This week, it was Blackout Tuesday, the day promoted by activists to observe, mourn, and bring about policy change on social media in response to the death of George Floyd. The movement hit social media on Tuesday, as thousands of brands, groups, and individuals took to social media to post black squares. These posts were often simply tagged with #BlackoutTuesday, but many of them are populating the tag for #BlackLivesMatter, too. However, activists are speaking out on the harm the posts are doing to the Black Lives Matter movements.
The problem? The blank image, often devoid of any links or information to resources, petitions, or funding, was being tagged with hashtags that are critical to the ongoing protests. While the intent to do good was there, occupying space on a feed or in a hashtag hid useful sources of information that populate the same space.
Activist Kenidra Woods tweeted, “We use hashtag to keep ppl updated. PLS stop using the hashtag for black images!!”
Prior to Blackout Tuesday, the #BlackLivesMatter and #BLM hashtags were full of accessible information — resources to educate, protest information, donation pages, and more. However on Tuesday, a scroll through the tags is similar to scrolling through an endless black screen.
How Did It Start?
Music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang originally wanted to spark a movement in the music community to pause normal business operations on June 2 “in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”
CNN reported that other labels, including Def Jam Recordings, Interscope, Sony Music, Columbia Records, and more were expected to join Blackout Tuesday.
Those outside the music community — other brands, groups, and individuals — wanted to join in by not posting any regular content on the day to take attention away from the movement. Instead, they committed to either spending the day sharing resources or standing in solidarity by posting the black squares everyone saw on Tuesday.
Activists are discouraged those participating through black image posts to not tag them with #BlackLivesMatter and #BLM. And, if they already have used those hashtags, to edit them out of the captions. This would unclog the hashtags and give more visibility to other posts.