Skip to main content

#BlackoutTuesday posts are diluting protesters’ messages, activists say

Thousands of social media users posted black images on Tuesday to voice support for the Black Lives Matter movement — but activists warned that well-meaning supporters were unintentionally silencing real protesters.

#BlackoutTuesday began in the music industry, with major record labels like Columbia, Interscope, and Republic Records announcing they would cease operations for the day to stand with protesters calling for justice after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police.

Soon, other tech music companies like Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud joined in, and the hashtag movement spread beyond the music world.

But there’s been an unintended side effect of the support: Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, which were attached to the posts about Blackout Tuesday, have been drowned out with images of dark squares.

BlackoutTuesday on Instagram
The #BlackLiveMatter hashtag has been flooded with black images.

“If you do #BlackoutTuesday on Instagram, do NOT use the hashtag #blacklivesmatter or any of the other ones folks are using for info,” warned activist and Campaign Zero founder Brittany Packnett Cunningham “It BURIES all the important information and connection.”

Protesters have used #BlackLivesMatter and similar hashtags to share information as they demonstrate, but the flood of black images was picked up by Twitter and Instagram’s algorithms and crowded searches for those hashtags.

Others argued that the hashtags could be co-opted by those who opposed the protesters, and some pushed on users to amplify the voices of people of color or educate themselves instead.

Be strategic about #BlackOutTuesday.

Don’t use #BLM or #BlackLivesMatter with it. It suppresses vital information.

Still post about what Black people are experiencing.

Post what’s happening at protests + get involved with them.

Educate + share resources about white supremacy.

— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) June 2, 2020

By Tuesday morning, some Black Lives Matter supporters had even used the algorithms against opponents. Some supporters started flagging their posts with hashtags like #SecondAmendment and #WomenForTrump, causing those searches to be blacked out as well.

Want more news, reviews, guides, and features from Digital Trends? Follow us on Apple News, Google News, and Flipboard.

Editors' Recommendations

Instagram and Facebook apps add features, move ever-closer to TikTok parity
Screenshots of full-screen posts on Instagram.

Meta has introduced new tools for the Reels video feature on Instagram and Facebook that are a one-two punch against TikTok. The company announced the new features on Thursday, saying they would make it easier for content creators who prefer one or both of the platforms to their behemoth long-form video competitor to better connect with their audience.

On Instagram, Meta has extended Reels to 90 seconds, giving users more time to express themselves and promote their brands and products. In addition to the extended run time, Reels is also getting stickers that were once exclusive to Instagram Stories. Aside from the captions that are present at the beginning of a video, users will be able to use polls, stickers, and emoji slider stickers when showing their viewers new things or comparing what hairstyle, outfit, or product design they might like best.

Read more
Missing children alerts are coming to your Instagram feed
New Instagram Amber Alert feature.

You'll soon see missing children alerts on your Instagram feed. The popular photo and video sharing app from Meta is rolling out a new Amber Alerts functionality starting today.

On Wednesday, Instagram announced it is rolling out Amber Alerts to its app. An Amber Alert is a child abduction emergency alert message that is broadcast to request the public's assistance in locating a missing or abducted child. Instagram will now help distribute these alerts by allowing them to appear in users' Instagram feeds.

Read more
Twitter accused of selling your phone number to advertisers
Twitter logo in white stacked on top of a blue stylized background with the Twitter logo repeating in shades of blue.

Twitter stands accused of selling users' contact information to advertisers without their knowledge and will pay a $150 million fine as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

According to NPR, the settlement was announced on Wednesday and was reached in response to accusations that Twitter gathered its users' phone numbers and email addresses (ostensibly only for security reasons), but then sold access to that information to advertisers without informing its users.

Read more