What Is Section 230 And Why Is Trump Raging About It?

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. 

 

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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Gap Got Dragged For Their Tweet About Unity

With election results still uncertain, it’s incredibly difficult to even know how to feel right now. Currently, I’m falling somewhere in the middle of hopeful, stressed beyond belief, and literally f*cking miserable, but every hour brings fun, new emotions. Hopefully this purgatory will be over sooner rather than later, but for now, we really have no idea.

But however you’re feeling at this moment, I’m sure you can find some solace in the latest tweet from Gap. Yes, the store that sells moderately priced khakis and zip-up hoodies made a foray into politics this morning, and uh, it didn’t go great. They urged their followers that no matter what, “together, we can move forward,” and paired with it a GIF of a sweatshirt that’s half blue and half red. Groundbreaking.

Right off the bat, the most offensive thing to me was that the letters on this hoodie don’t even line up. Gap, get your sh*t together! But of course, the actual message sucks more than the fashion monstrosity, and let’s talk about why.

In the closing days of this election, you’ve probably seen people sharing posts with a similar sentiment—that no matter who you vote for, we can all come together and love each other; you don’t need to hate someone just because you disagree. In theory, it’s a nice sentiment, but it glosses over the fact that the issues we are disagreeing on are things like systemic racism, LGBTQ rights, and access to health care, to name a few. There’s a reason most people sharing sh*t like this are either Trump voters or those delusional folks who feel that politics don’t affect them—it’s called privilege. There are real issues at stake here, and the severity of those issues should not be brushed under the rug with a simple “let’s all love each other” sentiment, whether it’s a tweet from Gap or a Facebook status from your aunt who definitely didn’t vote.

So yeah, Gap’s post hit a nerve with many people who see this election as a fight for vital rights and protections, and the tweet was quickly dragged accordingly. Even Chrissy Teigen chimed in with a sarcastic comment on their words about moving forward together.

And to add another layer to this whole thing, let’s not forget that earlier this year, Gap inked a 10-year deal with none other than Kanye West. In case you forgot, the deal was announced back in June, and the brand is reportedly hopeful that their long-term collaboration with Kanye, set to launch next year, will bring in upwards of $1 billion a year in sales within five years. And in case you also forgot, Kanye ran for President, which many worried (and West himself did not deny) would take away crucial votes from Joe Biden. (He ultimately received over 60,000 votes across 12 states.) Yesterday was actually Kanye’s first-ever vote in a presidential election, which for some reason, he thinks is something to brag about as a 43-year-0ld man. (He wrote his own name in in Wyoming, which according to Deadline, will not accrue to him unless he files additional paperwork—which he has not filed—and pays a fee to the state.) Tbh, I’m surprised Gap didn’t add a third color into the bipartisan hoodie to represent their boy ‘Ye.

I’m not responsible for Gap’s social media strategy (clearly), but if they’re shoveling money into Kanye West’s pockets as we speak, now might not be the best time for them to insert themselves into the political conversation. And even without the Kanye factor, this sentiment of unity is just not helpful right now. We’re a little busy trying to save democracy over here, so maybe just stick to 20% off fleece pajama sets.

Images: Alex Millauer / Shutterstock.com; gap, chrissyteigen, betchesluvthis / Twitter

5 Black Women And Femmes You Should Be Following

There can be no discussion of the year 2020 without the mention of the name George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who was brutally murdered at the hands of Derek Chauvin and three other police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota this past May. And while George Floyd did not ask to be martyred, his brutal and untimely death awakened the world, and was undoubtedly the inciting incident for what many are calling the civil rights movement of 2020. Although it’s tough to say definitively if the uprisings we’ve seen this year can be compared to the civil rights movement of the 1960s (as that movement tenaciously lasted for more than 10 years), it is fair to say that the Black Lives Matter movement is certainly moving in that direction. And if, in fact, we are headed down that historic route, it would absolutely be because of the bold, radical, unapologetic voices guiding us, leading us down the path to revolution. 

It is no secret that black women and femmes have played a central role in the current Black Lives Matter movement—after all, it was a 17-year-old Black woman, Darnella Frazier, who bravely filmed George Floyd’s death, providing the world with the concrete video footage that made the misconduct surrounding his murder indisputable. But Black women and femmes have always had a unique perspective into structural injustice, probably because they have always been at the receiving end of most of it. Black women’s rights and interests routinely take a back seat to those of white women and cis black men. As such, you may have heard (whether directly from the source, Malcolm X, or indirectly from a pretty good source, Beyoncé) that “the most disrespected person in America is the black woman.” And perhaps it is because of this regular disrespect that Black women and femmes have sought to reclaim agency and use their voices to speak.

