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How TikTok is Revolutionizing Activism

Tik Tok claps back by raising awareness on activism.

Phone with TikTok logo
Credit: Shutterstock/Daniel Constante

Activism on TikTok is increasing as Gen Z turns filters and songs into humanitarian forces.

People have long used social media to raise money for those in need, whether it’s someone posting a GoFundMe on Instagram for their family member’s surgery, or environmentalists fighting against the Willow Project.

However, young people on TikTok have been taking a more creative approach to fundraising. The use of filters and songs that raise money for charities has become increasingly popular on the app.

The Power of TikTok Filters

TikTok filters are typically made to change users’ appearance or play a game in their posts. In light of recent global issues, filter creators realized that they could use their digital design skills to make real change.

Jourdan Johnson, a TikTok effect creator with over 220 thousand followers, has been at the forefront of this movement. She created the Filter for Good, an AR filter that has the user trace a watermelon on a line, a simple game that has garnered over 11 million posts. The Filter for Good raises money for people in Gaza.

The watermelon has been a symbol that represents the Palestinian flag since the Arab-Israeli war. It has the same colors as the flag and people use it on social media to support Palestinians.

With TikTok’s Effect Creator Rewards program, creators collect rewards once their filter has 200,000 unique posts within the first 90 days of being published. They will finish collecting the reward once the 90 days are over or they reach the maximum reward of $14,000.

The Filter for Good reached the maximum reward within the first 2 weeks of being posted. Johnson posted proof of her donating $7 thousand to Doctors Without Borders and the remaining $7 thousand to buy eSims for Gaza. eSims are electronic SIM cards that allow people in Gaza to connect with their families and document what’s happening.

@xojourdanlouise

FILTER FOR GOOD I DONATIONS UPDATE!! 🍉 $7k has been donated to #DoctorsWithoutBorders and $7k has been used to buy eSims to allow people to stay connected. Thank you to everyone who used/shared the filter and has continued to share updates and get educated on what is happening. I’ve listed other actionable items below! @Jourdan Johnson 🖤 Free resources to show support & take action: 1.) Amplify 🍉 voices! Engage with and repost videos that are sharing information/updates on what is happening. 2.) Call your reps, sign petitions, protest! Use resources like the app 5Calls or tinyurl.com/hlscallsreps which will identify your representatives and provide you with a script. 3.) Boycott! Your money is powerful. Learn about the brands you love and what they are doing during this time, and make your buying decisions accordingly. #effecthouse #watermelon #watermelonfilter #blackgirlsintech #augmentedreality #socialchange #filterforgood

♬ original sound – Jourdan Johnson 🖤
Credit: Tik Tok/@xojourdanlouise

Johnson also created Filter for Good II which generates funds that she will donate to advocacy groups addressing the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Honesty is Key

TikTok pays out rewards on the 15th of the following month after they are made. So, it’s important for creators to let TikTok users know about the payout process so that they can build trust.

TikTokers have praised Johnson for her transparency about where the funds are going and when. She posted updates letting the TikTok community know when funds are released and when she can donate.

Soon after Johnson published her filter, other filter creators joined the trend. Seeing the success Filter for Good had, other filters that seemed to donate to Palestine and other countries in need began to appear on the For You page.

Users grew skeptical, worrying that creators couldn’t be trusted to donate all the rewards to charity. The number of filters claiming to help humanitarian crises became overwhelming.

Songs of Change

Filters are not the only way people are fundraising on TikTok. Musical artists create songs specifically to donate funds generated by them to charities. This not only helps people in need and raises awareness for global issues, but also gets artists’ music heard.

Activist, singer, and owner of an awareness media company, Tatyana Ceant, uses her platform to raise awareness for global conflicts. She produced songs “Abusin’ Me” and “Figure it Out” under the name Yana The Artist to raise money for people affected by crises in the DRC and Sudan. She donated $9,488 to Friends of the Congo and Focus Congo, organizations that help bring peaceful change to the DRC.

Kalam Eineh by Egyptian singer Sherine is a song that many TikTokers associate with the ‘Free Palestine’ movement because of its common usage in videos supporting the cause. Songs and filters often trend together, benefitting the artist and the creator of the effect.

Popular TikTokers, including celebrity, Skai Jackson, and YouTuber, Alessya Farrugia, posted videos using Filter for Good I with Kalam Eineh playing in the background.

Screenshots of Skai Jackson and Alessya Farrugia's TikToks using the Filter for Good
Credit: TikTok/@alessyafarrugia @skaijackson

Making a Community that Cares

Creators like Johnson and Ceant have helped create a supportive community on TikTok. Users make posts encouraging others to use these filters and songs, emphasizing how easy it is.

Many people on TikTok are young and may not have the money to donate to charities with their own money. People are more willing to help when they simply have to post a video.

Activism on TikTok raises awareness for global crises that may not get enough attention in the mainstream news. Since 2020, activism on social media has increased with many people finding engaging ways to get people interested in the news.

The Future of Activism

Filters and songs that donate to charity are effective ways to get people to help if they can’t donate directly. People who participate in posting TikToks to help raise money can feel like they’re making a difference.

For many young people, fundraising and posting on social media is the start of their interest in and pursuit of activism. During the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, the lockdown of regular activities increased the spread of information on social media. Many took to Instagram to make infographics, share news, and repost information to support the movement.

Although this helped people become informed on current events, it started a conversation about performative activism. On “Blackout Tuesday”, people posted black squares on Instagram to support the BLM movement. Many have since regarded it as misguided allyship.

People may view TikTok’s fundraising filters in the same light. Filters appeal to users and raise awareness about humanitarian crises, but rarely contain educational content about the country’s struggles.

In Conclusion

To conclude, the Filter for Good and subsequent fundraising efforts on TikTok are examples of the future of activism on social media. The power that social media has to reach a large and diverse audience proves incredibly helpful when there are global issues that require attention.

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Written By

Tenley Brown is a sophomore in college studying anthropology. She loves traveling and learning about different cultures.

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