In a fight against censorship of Black creators on TikTok, users began a movement to bring awareness to the issue and to uplift their content.
The movement, titled the #ImBlackMovement, was started by Lex Scott, the founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, reports CNN. On May 7, Scott posted a video to the popular social media app explaining how users could participate.
It was decided that the “blackout” would take place on May 19 in honor of Malcolm X’s birthday. Scott explained the parameters and asked fellow users to change their profile pictures to a raised Black fist, to follow at least one Black TikTok user, to only like content from Black creators and to share one awareness video.
"I did this because Black creators are being silenced on TikTok and other social media platforms and I am fed up. Our videos are taken down and our accounts are banned when we speak against racism," Scott told CNN.
Videos posted by Black creatives are often banned or taken down while white social media users are often credited for content originally created by non-white users. TikTok users have complained the For You page rarely promotes creators of color, according to CNN.
A popular TikTok dance, the Renegade, was originally choreographed by 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon but was made popular by Charli D’Amelio, who at first did not give Jalaiah credit. Many on the app deemed Charli the “CEO” of the routine, as The New York Times reported.
“I was happy when I saw my dance all over, but I wanted credit for it,” Jalaiah said.
As Scott mentioned, the app has also removed videos in which creators point out the racism they experience on the platform, according to Forbes.
"I want TikTok to change their policies when it comes to Black and brown creators. We should not be punished for speaking against racism. The accounts of actual racists should be taken down,” Scott said.
TikTok has admitted to censoring videos in an attempt to limit bullying, according to the Guardian. The guidelines were applied to those who “were susceptible to bullying or harassment based on their physical or mental condition,” including “facial disfigurement, autism, Down syndrome, [or] disabled people or people with some facial problems” as well as users who “show a rainbow flag in their biographies or describe themselves as lesbian, gay or non-binary … The list also includes users who are simply fat and self-confident.”
The app later said it changed the policy as the first “approach was wrong.”
To spread awareness of the movement, Black TikTok users used hashtags such as #ImBlack in their captions. The hashtags for the movement attracted significant traffic — #blackout received over 195 million views and #blackvoicesheard has over 30 million views.
Many of the app's users took advantage of the movement in order to explain how Black creators have different experiences on the app compared to white users.
Others posted videos explaining who they are and what content they post in order to get maximum exposure.
"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," Scott said.