Over the past few months, Black women and femmes from all industries have been using their social media platforms to mobilize and educate the masses, creating a revolution for the digital age. They are leading the anti-racism conversation by saying what many people don’t have the courage to say; pushing the boundary and not accepting performative or shallow attempts at change; ensuring that the revolution will be televised (via Instagram), and that it will be inclusive and intersectional. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the Black women and femmes that I follow who regularly challenge me to learn and do better—I highly recommend you consider following them as well. 

Sonya Renee Taylor, IG (@sonyareneetaylor)

 

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The viral video of Haley challenging her racist parents has gone viral for Folks inspired by her desire to stand up to her parents and advocate for Black people. However, Haley missed the mark and my hunch is most white folks do. STOP arguing with your white family about Black people. START talking about the sickness that is whiteness and how you and them have ingested it. White people talk about people of color so that they don’t have to deal with themselves and the culture and systems whiteness has created inside them. White people it is time to talk about WHITENESS and not about Black folks. #indefenseofblacklives #whitesupremacymustfall #whitestalkaboutwhiteness #healyourwhiteness #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Sonya Renee Taylor (@sonyareneetaylor) on

If you are like me, you first encountered Sonya Renee Taylor back in June after a video of hers went viral. The video was in response to another viral video on Tik Tok, which featured a well-intentioned yet slightly misguided teen attempting to have “the anti-racism talk” with her family. While most of the internet was applauding Haley for having any semblance of a talk with her family at all, Sonya Renee Taylor’s response video challenged us all to think more critically about what exactly it was that Haley and her family were debating: “Haley was arguing with her parents about whether or not Black people were worthy of life. The fact that that is a conversation is the problem.” Taylor was able to shift the conversation from the localized issue of Black lives simply mattering (a conversation that really shouldn’t be a conversation at all) to the more comprehensive, structural issue: “the delusions of white supremacy.” And that, in a nutshell, is Sonya Renee Taylor’s enthrall—she has the wonderfully unique ability to shed light on matters that challenge and defy the obvious perspective. In addition to her keen insights concerning racism, blackness, and white supremacy, she also commits to spreading discourse surrounding gender, fatphobia, and radical self love. So if you are looking to learn, be challenged, and pick up some lessons on how to love yourself radically and without apology, you must dive into the work of Sonya Renee Taylor and follow her on Instagram. 

Noname, Twitter (@noname)

if we believe black lives matter, we must also believe capitalism needs to be destroyed. as long as that system is in place and maintained by powerful elites, black people will die forever.

globally.

— 🌱 (@noname) July 26, 2020

Admittedly, it sort of feels weird telling you to follow Noname, because her whole thing is that we should divest from structural systems, celebrity culture being one of them. With that being said… you should follow Noname. Noname has been making music and uplifting POC interests and voices for years now, but she gained mainstream traction this past year. She’s been a dominant voice in the digital Black liberation conversation, regularly challenging her audience to read, learn, and think for themselves. What’s most compelling about Noname’s Twitter presence is she uses it as a means to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. You can find her calling out imperialism, the industrial prison complex, and the patriarchy; but, you can also find her calling herself out, owning past mistakes and gaps of knowledge she had before she learned better. As she poignantly points out, “growth is an embarrassing yet necessary part of the process.” 

Perhaps Noname’s biggest digital moment occurred this past June, when rapper J. Cole thought it would be constructive to derail from the movement and drop a tremendously odd single, accusing Noname of using a “queen tone” and thinking “ better than” him and other rappers in her efforts to speak up against structural oppression on Twitter. Noname’s eloquent retort came in the form of a 1 minute and 10 second song, the thesis essentially being: “he really ’bout to write about me when the world is in smokes?” With concision and flair, Noname defended herself while effortlessly redirecting the conversation back to the serious issues at hand. Noname uses her Twitter presence in a similar way, calling out problematic mainstream pop culture while consistently shedding light on critical societal issues. So if you want to be a part of her “new vanguard,” follow Noname on Twitter and consider joining her book club.

Ericka Hart, IG (@ihartericka)

 

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“In our culture privacy is often confused with secrecy. Open, honest, truth-telling individuals value privacy. We all need spaces where we can be alone with thoughts and feelings – where we can experience healthy psychological autonomy and can choose to share when we want to. Keeping secrets is usually about power, about hiding and concealing information.” -bell hooks ⠀ I have been so weary with this new wave of positing that “call outs” are harmful. In my classrooms, I have always contested with this logic – when you make a suggestion that things shouldn’t be called out- who are you protecting? I don’t know about y’all, but I come from a world that loves a secret. bell hooks in All About Love talks about our desire to keep secrets can be linked to slavery- an institution built on a lie, human traffickers lied, enslaved people had to lie to stay safe, institutions lie about what really happened, white washed history lies. ⠀ It’s revolutionary for secrets to be told. To call a thing a thing, rather than bury it in activism or Broadway. I have been apart of many organizing spaces/non profits etc that claimed radical and love, but resisted transparency. These two things can’t exist at the same time. ⠀ We don’t have a call out culture, we have an abuse protection culture. And that is the essence of white supremacy. ⠀ Thank you @jewel_thegem and @thechubbygoddess for the realest most healing IG live I’ve ever watched. Please go follow them and PAY THEM.

