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TikTok Announces First Wave of Influencers to Get Paid Under its New Creator Fund

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  • Avani Gregg, Michael Le, David Dobrik, and 16 others will be the first to receive money from TikTok’s new Creator Fund, which was established to support creators hoping to earn money for their content.
  • The $200 million fund is expected to grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. over the next three years and TikTok is encouraging eligible creators to apply for the next round of funding when applications open in mid-August. 
  • Many believe this move will help incentivize users to remain loyal to the platform as new competitors emerge. 
  • Others say it could also help TikTok bolster itself as a viable economic platform for Americans as it works to strike a deal with an American company to avoid a U.S. ban. 

What is the Creator Fund?

TikTok announced the first wave influencers who will get paid for their content under its new Creator Fund.

The company first announced it’s $200 million dollar Creator Fund in July, as a way to support “ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content.” TikTokers, of course, were pretty excited about that because it meant there was an opportunity for them to get paid directly from the platform they post on.

Responses to the news were so positive that TikTok later updated its announcement to say that it expected the fund to grow to “over $1 billion in the US in the next 3 years, and more than double that globally.”

In a statement released Monday, the company finally announced that 19 creators will be its first recipients. 

Who’s Getting Paid? 

The list includes popular personalities like Avani Gregg, Brittany Tomlinson – who you might know as Kombucha girl, Michael Le, Spencer X, and David Dobrik, to name a few. 

Some of the creators already came from full-time entertainment backgrounds like Dobrik, but others are TikTokers who completely built their massive followings on the app. The full list includes creators from a range of different genres, from comedy to beauty, music, cooking, dancing, and even healthcare. 

Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok U.S., said in the statement, “Each of these creators has shown what it means to be your authentic self, bring joy and inspiration to people, and creatively connect with an audience…From redefining a category to venturing into uncharted waters, these creators are a huge part of TikTok and we’re grateful for their ingenuity and creative spirit.”  

As of now, there are no confirmed details about how much each creator will receive or whether the amount varies from creator to creator. However, The Los Angeles Times reported that at least one creator will receive a six-figure amount, according to a person with knowledge of that agreement.

Still, this is only the beginning of these payments. In its latest announcement, TikTok encouraged others to apply when its in-app application opens in mid-August. To be eligible, users have to meet the minimum eligibility criteria, which includes: being at least 18 years old, having at least 10,000 followers, having accrued at least 10,000 views in the last 30 days, and posting original content in line with Community Guidelines.

“This Fund was created to reward your creativity, your passion, and your tenacious spirit to connect with others. We invite you to turn your creativity into an opportunity to earn a livelihood, pursue another career, or simply, to be rewarded for doing what you love,” TikTok added. 

Potential Competition and Struggles with the U.S. Government

Obviously, the concept of a platform paying its creators is not new. YouTube’s Creator Program is perhaps the most well-known program that exists, and other platforms like Instagram also have some monetization features. 

However, TikTok’s lack of in house monetization has been viewed as a drawback by some, and opportunities for growth and financial gain are a huge reason why TikTokers have been extending themselves off-platform.

Some see these payments as an important move for TikTok that incentivizes big creators to remain focused on the app, while also encouraging smaller creators to remain dedicated to it. 

Stephanie Smith, who works for the digital strategy division of United Talent Agency, said, “It shows that TikTok values their creators and understands that their content is what makes the platform successful.”

“That acknowledgment is critical and will help build long-term loyalty with creators.”

The concept of platform loyalty is interesting to keep in mind when you consider all the emerging competition popping up amid rising tensions between the U.S. government and the app. 

Just last week, Instagram announced Reels, which essentially copies TikTok’s features and is considered one of the app’s biggest threats. According to the LA Times, Instagram has even offered some creators money to post content for Reels. On top of that, some TikTokers have decided to invest in a new music video app called Thriller, citing concerns over how TikTok manages user data. 

Trouble for TikTok escalated last week when President Donald Trump issued an executive order that would outlaw business dealings with TikTok in the U.S. by Sept. 21. That is, at least if its parent company, ByteDance, can’t close a deal with an American buyer for TikTok’s U.S.-based business by then. 

