TikTok has been in the news a lot lately, mainly because of Donald Trump and his threat to ban it. A new story highlights another issue plaguing the Chinese-owned insanely-popular social media platform.
In a very damning write-up dropped by Wired, TikTok and its white users are being called out for its blatant of use of “digital Blackface.” The story details how Black users are being censored for basically pushing pro-Black messaging in their content while white users continue to gain popularity by using Black culture as a caricature.
The story focuses on one Black TikTok user, Brianna Blackmon, who found out just how shady TikTok moves. The story describes how a post she shared that featured her rapping and calling out the platform for unfairly Black users. In the post, she rapped, “Black creators on this app have had enough.” “So we switched our pictures, put our fists up just to say what’s up.”
The post gained popularity quickly and is being reshared by other users and receiving praised. When Blackmon logged in the next day to check her numbers, she surprised to see the video is up, but it has been muted. Blackmon is not alone, her 29 other Black users have experienced the same issue despite not violating TikTok’s community guidelines. They also feel the social media platform is working against them while letting other users (mainly white) make a mockery of Black culture.
“Over a period of two months, I heard from 29 Black creators who shared stories about muted posts, in-app harassment, and incidents of racism. They said the problems on the app are deeper and more widespread than simple isolated incidents. “Ever since I joined I’ve felt like the app is against me,” one told me. Another added, “It’s disgusting how much they have allowed to go unchecked.” Together, their experiences belie the perception of TikTok as an app of joy and creativity, revealing instead a place tangled up in an ancient pain—a site of blurred visions and youthful ignorances, where flattery quickly turns into mockery, mockery into theft, and theft into something altogether more disturbing.”
While Black users are experiencing their posts being muted, their white counterparts are enjoying popularity on the app at the expense of Black culture. The article points out how Chris Guarino, a white teen, gained popularity with a post by using Nene Leakes’ famous “the ghetto” moment from Real Housewives of Atlanta in a clip that went viral.
“In a video uploaded to TikTok last December, a white teen saunters through an airport terminal, roller suitcase in hand. As he passes the check-in counter for Spirit—the notoriously awful low-cost airline—a look of mild irritation crosses his face. He glances left, then right. “Whew chile, the ghetto,” he says, elongating the o in ghetto. Only it’s not the young man’s voice we hear. It’s that of reality diva NeNe Leakes, whose audio was pulled, edited, and resynchronized for the eight-second clip.”
The video has gone on to amass over a half a million views. It also puts on full display corporation’s love for what is now called digital Blackface and white people’s infatuation for Black culture, the popularity it can bring when exploited. Wired reached out to Guarino for comments, but he did not respond and has since deleted his TikTok account.
The story goes on to highlight other posts from white users using Black culture for the sake of views as well. It’s clear that if TikTok wants to remain popular, it has some glaring issues to work on, and their not all Trump-related either.
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