A post shared by Ericka Hart, M.Ed. She/They (@ihartericka) on

I wish I could say that I’ve had the pleasure of following and engaging with Ericka Hart’s content long before this year, but alas, I, too, fell victim to bandwagon culture, and only discovered this dope account this past May. A self-proclaimed “racial/social/gender justice disruptor,” “sex educator,” and “breast cancer survivor,” Ericka Hart uses their social media platform to cover tons of ground on the journey to liberation and is, by far, one of the most engaging accounts I follow. Ericka Hart’s social media presence is unique in that their dialogue concerning social justice is dynamic—not only do they foster conversations that discuss plain truths about race and Blackness, but they also add unique depth to the discussion by examining matters of colorism and ableism. However, what specifically drew me to Ericka Hart’s account was their advocacy for the protection and uplifting of Black lives that exist beyond the scope of cis Black men. They were a dominant voice in May insisting that we not only demand justice for George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, but for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman, Tony McDade, a Black trans man, and countless other Black women and trans folks that have been murdered at the hands of injustice. I, myself, am constantly challenged by Ericka Hart, as they constantly provide the reminder that the revolution cannot be complete or effective if it does not seek to liberate all Black lives. Ericka Hart’s Instagram presence is also a healthy one to follow because they also use it as a platform to celebrate Black joy and Black love—regularly posting content with their partner, Ebony. It’s a radical reminder that the Black story is not one of plight but one of joy and abundance. So do yourself a favor and follow Ericka Hart.

Ziwe, IG (@ziwef)

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watch my livestream on Thursday at 8 pm EST with @yassir_lester and Alyssa Milano

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One of the most powerful adages that has come out of the last couple of months is “the revolution has many lanes.” And I think it’s safe to say that the lane of the revolution that’s “activism through humor” has been monopolized by writer and comedian, Ziwe Fumudoh. Hosting a weekly show on Instagram Live, Ziwe attracts crowds in the thousands as they eagerly watch as she talks with notable people—predominantly white people—about race in America and skillfully baits them into an incorrect, often cringeworthy answer. What’s most fascinating about Ziwe’s show is that her practice of “baiting” really isn’t baiting at all—she just asks questions and simply waits for answers. Without fail, and despite days of preparation and sometimes even tangible notecards, guests will always say the wrong thing—revealing that even the most well-prepared, well-intentioned white people have some kind of implicit bias that they need to reckon with. Previous guests have included infamous white women like Caroline Calloway, Alison Roman, and Alyssa Milano, but Ziwe has also interviewed people of other races, like Jeremy O. Harris, forcing him to discuss his use of Black women’s bodies on stage in his seminal work, Slave Play. At the end of every interview, Ziwe asks her guest what the audience has been wondering the whole time: why the hell did you agree to come on this show? And the guest’s answer is almost always the same: part of doing the work is being made to feel uncomfortable and humbling yourself in order to learn. And that’s the Ziwe influence—she’s created a public platform for those willing to be challenged and learn, while allowing her audience to heal through community and catharsis as they watch the process take place. If you’re not familiar with Ziwe, please join us in the year 2020 and give her a follow!

Rachel Cargle, IG (@rachel.cargle)

 

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A quick mid week sermon. • If your only goal is to “break the glass ceiling” consider who all those shards of glass will be falling on if you’re not bringing the most marginalized women with you. • Listen to me closely: if your feminism simply means “getting even” with white men it’s not ever going to be an intersectional, inclusive and justice based movement. • Drop a comment or emoji below and let me know you HEAR me. I need you to hear me. • #feminism #womanism #glassceiling #womensrights #womanhistory #womenshistorymonth #quarantine #dogsofinstagram #catsofinstagram #pnwonderland #howdarling #teachersofinstagram #boymom #taylorswift

A post shared by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle (@rachel.cargle) on

If there is any account that I am 90% certain you’ve encountered over the past few months, it’s Rachel Cargle’s—and it should be Rachel Cargle’s, as she uses her platform predominantly as a means for education and activism. Upon scrolling through her IG feed, one of the first things of note is that her academic and mobilization efforts far precede this year’s events. Cargle has been guiding the conversation on race and womanhood in support of the revolution for years, even though many of us have only come around recently to receive her words. She regularly promotes the work of “unlearning” through learning, and curates monthly reading lists and lectures via her online platform The Great Unlearn (a patreon you should subscribe to!). 

