It was a muddled initiative to begin with, and on Tuesday morning, it proved to be a liability: Due to an overwhelming number of users participating in the campaign, Instagram was flooded with images of black squares tagged under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, drowning out information on protests, fundraisers, documented police violence, and other important tools for the movement.
A few celebrities, including Kehlani, called out the issue on Twitter, sharing a video that showed just how unusable the BLM hashtag has now become for protesters and others looking to provide concrete assistance to the ongoing activism against police brutality.
i don’t like this https://t.co/jHDxvdijfn
— Kehlani (@Kehlani) June 2, 2020
Writer Anthony James Williams wrote: “Stop posting black squares under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on Instagram. It is intentionally and unintentionally hiding critical information we are using on the ground and online … Tell me how this helps Black folk. It doesn’t, and it in fact makes things a lot worse. Tell your friends and fam to stop.”
stop posting black squares under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on Instagram. it is intentionally and unintentionally hiding critical information we are using on the ground and online. pic.twitter.com/EIS44aDXXd
— y’all don’t read the room 🥴 (@anthoknees) June 2, 2020
RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant and recording artist Tatianna wrote: “Posting black boxes on Instagram and hashtagging black lives matter is rendering the the hashtag usless [sic]. Remove the hashtag so actual BLM posts can be seen.”
— TATIANNA (@TATIANNANOW) June 2, 2020
Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White called out the posts on his Instagram story: “I don’t know where you’ve been for the past seven years, but social media is the mobilizing factor for protests and political resistance, so I don’t know why you think that it would be conducive to anything to post black screens on hashtags where people are supposed to get information.”
STOP POSTING THE BLACK SQUARES
— 🦪 (@radioheadass) June 2, 2020
Blackout Tuesday, or Black Out Tuesday, was originally organized by two black women in the industry: Atlantic Records senior director of marketing Jamila Thomas and former Atlantic executive Brianna Agyemang. Thomas and Agyemang encouraged industry professionals to use the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused to “take a beat for an honest reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the black community,” and to identify how the music industry has profited off of black artists and black music genres for generations.
It’s unclear if the black squares posted under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag are part of Blackout Tuesday’s original initiative. In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the nationwide demonstrations against police violence and racism, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on social media has become a vital tool for organizing and bringing attention to instances of police using unnecessary force on peaceful protesters.