On Tuesday 2nd of June, you would have scrolled through your social media feeds to find repetitive blank black tiles, captioned with a combination of hashtags - #BlackoutTuesday, #BlackLivesMatter and #IndigenousLivesMatter.
The idea for #BlackoutTuesday was put forward by two black women, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agveman, asking people to "take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”
They wanted to use social media to highlight Black Lives Matter and activism, and to provide resources and education. The idea was misinterpreted and very quickly the trend was spread by celebrities, corporations and influencers posting a blank black square, most without explanation or the spread of any information or links to resources or education.
Activists attempted to put an end to the trend, explaining that it’s not helping the cause, only hindering it. Amidst the protests, the masses of black tiles were pushing down vital information being shared by those on the streets.
Dr Melissa Brown, a Stanford University expert in digital sociology and social movements, says "It's very important to demonstrate solidarity, but we have to think about how certain institutions and certain media already blacks out .... black people all over the world”.
If you’d like to post to show your solidarity, she suggests to use the caption to explain why you’re posting. "It could be a brief history of Black Lives Matter and why you support it, or a brief history about the specific incident that happened that led you to post your title".
You could also provide links to fundraising websites or articles with more information. Ensure you only hashtag ‘BlackoutTuesday’ or ‘BlackoutDay2020’, not ‘BlackLivesMatter’ as this can negatively impact the cause.
Social media can be a powerful source to spread information, but before joining in on the latest posting trend, it’s important to research what it really is and what it’s meant for.