TikTok, Black creators and hate speech

TikTok Logo. Photo courtesy TechCrunch

Trinitee Hassan is determined to not feel intimidated.

The Florida A&M student went from simply trying to spread awareness on racial injustice to receiving hundreds of racist comments on the popular social media platform TikTok. And now she believes the social media app treats Black creators poorly — at best.

Over the past six months TikTok has taken the world by storm by being rated the No. 1 entertainment app by Apple. During that time it has had more than 1 billion downloads. The Chinese-based app is comprised of 15-second video clips of varying interest such as comedy, dancing and lip-syncing.

With TikTok at the height of its popularity, many young kids have found themselves in a position of responsibility as they start to grow a large social media presence with hundreds of  thousands of followers.

Paired with the national news regarding George Floyd’s dean at the hands of white police officers in Minnesota, many content creators saw this as an opportunity to speak on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement.

For months there has been an ongoing discussion on how TikTok audiences treat their Black creators by bombarding their comment section with racial slurs and hate speech to videos speaking on behalf of the Black experience in America.

According to CNN, Lex Scott, the founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, claimed that the app suppresses those who speak on racial injustice.

“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 said.

TikTok issued an apology to its Black creators in an effort to clean up the mess it put itself in. According to Buzzfeednews, Vanessa Pappas, the general manager of TikTok, put out a statement regarding the issue.

“We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed,” Pappas said in the statement.

Black creators are often put in a position where they must fight to be seen, let alone be heard. This fight not only exists on the news feed but in the comment section as well.

Hassan, a freshman from Indiana, has gone from being known as the “funny girl” around school to being known for having a “bold” identity on TikTok.

With more than 157,000 followers and 8 million likes, Hassan, known as @Shestrin on TikTok, uses her platform for comedy and to spread awareness on racial injustice.

The video that started the stream of hate comments for Hassan spoke about the mistreatment to Black women for having their hair braided compared to the glorification of white women getting their hair braided.

“Of course there were white supremacists and racist people in my comments, however it didn’t really get to me because I went to a predominately white high school where people called me ‘nigga’ and ‘nigger’ — you name it, I have already lived this experience before,” Hassan said. “There is so much ignorance on the app that it started to get toxic, I started to not really post as much as I used to.”