A few days ago, soon to be former President Donald Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill passed by the House of Representatives that, among other things, approves $740 billion in defense spending. Most of the time, the NDAA passes with bipartisan support and very little opposition, but it’s 2020 so that obviously didn’t happen.
Trump’s key issues with the NDAA include provisions to rename bases currently named after Confederate soldiers, you know, the traitors who lost in a war against the union, and because the bill does not include provisions to repeal Section 230, a decades-old section of the Communications Decency Act.
I will not stand by and watch this travesty of a bill happen without reigning in Big Tech. End Section 230 now, before it is too late. So bad for our Country. Show courage, and do what’s right!!! https://t.co/V99lShpLCe
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2020
Yup, you read that correctly. Donald Trump, who loves our troops, vetoed a necessary bill that would give those who serve our country a 3% pay raise because he is upset about an unrelated communications law.
So, What Exactly Is Section 230?
Almost every communications professor I ever had referred to the provision as one of the most important pieces of legislation protecting freedom of speech on the internet. Section 230 was created with bipartisan support as an attempt to just make the internet a better place.
Word for word, the law says that “o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In short: the people are responsible for what they post, not the platform they post it on.
Before section 230, if a company DID moderate their message board, they were treated as a publisher. This meant that they were at risk of being sued for any fraud, harassment, or libel that happened on the message board. Because of this legal risk, companies would be less willing to censor what users can post, if they censored things at all.
There were obvious problems with that type of behavior, as there are very few justifications for punishing companies who were just trying to make their platforms more pleasant places. So, Section 230 tried to fix that issue and basically said that if platforms moderated offensive content, they would have legal protections from being sued for free speech violations when they do so.
Ok, What’s Trump’s Problem With It?
The two-time popular vote loser has grown increasingly frustrated with Twitter’s ability to put warnings on his tweets that contain blatant lies about things like Covid and the election. So, this spring, the president issued an executive order that said that when companies – like Twitter or Facebook – edit or moderate content, they lose the legal protections offered by Section 230.
Here’s the thing, Trump isn’t necessarily wrong to be against Section 230. For a while, there has been strong bipartisan opposition to the provision. This is because most “big tech” companies take advantage of the legal protections offered by Section 230 without using their moderation power in good faith (*cough* Facebook *cough*).
Earlier this year, Democratic Senators Diane Feinstein and Blumenthal partnered with Republicans such as Senator Lindsey Graham to introduce a law that would effectively make it so companies had to earn Section 230 protections. The EARN IT act, which is incredibly problematic, hasn’t solved any of the key issues with Section 230 and puts sex workers and many other groups at risk of privacy violations.
Republican and Trump-led opposition to Section 230 is rooted in a desire to stop moderation (aside from when it comes to violent or obscene content) and often involves repealing the act altogether.
Conversely, Democratic opposition to Section 230 focuses on the lack of moderation of content that contains dis/misinformation or hate speech. Largely, Democratic lawmakers oppose fully repealing the provision and are more in favor of reforming and updating it.
TLDR: Section 230 was created in the 1990s, long before platforms like MySpace even entered our public consciousness. Many opponents to Section 230 on both sides of the aisle (including myself) feel that Section 230 is outdated and that it offers too many protections to social media companies. While Republicans think that these companies should have almost no ability to moderate content, Democrats feel that they should be pushed to further their moderation of problematic content and clarify the terms of content moderation processes.
Long story short, while countless Americans are starving, have lost their jobs and healthcare, and are unable to pay rent, the Commander in Chief is doing what he does best: throwing a sh*t fit over Twitter and attempt to protect the legacies of literal confederate soldiers. As of right now, the House has voted to override Trump’s veto of the NDAA, especially because, again, Section 230 has literally nothing to do with the bill.
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I’m sure it’s all marketing, but I feel like Instagram is Facebook’s good twin. Whereas Facebook lets bigoted memes stay up even after they’re reported, Instagram actively works on ways to improve the community experience, whether it’s rolling out virtual prom features for high school seniors or removing the likes count so users’ mental health doesn’t get so affected by a virtual dick-measuring contest. On Tuesday, Instagram announced new features that aim to help fight online bullying.
One of the new features helps people manage unwanted interactions. If users find themselves flooded with negative comments on a post, Instagram is rolling out the ability for users “to delete comments in bulk, as well as block or restrict multiple accounts that post negative comments.” I can think of at least one influencer who probably wished this feature was put in place oh, about a month and a half ago.
