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Celebrities face digital 'blockout' over silence on Gaza war

May 14, 2024 at 8:48 am

In this photo illustration, logos of Threads, Instagram and Twitter is displayed on a mobile phone screen in Ankara, Turkiye on 6 July, 2023 [Berke Bayur/Anadolu Agency]

A movement known as “Blockout 2024” has gained traction on social media, urging users to block the accounts of celebrities who have remained silent on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

People worldwide are expressing frustration with celebrities who have not used their influence and platforms to draw attention to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. According to a TikToker involved in the movement, the goal is to “stop certain streams of income and popularity” of celebrities.

Social media users are sharing lists of celebrities to block, leading to significant loss of followers on Instagram and other platforms, according to Social Blade, a US-based social media analytics website.

Selena Gomez, actress and singer, lost one million followers on Instagram and 100,000 on X.

Fellow actress and singer, Zendaya, lost 153,000 followers on Instagram and 40,000 on X.

While Kim Kardashian, reality TV star and social media influencer, lost 780,000 followers on Instagram.

Her sister, Kylie Jenner, lost 540,000 followers on Instagram and 53,000 on X.

The movement was sparked with a TikTok video from influencer Haley Kalil at the Met Gala on 7 May, where she lip-synced to the phrase “Let them eat cake.” This phrase draws parallels to the French Revolution when Queen Marie Antoinette’s purported indifference to the suffering of the impoverished became symbolic. Kalil’s

A TikTok user said: “It’s time for the people to conduct ‘digital guillotine’ to all the celebrities who are not using their resources to help those in dire need.”

More than seven months into the Israeli war on Gaza, vast swathes of the enclave lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, while Palestinians are now being ordered to leave the area Israel forcibly displaced them to in the first six months of its bombing campaign; Rafah.

Israel has killed at least 35,173 Palestinians and wounded 79,061 in Gaza since 7 October, while destroying the majority of the Strip’s infrastructure.

It is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and ordered Tel Aviv to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in the enclave.

READ: TikTok under pressure to suppress pro-Palestine voices in alarming crackdown on free speech