impact-driven programs geared towards recognizing and uplifting the voices driving culture, creativity, and important conversations on the platform.”
This is the first step in uplifting black creators who have previously felt let down by the app. If this program becomes an annual thing it can continue to reach a larger audience and impact many more creators.