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Meet the indie musicians who are making a living on TikTok

2023-03-19 06:14:19

Meet the indie musicians who are making a living on TikTok

The first time I saw Medium Build play I thought of David Letterman. There's this famous 2014 performance(Opens in a new tab) by the band Future Islands on Letterman's Late Show. The lead singer belts the song "Seasons" while dancing, staring down the camera, and beating his chest. He alternates between smooth crooning and guttural wails.

Meet the indie musicians who are making a living on TikTok(图1)

At the end of the song, Letterman is thrilled by the strange, captivating performance.

"Come on!" Letterman says, walking on stage, just as the music stops. "How about that? I'll take all of that you got."

I remember first watching Medium Build, whose real name is Nick Carpenter, wail emotionally raw lyrics under one of those portable canopies. It looked like a DIY show on a campground somewhere. The camera was staring up at him. He wore a bandana, his nose ring noticeable — and he was strumming a guitar, screaming about fucking up, and I thought to myself, "I'll take all of that you got."

But I didn't discover him at some basement show or even on late night TV. I found Medium Build on TikTok.

There's endless discussion and handwringing over TikTok's effect on the music industry. The platform has sparked a new wave of songs that follow the "TikTok formula,"(Opens in a new tab) tailor-made to go viral — think cheesy earworms like Gayle's "abcdefu(Opens in a new tab)," which scored her a coveted Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. Even established pop artists — looking at you, Meghan Trainor(Opens in a new tab) — use the platform to rocket their songs up the charts.

But there are scores of indie acts carving out a living on TikTok that often get overlooked. Through the platform's famously accurate algorithm and its widespread popularity, smaller musicians are able to find fans who'd otherwise never know they existed. Even me, far from TikTok's primary Gen Z audience, found Medium Build while mindlessly scrolling past cooking videos and dog-training posts.

It's like Zoomer MySpace... It's so sincere and real and fun.

Amid all of the other nonsense on my FYP, I found this earnest indie music. That's the beauty of TikTok. Carpenter, 30, told me in a phone call that the Medium Build TikTok account started taking off once he realized it could be a platform that supports vulnerability.

"It's like Zoomer MySpace," he said. "It's so sincere and real and fun... As soon as I started posting my own songs our followers like tripled. And then it just kept growing."

Carpenter said that he could see the impact almost immediately on Medium Build's Spotify streams.

"Our new song(Opens in a new tab) we just put out last week, [and] that's our best first week ever," he said. "And I think [that's] partially because it blew up for us on TikTok. 100K views(Opens in a new tab) for video for us is huge."

Another artist, Spilly Cave, has a more esoteric approach to TikTok. Real name Billy Cave, he mixes light absurdism with relaxing, vibey music. You might know his videos as the young guy in super small sunglasses, jamming on an electric guitar. The 25-year-old lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and decided to give a music career one last, serious push before falling off his parents' health insurance at 26. It worked, in large part due to TikTok. Before he started the account he estimated he had 10 monthly listeners on Spotify. Now he's up to nearly 40,000.

"It's been, for me, kind of my backdoor I fell in, into the system," Cave said. "It's strange, in this modern climate, as far as talking to labels, or management, or any type of person, if you don't have social media clout, you're just not going to get entertained [by these companies]."

That's where TikTok is revolutionizing how artists breakthrough to industry gatekeepers. It's like an open mic for indie musicians, where they can explore what works and build what amounts to the modern version of a local following. It's just that now that small group of fans can be truly global. All of the indie musicians I spoke with described a bit of despair when they first started posting on the platform, and the response was middling. But once they saw people liking their music, it was invigorating.

"I don't think, you know, 30 years ago, what I'm doing now, still being in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, would ever catch on or have any chance of success," Cave said. "There is a beauty to having the autonomy, like start something on your own and have it pop off."

That's the independent spirit musicians have championed for decades. Of course, TikTok isn't a perfect app. There are privacy concerns, harmful trends that have real psychological effects, and content moderation concerns. But it's impossible to ignore the impact it's had on the music industry. For smaller acts, especially, it's become a tool that democratizes the discovery process for indie artists.

