The social media platform TikTok says it’s introducing new features to help creators, especially Black folks and other people of color, be recognized for trendsetting on the viral video platform.
Starting today, TikTok is launching “creator crediting tools” to let users easily tag and attribute the original source of content they’ve shared or updated. Users sharing a new video based on another’s content can follow a few quick steps to tag the OG content in the new caption. TikTok will also prompt users as they post to credit original creators and it will launch a pop-up explaining the importance of attribution.
The company wants to create a “culture of credit” that’s more equitable for underrepresented creators, said Kudzi Chikumbu, TikTok’s U.S. Director Of Creator Community, in a blog post about the changes.
TikTok’s new features won’t directly help the platform’s trendsetters make more money but they are aimed at bringing visibility to those who create some of the platform’s most popular and monetized content. That could lead to more followers or brand partnerships for currently marginalized creators.
TikTok claims 1 billion active monthly users globally. Its popularity allows the video platform to also be lucrative for influencers who create short videos including dances, music and voiceovers, that go viral. TikTokers have several ways to monetize their content including payouts from the company’s “creator fund” and seven-figure brand partnerships for the most popular creators on the platform.
But some Black TikTokers say they’re often robbed of the ability to make money from their work due to cultural appropriation. Many viral trends that start with Black and Latinx creators often get copied by white creators, some of whom have built huge followings with content that mimics culturally relevant content started in marginalized communities. The creators on Forbes’ list of the top-paid TikTokers made between $4.75 million and $17.5 million from their content last year; none are Black.
The new features announced today follow several other initiatives designed to highlight Black creators and address disparities and appropriation on the platform. In January 2021, it launched an incubator for Black creators in partnership with Macro, a multimedia company focused on Black talent and stories. It launched an incubator for Latinx creatives last August. It launched a curated account, @BlackTikTok, that promotes content from Black creatives on the platform.
It publishes lists of prominent or rising TikTokers, including its Creator Spotlight Series, which features people of color who create popular trends on the platform and “Trailblazer Lists” that highlight creators during Black History Month, Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Arab American Heritage Month.
Yesterday, TikTok released its first Showbiz List that features creators who are influencers in entertainment. That list features several Black creators including actor Joshua Neal, animator Felle Animated, movie critic Juju Green, choreographer Ariana Taylor, cinematographer Domenica Comai, videographer Noah Bowman, costume designer JeremyTheTea, director Samba Diop, makeup artist Tenisha Billington and indie songwriter MegaGoneFree.