But what sets Rachel Cargle apart from other activists is that a central part of her work is providing tools and resources for her audience to ensure that learning doesn’t stop at required reading, but is further translated into action. For example, when much of the world was posting open letters to their schools, universities, and workplaces to expose them for unjust practices and racist ideals, Rachel Cargle took to her Instagram account to take it one step further: providing her audience with a template for how they, too, can hold the institutions in their lives accountable for structural injustice. In addition to these accountability templates, she also curated a 30-day Do the Work challenge and posted tangible ways to decolonize your bookshelf, continuing the idea that activism must be combined with action in order to really effect change and mobilize a revolution. So if you’re looking to become a student in the masterclass on effective activism, follow Rachel Cargle on Instagram. 

A prevailing question on the minds and lips of many this past year has been: “How long will this movement last?” “Is this movement just a moment?” But it’s been three months since the murder of George Floyd, and the movement is still prospering. While the momentum has, naturally, oscillated, its heartbeat is still strong. Why? Because we have leaders: Black women and femmes, the new generation of activists—our new vanguard—who have committed themselves to the endurance of this movement. While it may be easy at times to be defeatist and feel overcome and overwhelmed by how far we have to go, optimism lies in the comfort that we are being led in this revolution by some of the brightest, most talented minds out there. And we can access all of them through the proximity of our smartphones. We simply have no choice but to stan these women and femmes (and send them some coin to pay them for their labor).   

Images: Angelo Moleele / Unsplash; sonyareneetaylor, ihartericka, ziwef, Rachel.cargle / Instagram; Noname / Twitter

5 People Who Got Caught Trying To Use Protests For Their IG Aesthetic

Right now, a lot of celebrities are using their platforms to speak out about systemic racism, offer resources for how white people can continue to learn and help, and highlight peaceful protests. And many influencers are opening dialogues about race, highlighting Black-owned businesses to support, and sharing information about government officials to contact to demand change. But as with just about anything, other influencers and wannabe influencers alike are co-opting these powerful protests against police brutality and using them for likes. And this is why we can’t have nice things. Here are a few stories of clout-chasing gone wrong.

Jake Paul

pic.twitter.com/kwsQ2jyMm1

— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) May 31, 2020

Everyone’s least favorite YouTuber and the word “jackass” personified, Jake Paul, was captured on video at a mall in Scottsdale as it was being looted last weekend. While videos didn’t show the walking Twitter apology himself participating in the looting, he was in the crowd (and on camera) with other people who were doing it, and he didn’t exactly try to stop them. He has now been charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly, both misdemeanors. Paul said on Twitter that he was not participating in the looting; he was simply documenting it: “To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” he wrote, adding that he and his group were “not engaging.” He and his fellow Wrong Brother, Logan Paul, did post a video to their YouTube page and podcast urging white people to “acknowledge and weaponize” their privilege, and calling people who don’t believe white privilege exists “delusional”, though, so maybe we don’t have to throw the whole man away.

Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin

.@factswithfiona stopped someone boarding up a store in Santa Monica so she could hold the drill for a picture, then drove away. The video is now all over influencer tea accts. She’s since gone private but said nothing pic.twitter.com/K23qssYl0x

— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) June 2, 2020

In Santa Monica, a white woman got exposed for posing with a drill in front of a boarded up storefront, doing a quick photo op to make it look as if she was helping, and then promptly leaving the scene, probably to go to brunch or something. According to CBSLA, the woman, who was later identified as Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin, was a commentary writer at the conservative publication Washington Examiner before getting dismissed after the video went viral. (A Heavy article later referred to her as an intern. Burn.) Fiona posed with the power drill quickly while a man took her photo, before driving away in her black Mercedes, gabbing about her boyfriend being a good Instagram boyfriend. Lmfao. It’s so bad I almost want to think it’s performance art, for my own sanity. She ended up deleting her accounts, which is the correct response.

The Girl Who Took A Pic In Front Of A Smashed T-Mobile

I knew this would happen eventually pic.twitter.com/V3bB92iaPB

— influencersinthewild (@influencersitw) June 1, 2020

On @influencersinthewild, a young woman who has not been identified was captured on video posing in front of a smashed T-mobile, with her back to the camera, as a man took her picture. I’ve got to wonder what the caption on this post was going to be—I have a feeling it probably would have been about how “I support the right to peacefully protest but I just cannot stand by and watch innocent small businesses get destroyed”. What is even the use of taking or having a picture like this?? Do your 500 closest family and friends really need to see it? Why do you need to be in the picture at all?? Instagram boyfriends, please step up and refuse to let your girlfriends participate in this buffoonery.

