News & Politics

BLM Launches Social Media Site So You Can 'Mark Yourself Unsafe'

Website screenshot from MarkYourselfUnsafe.com, a Black Lives Matter site.

The Black Lives Matter movement has launched two new Internet tools this week, as part of the “Resist and Reclaim MLK” campaign. For the five days between Martin Luther King Day (on Monday) and President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration (on Friday), the movement has mobilized.

One of the Internet tools is the site MarkYourselfUnsafe.com, a twist off of Facebook’s popular Safety Check feature. The idea is that black people will connect the site to Facebook and mark themselves unsafe.

“From slavery to Jim Crow to prejudicial and deadly policing, America has never been a safe place for black people,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors declared in a statement. “We need to take action to continue to raise awareness about how racism impacts our families and communities.”

“Being Black in America is a national emergency,” the website claims. “Black people are bing attacked and murdered while doing day-to-day activities. This week, it’s important to let the world know how you feel, to come together, and resist.”

The feature uses Facebook Connect, a tool for app developers which requires MarkYourselfUnsafe.com to ask permission for access to a user’s profile and friends lists. It uses location data for an accompanying map. According to the site, as of Thursday afternoon 1,580 people marked themselves unsafe.

“After marking yourself unsafe, we ask that people take additional action by joining local organizers in demanding justice in the streets,” Cullors added.

Facebook’s Safety Check feature was first used following the 2011 tsunami in Japan as a way for users to notify friends and loved ones that they were unharmed. Since the official launch in 2014, this feature has been used for events such as the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, and was first used in the United States after the June 2016 attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Black Lives Matter launched MarkYourselfUnsafe.com on Tuesday, the same day activists launched the “Resistance Manual,” a wiki-based encyclopedia site meant to carry information about specific issues and suggestions on how activists can stop the Trump administration.

“Twitter has been the infrastructure for the Movement for Black Lives,” Samuel Sinyangwe, co-founder of the BLM organization Stay Woke and co-creator of the Resistance Manual, told International Business Times on Wednesday. “What it hasn’t done effectively is preserve the knowledge base outside the immediacy of the moment … the Resistance Manual promotes crowd sourcing mentality and collaboration at scale, but does it in a way that saves the content and allows you to dive deeper and really become informed.”

The Resistance Manual aims to be a living document containing both a database of information and a network of hyper-localized sites to allow activists to keep track of what is happening in their area and coordinate messaging and strategy. These efforts include a page explaining how to stop a Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare — convincing three Republican senators to oppose it.

Like Wikipedia, the site can be edited by anyone. Sinyangwe reported that on Wednesday, over 400 pieces of content had already been added to the site, and that heavy traffic momentarily took the site offline on Tuesday.

Trump still isn’t even in office yet, but already Black Lives Matter is building its movement against him. Get ready for a tense 4 years of tech-backed social justice warrior activism.