A Facebook company spokesperson said, “Early feedback has been encouraging, and we’ve found that it helps people, especially with larger followings, maintain a positive environment on their account.” Accounts dedicated to calling out celebrities and other high-profile individuals are going to have to work a lot faster to screenshot now, since this feature will be out starting today.
In addition to making it easier to delete comments from trolls, Instagram is also allowing users to highlight positive comments. “Soon,” the Facebook spokesperson said, “we’ll begin testing Pinned Comments.” You’ll soon be allowed to pin “a select number of comments” to the top of your comments thread, similar to how you can pin comments in an Instagram Live. I, for one, cannot wait to use this on my thirst traps. While the pinned comments are currently in the testing phase, the spokesperson for Facebook tells Betches, “we’ll look to roll out globally in the coming weeks.”
Finally, Instagram will soon allow users to choose who can tag and mention them. As the spokesperson explained, “We’ve seen that tags and mentions can be used to target or bully others, so we’re rolling out new controls that allow you to manage who can tag or mention you on Instagram.” With the new feature, you’ll be able to choose whether you want everyone, only people you follow, or no one to be able to tag or mention you in a comment, caption, or Story. The tagging screening will also be available for users to take advantage of starting Tuesday, and I’m hoping that if nothing else, this severely reduces the number of spam Rayban giveaways we all get tagged in.
Overall, these features will help users maintain a more positive community on their pages, and hopefully limit trolling. Now when will I be able to search to see if my crush watched my Instagram Story?? This is great, Instagram, but can we focus now on giving the people what they really want?
Images: Courtesy of Instagram; alex bracken / Unsplash
You know when that guy you’re dating says that he’ll change, only for you to realize that he just meant he’d change the ways he’d piss you off? Well, seems like Facebook is making a similar F*ckboi Move after their rebrand to… wait for it, FACEBOOK. No, I’m not screaming its name, it’s just all in capital letters now.
Him: I’ve changed
Also him: https://t.co/OoMaN9st5S
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) November 4, 2019
It would seem the company has decided to give themselves this face-lift because of all the negative press it’s been receiving since, you know, ruining an election. The fact that Mark Zuckerberg is standing firm in his conviction that politicians should be able to purchase the right to lie to voters (aka allow lies in political ads) also likely prompted the change.
Perhaps because of the toxicity associated with “Facebook,” the name change seems designed to differentiate Facebook the platform from Facebook the company — a company that’s already made up of smaller parts (Instagram, What’sApp) — and signal to candidates threatening to break it up that it is, already, broken up.
The company stated in a press release yesterday: “Facebook started as a single app. Now, 15 years later, we offer a suite of products that help people connect to their friends and family, find communities and grow businesses… The new branding was designed for clarity, and uses custom typography and capitalization to create a visual distinction between the company and app.”
A visual distinction between the platform undermining democracy across the globe and a place where you can save vegan recipes and fire memes. Got it.
It’s funny they chose FACEBOOK as the new name, because nothing relaxes me more than a site that is SCREAMING AT ME while showing all the free-flowing thoughts of racist people I went to high school with. This is sort of like when Taylor Swift realized nobody really liked her snake vibe, so she went back to rainbows with Lover. Except she didn’t influence an election, she just didn’t speak up about politics existing until becoming friends with Todrick Hall or something.
Another funny similarity between the two? They both went for fun, rainbow-y colors for their new logos — cannot wait for Zuck to tell me that shade never made anybody less gay. They’re using these colors because they’re apparently part of an “empathetic color palette.” For real guys, Facebook has totally changed now. Additionally, they feel that the logo’s “subtle softening of corners and diagonals adds a sense of optimism,” which I guess is fair because if I pulled the sh*t they have, I would probably panic and dye my hair blonde.
Also, is it just me or are they just completely using the colors from Instagram, which if you didn’t know is owned by Facebook. I guess the best thing for Facebook to do in 2020 is just ads answering the age old question “So, a lot of you guys have been asking about my skincare…” instead of “HILLARY CLINTON HAS 10 EYES.”
