If you’re on TikTok recently you may have seen a spike in so-called Reddit Stories accounts, which upload TikToks that read out stories written on Reddit and which sometimes have footage of video games playing in the background. It turns out, at least some of those accounts appear to be part of a deliberate strategy by their owners to scrape Reddit content, use that material to grow the popularity of TikTok accounts, and then monetize their new relative fame by selling shout-outs to their now millions of followers.
This is part of a broader strategy deployed by a group of people seeking to earn extra money by creating a low-effort but popular TikTok account then selling promotions from it. Motherboard gained access to a specific "TikTok Tips" Discord channel full of people trying to create and monetize TikTok content farms. The most popular strategy at the moment appears to be to spin up a Reddit Stories account.
“The editing is simple and the amount of stories on Reddit are infinite. Easy concept,” one user of a Discord called TikTok Tips which Motherboard entered wrote.
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Reddit is, obviously, a near constantly flowing stream of bizarre, spooky, and funny stories. The TikTokers are tapping into that wealth of material, that people typically write for free for the benefit of others or perhaps Reddit Karma, and then stealing it for their potential gain. They don’t appear to make a lot of money, but the process shows how easy it can be to lift content from others, and to blow-up on TikTok specifically. Multiple users in the TikTok Tips Discord said it was much easier to reach a larger audience than on, say, Instagram.
In the TikTok Tips Discord, people who run Reddit-focused accounts share tips on how often they should upload videos, methods for speeding up the process for making clips, and how to make any sort of money from their account.
One member said they run the account Askthereddit, which has nearly 2 million followers and has amassed over 95 million likes. On the similarly titled r/askreddit subreddit, people ask open ended questions to the Reddit community. The TikTok account owner lifts material from that subreddit, uses a text-to-speech program to read out the questions and comments, and uploads that to their own account. TikTok users then flood the videos with their own comments answering the question, triggering what appears to be a sizable amount of engagement on TikTok for relatively little work. The administrator of the Discord claims to run their own related TikTok account too.
For gathering the Reddit material itself, one discussed using bots to scrape Reddit to gather material; another said they individually chose stories they liked and then made videos based on them. One suggested just to take the top stories on Reddit and use those.
Then for generating a computerized voice to read out the stories in a video, one user said they considered using Google’s text to speech capability for their own videos. Another pointed to a particular free website that handles the conversion for them.
Finally for the video game footage in the background, users said they either rip it from YouTube or find a copyright free site for other footage.
In the TikTok Tips Discord, one user suggested that to monetize a TikTok account, users should use freelancing site Fivrr to advertise a service to “promote people’s sounds/music/brands etc for a fee, show off the numbers your account can pull.”
Some people have done just that. On Fiverr a TikTok user who posts Reddit stories is offering to shout-out people on their account, for a fee.
“I will promote you on my tiktok to over a million people,” the Fiverr listing, from user redditnovels, reads. Redditnovels is asking for around $25 to type a brief message in the caption and comments of an upcoming video. In the listing they elaborate that they actually have around 130,000 followers, but that their videos have been viewed millions of times before.
“My channel has some of the best engagement a TikTok account can get and if you choose to buy advertisement off of me i can guarantee that there will be substantial results in your ad,” redditstories adds.
Several members of the Discord group were annoyed at one member in particular because they suspected them of stealing their Reddit-based videos and uploading them. The irony was not lost on some of the community.
They wrote, “I think that it’s pretty hypocritical to use the ‘stealing content’ argument against him. Has the person who made the tts [text-to-speech] video asked permission from all the Reddit users to use their posts for their own financial benefit? These Reddit users also spent their own time constructing their posts, only to be stolen/reposted. I think y’all as bad as each other.”