Tech companies mark Blackout Tuesday

WASHINGTON, USA - JUNE 1: Police intervene demonstrators during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in Washington, United States on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - JUNE 1: Police intervene demonstrators during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in Washington, United States on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Brian Heater

Over the weekend, music industry execs Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang called on fellow industry members to protest police violence against black people by pausing operations for the day. The pair created the site and hashtag #theshowmustbepaused, which spread quickly throughout social media as people looked for a way to offer solidarity with nationwide and international protests.

The call has transformed in a larger movement, among individuals and companies seeking to respond to the killing of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police.

"Tuesday, June 2 is meant to intentionally disrupt the work week,” the site explains. "It's a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community. The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry that has profited predominantly from Black art. Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable.”

Tech companies respond to George Floyd’s death, ensuing protests and systemic racism

Perhaps the most visible manifestation of the movement are the black squares that have begun to populate Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites. While evocative, the visual has been met with criticism of its own. In particular, some have taken issue with the presence of the squares accompanied by the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.

“Stop posting black squares under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on Instagram,” writer Anthony James Williams noted on Twitter. “It is intentionally and unintentionally hiding critical information we are using on the ground and online.”

The chief concern is that a sea of black squares are drowning out much of social media’s use as both a lifeline for many on the ground, as well as a historical document of the protests. In many cases, the issue seems to be an unintentional hijacking of the feed.

Music-related tech companies have begun to embrace the movement, as well, days after many penned open letters about Lloyd’s death and subsequent protests. Yesterday, Spotify outlined changes for the 24-hour period. The list includes black logos and headers on a dozen or so playlists and podcasts, including Today’s Top Hits and RapCaviar. Some podcasts and playlists will also sport an 8:46 silent track, referencing the amount of time Floyd was suffocated.

Apple Music noted its own participation on Twitter. The service has canceled its Beat 1 radio schedule, in favor of one focused on black music. YouTube Music and Tidal also posted messages of solidarity on social media. The latter writes:

"We are heartbroken and furious at the murder of George Floyd and so many others, and fully support the Black community as it expresses its pain and anger. Recent events have only strengthened our resolve to loudly reject persistent racism and bigotry."

Amazon Music also noted that it will not be posting to social today, in honor of the event. Amazon, notably, received pushback after its early messages of solidarity. The ACLU in particular took the company to task for its role in providing facial recognition technology to police departments. The conflict is certainly worth noting as corporations attempt to walk the line of solidarity and crass co-opting of social movements.

On Monday, 10 Viacom media outlets, including Comedy Central, MTV and CMT, marked the day with an eight-minute-and-46-second screen featuring the words “I Can’t Breathe,” accompanied by the sounds of struggle.

More From

  • How Have I Been Pwned became the keeper of the internet's biggest data breaches

    When Troy Hunt launched Have I Been Pwned in late 2013, he wanted it to answer a simple question: Have you fallen victim to a data breach? Seven years later, the data-breach notification service processes thousands of requests each day from users who check to see if their data was compromised — or pwned with a hard 'p' — by the hundreds of data breaches in its database, including some of the largest breaches in history. As it's grown, now sitting just below the 10 billion breached-records mark, the answer to Hunt's original question is more clear.

  • The UK government to acquire satellite company OneWeb in deal funded in part by India's Bharti Global

    Distressed satellite constellation operator OneWeb, which had entered bankruptcy protection proceedings at the end of March, has completed a sale process, with a consortium led by the UK Government as the winner. The group, which includes funding from India's Bharti Global – part of business magnate Sunil Mittal's Bharti Enterprises – plan to pursue OneWeb's plans of building out a broadband internets satellite network, while the UK would also like to potentially use the constellation for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services in order to replace the EU's sat-nav resource, which the UK lost access to in January as a result of Brexit.

  • Lime puts Jump bikes back on London streets

    Jump bikes are returning to London — this time through its new owner Lime . London is the first city in Europe to see Jump bikes return since Uber offloaded the company to Lime in a complex deal that unfolded in May. Lime raised $170 million in a funding round led by Uber, along with other existing investors Alphabet, Bain Capital Ventures and GV. As part of the deal, Lime acquired Jump, the electric bike and scooter division that Uber acquired in 2018 for around $200 million.

  • Intel to invest $253.5 million in India's Reliance Jio Platforms

    Intel said on Friday it will invest $253.5 million in Jio Platforms, joining a roster of high-profile investors including Facebook, General Atlantic, and Silver Lake that have backed India’s top telecom operator in recent months. The American chipmaker's investment arm said it is acquiring a 0.39% stake in Jio Platforms, giving the Indian firm a valuation of $65 billion. Intel Capital is the 12th investor to buy a stake in Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $15.5 billion by selling a 25% stake since April this year.