The Brief: TikTokers are finding creative ways to post about the Black Lives Matter movement in ways that the algorithm, which has been accused of censorship, will highlight.
Black TikTokers have been making their voices heard by addressing the racism embedded in the app and amplifying each others’ videos. In May, the #ImBlack movement called on all TikTok users to amplify content from Black creators. As mass protests demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others who have died at the hands of police brutality and white supremacy take place around the world both online and off, TikTokers are finding creative ways to post about the Black Lives Matter movement in ways that will garner attention and that algorithm will highlight.
TikTok directly addressed their role in censoring content from Black TikTokers in a statement issued on June 1 in which they pledged to take steps to create a “creator diversity council” and “impact-driven programs geared towards recognizing and uplifting the voices driving culture, creativity, and important conversations on the platform.”
Many TikTokers, especially creators of color, have reported being shadowbanned on the app, noting how despite their large followings, their videos aren’t being viewed. In response, they call for TikTok to show more of their content on the For You Page and for individual viewers to boost their content with likes, comments, and shares.
By using catchy sounds, including dances, and employing bait-and-switch tactics, TikTokers are showing their support for Black Lives Matter in ways that are unique to the communities and video styles on the app. In some cases, these methods are intentionally used to disguise political videos as innocuous content, similar to how @ferozaaziz posted a bait-and-switch makeup tutorial where she called out the Uighur crisis in China. Other creators are directly asserting themselves with hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter (7.9 billion views), #GeorgeFloyd (2.8 billion views), #DefundThePolice (5.7 million views), and #ProtestTips (3 million views).
As TikTok trends develop around social awareness and activism, creators are making powerful statements, calling for justice, and reaching out to young, increasingly politically active audiences/
It’s my new favorite song so I had to add production to it #duet with @alexengelberg & @rynnstar thank you two for this 🙏🏾
In order to circumvent potential censorship, some TikTokers are sharing protest tips as hypotheticals, sarcastically saying that people “shouldn’t” use them.
anyways i’m becoming an anonymous stan. let me know if i should make more of these! 🥰
Many other TikTokers are posting content that matches the signature lighthearted style of memes on the app, but with serious political messages included, like this one from Jackie James.
Of course, “you about to lose yo job” remixes are circulating on TikTok.
In addition to the videos that are being posted which include elements of TikTok meme-culture to increase engagement, many TikTokers are posting more serious, straightforward messages to combat police brutality and systemic racism including footage from protests and calls for direct action.