Not only are they borrowing Instagram’s color aesthetic, but they’re also doubling down on the fact that yes, Facebook owns Instagram and also WhatsApp. Screenshots from these apps after the update show that they now have FACEBOOK’s logo appear in various areas, giving me very big ‘Marc by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs’ energy. This is most likely to give the parent brand a PR facelift – cause while everyone is hating on Facebook (Sorry, FACEBOOK), we’re all still obsessed with Instagram and WhatsApp.
I’m curious to see if any actual change comes from this move — best case, they make FACEBOOK a place where everyone can eat cake and love each other, but worst case, they just remind us in November 2020: “Yeah, we suck, but the avocado toast you just posted looks amazing on your grid.”
Image courtesy of FACEBOOK
It’s 2019, and almost everyone you know is on social media, from my mom who just made an Instagram to my boss whose Facebook friend request has been sitting untouched for the past three years. Even whole companies have large social media presences (hi), and many have made a name for themselves by being the opposite of what’s seen as “professional”, i.e. being snarky to consumers, using explicit language, etc. Lookin’ at you, Wendy’s! So it came as a shock when Emily Clow got publicly shamed by a company she applied to work at for committing the crime of… showing some underboob in a months-old swimsuit picture on her personal Instagram. She found out on that company’s actual Instagram Story, where they’d posted a screenshot of her offending bathing suit pic and admonished, “do not share your social media with a potential employer if this is the kind of content on it.” For the full story, and an interview with Clow, read here.
To be clear, Kickass Masterminds was 100% completely in the wrong, not necessarily for disqualifying an applicant based on their social media photos, but for publicly shaming her using the company’s social media platform. It’s pretty much the height of irony for them to use the company Instagram to target one applicant for “being unprofessional.” It’s the pot calling the kettle unprofessional. Still, this whole story got me thinking about the role of social media in job applications and what’s still seen as unprofessional online.
This girl applied for an internship at a company, and they put up this screenshot of her in a bikini on their company Instagram, publicly telling everybody they wouldn’t hire her because of this photo. pic.twitter.com/aRQF7CqfSF
— SheRatesDogs (@SheRatesDogs) October 1, 2019
When I first applied for jobs way back in 2013, I had been hit over the head with the same messaging: don’t post photos of you drinking, doing drugs, or showing cleavage. Put your profile on super-duper private so employers can’t find something that will reflect poorly on you. (That’s actually how I started the Sara F Carter moniker in the first place—I wanted something so dissimilar from my real name that employers would never think to search it. And the rest is history!) It’s not 2013 anymore, though. You can be colloquial on Twitter. You can make a whole career out of posting sexy photos on Instagram. So should we hold the same overcautious standards that we did when social media was in its infancy?
On the one hand, it certainly can’t hurt. Beth Benatti Kennedy, leadership coach, speaker, and author of Career ReCharge: Five Strategies to Boost Resilience and Beat Burnout, still feels it’s better to be safe than sorry. Before posting, she advises there are a few questions to consider: “Does the post or picture represent the brand or reputation you want to have personally and professionally? Why are you posting? Would you be comfortable with a child or teenager viewing it?”
On the other hand, the rules are changing, and not every company expects prospective employees to be totally buttoned-up in their personal life. Lauren Berger, the CEO/Founder of InternQueen.com and CareerQueen.com and author of GET IT TOGETHER, has helped companies hire interns and full-time employees, and she says, “there’s no overarching rule here. Know the company, the company’s culture, and the demands of a specific role.” The best way to do that, she says, is to check out the company’s social media. And, even better, “if you know people who work at the company, chat with them about company culture, dress code, and perspective—and check out their profiles as well.” But if you don’t have a woman on the inside, it’s not a big deal. Berger has a pretty balanced perspective: “If you feel that you should censor your social media a bit, do it. But if there are certain photos that are ‘authentically you’ and display a part of your personality, leave it.”
For the sake of transparency, I’ve had pretty nontraditional jobs, so my opinion on what should or shouldn’t be posted is probably a little more lax than most. I did have one run-in when I applied for a TV internship via Skype interview, and they gently told me afterwards that while they didn’t care, it would be a good idea for me to change my default Skype photo from one where I was smiling and holding up two flasks. Which is pretty chill, considering that, as a 20-year-old, what I was doing was straight-up illegal. If I’d gotten turned down because of that, I would have understood—it was boneheaded and unprofessional (not to mention, against the law). But there’s a big difference between doing something illegal and showing your body on your feed. Without getting too far into the gendered double standards at play, should those things disqualify a candidate equally? Should the latter disqualify you at all?