Two Girls Who Pregamed and Went

Going to a protest right now is not like going to Coachella, or even the Women’s March—it requires strategic physical and mental preparation because there are risks of violence involved. What it definitely does not require is you putting on your cutest outfit, pregaming, and then heading out to take a few pictures with a homemade sign. And yet, that’s exactly what Instagram user @serafina.0 and her friend @tamella_kay did: they had a whole chat debating if they should go or not, decided to get drunk and then show up, but perhaps worst of all? They posted a screenshot of their convo to their Insta Stories (Close Friends, at least—smh, it be ya own close friends), probably thinking this convo made them sound quirky and cute. 

Deadass fuck all these internet bitches forreal. pic.twitter.com/TYGncVS8P2

— leyahli (@goodgalbadrep) May 31, 2020

Well, it didn’t. @tamella_kay ended up deleting her account, and @serafina.0 went private.

It might sound like I’m just trying to drag influencers for the fun of it, but the truth is, attending a Black Lives Matter protest isn’t just like, a fun event to go to for clout or to say you went. Although the majority of protests have been peaceful, there is still a chance you could get hurt, given that police have acted violently towards protestors, firing rubber bullets, teargassing, and even driving police vehicles through crowds. Especially if you are attending as a white ally, you need to be prepared that you may be needed to use your body as a physical shield for Black protestors. 

There are a lot of tips and resources for people attending protests out there, so I’ll just state a few that these influencers egregiously ignored. Number one, don’t pregame! You are going to need to have all your wits about you, and alcohol just makes you dumb and slow. Not to mention, it can make some people belligerent, which is extra dangerous if you’re going to be in a heated atmosphere in the presence of agitated police officers. Don’t wear contact lenses, wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in, and do not post videos or photos of protestors’ faces without their explicit permission. Maybe the one thing all these influencers got right is that you shouldn’t go alone and should go with a buddy or in a group if possible, but that’s about it. The bottom line is, it’s great to want to get involved, and do that if you feel comfortable and willing, but don’t do it for your Instagram aesthetic.

Stay safe if you are protesting, and if not, there are plenty of other ways you can help. You can donate to organizations or donate supplies to organizers, sign petitions, literally annoy the sh*t out of your local representatives, and more.

Influencers In The Wild (@influencersinthewild on Instagram and @influencersitw on Twitter) is doing a much more comprehensive job of covering people who are treating the Black Lives Matter protests like it’s Coachella 2020, so follow those accounts if you want more of influencers gone wrong.

Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com; jakepaul, taylorlorenz, influencersitw, goodgalbadrep / Twitter

I Asked 7 People Why They Were Blocked By Jax Taylor

Vanderpump Rules’ Jax Taylor is many things: a cheater, a liar, a manipulator, the Number One Guy In The Group. He is also one of the most notoriously sensitive people on social media, second only to Jonathan Cheban. And he’s fully aware that he can be extreme when it comes to blocking, telling Us Weekly“I’d rather block them, because they think they’re being cute, so I’m just going to block them. They want to say something and see what they can get away with, so I block them.” Jax is so quick to block people who call him out, in fact, that his behavior has inspired an Instagram account and “Blocked By Jax on Twitter” T-shirts and other apparel. When it comes to blocking, Jax does not discriminate. He has blocked his own cast mates including Kristen and Tom Sandoval, fellow Bravolebrities like Below Deck‘s Captain Lee, and many a random internet hater.

So I decided to speak to a few of those aforementioned internet haters and chat with them about the circumstances—and the offending tweets—that caused them to get blocked by Jax on Twitter.

Evelyn M, a member of the Bravo by Betches Facebook group, says she was blocked in March of this year after tweeting a reaction to a Vanderpump Rules marathon. In a bold move, she tagged Jax, which earned her a swift block.

Lmao all this #VanderpumpRules marathon proves is that @mrjaxtaylor has not changed

— Ev (@eviemacs) March 24, 2020

Amira A, another Bravo by Betches group member, said, “Jax blocked me on Twitter because I said Stassi dodged a bullet that Brittany has to deal with.” She didn’t even tag him directly, she said: “I tagged #vanderpumprules.” Upon finding the tweet, she said, “he proceeded to cuss me out and block me, along with whoever else was in the thread.” She recalled, “it wasn’t a good episode for him, and people were letting him have it I believe,” clarifying that it was the episode when Brittany famously told Jax to rawt in hail after finding out he had sex with Faith.

Twitter user and @bravobybetches follower @Lynn_S_A was blocked just last week, after tweeting some opinions on the Vanderpump Rules OGs. She tweeted in reply to Kristen Doute revealing that she went to Sandoval’s pool party because Jax had uninvited her to his, and was one of at least 170 replies to the tweet. She did not tag Jax, nor did she even write out his full name. That he was able to sift through so many replies to find the tweet is nothing short of impressive.

blocked by Jax

But Mr. Taylor does not only direct his ire at individual Twitter users—he’s blocked more than one meme account on Instagram after being the subject of an unflattering post. Steve, the creator of the popular Faces By Bravo account, revealed to us that he was blocked by Jax in December 2018 after posting this meme:

 

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🦀💎🦀💎 #VPR #pumprules #vanderpumprules #engaged #crabs #congrats #jaxtaylor #brittanycartwright

A post shared by Faces by Bravo (@facesbybravo) on

While making a joke about passing an STD onto his then-fiancé may not have been exactly nice, it’s far from the worst thing someone could say about Jax, and even far from the worst true thing one could say. However, this word play made @facesbybravo the lucky winner of a blocking.

