Perhaps the largest challenge following the near full internet shutdown in Sudan is the lack of information leaving the country. Activists living in diaspora rely on word of mouth and phone calls with no visual content available, while those within the country struggle to raise awareness for the conflict on the international stage.
26-year old Mohamed Hashim Mattar, the inspiration behind the movement, was killed during the crackdown on protesters by the Sudanese parliamentary rapid support forces in early June. The color blue was displayed on his social media profiles– to honor his death, friends and family matched their profiles to his. This movement soon spread across social media as a way for users to show their support for the protests.
Social media activists, beyond raising awareness, often use the movement’s momentum to collect donations for humanitarian aid. Blue For Sudan, however has reached a unique obstacle in this aspect, with Instagram accounts exploiting the conflict to gain larger followings. It seems the movement has met its goal of raising awareness for the ongoing conflict, however if any long-term goals exists they remain unmet.
While those who wish to exploit the conflict inevitably continue to exist, it is the responsibility of social media users to limit their influence if not completely deny them a platform. These accounts offer temptingly low commitment action from users asking for a share or like in return for sending a meal to Sudan. As activists and social media users it is our responsibility to–at the very least– research the causes we hope to promote. The Federal Trade Commission (linked here) offers a simple process to screen an organization or fundraiser before donating. Blue For Sudan continues to honor the life of Mattar and the cause he died for, it is now the responsibility of social media users not to sully that legacy.