Thursday, July 2, 2020
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JUNETEENTH ON TIK TOK

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HOW TIK TOK CREATORS ARE USING JUNETEENTH TO PROTEST FOR THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT


After the death of Armaud Ahrbury, Black creators on the social media platform TikTok,  got together to stage a successful online protest against injustice towards black men and women.

On May 19th, countless creators changed their profile pictures to the Black Lives Matter fist to show their support against police brutality. The goal of the protest was simple: get more Black creators on the TikTok ‘For You’ Page, which is the explore page on the app for users to discover new content and creators. Participating non-Black creators limited the amount of times they posted that day and only liked content featuring Black creators, along with commenting hashtags like #blackvoicesheard and #blacklivesmatter on posts with Black creators. The movement garnered a lot of support with big creators like Addison Rae (43.6 million followers) changing her profile picture to the black fist and Charli D’Amelio (60.2 million followers) not posting for the entire day. 

Creators also decided to hold the media blackout after feeling as though TikTok had been trying to suppress Black creators. There have been many complaints from large Black creators like @fatraco0n speaking up against TikTok’s racist algorithm, and there has been outrage after creators found out the hashtags #georgefloyd and #ahmaudarbery were shadowbanned, leading to all the videos with that hashtag being hidden. 

After the injustice against George Floyd sparked national outrage, creators have decided to hold another blackout on Juneteenth. Juneteenth takes place on June 19th, marking the day when slavery was effectively ended in the United States. Many creators who changed their profile pictures for the original blackout decided against changing it back to normal in preparation for the second blackout. 

While most creators are very supportive of the movement, there was still minor backlash around the idea of a “blackout.” Some people were so upset with the idea that they tried to organize a TikTok “white out” on May 23rd for white TikTok creators to drown out the support for Black Lives Matter. The movement, however, was unsuccessful and gained little traction. 

Since the original protest, TikTok has come out with a statement apologizing for the shadowbanning of hashtags referencing the Black Lives Matter movement. They claimed that the shadowbanning was a “bug” and that TikTok was not intentionally trying to suppress Black creators. The director of the creator community at TikTok, Kudzi Chikumbu apologized in a statement saying, in regards to the trust of the Black community of TikTok, that “we know that we have work to do to repair and regain that trust.” TikTok also stepped up in showing their support for the Black community by participating in the social media-wide “Blackout Tuesday” on June 2nd. They showed their support by removing all of their recommended songs and promoting the hashtag #theshowmustbepaused. “The show must be paused” is a phrase coined by Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, two black women in the music industry, in an attempt for everyone to take a break and connect back with the community.