#BlackoutTuesday: Who Did What?

The takeaways

  • The U.S. music industry-devised Black Out Tuesday influenced a great number of brands and individuals to mute or suspend their regular social media content.
  • The hashtags #blackouttuesday and #theshowmustbepaused were intended to disrupt social feeds and promote discourse on racial violence and inequality in the wake of mass anti-racism protests across the U.S.
  • A number of content creators and brands received varying responses over their perceived levels of solidarity. 

What happened?

On Tuesday, the music industry-led social media in marking Black Out Tuesday, which aimed to honor the death of George Floyd and support the grassroots movement against racism. The event was announced as a call-to-action for the music industry to pause regular business for the day, and it quickly spread to social networks and brands, who vowed to suspend posting in solidarity with its message. Black Out Tuesday’s hashtags, #blackouttuesday, and #theshowmustbepaused, trended highly across social channels, amassing over 28 million and 715,000 posts, respectively, on Instagram.

The popular social network changed its logo’s colors to black, as did Facebook, Twitter and Spotify. They did so in support of Black Lives Matter and the renewed global anti-racism demonstrations in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and others have also announced multi-million dollar donations to anti-racism causes. Amazon Music tweeted messages of support, including a pause in social media activity for the day. 

A mixed reception

A number of users took to platforms, including Instagram and Twitter, to request that creators of Black Out Tuesday posts omit #blacklivesmatter and related tags. The reasons given included an unintentional suppression of critical information and evolving updates involving the movement.

Communities on Reddit, which has adopted a black version of its logo, have protested the platform’s hate speech policies by going private. On Tuesday, Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit, accused the social network on Twitter of “amplifying… hate, racism and violence” after current CEO Steve Huffman posted a pro-Black Lives Matter statement to Reddit’s blog. 

Prominent British journalist Piers Morgan was also called out by social media users for a perceived lack of solidarity. Morgan, although vocally opposed to Trump’s comments on responding to the protests with violence, did not post a black square on his social media. He later stated that “I don’t think people should be shamed into not posting things… I think they should be educated.” 

Despite posts pledging support, including matching employee donations to anti-racism causes, Spotify was criticized for its sincerity when it was noted that its service is only available in five African countries despite leading the global music industry. Although criticized for their participation on different grounds, rival service Apple Music recently announced its African expansion from 13 countries to 30.

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