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Becky Bush, who runs the popular website The Typical Twenty Something, which offers career tips and resources, was bewildered by Clow’s story. “Although it’s wild to believe, the reality is that companies are using social media to screen potential employees,” she says. Overall, she urges applicants exercise caution. “Even though you and I think it’s totally acceptable to put party or bikini pictures up on social media, I would be careful when applying to jobs. My main concern during any application process is that I have no idea who is on the other end of the ‘submit’ button.” Such was the case with Clow, who applied to what she thought was a forward-thinking female-run marketing company. Surprise!
But with companies searching out applicants’ social media handles, and sometimes even outright asking for them in the job application (I’ve had this happen numerous times), the line between being forthcoming and shooting yourself in the foot can get blurred. Bush says that there can be situations in which it’s beneficial to share your social handles with a potential employer. “If for some reason Instagram is part of a job or a side hustle you currently have (i.e. you are a blogger, influencer),” she says, “keep it public—you should bring your whole self to work. If the company isn’t into that, they’re not for you!”
Berger echoes, “If the position DOES have to do with social media/marketing, think of your profile as your personal website or an opportunity to show off what creativity you bring to the table and use your own platform to test out different ideas.” But, at the end of the day, “If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your handle, don’t share it. Ideally, you are proud of what you post and put out there to the world (and confident in what you bring to the table—personally and professionally) so in most cases—you’d probably just send it to them.”
That’s because ultimately, you can’t know what an employer is looking or screening for in a social media sweep. According to Berger, there could be a variety of motivations: “they might be looking for a theme or visual story that you’re telling on your own feed. They may assume that if your social is ‘on point,’ you could help them take their platforms to the next level.” Then again, they may be looking to flag “inappropriate photos,” but the problem with that is, “you can’t control other people’s definitions of inappropriate. And sometimes your photos and the executives mindset won’t sync and that’s okay.” (And sometimes, they’ll publicly shame you and you’ll get revenge on them by making them go viral for all the wrong reasons.)
It’s weird how jobs don’t wanna see pictures of you partying on social media. If anything they should be like “wow she blacked out on Sunday and is still at work? Hire her, she’s clearly dedicated”
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) October 4, 2019
Finally, there may not even be a shady reason behind wanting to stalk you on IG. “They also could be genuinely looking at your social to learn more about you, to look at your hobbies and what you enjoy outside of the office. Some executives LOVE seeing personality come through on social.” Finding a candidate who fits in with the company culture can be just as important as finding someone who is qualified.
The difficulty with searching applicants’ social media profiles to glean clues about how they will behave professionally probably seems obvious to millennials. As Bush puts it, “so much of social media is not someone’s ‘whole self’ and really doesn’t give an accurate depiction.” While Bush emphasizes, “I personally don’t think anyone should ever judge you for your socials (or anything you do in your spare time really, that doesn’t affect your work),” that’s just not the world we live in. From an employer’s perspective, they want to get to know a candidate as much as possible for extending an offer. So while employers are probably not going to stop creeping on applicants sometime in the future, you can choose to limit your audience. Or you can just say f*ck it and live your life. Berger says, “Some companies are very conservative, not only regarding social media, but in the office as well. Perhaps, if you are outspoken—visually and otherwise—on social media, that’s not the right company for you to work.” At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a one-way street: you should be evaluating the company just as they are evaluating you. Who knows, you could, as in Clow’s case, dodge a huge bullet.
Images: sheratesdogs, betchesluvthis / Twitter; whenshappyhr / Instagram
With a degree in creative writing from Columbia and six traditionally published books under her belt, Rea has helped hundreds of clients refine, hone, and craft their own ideas into full-fledged books. Whether it’s working on a book proposal to sell to a publisher, ghostwriting a memoir, or consulting on a great idea, Rea’s fifteen years in the publishing industry will clarify the message, mission, audience, and ultimately help find a home for a client’s work.
When she’s not promoting her novels, NOT HER DAUGHTER, and her newest release, BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE, you can find her creating writing workshops, ogling her sexy husband, homeschooling her incredible daughter, or plotting her next great adventure.
I pulled up my calendar and wanted to cry.