@lucyontheground, another pop culture meme maker, was blocked by Jax on Instagram as recently as Tuesday night. She told me via DM, “I am so confused… it must have happened last night because I haven’t watched for weeks.” She elaborated, “I called him a man child last night and said he and Brittany just like to complain and be unhappy,” but added, “I don’t even tag him… he had to come looking.” A subsequent meme on her account poking fun at being blocked has racked up comments from other users who have also been met with the same fate.

Perhaps most perplexingly, @twobravosisters got blocked by Jax for sharing his now-wife, Brittany Cartwright’s before and after pictures with Kybella, an injectable treatment that decreases fat cells beneath the chin. Two Bravo Sisters put it on their Instagram stories back in 2018, which was when they got blocked. The perplexing part is that Brittany having had Kybella wasn’t some secret Two Bravo Sisters exposed—the very plastic surgery group Brittany used posted her before and afters on Instagram, and then @twobravosisters shared that post on their stories. They told us they were “confused” by Taylor’s reaction.

 

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Our beautiful patient @brittany received 2 sessions of Kybella injectable treatment to decrease the fat cells beneath the chin. The active ingredient in Kybella mimics the naturally occurring deoxycholic acid molecules in the body, which aid in breakdown and absorption of dietary fat. The best part is that once destroyed, these cells can no longer store or accumulate fat! 🙌🏼 #kybella #kybellabeforeandafter #kybellainjection #kybellatreatment #injections #face #neck #beforeandafter #medspa #plastic #plasticsurgery #plasticsurgeon #beverlyhills #beautiful #glow #neckfat #doublechin #allergan #vanderpumprules #reality #beforeandafter #realresults #liposuction #coolsculpting @vanderpumprulesoffical @bravotv @bravoandy

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From big to small accounts, from individuals to faceless meme-makers, no one is immune to Jax’s wrath. And while sometimes Jax just blocks and moves on, other times he starts all-out wars, and then blocks. This is what happened to Kaye, the creator of the original “Blocked by Jax” apparel, which she sells on her Etsy shop, Gold Half Moon.

In 2019 he announced that he intended to produce “blocked by Jax” merch via Kristen Doute’s clothing company, before promptly getting dragged for ripping off a small business—Gold Half Moon had been making “blocked by Jax” apparel for a while.

“I did have IRL beef when I made the blocked by Jax sweatshirts and he claimed I stole the idea from him and I was selling ‘cheap fakes’ that disintegrated in the wash,” she told me.

 

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* UPDATE 11/22 – Magen, co-owner of JamesMae, reached out via DM with an apology and to say that she didn’t know the sweatshirts existed before she RTed Jax’s announcement from BravoCon, and that they were “hold off on making the shirts” (verbatim) on producing them. In a follow-up comment she confirmed they are not making the shirts. Sharing her DM on my stories and in a highlight (JamesMae) with her permission. Thank you everyone for your support, comments, shares, kind DMs, etc, I am so so so grateful. Jax, if you’ve somehow unblocked me to read this: you’re still a dick. ✌🏼 ——————- Just putting this here for posterity to remind J*x that not only did he take my idea, he also spread lies about the quality of a product he’s never owned and called it a “knockoff” when as of now, “his” t-shirt doesn’t exist, all because he’s salty he didn’t think of it first. Please note the time stamp, this is after Ariana bought it earlier this month, then wore and shared it when she wore it at BravoCon (Tom too). Not surprised J*x would to try to profit from his shitty behavior AND fuck my business, but man, I’m disappointed.

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Despite Jax coming for her products, though, Magen, the co-owner of James Mae, quickly reached out to apologize for Jax’s remarks, explain that it was never her intention to go after Kaye’s business, and promise not to make the shirts. Despite James Mae and Gold Half Moon kissing and making up, Jax didn’t seem to have gotten the memo, and at least in November 2019, still had her blocked.

Nobody has to tolerate negativity or trolling, and everyone can do whatever they want with their personal social media accounts. But it’s one thing to block trolls who invade your comments, and another thing to personally go looking for any mentions of your name. It’s nothing short of hilarious to imagine a 40-year-old man spending his days trawling the internet for people who talk sh*t about him, who aren’t even in his mentions, just so he can block them. Jax can’t take the heat, but he also can’t stay out of the kitchen. Even better, he will go out of his way to look for any heat, so he can burn down the kitchen in a towering inferno of self-righteousness.

