Beware the TikTok’s DopplegAIngers


I don’t know why I’m so depressed at the news today. Maybe because I’ve been sick for over a week and a half with what I’m starting to suspect is Whooping Cough? (That’s right, it’s back! In Pog form!) I’d forgotten how being ill for an extended period of time colors your worldview. You can try to spend a normal day doing your taxes, log onto TurboTax all ready to start in on your deductions only to wake up disoriented eight hours later with an Inbox full of angry emails and several missed phones calls from your ex, your bank, your parents and a roommate you haven’t spoken to since 2018. (Hint: it has something to do with that fever dream you had about BCC’ing half your contacts with the subject “WHERE’S ME MONEY, BITCH?”) 


Of course, you don’t have to look far to find other reasons to feel sickened by the world these days. Arizona issued a near-total abortion ban using a law written the same year Abraham Lincoln was re-elected president. In Gaza “famine is imminent” according to the New York Times (emphasis theirs), which really managed to drive home the urgency of the matter by burying it two stories beneath the OJ Simpson obituary/slideshow panel.

And did I mention that the aforementioned Whooping Cough has returned? Yeah, we have COVID to thank for that, as this extremely preventable, old-timey disease makes a roaring comeback in a world where half the population have taken a political stand against vaccinating their children.

Ugh. It’s enough to make you want to crawl back in bed and cry “re: Where’s me money, bitch?” 

This is all to say, maybe I’m bringing too negative a read to the news, broken today by The Information, that TikTok is dipping its toes into the dark water of AI-generated influencers. They couldn’t just stick with the filters and leave well enough alone, not when there is ad revenue to be made and creators from whose mouths food has yet to be snatched. (Please excuse the weird imagery today, along with any tiny spots of blood that may be coughed into this here dainty handkerchief.)


According to the article, the still-in-development feature would use artificial intelligence to produce a script based on a marketing prompt, which in turn could be used to generate a video. Thrown in for good measure is the completely artificial, machine-generated AI influencer to read the copy. No muss, no fuss. No need for any more of those pesky sponsorship deals or brand partnerships that cost money and come with contractual obligations to professional tastemakers who have spent years cultivating trust among your target demo.

Apparently unrelated — or at least not explicitly connected — is the part where the new AI Influencer tool could be used by TikTok Shop sellers to reach more eyeballs, which, even at this early stage, brings up some uncomfortable feelings about what, exactly, is being sold: content or reach. Influencers produce content, which has earned them their reach. Trying to bypass the influencer all together by manufacturing both the content and the trusted persona behind it leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth: like kissing cousins, but with FTC violations for getting caught. You’re telling me that the AI promotional algorithm developed by a platform best-known for its black box…promotional algorithm… you see where I’m going with this, right?

Look, it doesn’t take a deep learning machine trained on the data of millions of terabytes of uncredited and uncompensated content to work out the problem here: there’d be no way of knowing if TikTok was boosting its own AI Influencers over their human equivalents, because no one outside the company knows the exact formula that determines the criteria of FYP. Even if it was just a generative marketing tool without the promotional component, the fact that it’s being developed in-house at TikTok means its being trained on the platform’s most viral content, as determined by the algorithm. It’s literally insider trAIding. 

And this just…sucks. It reminds me a lot of this tweet I saw recently, from someone who apparently now has my old job at a once-reputable news outlet (double bleak), which manages a neat hat trick of insulting both influencers, marketers and advertising agencies who invest in a “second-rate” product, all in under a 140 characters. There’s even some poetry to be found the koan: “An influencer is just a content marketer whose number one product is the self.”

That is how these platforms view its most successful users: not in terms of the content they produce, but the reach they provide. The content could be anything. And if the reach could somehow be gameable, then the job of “content marketer of the self” becomes as obsolete as travel agents. Platforms can now make AI that look and sound like your favorite influencers (see: Meta AI), have it create its own copy deep learned off user-generated content (see: Google’s recent $60 million deal with Reddit for its proprietary) and NOS boost those posts, thus eliminating the need to pay any creator for their work. Platforms, who now produce the means of production as well as distribution can sell their product to advertisers looking to reach the maximum amount of eyeballs for their target demo. Or, in the most nihilistic scenarios, sell these fauxfluencers directly back to users themselves (see: the sad story of Fanhouse), thus turning creators into consumers via their own stolen work.

That’s capitalism, baby!

And the saddest, absolutely most gut-wrenching part of it, is the cottage industry of YouTubers and TikTok gurus that have sprung up to proselytize the imminent influencer rapture. “This is the AI tool you’ve been waiting for… it not only creates the content for you, but posts it as well,” boasts one TikToker. “Because let’s face it, posting sucks.” The promise of quick bucks for minimal effort through automation seems like a great life-hack, right up to the moment when the AI turns on them. It’ll be the social media equivalent of Terminator 2: Judgment Day for clickbait profiteers who must now face the existential threat of their own creations.


Dude Perfect’s Mega Deal Demonstrates the Value of Internet IP

Dude Perfect Mega Deal

Build Your Own Cosmetics Business With Blanka

Launching any kind of product is hard, launching a cosmetics line can seem like the hardest. But Blanka was started by a fellow creator to help other creators source, produce, and distribute cruelty-free, high quality vegan cosmetics under your own custom brand label, with no minimum order size and drop shipping available. Sign up now for your first 14 days free.



Kick’s Creator Incentive Program Is More Confusing Than You’d Expect

‘Nobody really has a definite answer as to how it works.’

By Steven Asarch, Passionfruit Contributor

Hands on computer with Kick open in front of money sign background to represent creator incentive program


how to set up gofundme for creators

What Is GoFundMe And How Can Creators Set One Up?

GoFundMe can be overlooked for creative crowdfunding, but it shouldn’t be.

By Rachel Kiley, Passionfruit Contributor

Content for Creators.

News, tips, and tricks delivered to your inbox twice a week.

Newsletter Signup

Latest Newsletters

  • Welcome to the Shorty Awards

    Welcome to the Shorty Awards

    CREATOR NEWSLETTER Issue #240 | May 23, 2024 – Grace Stanley, Deputy Editor NOTED BY LON HARRIS Can Creators Survive Without Google Traffic? The way the company is embracing AI could have major ripple effects. By Lon Harris, Passionfruit Contributor → READ THE FULL STORY SPONSORED Overwhelmed by questions from your audience? You’re not alone. IN…

  • ScarJo Sets an Important Precedent for Creators

    ScarJo Sets an Important Precedent for Creators

    CREATOR NEWSLETTER Issue #239 | May 21, 2024 THE COMMENTS SECTION “In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity.” – Grace Stanley, Deputy Editor PERSONALITIES OpenAI Pulls ChatGPT-4 Voice After Actress…

  • Internet to Influencers: “Off With Their Threads!”

    Internet to Influencers: “Off With Their Threads!”

    CREATOR NEWSLETTER Issue #238 | May 16, 2024 – James Del, Publisher NOTED BY LON HARRIS If YouTube CEO Neal Mohan Wants More Emmys, He Should Support Creators Also, do the Creative Arts Emmys not count as Emmys? By Lon Harris, Passionfruit Contributor → READ THE FULL STORY SPONSORED Wake up to the latest creator news IN THE BIZ PERSONALITIES YouTuber…