I was launching a book in four days, prepping for a 30+ event book tour, homeschooling my daughter, running my side business, and rushing to meet another book deadline head on. Oh yeah, and trying to find time to f*ck my husband sometime this century.
To say I’d become a yes person was an understatement. On days I carefully curated to write my book, I somehow found myself bouncing from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to email like a crack addict whose bounty was displayed before her. Text messages off. Email closed. Back to the page. But what happened with The Bachelor? That Hannah totally got screwed…have they named the new Bachelor yet? God, I hope it’s Peter! Maybe I’d just do a quick internet search to see…
This had become my life.
Correction: this has become your life. So mired in posting, clicking, collecting likes and DMs like candy, we can rarely focus on getting anything done. Myself included.
I’d lost the ability to focus.
As I was frantically texting my husband that we needed toilet paper, and did he think I had fibromyalgia because I was so f*cking exhausted all the time?—he sent me a shocking text.
“I love you, Rea.”
Four words to change a life.
That’s when I got it: I’d become so reactive in my life—responding to texts and emails and likes and reposts and hashtags and comments and opportunities—that I’d stopped interacting with the people in my real life. Namely that husband I needed to f*ck, like whoa.
When was the last time I sent him a love letter or a “you’re so amazing!” text? I thumbed through and was appalled to find our entire conversations consisted of logistics. Once, we were dreamers, then we’d become doers, and now, it seemed like we were stagnant, barely keeping it together with a list of to-dos so long I wanted to just curl up into a hole and die.
But I didn’t die. Instead, I decided to constrain.
Constraint is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Things like scheduling out your entire week in advance, saying no and meaning it, and putting your dreaded phone away when you should focus.
In my quest for constraint, these are my top tips:
Clean Up Social Media
Guess what? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be on social media if you don’t want to. If you are, do yourself a favor and pick one platform that doesn’t make you want to puke. #deathtofacebook. People can tell if you don’t like what you’re doing. Spend time cultivating an account that you actually enjoy. For me, it’s Instagram. Since I’ve made the decision to invest in one platform, I can spend less time mindlessly scrolling and more time investing on true engagement and growing my business. The simple act of removing apps from my phone and deleting unloved accounts allows me to focus on what’s important (i.e. my real life) and spend concentrated amounts of time connecting and engaging with followers.
Clean Up Your Professional Life
Email isn’t supposed to be checked every five minutes. Neither is your phone. Neither is social media. Neither are your texts. In lieu of going back to a flip phone (which I’m really thinking about), I’m batching texts, emails, and social media to just three times a day. Making this one rule enables me to finish an entire project or task without obsessively getting distracted by checking social media or emails. When I do check, it’s quick and efficient and allows my brain time to process and refocus.
Clean Up Your Personal Life
My husband and I made a deal a few times a week to talk about fun sh*t. Not parenting sh*t, house sh*t, food sh*t, bills sh*t, or sh*t sh*t. (If you’re a parent, you’ll know that poop talk is literally part of the everyday convo.) Just f-u-n sh*t. We are allowed to talk about our dreams. To make each other laugh. To make out. The singular goal is to relate to each other like people, not errand runners. By implementing this new rule, we’ve actually reconnected as romantic partners, dreamers, and individuals who had goals outside of our marriage.
Clean Up Your Time
We all say that we don’t have enough time in the day, right? We can’t work out, we can’t hang with friends, we can’t work on that passion project. Here’s a sobering fact: the average person spends four hours per day on their phone. Four hours! What that means is that we’ve become unnaturally good at being on our phones. We’re not learning a skillset, improving our minds, bodies, careers, etc. Imagine what you could do if you got that time back. I now have a tracker that alerts me how long I’ve been on my phone. I’ve slashed my time in half, removed apps that are time wasters, and organized everything into folders. Now, when I look at my screen, it’s tidy. When I pick up my phone, it has a purpose. When I go out, I often leave my phone at home. And a few nights a week, I take a 45 minute walk without my phone to process my day. #tryit
Bottom line: I’m taking action and saying no what no longer serves me. I’m constraining. I’m focusing on what brings me joy and lights me up. Because all this worry, stress, and overwhelm? There is no upside.
This life is yours. Once you make your own rules, you just might discover something beautiful.
To learn more about Rea, visit her site, or check out her brand new novel, BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE, on sale now wherever books are sold.
