8 min to read

What is #Blockout2024 & why are social media users blocking celebrities?

How the Met Gala triggered a social media trend: #Blockade2024 as a mark of protest against silence on Gaza.

May 16, 2024
Sarthak Ahuja

The mounting protests against Israel's actions in Gaza have sparked a digital movement in recent days, focusing on celebrities perceived as indifferent to or endorsing the suffering in the Palestinian enclave.

Following the Met Gala on May 6, this movement, dubbed Blockout 2024, celebrity block list, and digitine, has gained momentum. Its aim is to encourage people to block prominent celebrities on social media platforms like Instagram, X, and TikTok who have either remained silent on Gaza, expressed their support for Israel's action or have close associations with Israel.

However, what exactly is this all about? What action did Haley Kalil take to incite outrage against her? Moreover, has the campaign successfully met its objectives? Continue reading as we break down this complex topic into simpler yet analytical components for you.

Where it all started:

The Blockout movement was sparked by this year's Gala, which took place in New York on May 6. There is widespread dissent against the silence of the rich and influential regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where more than 35,000 deaths have been reported since the attacks began on October 7.

What does Haley Kalil have to do with it?

On May 7, a video surfaced of TikTok influencer Haley Kalil lip-syncing the words 'let them eat cake' outside the Met Gala. Kalil has 9.9 million followers on her TikTok account @haleyybaylee. It received massive backlash as 'Let them eat cake' is an infamous phrase attributed to the then-French queen Marie Antoinette. Her ignorance of the citizens' problems led her to suggest cake as an alternative to the lack of bread during a famine.

Kalil’s video stirred anger because of the backdrop of the starvation crisis in Gaza. Insufficient food has been on the rise over the seven months of war. Kalil issued an apology video days later on her TikTok account. In her apology video, she responded to inquiries about her silence on the Gaza situation, stating, "I am not informed enough to discuss it in a meaningful or educational way." Notably, she did not mention "Palestine," "Gaza," or "Israel" during her address. She later went on to delete both the videos.

Who else is on the blockout list?

Other celebrities included on the blocklists are Israeli actor and former soldier Gal Gadot, American media personality and socialite Kim Kardashian, American actors Zendaya and Noah Schnapp, American singer Taylor Swift, and British singer Harry Styles. Different accounts seem to be circulating different lists signalling an unorganised effort.

While previous online movements have focused on unfollowing certain celebrities, experts suggest that blocking is a more effective protest strategy than simply unfollowing.

According to Eddy Borges-Rey, an associate professor at Northwestern University in Qatar, unfollowing has minimal impact on a celebrity's overall audience and engagement metrics. When someone unfollows a celebrity, they no longer see the celebrity's posts in their feed, but the content can still indirectly appear through search pages or algorithm-driven feeds.

In contrast, blocking a celebrity completely cuts off all interaction with their content. This action reduces the celebrity's audience size and prompts social media algorithms to deprioritize their content. As more people block a celebrity, their posts become less visible across the platform, even to users who haven't blocked them.

How effective has the campaign been?

According to Favikon, the tool that tracks follower and following statistics for several social media sites, Kardashian lost more than 100,000 TikTok and Instagram followers after the Gala. Swift lost roughly 200,000 TikTok followers since the trend picked up. Selena Gomez lost 200,000 TikTok followers on May 9, but she’s been losing Instagram followers since the beginning of the month ― well before the digital guillotine was announced.

Favikon, the AI powered influencer marketing platform tracks 'causes': the trends and topics that influencers and creators talk frequently about. Go checkout which creators that are tagged as 'Pro-israel' have been loosing followers due to the #Blockout2024.

About the author

Sarthak Ahuja

Sarthak Ahuja is a marketing enthusiast currently contributing to digital marketing strategies at Favikon. An alumnus of ESCP Paris with over 2 years of professional experience, he has held multiple marketing roles across industries. Sarthak's work has been published in journals and websites. He loves to read and write about topics concerning sustainability, business, and marketing. You can find him on LinkedIn and Instagram.