There's maybe no better example of this than the band Durry. Siblings Austin and Taryn Durry went from noodling around in their parents house to having their song, "Who's Laughing Now," rack up more than 3 million plays on Spotify, almost entirely instigated by its TikTok virality.

The song is all about feeling like a failure, or at least coming up shorty of peoples' expectations, and loving the life you have regardless. It's the story of the band, and a lot of people identified with it on social media. TikTok isn't perfectly curated like Instagram; there's room for the messiness and vulnerability that indie music often leans on.

"This [band] kind of just started with like an experiment in authenticity and just trying to write great songs about reality," 30-year-old Austin Durry said.

It was, initially, a hobby band with a TikTok account that had roughly 100 followers. Then they posted the first verse and chorus of "Who's Laughing Now," and everything took off.

"We ended up racing into the studio and recording and releasing [the full song] in like three days," Durry said. "[It was] a crazy time-crunch, just like holding on to that viral moment, hoping that it sticks."

It did. The band's since gone on tour and has been steadily putting out music for an audience a lot more substantial than 100 people. For instance, I found the band on TikTok thanks to my algorithm. My FYP typically surfaces a lot of lo-fi, angsty, emotional music. That can be hard rock or acoustic folks, but if it's got that ethos and good lyrics, it's typically something I enjoy.

Sure, some artists on TikTok are super polished and targeting a more mainstream crowd, but any creator with a phone and point-of-view can catch on. Durry credits that desire for authenticity online for their band finding a passionate audience.

"The whole pop culture zeitgeist right now, everyone's just sick of the fake, plastic people," he said. "We're just doing our best with what we have."

It's the exact opposite of making songs designed to go viral. That TikTok song "abcdefu," for instance, has a whopping 185 million views on YouTube, while "Who's Laughing Now" has a modest 278K. But that song and TikTok basically built the band's entire existence; there wasn't a label making marketing decisions for them.

The whole pop culture zeitgeist right now, everyone's just sick of the fake, plastic people... We're just doing our best with what we have.

And it's not like indie artists are immune to the desire to go viral on TikTok, especially when that's the platform where they found and grew their audience.

"We were finishing [a new song] and I was like, 'Ohh, I bet this would TikTok well," Carpenter said. "I was like, 'Oh, that's a weird thought.'"

A catchy hook or a funky melody is often the recipe for success on the app. The indie artists on the platform are learning how to package their music for TikTok, playing around to see what works.

"I am hook-centric already, which I think TikTok rewards," Carpenter said. "You say some really fucked up, weird shit in the first five seconds of your video, [and] people will stick around."

The coolest thing for the artists is seeing those likes and views turn into a real fandom. Durry described the thrill of selling out a room versus, you know, going viral. When I caught up with Cave, he was headed to Los Angeles to play a few shows before putting out a full tour next year. Carpenter is still amazed to see young people follow his music off a platform none of his 30-something friends even use.

But at the end of the day, the internet is still the internet, and entertaining a fandom takes a lot of patience and a good sense of humor.

"The comment sections are fucking hilarious," Carpenter said. "These kids, that stan culture, like, 'Step on me, spit on me, King', [that] obsession shit. It makes the app fun and terrifying."

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  • Chris DElia and the rise of Twitter as a platform to call out sexual predators

    Chris DElia and the rise of Twitter as a platform to call out sexual predators

    UPDATE: June 26, 2020, 5:40 p.m. EDT Since the writing of this piece, D’Elia’s team released additional emails between him and several accusers. You can read about them here(Opens in a new tab).


    Comedian Chris D'Elia first noticed Michaela Coletta's Instagram photos years ago, when she was 17, according to the now 25-year-old. He took the opportunity to DM her.

    "He noticed I liked some of his photos on Instagram and immediately started messaging me," Coletta told Mashable. "From my Instagram photos, you could visibly tell I was still in high school."

