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Understanding the BIPOC Content Creator Economy, Google Area 120

B. Fadrigon, I. Castro, J. Lupica, et. al.

UC Berkeley School of Information User Experience Research

In this study, we looked at the experience of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color content creators online to help Google’s Area 120 understand existing barriers and provide areas to support this community.


To do so, we utilized a mixed-methods approach–diary studies, semi-structured interviews, and qualitative surveys– speaking to creators who use platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. 

Problem Space & Background

Barriers to Access for BIPOC

In the United States and elsewhere, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face barriers in a variety of areas – including society, economics, and education – on the basis of their racial or ethnic identity. Some of these barriers include disparities in representation in media and the racial wealth and pay gaps. Area 120 identified one particular area of interest where disparities between racial groups are prevalent: the online content creator ecosystem.

Understudied Group in Industry

Online BIPOC communities are generally understudied, thus motivating Area 120 and our group of researchers to explore this relatively novel research domain, and is necessary to better understand existing issues in the ecosystem.  For this project, the foundational interest is in understanding content creators and the economy of the ecosystem they operate in.


Findings & Recommendations

Content Creators' Experiences

1. They find difficulty in understanding platform algorithms.

“Yeah, there is an algorithm I hadn't figured out yet. I just hope for the best.” - A

2. BIPOC content creators tend to create community-focused content.

“I primarily focus on Black and indigenous people of color and especially women, because I know how difficult it is for minorities as a business to grow in general” - M

3. BIPOC content creators struggle to receive satisfactory compensation.

“As a Black creator, I don’t really know what I should charge? How much should I be charging? What should I be saying to these people to get them to pay me?” - N

What can Google do?

1. Compensate and invite BIPOC creators as speakers to Talks at Google and other company events.

2. Create a BIPOC creator fund to compensate creators.

3. Address concerns surrounding content moderation of “controversial” topics

4. Clarify algorithmic demotion of content (“shadowbans”) and metrics for promotion.

5. Host or sponsor BIPOC-centered networking and community events, including conferences.

6. Utilize existing social media platforms to create BIPOC-centered spaces to connect and share content creation experiences.

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