Problematic $1 Billion TikTok Creator Fund Shuts Down

TikTok announced on November 7 that the Creator Fund would be shut down in December. The fund promised to pay out $1 billion to video content creators who met certain criteria but has been accused of favoring well-funded and established influencers while not providing payment for up-and-comers. Creators will now transition to the Creativity Program, a promotion designed to generate longer content.

The Creator Fund became controversial in 2021, shortly after its release, when creators revealed that they were receiving just pennies per view for content, far less than they initially believed the fund would generate. One creator, Victoria Paris, said she earned just $40,000 from the Creator Fund in 2021. Since transitioning to the Creativity Program, Paris has seen her earnings skyrocket to $10,000 per month.

Even top earners like Jimmy “Mr. Beast” Donaldson, who brought in $54 million on YouTube in 2021, say the fund generates just dollars per day for content that gets millions of views. He shared that he averaged $18 and $32 per day in January 2023, through payments from the Creator Fund. Mr. Beast is the highest-earning influencer on YouTube and estimates that his TikTok videos have in excess of one billion views.

Mr. Beast is currently facing backlash of his own after financing the construction of 100 wells in Africa for clean drinking water, a philanthropic mission some people claim is nothing more than “White male privilege.” Several organizations have unsuccessfully tried to accomplish the same mission, spending millions in the process. Mr. Beast spent $300,000.

Unlike other social media platforms, most TikTok influencers earn money through product sponsorships rather than from direct payments by the app. YouTube and similar apps include a revenue-sharing feature that directly pays creators. The Creator Fund was initially intended to be a similar feature but has not generated the type of revenue other platforms have.

Absent the Creator Fund, TikTok no longer has a method of directly paying creators. The app is currently experimenting with various features, including a subscription-based funding platform on which viewers will pay to view content from specific creators.

At the same time that TikTok is disincentivizing content creation, the app is facing increasing pressure from the U.S. government to reign in what type of content is shared. TikTok is a Chinese-owned company with direct ties to the intelligence-gathering wing of the Chinese Communist Party.

The app has been shown to spread pro-communism and anti-Capitalist messaging that is frequently linked to hate speech in the U.S. Some experts even point to TikTok as a responsible agent leading to widespread pro-terrorism rallies on American college campuses in recent weeks.