TikToker greenscreen TikTok over TikTok by Andra Gogan (l) striker holding 'SAG-AFTRA. ON STRIKE!' sign (c) TikToker speaking in car (r)

Taylor Media/Shutterstock @julesbonss/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘Do you want us to go radio silent?’: Influencers express confusion—and consider content pivots—amid SAG-AFTRA strike

'It is definitely going to be a long, long summer.'


Kristine Villarroel

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 27, 2023

Two weeks after the actors’ guild SAG-AFTRA strike started, content creators and influencers still have questions regarding where the picket line lies for online content.  

Some creators have opted to stop making content altogether in support of the strike, while others have come under fire for making content promoting releases from struck companies. 

Influencers face mixed messages

Danielle Silverstone, a 27-year-old writer, director, actor, and content creator who considers herself “pre-union,” feels that strike guidelines have been unfairly unclear for creators who, like her, make critical content rather than just promotional work. 

Before the SAG-AFTRA released an FAQ last week, influencers received mixed signals about what counted as promo under strike guidelines and what didn’t. 

The FAQ instructs creators not to promote releases by struck companies or attend conventions and to support the strike on social media.

Silverstone currently has 176,000 followers on TikTok, which she has amassed through unpaid promotional and critical work, she told the Daily Dot. Her content mainly focuses on LGBTQ and disability representation in media and calling out antisemitism in media. 

Now, she doesn’t know what kind of content she can make without risking a future SAG membership. 

“We don’t know what counts,” Silverstone said. “Do you want us to go radio silent?”

She pointed out that within the creator community, the uncertainty regarding the strike has pushed many away from all content related to TV and film, a heavily populated niche online. 

Silverstone told the Daily Dot she and her creator peers are currently on a complete pause of their usual content until it is clear where critical and commentary works fall under the strike guidelines. 

‘Nothing compared to how we used to treat scabs’

In a now-deleted TikTok, Romanian singer and influencer Andra Gogan used a soundbite from The Nanny to show off her look for the Haunted Mansion July 15 premiere in Los Angeles. In a different, now-deleted TikTok, she lip-synced and twirled at the red carpet. 

The influencer faced backlash after posting the videos, as TikTok users criticized her for attending and promoting the premiere, which is considered crossing the picket line. 

@julesbonss So quick to take the video down. dont be a scab y’all it’s never worth it @Andra Gogan #strikebreakers #strikes #unionstrong #wgastrike #wgastrike2023 #sagstrike #classsolidarity #dontbeascab #leftist ♬ original sound – Jules

“People used to get f*** up back in the day for being a scab,” a commenter wrote.

“Remember kids: scabs fall off fast,” another added. 

Users also pointed out the irony of Gogan using a clip from The Nanny, which stars current SAG President Fran Drescher.

“By technical definition terms, I don’t think [Gogan] was scabbing, because if she’s non-union, none of the rules apply,” Silverstone told the Daily Dot. “But since she’s hoping to join the union, it might.”

She also said some of her friends who were invited to the Haunted Mansion premiere decided not to go out of solidarity and also confusion over what counts as promo. 

Most recently, influencers have faced backlash for attending the Barbie premiere and promoting the movie online.

The Scabs of TikTok account recently documented posts by creators crossing the picket line, among them PinkyDoll, the streamer whose NPC role-playing content has gone mega-viral in the last couple of weeks.


She said yes yes yes to scabbing

♬ original sound – Scabs of TikTok

“This won’t age well,” a commenter wrote.

“Yikes,” another added. 

As studios resort to influencers for promoting releases, the online community supporting the union is growing stronger and more defensive in exposing scabs.

“This page is nothing compared to how we used to treat scabs back in my day,” the Scabs of TikTok bio reads.

‘We don’t want to ruin our chances’

Last week, SAG released its FAQ for influencers detailing what work is and isn’t allowed during the strike. 

Since 2021, the union has allowed select influencers to join under its influencer agreement, which allows influencers’ work to count towards a union pension.

For many full-time content creators, joining SAG is a future goal they don’t want to risk. 

During the strike, influencers should not accept any new work for promotion of struck companies or their content and should refrain from posting on social media about any struck work regardless of whether they are posting organically or in a paid capacity, according to the release. 

The FAQ also notes that influencers cannot participate in conventions such as Comic-Con on behalf of, or to promote, struck companies but may participate in conventions in ways that are wholly independent of characters from struck work or sponsorship by struck companies. 

The statement also includes a note that influencers already under contract to promote struck work should fulfill their work obligations. 

SAG then points to its original strike notice, which includes a note to non-members explaining that “any non-member seeking future membership in SAG-AFTRA who performs covered services for a struck company during the strike will not be admitted into membership in SAG-AFTRA” and encourages influencers to support the strike by showing solidarity online. 

“There’s a lot of us that do want to join the union, and essentially, we don’t want to ruin our chances,” Simone Umba, a 26-year-old content creator, told the Daily Dot.

SAG is currently on a TV, film, and streaming strike, which does not cover strictly commercial work. Commercial work promoting relevant releases by struck companies is considered crossing the picket line, but TV, radio, and digital commercials are covered under a different contract and are therefore not affected by the strike, the Hollywood Reporter noted. 

The Daily Dot reached out to SAG for comment. 

Creators contemplate pivots

Other creators are worried about what a total pause in all film and TV content might mean for their platforms. 

“From what we’ve seen so far from the union, it is definitely going to be a long, long summer—possibly fall,” Umba told the Daily Dot. 

She stands with SAG and urges viewers to do so, too. 

“It’s definitely going to affect creators greatly because there’s essentially no more content to cover,” she told the Daily Dot. “People will have to pivot what kind of content they can create.”

She said she would pivot to cover more pop culture topics beyond her usual film and TV focus. 

As concerns of a recession economy mount, Umba told the Daily Dot that marketing cuts would put full-time creators in tighter situations when it comes to taking brand deals, as companies reduce their marketing funds and offer fewer deals to creators. 

“Studios are aware of the current creator economy and a lot of creators’ positions, and they are also aware that some [creators] aren’t really in the know of the business side of things and will offer them a big amount for their following,” Umba told the Daily Dot.

Influencers and creators have been sharing insight with each other to prevent unintentional scabbing from those making content who also hope to join SAG in the future, advising not taking brand deals from the studios in the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that SAG and WGA are striking against. 

“What are corporations gonna do? They’re gonna come to influencers and content creators who don’t know better,” Lisette Calveiro, an influencer coach, said in a TikTok video. “They’re gonna give you big shiny bucks to promote the movies that are coming out. They’re gonna ask you to serve as talent for some of their projects.”

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*First Published: Jul 27, 2023, 1:26 pm CDT