Social networking app Triller wanted to knock TikTok off its throne as the place to be for content creators. And the video-sharing service went hard to recruit some of the biggest influencers, making them offers they couldn’t refuse, including money, cars and lavish dinners. But Triller also devoted some of its resources specifically to court Black influencers, offering a total of $14 million in contracts to 300 content creators, a move the company called “the largest ever one-time commitment of capital to Black creators.” But as some of those content creators have shared with The Washington Post, the money Triller promised them has either come late or not at all.
According to The Washington Post, Triller lured Black creators with the promise of $4,000 per month. Half of the amount would come in the form of company equity, something particularly appealing to influencers used to bringing eyeballs to platforms they had no stake in. But now, many Black creators say the terms of their agreement with Triller are stifling. And they say the platform’s inconsistent payment has left some of them in debt as they try to keep themselves afloat.
Triller first set its sights on Black social media influencers after the Black TikTok Strike, a movement started by Black content creators who were past tired of white folks unfairly reaping the benefits of trends they started. Triller took advantage of the opportunity by announcing the creator program and other investments to support Black content. But not long after the program started, Triller began missing payments desperately needed by creators whose ability to earn money on other platforms, such as TikTok was greatly restricted in their program agreements.
According to a statement from chief executive Mahi de Silva, Triller ”has met its financial commitments to the creators in this program and will continue to do so.” He added, “We specifically take pride in our role in creating a platform that celebrates Black creator content. No other medium has done as much as Triller has for this often overlooked and underrepresented part of the creator economy.”
This isn’t the first time Triller has made news for not coming through with the cash. Universal Music Group (UMG) removed its catalog from Triller in February 2021 after claiming the social media platform “shamefully withheld payments owed” to Universal artists. Triller discredited UMG’s claim and was able to reach an expanded licensing agreement.
For the Black influencers who were drawn into the idea of owning a piece of Triller, they say they feel used.“This program was meant to make us financially free and to empower Black people,” said David Warren, a Black creator with over half a million followers on TikTok. “They told us that so much was going to happen for us. We were made to look like fools.”