The Brief: People have been changing their profile pictures to blue to raise awareness about a massacre by the military in Sudan which killed over 100 people.

Bluesquiggle
DEEP DIVE

Social media users are changing their profile pictures to a blue swatch and sharing the hashtag #BlueForSudan to raise awareness about violence in Sudan, including a massacre by the military that killed dozens of pro-democracy protestors in Khartoum.

Crisis In Sudan

Pro-democracy demonstrations have been going on since December to protest the rule of former president Omar al-Bashir. In April, protestors began a sit-in. Five days later, Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir was ousted in a coup.

The sit-in continued, as protestors demanded that power be handed over from the military. On June 3, the military raided the sit-in, killing at least 100 people and injuring hundreds of others. Doctors have reported at least 70 rapes by paramilitaries during the attack and its aftermath and that at least 40 bodies were dumped into the river Nile.

After the raid, the government censored internet access in Sudan, largely cutting-off communications between people in Sudan and the rest of the world.

#BlueForSudan

This hashtag #BlueForSudan and Blue For Sudan social media movement began as an effort to honor Mohammad Mattar, a 26-year-old engineer who was killed in the raid while trying to protect two women. To honor him, Mattar’s friends and family members changed their profile pictures to blue, which was reported to be his favorite color. Others followed on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to remember those killed and to raise international attention about the military’s deadly raid.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BykhOmJnBgH/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Influencers Draw Attention

Some celebrities and social media influencers are using their platforms to raise awareness about the uprising and violence in Sudan, providing information about the atrocities that have occurred and linking to relevant organizations and fundraising campaigns.

Shahd Khidir, a Sudanese American beauty influencer posted about her devastation after the murder of her friend, Mohammad Mattar. She also wrote about the lack of coverage from the mainstream media and the struggle for Sudanese activists to communicate with the outside world duringt social media and internet blackouts.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByX9fPLnv4B/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Celebrities including Demi Lovato, Kehlani, Rihanna, and Ariana Grande have turned their profile pictures blue and/or posted information on their social media about the massacre and revolution in Sudan.

@SudanMealProject Scam

Amongst the campaigns to bring the crisis in Sudan to public attention, some opportunistic individuals have taken advantage of the traction the topic has gained to misleadingly attract social media followers, likes, and clout. The most prominent case is that of the Instagram account @sudanmealproject and accounts by similar names. These accounts claimed that they would donate a certain amount of money to relief efforts in Sudan for every time someone tagged them in their Instagram story or shouted them out on social media.

Instagram

After it was exposed as a scam, Instagram removed the @sudanmealproject account from its platform, but copycat accounts remain and continue to pop up.

#SudanUprising #SudanRevolts #IAmSudanRevolution

Even as critics suggest that this campaign could merely be a form of ineffective ‘slacktivism,’ people continue to change their profile pictures to blue, share information about the crisis, refer their followers to donation links, and sign petitions. Over 430,000 people have signed a Change.Org petition urging the United Nations to investigate the human rights violations by the Sudanese military.

This widely-shared Instagram post by user @sainthoax highlights the discrepancies between international reactions to the burning of Notre-Dame and the massacres in Sudan.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByqHVgEphmG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Most of these social media campaigns focus on elevating the voices of Sudanese activists, sharing information that the mainstream media has largely ignored, and encouraging people to do what they can to support the people of Sudan.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByvTnOkB-nS/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

https://twitter.com/KhaledBeydoun/status/1138322484774801410

https://twitter.com/KhaledBeydoun/status/1139630753032130560