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TikTok creators are paying up to $1,000 to gain verification on the app through a shadowy group of brokers who claim to have sources within the company.
One Canadian creator who coughed up described the process to Business Insider, saying that middlemen profess to have internal contacts within TikTok who approve users in exchange for cash.
The services are offered through Facebook groups about TikTok marketing and growth.
“Someone who owns a PR agency posted in our Facebook TikTok group that he can get people verified,” said the person. The person asked not to be named, because the process technically subverts how verification on TikTok is meant to work.
The person declined to name the PR agency, but said the outfit was based in Australia.
The person messaged the purported PR agency owner, who set the price: $1,000, to be paid only after verification was successful.
“The risk is little to none,” reasoned the creator.
When they agreed to pay, the creator seeking verification was sent a form from TikTok. The form the creator described was different to TikTok’s Certificate of Verification Application, which is a simple, two-page form with six sections to fill in, plus signature slots, used by official accounts to verify their profiles.
But within 24 hours, the profile received its checkmark.
The PR agency owner is not the only person who claims to be able to offer verification approval services to would-be TikTok creators, our source said.
“Some charge more, some charge less,” said the creator who paid $1,000. “I’ve been quoted from others anywhere up to $5,000.”
On one group chat of TikTok creators, another user claimed they were approached and quoted $1,500 to be verified.
“It’s very commonplace,” the first creator added. “If you have access to someone at TikTok who could do it, it would be dumb not to do it. It’s easy money for the third party.”
Being verified boosts a creator’s creds with brands and agencies
There is, on the surface, little benefit to being verified on TikTok.
The app’s main For You feed doesn’t appear to prioritize verified creators, and there aren’t significant improvements on experience for verified creators.
Discussions within some creator communities around the benefits of verification often revolve around whether it can prevent accounts being ‘shadow banned’ by the app – a process where some believe TikTok throttles the reach of certain accounts, which has never been proven. The conclusion is that verification doesn’t make a difference.
However, being verified can help when marketing your account to others, including brands and agencies.
“Honestly, verification doesn’t mean anything at all other than social proof and makes your account appear more ‘legitimate’,” said the creator who stumped up $1,000.
“I believe we obviously could have gotten it eventually but [I’d] rather just pay the $1k and get it now instead of waiting,” they added.
“It doesn’t surprise me in the least that people would be willing to spend upwards of $1,000 to be marked as verified on TikTok,” said Zoe Glatt, an academic researching social media at London School of Economics.
“In the influencer industry, which is based on an economy of visibility (who can gain the most eyeballs), there is a long tradition of paying for fake followers and views. Verification is just another facet of the same logic: creators trying to appear to be popular and legitimate in the hopes that it will lead to income opportunities down the line, especially with brands.”
TikTok declined to comment for this story.
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