    In an emailed statement to Mashable, Coletta described behavior she knew to be a pattern. "This man is HORRIBLE," she wrote. "The amount of messages I've gotten from other girls that are too afraid to speak up is... insane. With almost the exact same stories, same ages... some as young as 14 [sic]."

    In a span of hours on Tuesday night, Coletta and dozens of other women — both named and anonymous — went public with stories about D'Elia on Twitter.

    Survivors of sexual misconduct and inappropriate advances have taken to whisper networks in recent years as police(Opens in a new tab) often don't believe accusers(Opens in a new tab) when they come forward. Many also never report what happened to authorities due to fears that nothing will happen(Opens in a new tab) even after they endure an excruciating trial. In this current moment of social upheaval, the whisper network is more public and vital than ever, and much of it is happening on Twitter. Some other famous examples include the Harvey Weinstein Google doc(Opens in a new tab) and the Shitty Media Men(Opens in a new tab) list, but while those documents contained the whispers, Twitter fueled their delivery.

    In this current moment of social upheaval, the whisper network is more public and vital than ever, and much of it is happening on Twitter.

    And it's not just sexual misconduct being revealed in these online whisper networks. As accusations against D'Elia piled up on Twitter, people separately began raising concerns about systemic racism in their workplace. Emboldened by the police brutality protests unfolding on the streets, people took to Twitter to share their own stories of discrimination. The media industry has had a "racial reckoning,"(Opens in a new tab) as CNN called it, with present and former Black employees and other employees of color exposing deep-seated racism at publishers from Bon Appetit(Opens in a new tab) to Refinery29(Opens in a new tab). Crisis Text Line employees and volunteers' Twitter complaints led the nonprofit's board to oust its founder and CEO. These discussions were, if not sparked on Twitter, then at least amplified considerably on the platform.

    When the wronged feel like the powerful will ignore them, they embrace another outlet: Twitter. Opponents of whisper networks say social media isn't the right venue to seek justice. But after the individual whispers turn into a collective roar, the powerful start to listen.

    How the D'Elia accusations came to light

    After Coletta and D'Elia moved their conversation from Instagram DMs to email, she said he began talking to her with his now-infamous RocketMail account. The same email account appears in several screenshots from various accusers. He told her he wanted to see her when he performed in Vancouver, where she lives, she said. After that, they moved their conversation to Kik, a messenger app popular with both teens and predators(Opens in a new tab).

    "That's when he really started getting explicit (probably because Kik is easy to wipe and leave no trace)," wrote Coletta. "He said he wanted to see my body and it felt SUPER weird. I sent him one though, because I felt pressured to."

    Coletta continued, "The way he spoke to me was intimidating and also extremely straight to the point. He also sent a shirtless photo of himself back to me. I remember him saying how tiny my waist is and how I have such big breasts perfectly. I also remember exactly what photos he's seen of me, that are VERY clearly taken in a child's bedroom with pink walls."

    In a statement to (Opens in a new tab)People(Opens in a new tab),(Opens in a new tab) D'Elia d(Opens in a new tab)enies(Opens in a new tab) the dozens of accusations, hopping around an apology and blaming his "lifestyle."

    "I know I have said and done things that might have offended people during my career, but I have never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point," D'Elia said in his statement to People. "All of my relationships have been both legal and consensual and I have never met or exchanged any inappropriate photos with the people who have tweeted about me. That being said, I really am truly sorry. I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle. That’s MY fault. I own it. I’ve been reflecting on this for some time now and I promise I will continue to do better."

    SEE ALSO: As protests spread, misinformation in Facebook Groups tears small towns apart

    Coletta said D'Elia told her he wanted to make-out with her — a recurring theme in his messages to young women — and that he wanted to fly her out to Los Angeles. After that, Coletta slowly stopped responding "just so he would go away," she said. He did message her when he was in her area, but she kept ignoring him.

    "I have been public about it since it happened," said Coletta, who told her friends and her boyfriend at the time. She tweeted about one of D'Elia's emails in 2015(Opens in a new tab) (and recently tweeted the screenshot of said email(Opens in a new tab)), and then she tweeted again when she saw his character in Netflix's series You "because of the insane irony that he is literally playing himself in that role," she said. On the show, D'Elia plays Henderson, a comedian who drugged and raped victims and took photos of them while unconscious.

