A Triller Thriller: Excitement I Do Not Need

August 26, 2022

Short-form video app Triller is eager to topple TikTok. When its rival was lambasted last summer for allowing white influencers to take credit for trends generated by Black content creators, Triller saw an opportunity. It immediately positioned itself as the platform that respects and elevates Black creators. It reached out to many of them with promises of regular monthly payments and coveted shares of stock while dangling visions of a content house, collaborations, and brand deals. However, whether from disorganization or disregard, The Washington Post reports, Triller is not holding up to its end of the deal. In the article, “A TikTok Rival Promised Millions to Black Creators. Now Some Are Deep in Debt” (paywalled), reporter Taylor Lorenz writes:

“[Dancer David Warren] was part of a group of what Triller touted as 300 Black content creators offered contracts totaling $14 million — ‘the largest ever one-time commitment of capital to Black creators,’ the company bragged in a November news release. But nearly a year after Triller began recruiting Black talent, its payments to many creators have been erratic — and, in some cases, nonexistent, according to interviews with more than two dozen creators, talent managers and former company staff, many of whom spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation from the company. For influencers, it’s a disastrous turn from a platform with a reputation for paying big money, dubbed ‘Triller money,’ to get talent to post on the app. Far from ‘Triller money,’ the Black influencers were promised

$4,000 per month, with half paid in equity, according to documents reviewed by The Post. Warren, used to making content for platforms controlled by other people, found the chance to own a piece of something thrilling. But now, as they cope with uncertain payments, many creators allege they are compelled to keep up with a demanding posting schedule and vague requirements that make it easy for the company to eliminate people from the program.”

Company executives flat-out deny allegations against them, but Lorenz shares her evidence in the article. She describes a toxic climate where administrators callously hold creators to the letter of their grueling agreements while failing to make good on tens of thousands of dollars in payments. In a spectacular display of gall, Triller informed creators it would prioritize keeping a certain amount on the books over its obligations to them as it prepares for its IPO. And those promised shares of stock that had creators feeling empowered? Nowhere to be seen. Whether it is a matter of contemptuous tokenization or mere incompetence, it seems Triller delivers little but a trail of broken promises.

Cynthia Murrell, August 26, 2022


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