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Kim Kardashian and Haley Kalil during Met Gala 2024

Blockout 2024: Hundreds of celebrities and influencers on "digital guillotine"

Image source: © Instagram
Marta Grzeszczuk,
13.05.2024 15:45

A new hashtag, #blockout2024, also known as the "digital guillotine", has gained popularity on social media. What is it all about?

On 8 May 2024, a TikTok user with the username @blockout2024 posted a video combining footage from the Met Gala with news coverage of the Gaza war. In the video, he urged people to stop supporting celebrities by blocking them on social media so that it would prevent them from making money through advertising. He argued that as viewers, we have control over the celebrities' income because our attention is the currency they rely on.

What is #blockout2024 all about?

The TikTok video has gained around 2.1 million plays and over 334,000 likes in just two days since its publication. The #blockout2024 trend is gaining popularity on the platform. Many celebrities and influencers who have not addressed the increasingly dramatic situation in Palestine, despite their large followings, are being blocked. Notable names include Kim Kardashian and her family, Taylor Swift, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Tom Brady, and Beyoncé.

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Some people are sceptical of this movement, calling it 'performative activism' or 'acting without meaning.' While it may not immediately affect the most popular celebrities, the exodus of some observers, already dubbed 'digitine' (digital guillotine), is having a tangible effect on some creators on TikTok who have not spoken out for the past seven months.

TikTokers help families in Palestine

The grassroots movement called @operationolivebranch is now thriving on TikTok. Among other things, the group raises funds to help evacuate families from Gaza. The organisation connects people who want to flee Palestine with TikTok users who encourage others to contribute even small amounts of money to help these families. Thanks to the ‘digital guillotine,’ several popular creators have recently joined the campaign. Some have managed to raise tens of thousands of dollars in less than 24 hours to evacuate entire families.

The #blockout2024 movement gained momentum on 7 May, after Israel had attacked Rafah. This city is home to more than one million people who were previously ordered to leave other areas of Palestine. On the same day, the Met Gala 2024 took place. During the evening, one of the invited influencers, Haley Kalil, posted a video on her TikTok profile wearing a floral dress and dancing to "Let Them Eat Cake" from Sofia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette, sparking controversy.

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After some people started calling for a boycott of famous social media accounts, other internet users admitted that they had never followed celebrities. Nonetheless, even those unfamiliar with the Kardashian sisters (and other celebrities) are encouraged to block their accounts, preventing them from spreading sponsored content.

Does it make sense to block celebrities and brands?

Harlie, a TikToker specialising in influencer marketing, shared her thoughts on blocking social media accounts. She explained that blocking accounts of people you haven't followed could be counterproductive. By doing so, we may unintentionally improve the accuracy of algorithms that target ads to people like us. This is because blocking an account sends a signal to the algorithm that we are not interested in the brand, celebrity, or influencer and, hence, not worth targeting ads to.

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The most popular comment under Harlie's post was from someone who said, "Nevertheless, it's good for my mental health." To this, Harlie replied, "So it's worth it!" Many people have reported feeling better after blocking accounts of celebrities they previously felt 'connected' to.

Some digital marketing experts suggest better methods for confusing social media and e-commerce algorithms. One example is going to an online shop's website (preferably by clicking on an ad published by a celebrity on social media) and adding some items to the cart, only to abandon it later. This can trick the algorithms into thinking that we and people like us are interested in the offer, even though we are not.

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