    Coletta deleted the second tweet soon after because a friend had previously been vocal about D'Elia and she said he subsequently threatened her. "I deleted the tweet about 'You,'" said Coletta, "because he's KNOWN for searching his own name and fighting with people or harassing, like he did to my friend."

    On Tuesday, that same friend sent her a tweet by Simone Rossi, who goes by @girlpowertbh on Twitter. "I still can’t believe netflix cast chris d’elia as the the literal IRONY," Rossi tweeted on June 16, also evoking D'Elia's You character:

    Rossi threaded her tweet with screenshots of email conversations she said she had with D'Elia(Opens in a new tab) that were sent in 2014, when Rossi was 16.

    "Imagine being 16 and being groomed by a stand up comedian twice ur age and the only reason you never met up and never got physically m*lested was because u had just gotten a boyfriend ur own age," Rossi then wrote(Opens in a new tab).

    These tweets prompted Coletta to speak out once again on Tuesday. "I immediately made a tweet about it because FINALLY it was getting attention," she said.

    Twitter erupted almost immediately with similar stories about D'Elia. In addition to other women(Opens in a new tab) coming(Opens in a new tab) forward(Opens in a new tab) on(Opens in a new tab) their(Opens in a new tab) own(Opens in a new tab) accounts(Opens in a new tab), many others messaged their stories to @SheRatesDogs(Opens in a new tab), an account that spotlights gross messages women receive from men. Michaela Okland, who runs SheRatesDogs, threaded anonymous DMs she received as well as other tweets:

    In a matter of hours, dozens of women — both named and anonymous — spoke up about him. And in addition to these accusations going viral, D'Elia's thinly-veiled pedophilic "jokes" started going around as well:

    Twitter is the new whisper network

    We know that stories like the ones about D'Elia don't exist in a vacuum. Not only are we entering the third year of the #MeToo era — calling anything "post-MeToo"(Opens in a new tab) seems like a farce — but we're in a time of deep social unrest. (The "Me Too" phrase was actually coined in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke, but it took on new life after the New York Times and New Yorker investigations exposed Weinstein's pattern of sexual harassment.) The recent protests have made more Americans question whether the police actually "serve and protect," whether our justice system actually carries out justice. When authorities won't give a voice to the victims of wrongdoings — whether these wrongdoings happen on the streets, in an office, or in someone's DMs — the victims turn to social media to give themselves a voice.

    In addition to brutality and racism, the police system's often shambolic handling of sexual assault cases has come up in recent weeks. In response to protesters who've called for the abolition of police, opponents often cite rape as a crime that we need police to investigate. Yet, the vast majority of assaulters do not go to jail or prison(Opens in a new tab); they're not even reported. Tweets like the one below (about the Minneapolis police discovering 1,700 untested rape kits(Opens in a new tab)) go viral and highlight the police's incompetence:

    While protesters fight racial inequality and police brutality in the streets, others do so online, especially on Twitter. This is seen in the circulation of bail funds and other requests for donations; protest and supply organizing; and coming forward with harrowing stories about racism. Exposing racism has snowballed into exposing other injustices, as is the case with D'Elia.

    "I use twitter more than any other socials and have been on it for probably over 12 years [so] I had a bit of a follow[ing] already," said Coletta. "Plus [it's] my main news source that I feel like I can actually trust since its coming straight from the people experiencing it."

    Okland started SheRatesDogs in 2018 and her following has ballooned to over 500,000. She said she chose Twitter (though she subsequently made an Instagram account) because of the retweet function.

    "It's more of an echo chamber on Instagram," said Okland. But not on Twitter, where retweets allow her to get on feeds of people — particularly men — who may not have thought about these issues before.

    Many reports on D'Elia went viral on Twitter, including the SheRatesDog's thread. But this isn't the first time the account has exposed abusers, Okland told Mashable. She had previously shared stories about a professor and a would-be Bachelorette (Opens in a new tab)contestant(Opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab) — though nothing quite on this scale.