Images: Yura Fresh / Unsplash; dylanhafer, whenshappyhr, samanthamatt1, notskinnybutnotfat / Instagram
So you might have been aware (because of the memes) that over the weekend, a bunch of people made a big production about going to Area 51 to break out the aliens. If you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself, “what the actual f*ck is everyone going on about?”. (Things I say to myself most time a new internet trend emerges, tbh.) But don’t worry, I’m here to break down everything that popped off over the weekend, so you don’t have to sort through a bunch of Twitter threads. Here’s what’s going on with Area 51.
What The F*ck Is Area 51?
Fucking hilarious to me that the Area 51 meme has gotten to a point where without a doubt there has been a military meeting somewhere with some very high ranking officials sitting down and going…. “Okay but seriously what are we going to do about this?” pic.twitter.com/v3aQGHyRjh
— H҉o҉v҉a҉ ? (@JahovasWitniss) July 15, 2019
If you didn’t already know, Area 51 is The United States Air Force base in the desert of Nevada. Allegedly, it contains top secret information on extraterrestrial phenomena, and people believe there could be UFOs, aliens, and remains of such. Basically it sounds like the plot of Stranger Things. The base was featured in the 1996 film Independence Day as an alien testing laboratory, but the government rejects any sort of extraterrestrial activities. But still, there are people who believe the government is lying to us and there really are aliens at Area 51—just like there are people who believe we didn’t land on the moon.
What’s Up With The Facebook Group?
Upwards of 600,000 people have joined the event “Storm Area 51, they can’t stop all of us” which joins people together to invade the air force base on September 20th in hopes of seeing any sort of extraterrestrial paraphernalia. Over 600,000 people? That’s more followers than many influencers have on Instagram. That’s a lot of f*cking people. The event description says, “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry” and that “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.” A little more intense than your typical birthday celebration Facebook event description, wouldn’t you say? “Naruto run” is based on the Japanese manga character, Naruto Uzumaki, who runs with his head down and and arms arms stretched out behind. Kind of like how that one weird kid from your high school would run through the halls. I imagine this event would play out like a walk of shame, except you’re not hungover in your clothes from the night before, and instead of avoiding anyone you know, you’re avoiding the government. But really, the first clue that this event is not serious is the sentence that claims people can outrun bullets just be emanating a manga character. But as we know, people on the internet are f*cking idiots and this event is being taken seriously. Which brings me to my next point…
The Government Is Always Watching
The government ready and waiting for everyone storming Area 51 pic.twitter.com/U98wrutx7X
— notanothertruecrimepod (@NATCpod) July 15, 2019
Apparently this event was a joke, but we all know there’s a little truth behind every “JK”, and consequently, the government has gotten involved. Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews said, “ is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces.” They would discourage it? That’s like my best friend telling me that she discourages me from drunk texting my ex. Am I gonna do it anyway? Yes. Does her telling me not to do it only make me that much more determined to disregard her advice? Also yes. McAndrews also says that “The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets,” which to me feels like code for “you’re gonna get shot if you try to go in there”. Are the “assets” extraterrestrial activities? Is ET real? How much longer until this event is sponsored? Is this going to be the next Fyre Festival? Either way, this has brought us great memes, so that’s all that really matters.
To recap, you should not try to storm Area 51. If Stranger Things taught us anything, it’s that breaking into a highly protected government building to find some aliens is only going to f*ck up your life. If you’re going to actually spend the money on a plane ticket to go to Nevada, you’re probably better off going to Vegas, where you would likely see weirder sh*t anyway. Luckily for the government, everybody knows that only about 1/3 of people who respond “yes” to Facebook events end up actually attending, so they probably don’t have much to worry about.
Images: JahovasWitniss, NATCpod / Twitter
Ask any millennial about their favorite social media platforms, and they’ll tell you Facebook is largely dying out. It’s basically all fear-mongering and your relatives doing embarrassing sh*t on there, anyway, with the additions of political rants nobody asked for and people you haven’t spoken to since high school trying to sell you stuff you don’t want or need. What a fun place! It’s no wonder we’re all flocking to Instagram. Facebook’s one saving grace, though? Facebook groups. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, you probably think I’m some middle-aged loser. Let me tell you, Facebook groups are secretly where it’s at—they are these fun little communities (minus the hateful, racist, right-wing ones—those are terrible and scary) dedicated to a very specific topic or purpose. For instance, you can be in a Facebook group for anything from wedding shaming, engagement ring shaming, sh*t talking Vanderpump Rules, a fan group for a podcast you listen to… the odds are truly endless! And a lot of these groups just have a funny title so you can tag the name of the group in the comments for comedic effect, such as “A group where you can only say yikes” or “Sounds like mlm, but okay”. Often times, these groups are closed, and you have to request permission and answer a few questions to join. But today, you may have noticed that your Facebook groups went secret overnight. Why?