For now, many believe its especially important for TikTok to bolster its image and present itself as a viable economic platform for Americans as it works to avoid a U.S. ban. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Los Angeles Times(Tubefilter

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JoJo Siwa Fans Caution Against Labeling the Star’s Sexuality

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  • JoJo Siwa was featured in two TikTok videos Wednesday that many felt signaled her as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • One showed her dancing and lip-syncing to Paramore’s “Aint It Fun,” along with members of the TikTok group Pride House LA. Siwa specifically mouthed the lyric “Now you’re one of us,” which is also the caption of the post. 
  • The second video showed her lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” a song that has long been heralded as an LGBTQ+ anthem.  
  • The 17-year-old entertainer has not directly addressed speculations about her sexuality, prompting many to caution against labeling her.

JoJo Siwa TikToks Trigger Sexuality Speculations

JoJo Siwa fans are urging the public not to label the 17-year-old entertainer’s sexuality, especially when she has not explicitly done so herself.

The request came after Siwa became a trending topic Wednesday when many speculated that she had come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

The speculations stem from two TikTok videos she was featured in. The first was posted on choreographer Kent Boyd’s account. It features him and other members of the TikTok group Pride House LA, which includes several stars from Disney Channel’s “Teen Beach Movie.”

It showed them all lip-syncing and dancing along to Paramore’s hit song “Ain’t It Fun.” Siaw specifically mouthed the lyric “Now you’re one of us.” That lyric was also the caption of the post.

@kentboyd_

Now your one of us!! @itsjojosiwa @molleegray @garrettclayton91 @jekajane #pridehousela

♬ now ur one of us – Mia Mugavero

Later in the day, Siwa posted a video on her personal TikTok account that featured her lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” a song that has long been heralded as an LGBTQ+ anthem. 

Part of the lyrics she sang along to were: “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian transgender life / I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.” 

Reactions

These posts really started all the rumors online, and things picked up when influencers like James Charles, Bretman Rock, and others expressed their support.

Many fans also left comments on the videos saying they were proud of her, and journalist Yashar Ali tweeted, “This feels like a big deal if it is what I think it is…JoJo Siwa is hugely popular with kids.”

“And as someone just pointed out, if it is what I think it is, she’s doing it at the height of her fame when she’s selling out arenas,” he continued.

Despite the wave of praise, other fans feel that it’s inappropriate and harmful to make speculations about anyone’s sexuality.

Many have even shared their own experiences coming out, reminding people not to label Siwa as anything until she explicitly chooses to share that information herself. 

While Siwa hasn’t directly addressed any of the responses as of yet, she has retweeted a post that features her video, the pride flag emoji, and the caption, “@itsjojosiwa is on the right track, she was born this way.”

Still, others also noted that she has publicly asked Lady Gaga to collaborate with her in the past, so perhaps this is a signal about that happening soon.

Others believe it could also be Siwa’s way of signaling that she is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Metro) (Teen Vogue)

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Google Investigates Top AI Researcher Who Was Looking Into a Previous Firing

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  • Google is investigating the co-leader of its Ethical AI team, Margaret Mitchell.
  • While Mitchell has not been fired, her account has been locked because Google said she “exfiltrated thousands of files” and shared them with people outside of the company. 
  • In a tweet, Mitchell indicated that she had been “documenting current critical issues” related to the firing of another Google AI Ethicist in December.
  • Sources reportedly told Axios that Mitchell had been specifically looking for messages that showed discriminatory treatment of that fired researcher.

Google Investigates Margaret Mitchell

On Tuesday, Google stated that it is now investigating the co-leader of its Ethical Al team, Margaret Mitchell.

Mitchell has reportedly not been fired, but her company email account has been locked.

According to Google, its security systems automatically lock employee accounts “when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered.”

In this case, Google said Mitchell “exfiltrated thousands of files” and then shared them with people outside of the company. 

Why Did Mitchell Begin Looking Through Files?

Mitchell’s investigation is related to the ousting of another top AI ethicist at Google, Timnit Gebru, who was fired at the beginning of December. 