    She became aware of the emerging conversation about D'Elia from Rossi's tweet, which Okland saw before it went massively viral. "I had actually gotten a DM about Chris two months ago," she said, and that's what she quote-tweeted Rossi with and jumpstarted her thread.

    "I'm not usually an exposing account," said Okland, who said she feels guilt and anxiety at the thought of something bad happening to someone she posted about. That's why she usually keeps everyone anonymous. "If I was logging on and ruining three or four lives a day, that wouldn't be healthy," she said. "Even though there are people who say shitty things or do shitty things, that's just not a good life to live." But given Rossi's tweet, what Okland has heard in-person from female comics about D'Elia, and the two-month-old DM, she decided to get involved.

    That DM several months ago came from a woman in Cleveland, Ohio, who chose to remain anonymous on both Twitter and in her discussion with Mashable, in order to not jeopardize her employment:

    As in her retelling to SheRatesDogs, the woman told me that D'Elia stayed at the hotel where she works two years ago. Her supervisor at the time, another woman in her early 20s, worked the overnight shift. D'Elia allegedly called the front desk to say that his air conditioning wasn't working. Due to the hotel not having overnight maintenance, the supervisor went to D'Elia's room to help.

    The supervisor said D'Elia exposed himself to her and didn't cover himself when she asked. He called the front desk again some time later, but the supervisor refused to go back to his room and told him that maintenance would arrive in the morning.

    "I came into work the next day and the hotel's assistant general manager told us the story as a 'do not go to the room alone' warning and named D'Elia and his room number," the woman told Mashable. "He wasn't removed or barred from the hotel, but I don't know that he ever came back."

    "Nobody would even see or believe me posting it on my own"

    The woman said she loves the account SheRatesDogs in general because it made her feel less personally attacked and alone when she received abusive messages on dating apps. She told the account her D'Elia story because she saw that Okland tweeted something about him one day, "and I had to get it out," she said. "I didn't think she'd ever see it, but I didn't have anyone else to tell."

    The hotel management didn't do anything about the incident, the woman said. "I can't call the police two years later and they wouldn't care anyway, and nobody would even see or believe me posting it on my own," she said. "She created a place online where women could be believed *and* let the frustrations out and be funny or angry or whatever."

    #MeToo on Twitter beyond D'Elia

    D'Elia is far from the only example of allegations against someone gathering steam on Twitter. This month alone has ushered in a similar trend at several American universities.

    In the same way students have created accounts to unmask their fellow students' racism(Opens in a new tab), they're also creating Twitter accounts to expose sexual assaulters. Students at a number of universities, including Rutgers and UC San Diego, have followed the lead of Assaulters at UMich(Opens in a new tab), which now has over 12,000 followers.

    The University of Michigan account started because the account owner, who chose to remain anonymous, wanted there to be a voice for survivors.

    "The University of Michigan has failed one too many survivors by simply doing nothing when approached with sexual assault cases," said the account owner. In 2018, a dozen assault incidents at the university(Opens in a new tab) were logged in an academic whisper network created by Karen Kelsky. Earlier this year, the university saw two #MeToo scandals(Opens in a new tab) back to back.

    In a statement to Mashable, the University of Michigan took issue with the criticisms and pointed to a website (Opens in a new tab)outlining the university's response to sexual assaults:

    While we certainly understand the difficulty of reporting sexual misconduct and the ensuing process, it's just not accurate to say the University of Michigan is doing nothing.

    We've implemented new processes, added staff to our Office for Institutional Equity that handles investigations, created a special victims unit within our campus police department, made reporting easier and more visible, implemented mandatory training for all employees and students and are constantly revising and updating our policies. And we publish an annual report with details on all reports of sexual misconduct that are shared with the university.

