Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY
Published 1: 49 p.m. ET Sept. 16, 2020
Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas started Blackout Tuesday with their social media movement, #TheShowMustBePaused. Many celebrities participated.
Kim Kardashian, Jamie Foxx, and Katy Perry are among the celebrities who have sworn off social media for a day in an effort to promote #StopHateforProfit, the latest in a viral social moment that has celebrities using their platforms to call attention to pressing issues.
The #StopHateforProfit push, which takes place Wednesday, enlisted the help of major stars that also included Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and more to share the words “STOP HATE” in a protest against Facebook.
The campaign argues the social media platform (which also owns Instagram) has made “repeated failures to address hate speech and election disinformation on their platforms,” according to a Tuesday press release from the coalition’s nine founding civil rights and advocacy organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Common Sense, Free Press, League of United Latin American Citizens, Mozilla, NAACP, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Sleeping Giants.
“I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation – created by groups to sow division and split America apart – only to take steps after people are killed,” Kardashian wrote Tuesday. “Misinformation shared on social media has a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy.”
Other hashtags, like #BlackoutTuesday, #ChallengeAccepted and #ChangeHollywood have inundated Instagram feeds over the last few months, too. Celebrities are calling attention to industry issues, reminding their followers to take civic action, or sometimes just vaguely showing solidarity with a movement.
But can these posts actually bringing about change? Social media experts say yes.
Social media influencer manager Keith Dorsey highlighted just how helpful it can be to get a major celebrity to promote a cause. If even a small portion of Kardashian’s more than 188 million Instagram followers or Leonardo DiCaprio’s more than 46 million, feel inspired by their calls to action, that’s a huge group people.
“They can reach a market that some of the bigger entities can’t reach,” said Dorsey whose clients include Atlantic Records, 300ent and a number of YouTube and TikTok influencers. “(Young people) sometimes don’t trust the companies, but they love their influencers, they love their celebrities… It’s a big deal when influencers like the Kardashians say something because now their fans are starting to say, ‘OK, this is something serious, let me follow what they’re doing and let me research.’ “
Some campaigns are better suited to encourage others to take action: #StopHateforProfit lists specific, tangible demands to Facebook: Among them, increase resources and remove groups and content promoting white supremacy and conspiracies; and commit 5% of annual revenue to an independent fund supporting “initiatives, research and organizations doing the work to fight against racism, hate and division enabled in part by Facebook’s inaction.”
But even hashtags like #BlackoutTuesday, which many criticized at the time as a way to perform allyship without putting in real work, can bring causes to the forefront and inspire others to get involved.
Brandy Merriweather, the founder of Atlanta-based BStar PR firm, told USA TODAY a tweet can be “just as powerful as standing in line to vote” because each one increases awareness, engagement and support for an issue.
Ultimately, experts believe stars posting about social issues is a good thing, because it encourages followers at home to become more active learners about their communities, and learning new information sparks action.
“There are big things that can be done that will put you in a position to not just perform,” Dorsey said. “So what is the next step? Let’s get out and let’s vote. That is what is going to actually matter. Or pull our dollars out from certain situations… That will be super effective beyond just, ‘Oh, I just made a post on my page.’ “
#ChallengeAccepted: How it started, and why JLo and more celebs were posting
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