What is the Power of Hashtags?

This is a question we have heard several times before, and today we think it is a good time to discuss it. By now you have likely seen your social media feeds filled with posts depicting a solid black image alongside the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused.

What is #BlackoutTuesday?

Across the United States, protests and unrest continue over the death of 46-year old George Floyd. In a post on June 2nd, two music executives created the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, asking all businesses to not continue as usual and instead take a stand against “racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.” 

This quickly evolved into the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday with thousands of people posted black tiles on social media in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Many are using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM as well. 

Now, this new movement is under controversy.  

Justice for George from Sportsnet article on George Floyd
Demonstrators walk along Pennsylvania Avenue as they protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP) – Photo from  Sportsnet

In these times more than ever, hashtags matter. Hashtags are an incredible way to bring social movements and the power of people together in a very small amount of time. One trending post can be all it takes to ignite global participation, reaching beyond a single group of people, a city, or even a country.   

But what if our best intentions are sabotaging our own efforts? 

Activists are now pleading with people to stop posting these images with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Many are asking, why? Why would anyone want to stop such a powerful movement?

It isn’t the movement. It’s the hashtag. 

#BlackLivesMatter is an international human rights movement, typically used as a tool for protestors to communicate information through social media platforms.

As of today, almost no information is being communicated at all. In fact, if you search the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter all you will see is a completely blank and empty feed due to the mass posting of black squares. 

Over the span of just one day, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has essentially become useless. 

Read that last sentence again. 

“Over the span of just one day” – it took only one day for a post to trend and completely take over social media. 

#BlackLivesMatter has essentially become useless” – a hashtag so powerful, so prominent and so vital to these movements has suddenly been completely drowned out. 

This is the power of hashtags. 

Going forward, organizers are now asking users to stop tagging these images with #BlackLivesMatter and only use #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused. If posts can be edited, the hashtag(s) should also be updated to help us revive #BlackLivesMatter.

The power of a hashtag is unbelievable. And so is the power of a united group of people fighting for kindness, respect and equality for the entire human race. It’s time for a change, and this is an ideal way to honour a man referred to as a Gentle Giant.