    The account's creator chose Twitter because it's a global platform. "I believed it would have the most impact," they said. Scrolling through Assaulters at UMich's now-locked feed is a similarly visceral experience to scrolling through SheRatesDogs' D'Elia thread: Account after account of assault, often contrasted with the alleged assaulter's smiling LinkedIn photo. The account has received thousands of stories, even from people who don't attend the University of Michigan or even reside in the state.

    As of publication, the account is locked due to an individual posted about on the account threatening a lawsuit. In addition, the account owner said, they locked it following an attempted hack. While they eventually plan on unlocking, they want to ensure that survivors and their stories are completely safe.

    Assaulters at UMich has received both positive and negative feedback. One common criticism is that Twitter isn't the best way to seek justice, but the account's owner said there isn't any better way to empower survivors at the moment. "Until something has been created, I will continue to use this platform to shed light on the prevalence of assaults that take place on college campuses," they said.

    Okland, too, has no plans to get rid of SheRatesDogs anytime soon. She said she's received over 500 DMs about D'Elia, from accusers themselves and their loved ones. The responsibility overwhelms her, but she loves running the account and has no plans to give it away.

    What's more, is that her messages are already flooding with stories about other abusers.

    "It'll probably happen again," said Okland. "Especially just after this situation... I mean I have, like, five completely unrelated DMs about another guy."

  • Apples coronavirus keynote was slick but extremely dystopian

    Apples coronavirus keynote was slick but extremely dystopian

    This is the world of the 2020 apocalypse, where pre-recorded propaganda segments are brought to you from gleaming white saucer-shaped bunkers.


    As wide-eyed, perfectly-coiffed executives find the bright side of a global pandemic that goes unnamed in uplifting updates (customers just so happen to be using iMessage 40 percent more than they did this time last year), masked camera crew members try their best to stay away from airborne droplets propelled by their enthusiastic mouths. And the animated opening portrays the people of Earth as having ascended to a new cloud layer of happy memoji.

    To be fair to Apple, the first keynote of the coronavirus era was always going to be weird. WWDC, the company's annual conference for app developers, announced it was going virtual back in May. CEO Tim Cook couldn't just not have a keynote, the event that is so integral to Apple's strategy of surprise reveals. But he also couldn't have executives do software demos live and in real-time, goodness no. Especially not to an empty auditorium, where the lack of applause and whooping from rows of employees would have laid bare the fact that millions of fans are really just tuning in for a two-hour ad.

    In the end, Cook leaned hard into the two-hour ad thing, commissioning pre-recorded segments of extreme 4K slickness — which also ended up dripping with science-fiction dystopia feels. (And no, not just because of our first glimpse of Foundation on Apple TV+, which takes place in a Galactic Empire that shuns experts and is collapsing.)

    Apple's campus is known as the spaceship; this keynote felt like it was filmed on the Starship Enterprise holodeck. A team of Starfleet hosts led by dad joker extraordinaire Craig Ferengi — sorry, Federighi — seemed like they were filming a tech news informercial for the 23rd century using 20th century lingo. "Not cool!", Federighi, the SVP of software engineering, chided the old iOS phone app for its full-screen notifications.

    Get Mashable Deals delivered to your inbox daily
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    Later he ran to a different floor of the ship to the sound of a guitar break, then teleported to a "secret location" where we checked in on the construction of chips. Clever edits disguised the fact that no two presenters could be in the holodeck at the same time, lest the space virus destroy them all.

    "... and that's why I've decided to run for president." Credit: apple

    More slickly produced still was Cook's intro, which felt less like a keynote and more "Tim Cook would like to remind you that he could quite easily run for president." Cook leaned into that soulless auditorium hard, using empty seats as his backdrop the way a movie reviewer might. With the soft projector lights, it felt like a TV host was presenting a very special episode of America.

    The Apple CEO was right to lead with Black Lives Matter, and he made the right noises about systemic racism. "The events of this past month are not new, [but] they have forced us to face longstanding inequalities and social injustices," Cook said over stirring monochrome images of protesters. "For too many people and too long, we haven't lived up to those [American] ideals." He touted Apple's $100 million "commitment(Opens in a new tab)" to a Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, and a program for Black developers.

