On June 2, social media feeds were filled with black boxes as part of the Blackout Tuesday movement. Typically, the black boxes are shared with the hashtags #TheShowMustBePaused, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackoutTuesday or #BLM, or without hashtags.
Blackout Tuesday stemmed from the music industry’s “The Show Must Be Paused” movement organized by music executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas. According to a statement from The Show Must Paused, the movement is “in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black citizens at the hands of police.” Agyemang and Thomas launched the movement to “intentionally disrupt the work week” in the music industry, but did not directly call for the sharing of black squares on social media.
The idea of The Show Must Be Paused movement is for members of the music industry, including record labels and artists, to intentionally disrupt their workweek and use June 2 as “a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”
— theshowmustbepaused (@pausetheshow) June 1, 2020
Users from across different social media platforms, whether they are in the music industry or not, have participated in Blackout Tuesday by sharing a black square with one of the aforementioned hashtags. However, the Blackout Tuesday movement has received backlash.
The Blackout Tuesday Movement Sparked Controversy on Social Media
scrolling down my instagram feed through a bunch of black boxes yet not a single link or helpful piece of information to be seen pic.twitter.com/bxsGMp9eGX
— joey (@joeyskawaii) June 2, 2020
The Blackout Tuesday movement has received backlash on social media by individuals who say that the black square does not mean anything if the person who shared it isn’t actively engaged in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Rapper Lil Nas X tweeted: “not tryna be announcing but what if we posted donation and petitions links on instagram all at the same time instead of pitch black images.”
not tryna be announcing but what if we posted donation and petitions links on instagram all at the same time instead of pitch black images.
— nope (@LilNasX) June 2, 2020
A Twitter user named Hannah Woodhead wrote: “Lot of black squares on my Instagram feed from people who haven’t said s**t all week.”
Another user named Ellie tweeted: “i know for a fact half the people on my instagram feed have NOT signed any petitions or shared any links or useful information. A BLACK IMAGE ISNT GOING TO DO ANYTHING IF YOU DONT SHARE ANY LINKS. remember this is not an instagram trend, this is a real issue u need to help with.”
Some Say Blackout Tuesday Reduces the Visibility of Important Information Being Shared on Social Media
Yeah and now the hashtag is blank on Instagram because of everyone hashtagging black squares pic.twitter.com/lnlY4Nrzxx
— dillonfrancis (@DillonFrancis) June 2, 2020
Some critics have also said that the black squares are clogging up feeds and have taken away the visibility of important information regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. Musician Dillon Francis pointed out that when searching #BlackLivesMatter on Instagram, the result is mostly black squares.
Cristina Arreola tweeted, “cool that a day ago my instagram timeline was filled with resources and lists of Black owned business and Black authored books and places to donate and now it’s just a sea of black squares.”
Another user wrote: “my Instagram feed this morning is the biggest joke ive ever seen on [that] trash app. not only is this counter productive towards the blm movement, but it literally draws people’s attention away and clogs up social media so that people don’t see what’s really [happening] out there.”
my Instagram feed this morning is the biggest joke ive ever seen on tht trash app. not only is this counter productive towards the blm movement, but it literally draws people’s attention away and clogs up social media so that people don’t see what’s really happrning out there pic.twitter.com/utxIHqbQs9
— 𝘂𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗶 ☾ (@tsuwukii) June 2, 2020
Jeanna Kadlec wrote: “my instagram feed this morning is just a wall of white people posting black screens. like… that isn’t muting yourself, babe, that’s actually kind of the opposite! it’s taking up an absolutely WILD amount of space and does nothing!”