TikTok apologized for a technical glitch last week that made it appear as if posts with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd had zero views and outlined steps it is taking to support the Black community, both on and off its platform.
U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas and director of creator community Kudzi Chikumbu explained in a blog post that the glitch widely affected hashtags at large, and that videos with those hashtags continued to be uploaded, viewed and engaged with.
They wrote, “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.”
TikTok will stand in solidarity with the Black community and the music industry by participating in Black Out Tuesday (June 2), turning off all playlists and campaigns on its Sounds page “to observe a moment of reflection and action.”
The platform will mark Black Music Month in June with special programming to highlights artists’ contributions to music on TikTok.
The company will also donate $3 million from its Community Relief Fund to nonprofits that aid the Black community, which, it pointed out, has been “disproportionately affected” by the Covid-19 crisis. And another $1 million will go toward “fighting the racial injustice and inequality that we are witnessing in this country.”
On-platform, TikTok said it will invest in its technology and moderation strategies in order to better handle potentially violative content and improve the appeals process.
The company also intends to establish a creator diversity council, along with program aimed at recognizing and uplifting voices driving culture, creativity and important conversations.
TikTok said it will further the efforts of its internal diversity task force and engage organizations and experts to analyze how its products and policies can better serve people of all backgrounds.
It will also develop a creator portal to expand communications channels with its creator community and provide them with opportunities.
Passas and Chikumbu wrote, “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.”
They concluded, “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.”