    SEE ALSO: Apple announces 'App Library,' new iMessage features, and more in iOS 14

    Later on the holodeck came a bizarre moment that seemed to hint at the Black experience, but left it buried under layers of obfuscation. "Privacy matters now more than ever," Federighi emphasized meaningfully, standing in front of a virtual screen with a Black man holding up an iPhone to cover his face. Was this a reference to the very real fears of Black Lives Matter protesters being targeted by facial recognition technology? Federighi didn't say. He moved swiftly on to Apple's plan of "data minimization," limiting the amount of information on the iPhone that Apple "or anyone" could ever access. "Anyone," presumably, being overreaching authoritarians.

    Who knows for sure? Apple likes to keep such things fuzzy; it just wants you to feel it's on your side in the privacy wars, unlike that nasty Google, which has a business model that thrives on selling data. But when it comes to what threats Apple's focus on privacy can help protect against, the company is strangely mute. In a world where we're starting to understand the flaw in staying silent on systemic problems, Apple's sunny disposition fails to read the room.

    What's going on here, exactly? Credit: Apple

    Similarly, it would have been nice if Cook or Federighi had said the words "coronavirus" or "COVID-19" just once. Cook mentioned "the virus," thanked healthcare workers, then quickly pivoted to how much Apple products were helping people stay connected. Federighi risked tipping over into self parody too, when he touted that 40-percent-more-iMessages number without naming the reason.

    But hey, don't want to upset the cheery vibe, right? And remember, remain indoors(Opens in a new tab)!

    Apple laid out the steps it took to produce the keynote during the time of coronavirus, but we never got to see the mask-wearing crew. Credit: Apple

    What we're all craving in 2020 is a measure of honesty. We value the unvarnished truth over slickly produced videos. No reason Apple couldn't have given us both — perhaps by, just once, swinging the camera around to give us a chance to know the hard-working crew. A card at the end of the broadcast assured us of the temperature checks, social distancing, and mask-wearing involved in the production. Fail to document this unique moment of history, however, and you end up on the side of reality-denying dystopia.

  • Facebook to add link to authoritative info on posts about voting—even Trumps

    Facebook to add link to authoritative info on posts about voting—even Trumps

    Facebook took a teeny step forward on its tightrope walk between helping people vote in 2020 and not pissing off President Donald Trump.


    In a livestreamed video(Opens in a new tab) Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared new policies that he claims will help people cast their ballots in the 2020 elections. This work falls to Facebook because misinformation about voting spreads on its social networks(Opens in a new tab), including Instagram and WhatsApp, like wildfire. Standing for a cause like "voting" also seems like a neutral issue that would generate public goodwill — or so one would think.

    Zuckerberg announced that the company would add a link to "authoritative information" on all Facebook and Instagram posts having to do with voting. That "information" will consist of a link to Facebook's new Voting Information Center(Opens in a new tab). It's a portal with information about registering to vote and polling places, as well as resources from election officials.

    The announcement is loaded because Trump used Facebook to spread misinformation about voting, and the company did nothing about it.

    In a carefully worded statement(Opens in a new tab), Zuckerberg said he wanted to give users solid information about voting, but didn't want to judge the content of posts on the topic. He explicitly specified that the policy will affect posts from politicians — presumably, including Trump.

    "We are adopting a policy of attaching a link to our Voting Information Center for posts that discuss voting, including from politicians," Zuckerberg wrote. "This isn't a judgement of whether the posts themselves are accurate, but we want people to have access to authoritative information either way."

    Posts on Facebook and Instagram will get the link to "get voting information." Credit: facebook

    In May, Trump tweeted about the supposed dangers of absentee voting, claiming it would lead to a "rigged election."

    Currently, many states are adopting or moving to broaden mail-in voting(Opens in a new tab), so that people can vote without fear of contracting coronavirus. Trump said(Opens in a new tab) higher voter turnout favors Democratic candidates — so it makes sense that undermining absentee voting would work in the president's favor in November.

    The president's unfounded absentee voting alarmism(Opens in a new tab) did not go unnoticed.

