TikTok is Silencing Black Voices

TikTok has been taking over the social media realm for Millennials and Gen Zers this past year. With its gaining popularity, however, there are sure to be blips. While some issues are quick fixes (like its hashtags not working properly), some are more detrimental--namely, the silencing of Black creators.

While the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining a lot of attention through the summer of 2020, Black creators and allies took to TikTok to use their voices and talk about the injustices Black people were facing in the United States. However, many of these users noticed that their videos regarding Black Lives Matter were not receiving the same amount of views and interaction as they typically would.

In July, TIME Magazine spoke to Black TikTok creators who had noticed the suppression they were facing on the app. “A number of creators who TIME spoke to say they have either experienced noticeable declines in viewership and engagement on their videos after posting content in support of the Black Lives Matter movement,” wrote Megan McCluskey.

Back in June of 2020, TikTok released a statement apologizing for the way its app suppressed Black voices on TikTok, specifically when speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement. They stated in June that they “acknowledge and apologize to [their] Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed.”

In the apology, TikTok blamed a lot of the discrepancy Black creators were taking issue with to the fact that their hashtags were glitched. The app claimed that was why videos tagged with #blacklivesmatter were receiving less--or no--views in certain circumstances. Now, in the new year, Black creators still feel the need to strain to get their voices heard, and TikTok is still not listening.

One of the many creators to speak out on the silencing is @Fionanicol_ who goes by eggsyolkseggs on TikTok. On December 3rd she called out TikTok for suppressing Black voices once again in this video. She stated that when she would speak on Black issues in her TikToks, they would be taken down. When a video is taken down from TikTok, it is usually because the video violates community guidelines. However, all over her videos were in accordance with the guidelines.

Also mentioned in the video was that another popular Black TikToker, @headoftheehoochies, was banned. Her page is mostly dedicated to speaking about racism, calling out White creators’ racist videos, and praising black women. Her account’s removal, in conjunction with many comments from other Black users on the app saying that they experienced the same thing, has made it increasingly clear that TikTok is suppressing Black voices--and doing so with little subtlety.

Black creators are doing their best to combat this discriminatory behaviour by telling people to make sure to interact with every Black creator’s TikTok they see. This is a way to promote videos and try to get them to gain traction on the app, leaving it to the users to right TikTok’s wrongs.

User @bukutriece highlighted how to fight this suppression in a video, which gained popularity. The video breaks down how TikTok is an algorithm, to combat the silencing of Black voices, users should do everything they can to interact with Black creators’ videos and boost them.

Being forced to address it in June, it is clear that this has been an issue the app has had for a long time. This time, a typed-out apology will not be accepted. TikTok needs to acknowledge the problem and take action to rectify it. There are things that need to be left behind in 2020, and the blatant suppression of Black voices on TikTok is one of them.