Why are social media users blocking celebrities and influencers on TikTok? A look at the #Blockout movement

Why some people are blocking Kim Kardashian and more celebrities on social media. (Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala on May 6. (Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images) (Matt Crossick - PA Images via Getty Images)

Each year the Met Gala marks the intersection of Hollywood and the fashion industry, with stars like Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian taking their typical red carpet looks to new heights. But not everyone was thrilled about the so-called “Hollywood’s Prom” this year, with dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters outside the event hoping to get those inside to acknowledge Israel’s war in Gaza.

Now, more people are taking their protests to social media — and those behind the movement say the results could impact the money stars and influencers make from these platforms.

While many people applauded the looks, social media users called out the Met Gala this year for its bold display of wealth and opulence while the Israeli war in Gaza still raged.

Social media users have since been cutting off celebrities from their bread and butter (aka, online capital) in the wake of the Met Gala, with the help of widely spreading digital campaigns.

"The Met Gala was a bit of a hyperbolic moment that got a lot of people's attention," Marcus Collins, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, told NPR of the digital campaigns. "The celebrity boycotts had existed, but they weren't really at the top of the social zeitgeist. But then you have a moment like the Met Gala that wasn't really related to the conflict, but the pieces were all at play. When the attacks [in Gaza] were happening the same day, the juxtaposition just got people talking and moving."

After the Met Gala, TikToker @BlockOut2024 posted a video encouraging users to block celebrities on social media, preventing them from making money from ad revenue, as a way to offer pushback to their silence on the crisis in Gaza. He noted that he had blocked Kim Kardashian (a Met Gala staple) back in December 2023.

Social media users quickly picked up on the trend, posting videos of who they were specifically targeting to block alongside the hashtags #blockout, #digitine and #celebrityblock.

And @BlockOut2024 wasn’t the only user who created a digital campaign to cut off celebrities online.

At a hotel prior to the Met Gala, for which she was hired as a host, TikToker Haley Kalil — who boasts 9.9 million followers on the app — posted a TikTok using audio of the phrase “Let them eat cake” from the 2006 movie Marie Antoinette. The real French queen Marie Antoinette (to whom the phrase is often attributed but who probably never actually said it, per historians) was ultimately beheaded by guillotine during the French Revolution primarily due to her association with the monarchy, which was seen as out of touch with the needs of the people.

Kalil’s video sparked the creation of the “digitine,” or digital guillotine, coined by TikToker @LadyFromTheOutside. “It’s time to block all the celebrities, influencers and wealthy socialites who are not using their resources to help those in dire need,” she said in her video, which received more than 500,000 likes on the platform, as well as hundreds of encouraging comments.

Based on social media posts, users are blocking a wide range of stars like Harry Styles, Jojo Siwa, Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Hart, Shakira, Kylie Jenner and Taylor Swift. However, people share thoughts on the different stars they are blocking daily.

Thus far, any real impact has yet to be seen. However, #Blockout2024 claims celebrities have been losing a significant amount of followers.

In theory, celebrities (as well as influencers, who are also on these lists) will be impacted by a lack of users engaging with their content, as well as the drop in followers if people who blocked them previously followed their content online.