Thankfully, I have an answer to why so many Facebook groups went secret. The answer comes, obviously, from one of the mods in one of the Facebook groups I am currently a member of. Apparently, yesterday, about “10 sh*tposting groups got disabled and disappeared.” So then, in response, hundreds of groups went secret to hide from the wrath of Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies. On top of that, a “specific group of people” are mass reporting groups in the hopes that they will get taken down.
Holy coded language, Batman! What does this all mean? First of all, if you’re not familiar, sh*tposting, according to Urban Dictionary, refers to “the constant posting of mildly amusing but usually unfunny memes, videos or other pictures that are completely random or unrelated to any discussions.” So basically, big meme groups got targeted and taken down.
As for the rest of that vague information, I turned, of course, to Reddit, to find out why all my Facebook groups went secret. That, in turn, led me to a writeup on Know Your Meme. It’s a weird, kind of murky story, which feels very fitting for Reddit and this corner of the internet anyway.
Here’s what went down. Supposedly, some guy in Indonesia who runs a closed Facebook group began taking down other Facebook groups by spamming them with porn pictures, so the groups will get reported. When that happens, Facebook tends to shut down groups first and investigate later, or more often, not investigate at all (such as in the case with @bigkidproblems IG being down for the past few days), so the groups would be SOL if they got reported. Basically. So now you have all your fun tagging Facebook groups frantically going secret so they can’t be searched for, and therefore, targeted by this group.
As for why this guy/group is coming after these other groups, I truly can’t even begin to explain it. This has just become so far out of my wheelhouse I can’t even imagine, so I will direct you to this Reddit thread, which appears to have some answers. Or at the very least, it has a bunch of people who are saying things with enough conviction that it’s convinced me that they know things (even if it has simultaneously further confused me). I’m warning you: sh*t gets weird.
So if nothing else, now you know why a bunch of Facebook groups went secret instead of just being closed, and now we all know just how f*cking bizarre and dark the depths of the internet can go. As one of my favorite Facebook tagging groups would put it, this is a situation where you can only say yikes!
Images: Thought Catalog / Unsplash
Influencers everywhere were distraught (I assume), when Instagram announced last week that they were testing out removing the like count on posts. To be clear, Instagram would not do away with the like function entirely—that would be insane—but they are playing around with a new functionality that wouldn’t display the number of likes a given post has. Instead, users would be able to see the names of people who liked the post, and only the owner of an account would see the actual number. The decision comes after study after study found that social media platforms like Instagram are addictive, promote constant comparison, and can ultimately negatively impact users’ mental health. The move to hide likes, Instagram says, was made to create “a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves,” and ultimately get people to focus on content more than likes.
Given that May is Mental Health Awareness month, this is a smart PR move on Instagram’s part, if nothing else. Instagram has known their platform is bad for mental health for at least a year, when Facebook and Instagram announced a feature that would tell users how much time they spent on the apps in an effort to improve people’s mental well-being. The “You’re All Caught Up” message was also intended to help with mental health, I guess so users can get a gentle reminder to get the f*ck off Instagram and go do something else (or at least, that’s how I perceive that notification). So on the surface, it seems positive that the company and platform that created these problems is now working on a solution to address them. And given the movements towards de-stigmatizing mental illness and promoting mental health and self-care in general, this seems like a positive change.
