Musician Saved The Day After TikTok’s “Trans Handy Ma’am” Muted 97 Videos

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The rise of Mercury Stardust on TikTok has been meteoric. She is known as “Trans Handy Ma’am” on the platform, where she teaches people all about home repairs and maintenance.

If you ever need to put up a TV, dip your toilet, or fix a trash can, Stardust can teach you how, all the while being wonderfully healthy and talking about gender identity.

She’s only been on TikTok since April, but she now has 1.1 million followers. Sadly, a few days ago much of his hard work came to an end.

The audio track Stardust used for many of its videos – a Steven Universe remix – was muted without notice by TikTok. This often happens as a result of a copyright strike, and the effect is that any video using this sound has the audio completely cut off although the video remains in place.

This meant that dozens of Stardust videos suddenly became unnecessary. She found out during a live chat when a viewer mentioned that her videos had no sound.

“I was like, well, it’s weird. I wonder [if] I messed up something, “she told BuzzFeed News. Then she started scrolling and realized how many videos were now silent.

“I’m not kidding, I was crying so much,” she said.

She had not received any notifications regarding the TikTok issue, in the app or otherwise. The track was just what the app itself suggested when it made its first video, so it stuck with it.

Devastated, she posted a TikTok on the situation. This caught the attention of Sean Szolek-Van Valkenburgh, who is currently in the process of earning a Masters in Music and who happens to be a fan of Stardust.

“I was like I was in his shoes, I want someone to take the initiative or reach out,” he told BuzzFeed News.

Fortunately, he had the expertise to do it.

Szolek-Van Valkenburgh went through and uploaded each of the Stardust videos that had been cut – 97 in total – and made a copy of the descriptions into a spreadsheet. Although muted on the app, the TikToks were downloaded with full audio.

He found out how to drop the audio track into editing software and manually removed the frequency of the background music. He then re-synced it to the video.

It is tedious work. It takes about 20 minutes to make a video, and with 97 videos, the project is going to take a few days.

“As creators, we shouldn’t have to go through that level of detail to try to put something back in place when the system itself is so underdeveloped,” he said. “It should be more sophisticated at this point.”

Both Stardust and Szolek-Van Valkenburgh are frustrated that TikTok does not notify the creators of the mute and that it is not possible to record a version of videos without the music added.

Stardust also has to grapple with TikTok always showing its muted videos in people’s feeds as she tries to figure out how to reload content most efficiently – the app’s algorithm penalizes creators who upload too much to them. that time.

“The thing is, the algorithm pushes the videos that contain music. Even if you’ve zeroed the music. It’ll push it because that’s what the algorithm recognizes,” he said. she declared. “But even if you have it at zero, your video will still be deleted if it contains the wrong sound. So it’s very frustrating.”

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

Szolek-Van Valkenburgh and Stardust started talking after posting the process to TikTok, and Stardust said she was so grateful that he was ready to do all of this work.

“My heart goes out to Sean. If there is one thing to say about all of this, and there is one positive thing you can take away, it’s that there are more people in this world who are coming together. care about each other, ”she said.

“And when we share that love with each other, whatever TikTok decides to do is drowned out by the fact that the community is stronger than the app itself.”

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