Oh, and I forgot one more person who’s blocked by Jax: me, surely, after this article goes live.

Image: Bravo / Contributor

The Internet Just Noticed Vera Wang Is 70 And Freaked Out

Let’s be real: no one really wants to get older. I know everyone always talks about how age is nothing but a number, but I roll my eyes at sh*t like that. Sure, it’s just a number, but it’s a number that is inching closer to death. Sorry, but you were thinking it! But while most of us are stress-ordering face masks or wondering when Botox will be declared an essential service, apparently Vera Wang has figured out some magical anti-aging secret, and I need to know which devil she’s made a deal with.

Here’s a photo that Vera posted last week, in honor of what would have been Met Gala Monday:

 

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Masking it out of doors in Miami…. ode to the ‘Met’ Gala tonight…..

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Wow, those legs!! As I was admiring the outfit and face mask combo, I was in no way prepared to find out that Vera Wang, the woman in that photo from six days ago, is 70 YEARS OLD. SEVENTY. SEVEN-ZERO. I mean… how?! She would look great for 50! She looks better than me at 25! But someone pointed out Vera’s age on Twitter, the post quickly went viral.

THIS BITCH VERA WANG IS 70?!?! pic.twitter.com/RXkKAPS4eG

— bob loblaw. (@WihongiSantos) May 6, 2020

Someone also pointed out that Vera Wang was born in 1949, which I know is just math, but it sounds even crazier. Like, that’s four years after World War II ended. Truman was President when Vera Wang was born. By the time we put a man on the moon, she was already in college. I’ve definitely known who Vera Wang is for most of my life, but I still would have guessed she was like, 55? Maybe? It doesn’t make sense, and honestly, my day will be spent trying to digest this information.

But despite my brain being fully broken, Vera Wang herself confirmed the information on Twitter.

Fact Check: Truth https://t.co/pN37eSfeqc

— Vera Wang (@VeraWang) May 7, 2020

The only thing making me feel better about this is that everyone else is just as shocked. The original tweet about Vera being 70 has over 250,000 likes, and Vera’s confirmation is at nearly half a million. And outlets like Women’s HealthPage Sixand People have all published their own takes on how shocking Vera Wang’s age is. Apparently no one realized until now, which is funny, considering her 70th birthday was actually last June. So she’s almost 71! Where the hell have we all been?

So what makes Vera Wang so special? Lots of famous people look great for their age, but this example is one notch further. There’s a big difference between Reese Witherspoon being wrinkle-free at 44, and someone my grandma’s age looking better than I ever have. Clearly, we need Vera Wang to drop the skincare/workout/life routine ASAP, because I’ll be lucky if I look like this at 30.

Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com; verawang / Instagram; wihongisantos, verawang / Twitter

Tori Spelling Is Getting Trolled For Her Virtual Meet-And-Greet

At this point into quarantine, I’m starting to think that celebrities are competing in a secret game of Who Wants To Be Dragged On TwitterIt feels like new famous people are coming out of the woodwork to be problematic, tone-deaf, or just plain dumb nearly every single day, and I honestly have to thank them for all the prime content. Just yesterday, we had Ellen DeGeneres getting dragged for making a joke about being in jail, but it’s already time to move on to today’s bad look. Today’s celebrity Twitter dragging is one Tori Spelling and the reason is totally ridiculous.

On Tuesday, Tori Spelling posted on Instagram, inviting her followers to a virtual meet-and-greet. The event, which is actually happening today, includes “live, individual video chat,” and allows you to “take virtual selfies” and download the full video after. Okay, fun! I’m not sure how a “virtual selfie” is any different from a regular screenshot, but getting to talk one-on-one with Tori Spelling is pretty cool, right? She said there were only 20 spots available, so it’s definitely an ~exclusive~ opportunity.

Well, Tori neglected to mention one important detail in her Instagram post. Upon going to the link, you can reserve your spot—for a cool $95 fee. LOL, in what f*cking world?! As a young millennial who’s never watched an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210I’m aware that I’m not the target audience for this, but like… is there even a target audience for this?

Based on the online reaction, I’m gonna say the answer is “not really.” First of all, Tori Spelling is not exactly at the pinnacle of her career right now. One tweet called her a D-List celebrity, and like, I don’t know about that, but I certainly wouldn’t pay almost $100 for a few minutes of small talk over a crappy internet connection and a screenshot with her.

$95…to take virtual selfies with TORI SPELLING Who in their right mind would do this?? It is clearly the end of days👇 #COVID19 #QuarantineLife https://t.co/CJYKkBKh7c

— Karen Huger’s Hair (@KarenHugersHair) April 8, 2020

Especially right now, so many celebrities are more accessible to their fans than ever, so charging that much for a virtual meet-and-greet feels ridiculous. Celebs are going live on Instagram every 10 minutes, making TikToks, and generally making more boredom-fueled content than we can consume. What makes Tori think that we’e all clamoring for a bit of time with her?

