The Brief: Black Lives Matter protestors are targeting #AllLivesMatter and pro-police and hashtags to spread awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement are organizing various ways to protest police brutality on social media. While supporters and allies are sharing photos with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on Instagram, many more are calling for online action, which includes donating to the Black Lives Matter organization, dropping some bail out funds for protestors, signing petitions, and sharing learning material for those who don’t understand the movement.
With Instagram’s algorithm, those posts are likely shared with the same friends and allies already in their community. Instagram suggests similar posts to a user has based off of their previous interactions on the platform. As social media marketing platform Later explains, “the Instagram algorithm is constantly learning from your behaviors on the app, like what accounts you follow, what posts you like and comment on, and what Instagram Stories and IGTV content you love to watch.” That content shows up on the explorer page. If someone is not interacting with #BLM posts, those posts most likely will not be suggested to them.
In order to reach those masses, creator @sa.liine shared a carousel post on how protestors can use hashtags to game the algorithm into sharing posts to an audience who needs the learning material. She writes, “Let’s target our posts towards the people that need to see and hear it. Time to use the algorithm to our advantage!” The Instagram post received over 264,000 likes.
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DO NOT JUST LIKE THIS POST! Please share, comment and tag as many people as you can! This will help the post to circulate more. We need start utilizing these platforms in an effective way. . I am not an activist, I don’t know much about politics but I am a designer. When designing we have to think about who our target audience is. Who are we designing for and why? . . This made me think about how we’ve been using social media, we’ve been targeting our posts towards BLACK PEOPLE. Sharing trauma and stress to BLACK PEOPLE. Ranting and screaming to more BLACK PEOPLE. . . So the question is how can we continue sharing but do it in an effective way? We have to think about our target audience (the oppressor) and where they hang out virtually. We have to use their hashtags to meet them virtually. . . Thank you so much to @clouddkenzie_ and @docangieluv for helping me to bring the idea of Virtual Protesting to life. . If you feel helpless this is a way to make some shake. My heart goes out to the people that are risking their lives in Minnesota. We may not be able to join them physically but we can join them virtually. #blacklivesmatter #blm
Her post suggests supporters begin using other hashtags besides #BLM under their posts and optimize their posts with hashtags that target the desired group, “the oppressor.”
The next slide detailed hashtags that white supremacists and #AllLivesMatter supporters might follow, like, #KAG2020, #BuildTheWall, #SecondAmendment, and #BluelineBeasts.
She goes on to remind followers they may receive backlash from their actions, before offering methods to handling it, like creating a new Instagram account purely for protesting. In order to avoid keep protestors physically safe, she advises online protestors to be wary of the imagery they plan to share.
In theory, this method of virtual protesting should be able to infiltrate those hashtags and with a quick sweep of a few of @sa.liine’s suggested hashtags, proves that it has. Many of those hashtags are pitch black, as well as imagery from #BLM). Protestors have used their #BlackOutTuesday posts to turn those pages dark, which could indicate that many of Instagram’ curated explorer pages are going dark too.