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TikTok users protest the unfair censorship of black creators

People changed their profile pictures to the black power symbol, and only liked content from POCs for a one-day ‘black out’ on the app

Video sharing platform TikTok doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to censorship. The app has previously come under fire for banning LGBTQ+ content in certain countries, blocking a user who criticised China, and suppressing posts by users it deemed ‘ugly’, poor, or disabled. Now, users are fighting back and standing in solidarity with black creators, who are unfairly penalised by TikTok.

Yesterday (May 19), TikTok users partook in a one-day ‘black out’ on the app, in which they changed their profile pictures to the black power symbol, only followed and liked content from black creators, and urged non-black allies to avoid posting videos that day.

Dubbed the #ImBlackMovement, the idea came from Black Lives Matter Utah founder, Lex Scott, who posted a video on May 7 calling on creators to participate in the protest. Scott urged black users to create at least one video “that brings awareness to the racism on TikTok”. She added: “This video can speak about how black creators are banned, how videos are being taken down, and how white racists are allowed to flourish.”

TikTok users have frequently complained that their For You pages – which offer a stream of content based on your previous activity – rarely include creators of colour. But on Tuesday, the app was flooded with black power fists and videos from POCs, all hashtagged with #blackout2020#blackvoicesheard#iamblack, and more. 

Speaking to CNN, Scott said: “Watching the entire feed filled with black creators and artists is beyond emotional. This is powerful. Today is a moving day. It is beautiful beyond words.” Users were also commenting on videos, proclaiming that their feeds were almost entirely dominated by creators of colour.

TikTok previously addressed criticisms of its moderation policies – which the app admitted does censor certain users – explaining that the rules “represented an early blunt attempt at preventing bullying”.

Watch some of the videos from yesterday’s ‘black out’ below.