By Vanessa Pappas, TikTok US General Manager, and Kudzi Chikumbu, Director of Creator Community
Recently, our users have voiced tough but fair questions about whether all creators have an equal opportunity for their content to be seen and their experiences affirmed on TikTok. Unequivocally, we believe the strength in diversity of our community is what makes our platform such an amazing and wonderful place. We take great pride and responsibility in knowing that we provide underrepresented communities a platform to be seen and heard. We've been reflecting on how we can do better and wanted to share an update.
First, to our Black community: We want you to know that we hear you and we care about your experiences on TikTok. We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed. We don't ever want anyone to feel that way. We welcome the voices of the Black community wholeheartedly.
On May 19, Black creators and allies took an important stance in changing their profile pictures and connecting on the platform to speak out against how they feel the Black community has been marginalized on TikTok. And at the height of a raw and painful time, last week a technical glitch made it temporarily appear as if posts uploaded using #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd would receive 0 views. This was a display issue only that widely affected hashtags at large, and powerful videos with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag continued to be uploaded, viewed, and engaged with – in fact, videos with these hashtags have currently generated well over 2 billion views, which is a testament to their importance to and resonance among our community. Nevertheless, we understand that many assumed this bug to be an intentional act to suppress the experiences and invalidate the emotions felt by the Black community. And we know we have work to do to regain and repair that trust.
Our platform exists to create joy and inspiration, and that is made better because of our diverse community of users, creators, partners, artists, and employees. It's important to us that nobody feels unwelcome, unheard, or unsafe on TikTok. We are inspired by our Black creators, artists, and partners who have touched so many people across the country and around the world. Without them, TikTok would not be the joyful and creative community we aspire to be.
We also fully acknowledge our responsibility to not simply wish for and talk about the importance of diversity on our platform, but to actively promote and protect it. We share in the pain our country is in, and it is palpable across our TikTok communities. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Black community and, as we write this, our teams are working on ways to elevate and support Black voices and causes.
At TikTok, creating a positive experience for people is at the heart of everything we do. Our Community Guidelines exist to protect users against harm and to foster an environment where people of all backgrounds feel safe, supported, and empowered to share and create. Racism and hate speech are not tolerated on TikTok and expressly violate our guidelines. We use technology and a dedicated team of human moderators to remove content that violates these guidelines, but we know that our systems are not perfect and we want users to flag content they feel violates those standards so we can take appropriate action. We want to emphasize that nothing in our Community Guidelines seeks to discriminate against any creator nor diminish diversity on our platform, but we are committed to constantly examining our policies and practices to make sure they do not inadvertently limit exposure for creators based on who they are.
We want to share some of the actionable steps we are taking to foster an inclusive environment on our platform:
- Investing in our technology and moderation strategies to better handle potentially violative content, and designing a clearer, more user-friendly appeals process
- Establishing a creator diversity council and impact-driven programs geared towards recognizing and uplifting the voices driving culture, creativity, and important conversations on the platform
- Furthering the efforts of our internal diversity task force and engaging organizations and experts to analyze how our products and policies can better serve people of all backgrounds
- Developing a creator portal to expand communication channels with and opportunities for our broader creator community
These are long-term and ongoing measures we hope will effect change on our platform, and we recognize that real commitment requires years of engaging and listening. However, the near-term matters too.
Tomorrow, we will stand in solidarity with the Black community and the music industry by participating in Blackout Tuesday, when we will turn off all playlists and campaigns on our Sounds page to observe a moment of reflection and action. We are proud and inspired that TikTok is a platform where Black music thrives and is discovered, and throughout Black Music Month we'll be offering special programming to celebrate and highlight Black artists' contribution to music on our platform. We are committed to supporting and uplifting the artists and creators who bring new music, shape culture, and help build our community.
We are also providing support in honor of our Black creators by donating $3 million from our Community Relief Fund to non-profits that help the Black community, which has been disproportionately affected by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we are committing another $1 million toward fighting the racial injustice and inequality that we are witnessing in this country. This is just a first step, and we will further develop our ongoing efforts in this space as we work to support underrepresented groups as a whole.
We continue to work each and every day to create a supportive environment for the Black community and everyone across the world. Ultimately, our goal is for TikTok to feel like home for people everywhere. 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.