But Tori Spelling’s level of fame isn’t the main issue here. As you’re probably aware, there’s a little global pandemic happening right now. Millions of people have lost their jobs, the healthcare system and other essential parts of our society are under immense strain with resources in short supply, so there’s no shortage of worthy causes to donate to. While Tori Spelling’s financial issues have been incredibly public over the years, I’m pretty sure shelling out for her virtual meet-and-greet doesn’t count as a charitable donation. If you’re considering spending the $95, please go give that money to something worthwhile.

Since the mostly negative public response, Tori’s Instagram post has been deleted, but the site to sign up for the event is still live. Hopefully the die-hard Tori fans, wherever they are, will still be able to find it. The meet-and-greet is in just a few hours, but unsurprisingly, it looks like there are still spots available. Thank god! Funny enough, a video from Tori Spelling on Cameo is $100, so when you think about it, maybe $95 is actually a good deal?

Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com; torispelling / Instagram; karenhugershair / Twitter

The Scientific Reason We Can’t Stop Making COVID-19 Memes

I don’t know about you all, but the only thing keeping me in relatively good spirits these past few days has been the high quality of memes being churned out on the internet. It might have something to do with the fact that this is one of those rare times when the entire word is experiencing the same thing at the same time, and there is a tremendous amount of solidarity online. But apart from providing a much-needed distraction from the news, these memes serve a more crucial role in maintaining our sanity than we might realize. (Take that, every parent who’s ever said creating memes is not a real job.)

Is a symptom of corona virus having thick luscious juicy ass cheeks cos I’m scared guys

— chris (@Chrissyinglis) March 16, 2020

Laughter has been considered an effective form of therapy for years, and we’ve all heard sayings like “laughter is the best medicine.” But how does this work exactly? I spoke with Ugur Üngör, a professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and someone who has studied the functions of humor during and after genocide, to get to the bottom of why humor really can help people cope with dark times.

The key objectives of humor in a crisis involving death(s) are criticism, community, and coping. The latter is very important for people to get through a crisis. Ask anyone who’s been through a war or genocide and they’ll confirm that a certain friend with a good sense of humor is what kept them alive at times,” said Professor Üngör. Now, the coronavirus is no World War, technically speaking, but the lasting socioeconomic damage this pandemic has caused on a global scale is already being compared to the recession of World War II

1920: Alcohol is prohibited

2020: Liquor stores are an essential business during a national health crisis

— RubMor (@QBruby) March 28, 2020

Also similar to a war is the grim fact that thousands of people across the globe are dying. So is it really okay to make jokes about the virus that is killing so many people? I spoke with Dr. Thomas Ford, Editor In Chief of the International Journal of Humor Research about the benefits of using humor in stressful situations. He conducted an experiment in which participants completed a role-play exercise in which they imagined they were about to take a stressful, difficult SAT-like math test. Participants in the first condition read four cartoons and four jokes that poked fun at math tests and math in general. Participants in the second situation saw cartoons that poked fun at their own math ability. And finally, participants in the last group did not read any jokes or cartoons while anticipating taking the math test. They found that participants whose cartoons poked fun at the math test reported lower feelings of anxiety compared to participants in the other two conditions. 

These findings suggest that engaging in not just any humor, but humor that trivializes the immediate stressor, is particularly effective at mitigating the negative effects of that stressor on anxiety. This is perhaps the reason why social media is flooded with memes that explicitly talk about coronavirus, as opposed to shying away from joking about the virus directly.

“I think it’s very healthy to joke about the coronavirus,” said Dr. Ford. “Stressful events such as the coronavirus can adversely affect our mental health, producing anxiety and depression. Humor invites us to reframe those stressors playfully and non-seriously, providing a way for us to see them as less threatening and scary, which consequently mitigates, at least momentarily, the experience of emotional distress.”

HOW TO AVOID CORONAVIRUS‼️

– Don’t let them in
– Don’t let them see
– Be the good girl you always have to be
– Conceal
– Don’t feel
– Put on a show
– Make one wrong move and everyone will know

— eca (@WlDOWBYTE) March 16, 2020

At first, I was surprised, even annoyed to see the amount of Coronavirus content that was there online. But eventually, I started feeling solace knowing that other people were also feeling the same way. And with no end in sight, the uncertainty of the situation adds to our anxieties, leading to the creation of some truly entertaining content that is bound to stay for a long time. So don’t delete that COVID-19 meme folder on your phone—it’s called documenting history for future generations, look it up. 

Images: Charles Deluvio / Unsplash; @WlDOWBYTE, @QBruby, @Chrissyinglis / Twitter