TikTok Creators are Property?

Tiktok symbol behind bars wiht falling money behind bars.
Media by Kasen Williams.

Many people attempt to entertain others, and some search for a career through it. In the age of social media, it has become much easier to start on that path, but not to reach the end goal. TikTok is one of many platforms that has attracted people by promising fame.

Image is the standard tiktok symbol which consists of overlapping music notes in red, white, and blue placed on a black background with the word tiktok underneath.
Media by Tik Tok.

TikTok has grown to become a large empire, with 800 million active users in their statistic review of 2020 so far. While growing to such a high number, TikTok decided to reward its creators by starting the “Creator Fund.” This fund is free to join, but you must meet the minimum requirements of 10,000 followers and content views within the last month.

There has been an overwhelmingly negative response to this fund. Many content creators claim their analytics have seen drastic decreases since joining the fund. These creators feel that this is TikTok’s doing so they do not make as much money as they originally would have. To get a more personal insight, an interview was conducted with the content creator “HellaSammy,” referred to as Sam by their following. Sam is a smaller creator on TikTok with about 28.3 thousand followers.

When asked what drew them to the idea of joining this program, they stated, “It was with the intent to make money off my content, as I post consistently. Almost every day to be exact.” Like many creators, Sam saw this as a chance to make money off something they love doing. This seemed like a dream come true, only to have it slowly revealed to be a façade.

Media by HellaSammy.

When asked to summarize their experience with this program, Sam explained, “My experience with the Creator Fund has not been pleasant. It is essentially a scam for creators that have not reached the requirements for the marketplace and have tanked views and hidden content from followers. My time in the Creator Fund has not met my expectations and has greatly disappointed me and my fellow creators on the app.”

Like many creators after signing up for this program, Sam saw a sudden drop in views and engagement in their content. This drop-off is frightening to someone who relies on it for income. There was no specific cause, but the timing of this correlates with when Sam joined the Creator Fund, along with many other creators who began to notice their sudden lack of engagement. As a content creator, it is not uncommon to see waves of engagement and non-engagement, but this sudden drop is far more severe than an average drop one would see. It also suddenly happened when creators were now able to make money for their views and engagement. This has lead many creators to believe it is TikTok denying them reach as a way to control the amount of money one makes in this fund.

Media by HellaSammy.

When questioned about the possiblility of leaving the Creator Fund, as many other creators have, the response was mostly negative. Sam said, “I am conflicted in the choice of leaving the Creator Fund since it is the only source of income I receive from my videos. However, because they have stolen my views, the income I get is very low. Creators who have left the Creator Fund have talked about how even though they have left, their views did not return.” 

Several creators tried to get their views to increase by leaving the program, but they still did not return. Many creators, including Sam, feel like they are stuck in the program because of this. They can either leave and still have bad views or stay and at least make a little money off the content. They feel like they are caged into this negative situation. TikTok claims that their app is for fun and entertainment, so why are they making creators feel like property? Content creators are just trying to entertain and bring happiness to others, yet they feel forced to create their content with very little benefit.


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