If you’re a TikTok creator, you have access to a tool called the Creator Marketplace. This marketplace allows you to connect with brands who may be interested in commissioning you for a series of promotions on the popular social media app.
But if you’re a Black TikTok creator, you’ll find that using the marketplace to connect with such organizations as #BlackLivesMatter — or even typing in a search for “Black Lives Matter” in the toolbar — will result in the content being labeled “offensive.”
According to Vox, that’s exactly what creator Ziggi Tyler went through. “Anything Black-related is inappropriate content,” he said in a video describing the situation.
According to Tyler, this is just another example of how Black content is regulated on social media in a way that white content is not.
“I’m not going to sit here and let that happen,” he said to Vox. “Especially on a platform that makes all these pages saying things like, ‘We support you, it’s Black history month in February.’”
But a spokesman for TikTok told the outlet that there is no implicit bias at all. Rather, they claim, it was an error in the way things were coded in the app. And now that they know what happened, they say, they are going to fix it.
“We recognize and apologize for how frustrating this was to experience, and our team is working quickly to fix this significant error. To be clear, Black Lives Matter does not violate our policies and currently has over 27B views on our platform,” they said.
A TikTok representative also said that they tried to reach out to Tyler, but they haven’t heard back from him.
Tyler, however, said that algorithm or not, it shouldn’t take him going viral on TikTok — and garnering significant press — for the company to do something about their problem.
“Regardless of what the algorithm is and how it picked up, somebody had to program that algorithm,” Tyler told Recode. “And if [the problem] is the algorithm, and the marketplace has been available since , why wasn’t this a conversation you had with your team, knowing there have been racial controversies?”