Online Activism Campaigns Calling for Celebrities to Speak on Palestine Spark Debate

Earlier this month, online campaigns arose calling for social media users to stop following celebrities who have not spoken out about the war in Gaza on their platforms. These calls intensified after several celebrities and influencers attended the Met Gala on May 6—, the city where many Palestinians fled after the decimation of northern Gaza. On and Instagram, users called out celebrities and influencers for attending the high-profile event as the war continues—and called on their followers to stop following stars who they perceive as staying silent on the war.

Called the the online campaigns took off quickly after an influencer, Haley Kalil, drew backlash after posting a video on May 6 showing off her Met Gala look and lip-syncing to a sound from the 2008 film Marie Antoinette, in which the titular character, played by Kirsten Dunst says, “Let them eat cake.” The real-life Antoinette is said to have responded with that phrase after learning peasants in 18th century France were going hungry and had no more bread, though .

Kalil’s video was criticized immediately, and compared to . She later apologized and deleted the TikTok, clarifying that she didn’t attend the event and was a pre-Met Gala host for E! News. Kalil also drew ire after saying she doesn’t speak on Gaza because she is “not informed enough to talk about it in a meaningful and educational way.”


In response, the TikTok account began a “digital guillotine” or “digitine” movement. “It’s time to stop following all the celebrities, influencers, and wealthy socialites who are not using their resources to help those in dire need,” she says in her video. “We gave them their platforms. It’s time to take it back, take our views away, our likes, our comments, our money.”

Another account, , popped up in May and encouraged followers to start stopping following celebrities with the aim of disrupting by not engaging with their content. Separate accounts with similar names have also launched on TikTok.

Brooke Erin Duffy, a communications professor at Cornell University, says that a movement like Blockout 2024 shows how large swaths of creators can work in tandem to affect a public figure’s visibility. “While consumer-led boycotts are by no means unprecedented, this latest iteration showcases the power of creators to redistribute—or even weaponize—​platforms’ metric systems,” she says.

But just as quickly as it drew praise, the calls to stop following influencers and celebrities drew criticism, sparking a larger conversation about nuance in online activism. Critics say that just asking people to stop following celebrities and other highly-followed figures is not a coherent strategy and that it’s becoming a bullying tactic, pulling away focus from the crisis in Gaza.

is interesting but only if it’s targeted and strategic

Creators and celebrities aren’t the only subject of discussions of boycotting creative work. Last week, a user on X circulated a color-coded , listing each one’s stance on the war, and who to support and not support. The list inspired similarly divisive reactions, with some accusing the creator of the list of antisemitism and likening it to McCarthyism. Others have acknowledged the well-meaning intention behind the effort, but fear it might have the opposite effect.

Some of you need to understand that negative promo of a boycotted author’s book also counts as promotion. Some people will inevitably see it and go check the plot which might interest them and decide to buy it. You hate a zionist author’s book? Perfect. Now stop talking about it.— brishti 🍉 (EXAM HIATUS!!) (@archersrenegade)

why bother putting your effort into actually helping Palestinians when you could just make a spreadsheet of authors who *may* be Zionists that won’t actually help anyone at all— Rachel ❤️‍🔥 (@icequeensansa)

“Amid such a profoundly divisive war, it’s no small wonder that celebrities are experiencing backlash for what they have said—or for their conspicuous silence,” Duffy says. “Creators are acutely aware of the impact of visibility—and conversely invisibility—on a person’s status and income. Efforts to render a public figure less visible are akin to reputational warfare.”

Stopping following campaigns take off on TikTok

@Blockout2024 uploads new videos each day of three celebrities they are stopping following and encourages their followers to do the same. They also encourage their followers to share their own personalized stop following lists using the hashtag #Blockout2024. Many of these lists include major celebrities like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Zendaya, and more.

Figures with millions of followers “have the opportunity to create important change in our world,” says the person behind the @Blockout2024 account via Instagram DMs, who asked to remain anonymous. They started the Blockout 2024 movement after seeing videos of the Met Gala being compared to The Hunger Games.

with @SarahF You can also stop following artists on Spotify as well as news outlets

“I stitched that video and explained how I stop following celebrities that aren’t using their platforms for good, so that I’m not contributing to their ad revenue,” they say. “It ended up g