Before Gebru was fired, managers reportedly instructed her to withdraw an unpublished research paper upon her return from vacation. In an email to the internal listserv Google Brain Women and Allies, Gebru then voiced frustration at managers for allegedly making the decision without her input. 

“You are not worth having any conversations about this, since you are not someone whose humanity (let alone expertise recognized by journalists, governments, scientists, civic organizations such as the electronic frontiers foundation etc) is acknowledged or valued in this company,” Gebru said in a critique of the decision. 

Gebru’s firing led to such a massive outcry from Google employees that Google CEO Sundar Pichai pledged to investigate the situation. 

On Friday, Mitchell indicated in a tweet that she was also looking into Gebru’s firing, saying that she was “documenting current critical issues from [Gebru’s] firing, point by point, inside and outside work.”

According to Axios, sources have said that Mitchell used automated scripts to siphon through messages that potentially document discriminatory treatment against Gebru.

See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Verge) (Bloomberg)

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Says Trump Ban Was the “Right Decision” But Sets “Dangerous” Precedent

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  • While defending Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump, CEO Jack Dorsey noted the “dangerous” precedent such a move set.
  • “Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation,” Dorsey said in a lengthy Twitter thread on Wednesday. “They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning.”
  • Dorsey’s message came the same day Twitter fully reinstated Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Co.) account, hours after locking it for violating Twitter rules. A Twitter spokesperson later described the lock as an “incorrect enforcement action.”

Dorsey Describes Trump Ban as a Double-Edged Sword

In a lengthy Twitter thread published Wednesday, CEO Jack Dorsey defended his platform’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump, while also noting the “dangerous” precedent such a unilateral move sets.

Twitter made the decision to ban Trump on Jan. 8, two days after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol complex in an assault that left multiple dead.

“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban [Trump] from Twitter, or how we got here,” Dorsey said in the first of 13 tweets. 

Nonetheless, Dorsey described Trump’s ban as “the right decision for Twitter.”

“Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” he added.

“That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey continued.

“[It] sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

Dorsey described most bans as a failure of Twitter to “promote healthy conversation,” though he noted that exceptions to such a mindset also exist. Among other failures, Dorsey said extreme actions like a ban can “fragment public conversation,” divide people, and limit “clarification, redemption, and learning.”

Dorsey: Trump Bans Were Not Coordinated

Dorsey continued his thread by addressing claims and criticism that Trump’s ban on Twitter violated free speech.

“A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same,” he said.

Indeed, multiple legal experts have stated that Trump’s ban on social media does not amount to First Amendment violations, as the First Amendment only addresses government censorship. 

“If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service,” Dorsey added. However, Dorsey noted that such a concept has been challenged over the past week. 

Trump has now been banned or suspended from a number of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. On Wednesday, Snapchat announced plans to terminate Trump’s account in the “interest of public safety.” Previously, Snapchat had only suspended his account, but as of Jan. 20, it will be permanently banned. 

Addressing criticism of the swift bans handed down by these platforms in the wake of the Capitol attack, Dorsey said he doesn’t believe Trump’s bans on social media were coordinated.

“More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others,” he said.

Twitter Reverses Course of Locking Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Account

Dorsey’s thread regarding the fragile nature of regulating users’ privileges on the platform seemed to play out earlier the same day.

On Wednesday, newly-elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) posted a screenshot to Instagram showing that her Twitter account had been locked for six days. The screenshot stated that she had violated Twitter’s rules and would be unable to tweet, retweet, or like until her account was unlocked. 

Hours later, Twitter reversed course and fully reinstated her account. 

“In this instance, our teams took the incorrect enforcement action. The Tweet in question is now labeled in accordance with our Civic Integrity Policy. The Tweet will not be required to be removed and the account will not be temporarily locked,” a spokesperson for the platform told Insider.

It is unknown what tweet caused that initial ban, as Twitter refused to say. 

The latest tweet from Boebert’s account to be tagged with a fact check warning is from Sunday. In that tweet, she baselessly and falsely accuses the DNC of rigging the 2020 Election, a claim that largely inspired the Capitol attacks. 

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (CNN) (Associated Press)

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