Thousands of people are going on social media on Tuesday to participate in what has been dubbed “Blackout Tuesday,” to advance social and racial justice.
Tuesday’s event came after protests erupted nationwide following the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis resident who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. His death prompted business executives, political leaders, and the broader public to speak out.
Here’s what you need to know about Blackout Tuesday.
Where did it come from?
Blackout Tuesday, also known as Black Out Tuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused, aims to create a one-day pause on business as usual.
Black music industry executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, who work for music talent firm Platoon and Atlantic Records respectively, initially created the campaign to focus on the music industry, in which black artists play a large role. Major recording companies including Atlantic Records, Sony, and Universal backed the campaign over the weekend. Some expressed their support for the day while others including Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group said they would use the day to “collectively reflect” on what it could do as a company to contribute to change.
The movement quickly spread to individuals and other groups, who opted to black out their profiles for the day and to post on social media while referencing the movement.
How are people participating?
Many people are using online services like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and are changing their profile picture and backgrounds to black boxes with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackOutTuesday, and #TheShowMustBePaused. They’re also publishing posts that feature black squares to “black out” their feeds.
As of Tuesday, Instagram users had published more than 22 million posts with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag or a variation of it. #BlackOutTuesday was also the top trending hashtag in the U.S. on Tuesday, followed by #BlackLivesMatter.
Why is it becoming a problem on social media?
Though the campaign is intended to protest black racial injustice, some activists are arguing that the hashtags on social media are drowning out important information related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Instagram, for example, people are including the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag alongside #BlackLivesMatter. Others are solely using the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. That creates problems for users who search for #BlackLivesMatter because they get results showing row after row of black boxes rather than useful resources.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri acknowledged the problem Tuesday on Twitter, reminding people that they can remove the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to clear up the hashtag page.