Media and Communication (Feb 2022)
Immigrant Influencers on TikTok: Diverse Microcelebrity Profiles and Algorithmic (In)Visibility
Internet celebrity has become a phenomenon of great interest for scholars in the last few years. This is partly due to its impact in contemporary media ecosystems, and its influence in political, social, cultural, and commercial behaviors around the world. Meanwhile, some segments of the population continue to be marginalized by sociotechnical configurations that perpetuate structures of dominance in the digital sphere and on social media platforms. This is the case of immigrants, who often face diverse digital, symbolic, and physical borders that neglect their voice and agency. Thus, the present study aims to explore the creative practices of immigrant tiktokers who have achieved a significant following on this platform. Using a case study approach, we explore four immigrant creator profiles with a following of 17,000 to 500,000 through in-depth interviews and a multimodal content analysis of 252 of their videos to delve into their platformed practices on TikTok. The participants are Latin American immigrant creators living in the US and Spain, identified as part of a larger study on the uses of TikTok by Latinx immigrants in these two countries exploring 53 immigrant creator profiles with more than 10,000 followers. Their practices related to algorithmic (in)visibility, and their unfolding identities including their digital, creative, political, activist, cultural, and national personas are noteworthy, and suggest unique pathways to reclaim agency through social media influence and construct multi-dimensional microcelebrity identities beyond migratory status.