The Digital Guillotine


Reflecting on the Digital Blockout of 2024: How it came about and who’s on the list

Social media being used for good? Yes please!!! Popularity on social media is largely determined by everyday people. It’s no surprise then that the opposite should also be true - and that’s exactly what’s happening with the recent “Digital Guillotine” started by TikTok user Blockout2024.

It began on May 7th, after TikToker and Influencer @haleybaylee posted a video of herself outside a hotel near the 2024 MET Gala wearing an elaborate Marie Antoinette-inspired flower dress using the trending TikTok sound “Let them eat cake”. The video has been removed from the platform but gained virality in only 3 days with 21.5 million plays and 3.6 million likes.

The phrase stems from Marie Antoinette, the late queen of France, who, during the French Revolution, when told that those in poverty didn’t have any bread, responded “Let them eat cake”. The classist famous phrase sparked controversy then, with the Queen known for her indulgent, excessive spending, and continues to demonstrate how out of touch the rich and famous are now. Adding salt to the wound, Haley’s apology stating that she didn’t realise that it would offend people shows just how out of touch she really is - not to mention the claim of being an everyday person when their rent bill is US $17,000 per month. However, it’s not really about Hayley. TikTokers are comparing the dystopian nature of our two worlds to that of the Hunger Games and it’s not hard to see why, when a ticket to the MET Gala costs $75,000 and so many are living in poverty in the United States and starving and dying in Gaza.

The Blockout, as explained by TikToker @Jpall20, is intended to cancel celebrities and influencers, specifically to block them on all social media platforms.The idea behind it is to limit the earnings of celebrities that have not used their social media platforms for positive influence but partake in events such as the MET Gala. The way it works is that they earn more, the more their audience engage with their content, which can come in the form of comments and likes, so blocking a celebrity means not seeing their posts, reducing their engagement and ad revenue.

While it is true that influence should be used for good, whether or not the big names have or haven’t spoken out on the issue wouldn’t be affecting them financially. However, the Blockout aims to limit their influence, hitting them where it hurts. Some of the big names on the block lists include Drake, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Timothee Chalamet, Kim Kardashian and all of the Kardashian/Jenner clan.

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