Block2024: Why are people blocking celebrities on social media?

@seansvv/TikTok @haleyybaylee/TikTok @xiandivyne/TikTok (Licensed)

Block2024: Why are people blocking celebrities on social media?

Some are calling the trend the "digital guillotine."

 

Tricia Crimmins

Tech

Posted on May 13, 2024

While celebrities walked the Met Gala’s white-and-green carpet last Monday, Israel attacked Rafah, a Palestinian city in which millions of Gazans were sheltered. And the contrast between opulence in the U.S. and suffering in Gaza wasn’t lost on many TikTokers.

Many compared “fashion’s big night out” to The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ dystopian series in which people in poorer areas watch as wealthy members of society attend lavish parties. And others took things a step further: They decided to block celebrities that haven’t expressed support for Palestine on social media.

Since Oct. 7, 2023, over 34,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s military offensive against Hamas, a Palestinian military group. The mass casualty is considered a genocide by many, including a human rights expert who spoke with the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in March.

The trend all started with a TikTok from creator Hayley Kalil (@hayleyybaylee), who produced social media content for E! about the Met Gala in New York City. On Monday evening, Kalil posted a video dressed in what looked to be a Marie Antoinette-inspired outfit and lip synced a TikTok sound that said “let them eat cake.”

Let them eat cake is a reference to a phrase Antoinette allegedly said when she was told peasants in her kingdom were starving without any bread. As cake is more expensive and luxurious than bread, the phrase is considered insensitive.

And Kalil’s video was considered insensitive, too. She has since deleted the video and apologized for it on TikTok.

“‘Let them eat cake’ essentially started the French Revolution,” @theslowfactory said in a TikTok. “And Hayley Baylee now saying it like 200+ years later started the digitine… where peasants like us are blocking celebrities and influencers.”

@theslowfactory Video clip @🔸💛 Rae 💛🔸 #haleyybaylee #letthemeatcake #marieantoinette #frenchrevolution #metgala #gardenoftime #blockparty2024 ♬ original sound – The Slow Factory

Antoinette’s execution by guillotine is considered one of the “opening events” of the French Revolution, and the “digitine,” or “digital guillotine,” refers to the act of blocking figures who haven’t spoken out in support of Palestine, Palestinian liberation, or a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hamas war. The movement is also being called “Blockout 2024,” “Block Party 2024,” and “Block 2024.”

A TikToker who goes by @BlockOut2024 is one of the creators credited with coming up with the blocking trend itself. Last week, he posted a TikTok saying that he had blocked Kim Kardashian in Dec. as a way to hinder her social media fame and resulting revenue.

“Block celebrities on social media so they don’t earn ad revenue from you,” he said in the video. In another video, he said, “our attention is their currency.”

Since his first videos about blocking celebrities, @BlockOut2024 has posted TikToks taking aim at other high-profile figures: Recent suggestions include Kardashian, Tom Brady, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Drake, Hailey Bieber, and Taylor Swift, none of whom have said anything publicly about Palestine.

“When you have millions of followers that look at your content every single day, you have an opportunity to make very important change in our world,” @BlockOut2024 said in a TikTok. “And to actively not do that every single day, but instead selfishly promote your own products, is kind of shallow.”

@blockout2024 Anyone agree? #blockout2024 ♬ original sound – blockout2024

Sean Szolek-Van Valkenburgh, a TikToker and social media manager, explained the efficacy of blocking people who make their money via social media in a recent video: Having a large following on social media leads influencers, creators, and celebrities to landing brand deals, hosting events, and being able to monetize their content. If they lose followers, those financial opportunities could be jeopardized.

“If less people give them the ability to populate the For You Page, it’s gonna be harder for them to grow as a brand,” they said. “You’re affecting their bottom line, which is their ability to make money.”

@seansvv “What If They Stopped Watching” The ones panicking are the ones who know they could have done a lot more #news #update #important ♬ original sound – SEAN

And the block movement seems to be working: In the last five days, Kardashian has lost tens of thousands of Instagram followers daily. The same goes for Swift and Beyoncé over the last four days.

In response, many popular TikTok creators and celebrities have mentioned Palestine in their videos for the first time in the past few days. As reported by NBC, both singer and rapper Lizzo and TikToker Chris Olson posted their first videos about Palestine linked to digital donation opportunities—seemingly to avoid being blocked on social media.

And both received criticism for the timing of their videos.

“Where were you before the block out,” a commenter said in response to Lizzo’s TikTok.

“I wish this felt genuine,” another commenter wrote on Olson’s video. “The silence for months was SO loud.”

But even though the blocking trend has received considerable support and media attention, not everyone is on board with it. Critics of the movement have called it superficial, unorganized, and lacking a clear goal.

“I’m not sure what the purpose is,” TikToker Christian Divyne said in a video. “A lot of this feels like a way for people to express their need to be punitive.”


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*First Published: May 13, 2024, 11:55 am CDT