TikTok pledges to promote black creators after accusations of censorship

 theverge.com  06/01/2020 22:36:58   Makena Kelly
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

TikTok on Monday laid out a series of actions it plans to take to address criticisms that its recommendation algorithm suppresses black creators.

These steps include launching what it calls a creator diversity council aimed at recognizing and uplifting the voices driving culture, creativity, and important conversations on the platform, the company wrote in a blog post. TikTok says it will also reassess its moderation strategies, build out a new user-friendly appeals process, and develop a new creator portal for expanding communications and opportunities for our broader creator community.

TikTok said it will stand in solidarity with the Black community on Tuesday by participating in Black Out Tuesday, a day of action against racial injustice planned by the music industry. TikTok said it will shut down its Sounds page, turning off all playlists and campaigns to observe a moment of reflection and action. The platform pledged a $3 million donation to non-profits that help the black community and a separate $1 million donation to address racial injustice and inequality. However, TikTok did not name any specific organizations in its blog.

We appreciate being held accountable. We know that getting to a place of trust will take work, but we are dedicated to doing our part as we continue to foster a space where everyone is seen and heard, the company writes.

In May, TikTok users started changing their profile pictures to the black power symbol to protest the censorship of black creators. According to CNN, TikTok users would unfollow other users who did not support the movement, and black creators asked non-black allies to follow at least one new black creator. Shortly after, and at the height of protests across the country opposing police brutality, TikTok suffered what it called a technical glitch that made it appear as though videos uploaded under the #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd hashtags received zero views.

Still on Friday, TikTok appeared to restrict the search results for hashtags like #acab and #fuckthepolice. Users could still use the tags, but their videos would not show up when searching for the tags. In December, TikTok admitted that it suppressed videos by disabled, queer, and fat creators. According to Slate, TikTok censored videos by creators it deemed to be vulnerable to cyberbullying. Users with autism, Down syndrome, birthmarks, or slight squints had their videos suppressed, too.

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