Jourdan Johnson is an AR creator and immersive art director based in Southern California. What exactly does that mean? She’s a pro at creating those fun, interactive filters you might use on apps like TikTok and Instagram.
In fact, as of August of this year, she became part of the top 1% of effect creators on TikTok, meaning her filters aren’t just fun; they’re a way for her to generate income.
It also means she can use her platform (she has over 148,000 followers on TikTok) to raise funds for people in need.
In response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed, she created an AR filter that would generate funds to provide essential aid to Palestine.
“I have created this FILTER FOR GOOD effect and will be donating the rewards earned to charities providing aid in Gaza,” she wrote in the caption of her first TikTok video debuting the effect.
“I know many of us don’t know how to help, but it can be as simple as posting a video with this filter!”
The filter includes a simple “game” that has users tap a watermelon icon and drag it through a small squiggle. The watermelon has become a symbol of solidarity for Palestinians, as some posts including the Palestinian flag have been censored.
Since watermelons are known for having the same colors as the flag (red, black, and green), they have become a more discreet way to show support on social media.
All users have to do is record a video with the filter and post it — even privately — for it to count toward the fundraiser. No trending sounds are required, though Johnson encourages people to share any helpful information they can in their videos.
“When using this filter, let’s make sure we’re making informative videos. We don’t want to lose sight of why this filter was created and what is happening,” she said in a TikTok posted on November 13.
“BookTok has been using this to share recommended readings by Palestinian authors. If you like to cook, use this filter while you’re sharing with us Palestinian recipes. And for all my beauty and fashion girlies… use it with a ‘get ready with me.’ Share with us what brands we should be supporting and why.”
According to Johnson, who is a member of TikTok’s Effect Creator Rewards program, effects can only start earning rewards once 200,000 people have posted a video using it. Fortunately, just a week after she launched the effect, over 5 million videos (and counting) have been shared.
As of November 13, this has equated to over $7,000 in rewards. Johnson has transparently shared with her audience how earnings populate in the app and how they are dispersed, so she can keep viewers updated about when and where these funds are at all times.
Effects can generate up to $14,000 in the span of three months, meaning this effect is well on its way to reaching its maximum influence in just a week of use.
Johnson announced that half of the funds would be going to Doctors Without Borders, and the other half would help fund the disbursement of eSIM cards for people in Palestine.
However, organizations collecting eSIMs have recently reached their capacity and are pausing donations.
With the ever-evolving nature of the situation — and the fact that the payout period for the Effect Creator Rewards program is delayed from the actual creation of videos — Johnson shared that she wants to wait to decide where some of the funds will go once the money is available.
“I think it might be more efficient to determine where the funds will be donated closer to when the funds will actually be available and those donations will be made, so we can prioritize what they’re saying they need at that time,” she said in a recent update video.
In one comment, a TikTok user asked Johnson if she would be making a similar filter to support folks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where millions have been displaced in the wake of violent conflict.
“Yes, I plan to,” she replied. “Purposely named this ‘Filter for Good 1’ to continue making filters to support different causes if we find this to be successful!”
While other commenters continue to boost Johnson’s work by excitedly watching numbers increase, others are using these videos to share additional resources and ways to help.
Johnson is also directing viewers to other action items and providing encouragement to digital activists who want to use their skills for good.
“I believe that an effective way to make an impact is by utilizing what you know. … I’ve been an AR creator for over two years now. That is something that I know; it’s a skill I can contribute, and something I can use to do something good,” she said in a recent video.
“I knew I could utilize my skills as a filter creator with the knowledge that people are going to be using filters … to create one that has the potential to earn money that can result in direct aid. I never said that this was all you could or should do; it’s just something you can do.”
Header images courtesy of Jourdan Johnson/TikTok