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I will not compare myself to a stranger on Instagram (or anyone in real life!) ❤️?❤️? This silly little quote/statement/thing I scribbled on a piece of paper and shared on here quite a few years ago had a tiny impact on A LOT of people, it’s been shared probably thousands of times and got lots of people talking about this false perception of ‘perfect lives’ that so many of us are comparing our own lives to. A study recently showed that more than A THIRD of teenage girls in England suffer from depression and anxiety… and although social media isn’t the only thing to contribute to this, I think it has a lot to answer for. We don’t live perfect lives, nobody does… we’re all human and we all have sadness, worries, health issues, family issues, all kinds of crap to deal with and the fact that none of that is posted publicly online (because it’s private and not something that the whole world needs to know about most of the time) can make us feel alone in that dark hole and that these things aren’t happening to others and everyone else must be having a magic time on a beach somewhere sipping cocktails. That would be absolutely lovely, but it’s not reality. Of course it’s not just females, over the past few years the suicide rate in men has risen dramatically! We must talk to one another, don’t assume that what you see on social media is a true reflection of how that person is feeling, still ask your pals how they’re doing, don’t assume everything’s rosey just because of their highlight reel on here. It’s become very easy to put on a ‘brave face’ via social media, but deep down we all know it’s bullshit.. absolutely all of us have bad days ???? (link in story for @thehappynewspaper mug)
But is it really going to help?
Full disclosure, I’m definitely old and don’t use Instagram the way the kids do these days, so my opinion could very well be way off-base. And, to be clear, I’m glad that Instagram is at least attempting to do something—it’s better than nothing, absolutely. But, I have a few problems with this. Number one, among me and my friends, likes are not really the measurement off of which we base our envy of other people—it’s followers. I’ve never had a conversation with my friends about Instagram where they express jealousy over someone’s photo getting more likes than theirs (and I have had many conversations about Instagram; it is part of my job). More often than not, you’re salty that someone has more followers than you. And sure, maybe that’s because, implicitly, more followers means a potential for more likes on a post, but it’s not so explicit as “Becky’s selfie got more likes than mine, so now I feel sh*tty.” At least for me and my friends! For other people, it really might be that cut-and-dry, and for those people, Instagram removing likes, I imagine, would be a huge weight off their shoulders.
The only times I’ve ever cared about likes have been on my own posts, and it’s like, this competition with myself over how many likes I can get on a selfie, compared to my other photos. I feel like the comparison is more internal than external—I don’t so much compare my fake candid to another person’s fake candid, but I will compare that fake candid to, say, a selfie I took a month ago, or a tweet I screenshotted and posted on IG. And then I get in my feelings depending on how those likes measure up. (My tweets always get more likes than any photos of me, what does that say about me?) So is hiding likes really getting to the root of the problem? Especially when, by Instagram’s own admission, I will be able to access how many likes my posts get? I don’t know.
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One major way removing Instagram likes could really shift the culture is that it will be harder for influencers to quantify the effectiveness of their posts, which may impact their ability to do sponsored campaigns. And in a time where people are literally out here buying products for themselves, Instagramming them, and falsely passing those photos off as ads, maybe this will level the playing field. Then again, Refinery29 already reported that Instagram is already “thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners.” At the end of the day, Instagram is here to make money, so they’re probably not going to stop people from monetizing their accounts, as I’m sure it would drive both people with huge followings and companies looking to spend money to other platforms.
To me, the bigger issue with Instagram is less so the likes and more so the implicit competition to take the cutest picture, to apply just the right filter, to FaceTune yourself to the point that you are unrecognizable in order to compete with other people who are doing that too. It’s also the fact that almost everybody is manipulating their photos in some way, but few people are owning up to it. And I feel like with this stuff, the cat is already out of the bag. There’s no going back to taking truly #unfiltered pics, or removing FaceTune off the app store, or unlearning your angles (btw, can someone please teach me my angles?), unless we all implicitly agree to stop doing this sh*t. To this point, The Atlantic did a whole piece claiming that influencers are abandoning the Instagram look, so maybe we truly are going towards that direction. And if that’s the case, then maybe Instagram removing likes will give us all the push we need to stop basing so much of our self-worth in Instagram. If those types of pictures aren’t getting the most likes, because you can’t tell how many likes they’re getting, maybe we will all just drop the act.
So, for now (and especially considering a likes-less Instagram is only in the testing phases in Canada), I think influencers can breathe a sigh of relief. Even if these changes do happen, I don’t think it’s going to dramatically change the way we Instagram overnight. However, combined with other factors like the rise of young influencers who are posting raw photos of themselves, it may help start a shift in the way we use Instagram, and how Instagram makes us feel about ourselves. And I’m all for that—as long as they don’t f*ck with my memes.
Images: Erik Lucatero / Unsplash; katyisdumb, emilycoxhead / Instagram