Facebook’s New Program Pays Black Streamers To Help Them Go Full-Time

Facebook’s New Program Pays Black Streamers To Help Them Go Full-Time
Image: Facebook / KingRichard
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Facebook Gaming is far from the biggest video game streaming platform out there, but it has at least shown a tendency to put its money where its mouth is — a practice Twitch and other industry leaders could learn from. Today, Facebook announced a program to aid Black creators in their pursuit of full-time streaming careers.

The Black Gaming Creator Program will dedicate $US10 ($13) million over the next two years to Black creators. It will give select applicants partner status, mentorship from “established” creators, early access to new features, monetisation options, and guaranteed monthly pay. While Facebook is not discussing specifics, it did tell The Verge that pay will vary based on “the quality of [streamers’] content and the scale of their audience.”

In a short video, Twitch-turned-Facebook streamer KingRichard elaborated on the program’s goals. “This program is designed to help people make the transition into full-time streaming, which is something that’s extremely hard,” he said. In a statement sent to Kotaku by Facebook, he added that he personally managed to become a full-time streamer “with the support of my family and my community,” but that “having a huge company like [Facebook] supporting us is going to open the doors up for future success.”

The program comes on the heels of Facebook’s $US200 ($270) million commitment to supporting Black-owned organisations over the summer — a time period marked by protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police. At the time, many Twitch streamers who previously stayed mum about subjects that could be construed as “political” spoke out in support of their Black colleagues, and some perennially underappreciated Black streamers finally received long-overdue attention.

However, the streaming landscape remains overwhelmingly white, with 2018 data showing that 71.5% of streamers and viewers on Twitch, far and away the biggest streaming platform, identify as white. And while Twitch publicly partnered two Black streamers during last month’s streamed GlitchCon event, that did little to offset years of racist emote issues (which once again reared their ugly head during the aforementioned GlitchCon partnership segment) or Twitch’s own gaffes, like a now-pulled Black Lives Matter video that mostly depicted white streamers. In addition, one of the two newly partnered Black streamers, ZombaeKillz, went on to become the victim of a targeted harassment campaign not long after, something Twitch has not spoken out against or acknowledged.

“In an official capacity, nope [Twitch hasn’t done anything],” ZombaeKillz told Kotaku in a DM. “A staffer (head of diversity and inclusion) just told me to up my mod settings and expressed they were sad it was happening to me.”

Facebook’s program, if nothing else, guarantees material benefits, which will not Solve Racism or catapult Black streamers into the spotlight, but will at least give a few a possible foothold from which to begin their climb.

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  • That’s racist. Like, cool. Facebook is doing something to help streamers. BUT doing it JUST for a single race, and therefore, promoting them and putting them above others is the definition of racism. And when these organisations go on and on and on about equality, only to pull something like this that was most likely something that was thought up by a PR ‘guru’ after all the Mixer streamers left and went to Twitch and other platforms. The other side is this though is that, why it’s going to be great for the black streamers who get a hand, it is also a punch in the face to all the other streamers who are struggling to get anywhere and don’t have the advantage of being black to get this money.

    However, even then, how much is it really going to help them if it’s only temporary? How are they going to be seen by the wider audience if there ‘the black streamer that got Facebook money’? Like, there is a LOT to think about when it comes to this, and its really disappointing to see Facebook do something that is so trite and stupid. Some of them will probably end up with a good following, but not all of them as not everyone is cut out to be a streamer.

    Streaming is a form of entertainment, and it is very much a talent to retain and continue to keep your audiences, especially when you are constantly interacting with them why playing a game, music or eating (ok, maybe not eating). That plays a big role in who becomes popular and who does not. Ok, there are a lot of white streamers. But there are more white people in the USA than there are black people, so OFCOURSE there will be a bigger amount of white people who try and become good at streaming. Its not a race game, it’s a numbers game.

    Overall, this scheme will probably only benefit about 5-10% of the people who get money, and even then, it will be to varying degrees.

    • Forgetting the fact that you can openly discriminate against whites, so we’ll ignore those.

      What about Asian streamers? Arab streamers? South American streamers? Mexican streamers? Indigenous streamers? Polynesian streamers? (shout out to my man, Majorphaye, who’s just starting out).

      Do they not count as “minority” enough?

  • In before days of bickering between two groups of people who will make no effort to understand the other but secretly on some level just love the endless argument.

  • What is stopping black streamers from streaming that would require facebook funding them like this?

    Why does a black streamers need guaranteed income and a white streamer doesn’t?

    Is this not facebook saying black streamers are incompetent unless we help them?

    Fyi, zombiekillaz wasn’t harassed. Some people rightfully called out her shenanigans and she then had a hissy fit and tried to get people to mass flag any and all criticism of her. Because apparently her skin makes criticism of her actions illegal.

  • Ignoring the can of worms that is the whole ‘your skin colour decides if you get help as opposed to whether you actually might need help’ bit.

    There’s really one other massive issue with this… Streaming, like most entertainment work, just isn’t like a lot of other jobs. You can’t just put in the hard work and expect to make it. There are thousands of people that already put in that hard work and get absolutely nowhere.

    This program is a pure PR boost for Facebook, and a very fucking slyly one at that. You can pretty much guarantee it will only ever offer assistance to streamers that were already on their way to being full-time without assistance anyway. They’re simply not going to help anyone who isn’t already gaining a decent foothold.

    Yet journalists eat this shit up like Facebook just offered them a glimpse at God because what, they played the “We’re helping black people!” card?

    Talk about playing right into their hands and giving them all the positive publicity they want, praising them and going on how other companies could learn from such examples. Please. This is a blatant fucking illusion of supporting X group for good PR.

  • Expect more of this until the real academics are bothered enough to fight back. Programs like this are the result of new “anti-racist” literature based on absolutely junk science that advocates for “positive racial discrimination” as the magical elixir to cure social unrest. It’s gained a lot of traction in institutions that have a high proportion of staff who buckle when presented with the option of either blind allegiance or being branded a racist.

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