TikTok users are changing their profile pictures to the black power symbol to stand against censorship of black creators.
The protest, branded the #ImBlackMovement, is taking place across the platform on Tuesday in honor of Malcolm X’s birthday. Black creators are urging non-black allies to participate in the “black out” by changing their profile pictures to the raised black fist, unfollowing a TikTok user who does not support the movement, and following at least one new black creator.
Lex Scott, the founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, founded the black out movement when she posted a TikTok video on May 7 calling on creators to participate in the protest.
“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.
“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.”
The short video app has exploded in popularity and become one of the few Chinese-owned social media apps to gain traction in Western countries. However, many users accuse the app of censoring videos by people of color.
TikTok admitted earlier to censoring posts by creators they considered susceptible to bullying based on their physical or mental conditions, the Guardian reported.
The app confirmed these instances of censorship, telling the Guardian they “implemented a blunt and temporary policy” in a misguided attempt to stop bullying on the platform.
Now TikTok users are complaining that their For You pages, which offer a stream of videos based on the user’s activity, rarely include creators of color. This has led to the #ImBlackMovement, which aims to highlight the importance of people of color on the app.
CNN has reached out to TikTok for comment.
People participating in the movement are only liking posts by black users for the day. Non-black TikTokers are being asked to withhold from posting any videos on Tuesday and to instead celebrate and support black creators by commenting #BlackVoicesHeard on their videos.
Black TikTokers are also using the hashtag #ImBlack on their videos to spread awareness of the movement.
Feeling the impact
By Tuesday morning, thousands of TikTok accounts had changed their profile photos to the black power fist and posted videos under the hashtags, including #blackvoicesheard, which reached 6 million views.
“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 told CNN.
Many TikTokers posted videos and comments saying their feeds were almost entirely videos of black creators.
“This is so crazy,” Cj Edwards said on TikTok. “My entire ‘for you page’ is filled with black TikTok creators, with allies, with black people supporting with one another. It’s so beautiful and I am so glad to be a part of this community.”
Many black creators also shared how emotional it was to see such a massive change on the platform.
“This is a very beautiful moment on TikTok, one of the most toxic apps that there is,” TikTok user doursunflower said.
“I could cry because it’s actually working. People are actually supporting black [creators].”