    Twitter added a label to his tweet, which linked out to articles that showed there is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud. It also flagged another Trump tweet that glorified violence against protesters.

    The president railed against "censorship" and even signed an executive order pressuring Congress to revoke key legal protections for social media companies.

    Twitter took at least some action. Facebook, on the other hand, left the posts up without any labels.

    Despite Facebook's own policies against voter suppression, it defended the decision by describing the president's posts as "valid debate." This is itself a form of voter misinformation, since there is no factual debate about the security of absentee voting, and claiming there is confuses the issue and undermines the public's faith in the electoral process.

    Facebook's moves seem to have helped it skirt the president's ire. Trump briefly ran attack ads on Facebook against Twitter and Snapchat — which announced it would no longer promote the president's channel in its Discover platform — for "censoring" him.

    Trump ran no such ads against Facebook.

    However, Facebook saw major backlash this week for its continued weaksauce response to Trump's many inflammatory claims about voting, protesters, immigrants, and more. Companies including Ben & Jerry's and Verizon signed on to a July ads boycott, suggested by several non-profit organizations. The NAACP pointed to the spread of misinformation and the undermining of democracy as one of the reasons for the boycott.

    Now, days before the July boycott is set to begin, Facebook gets to publicize small changes without fundamentally altering its business model, which in part relies on high engagement from many Trump supporters.

    In addition to the links to the Voter Information Center, Facebook said it would add a label to posts that violate its policies (such as hate speech) if they're newsworthy (i.e., if they're from Trump).

    An intentionally non-judgmental link to "more information" is basically the mildest form of fact-checking Facebook can do. But it's at least — ever so slightly — better than its previous policy of doing nothing.

  • Shane Dawsons weak apology touches on deeper issues with racism in entertainment

    Shane Dawsons weak apology touches on deeper issues with racism in entertainment

    YouTuber Shane Dawson's apology for racism and other inappropriate video content has backfired, though not quite unpredictably.


    On Friday, Dawson posted a 20-minute video(Opens in a new tab) apologizing for previous work in which he wore Blackface, used the N-word, and joked about pedophilia. The latter count includes an old clip in which Dawson pretends to masturbate to a photo of Willow Smith, who was 11 years old at the time.

    Smith's brother Jaden and mother Jada both responded on Twitter.

    Dawson's is just the latest in an inordinate amount of recent apologies and backpedaling from creators who leaned on racist ideas in their videos, sketches, TV shows, and more. But Dawson's is perhaps the most obviously preemptive.

    Fellow YouTuber Jenna Marbles(Opens in a new tab) posted her own apology a few days earlier and announced a temporary hiatus. Though both creators apologized to avoid a worse situation, it's worth noting that Marbles acted first and unprompted — Dawson even says she "inspired" him in his video, which speaks to their differing motivations for choosing to apologize now. Now Dawson is faced with a backlash for something his video only mentions briefly, and for which he has not publicly apologized to any member of the Smith family.

    Dawson's apology also comes at a time when TV shows are removing episodes featuring blackface seemingly left, right, and center. But none of the criticized clips — from Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Community, and more — are new. None of them are being called out for the first time, but now that awareness is at an all-time high, and not coincidentally includes a lot of non-Black voices, suddenly there is tangible response.

    Like this one:

    To be clear: That response, whether it's an apology video or removing some episodes from streaming, is the bare minimum. But in the month since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, and as the public continues to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and many others, one thing that should be clearer every day is that we need to dismantle systemic racism. Doing Blackface in a video doesn't make someone a Klan member, but it is the product of a culture of white supremacy in which such an offensive act is deemed permissible, and in which Black voices that speak out are silenced until non-Black people join them.

    Removing offensive content is a start, but it sanitizes the history of the shows and entertainers it implicates. As The Atlantic's Adam Serwer suggested above and others agree(Opens in a new tab), these episodes could continue streaming or airing on TV but add content warnings, to shield viewers from the harmful visual implications of Blackface, as Tina Fey said. This way, a show is not absolved of its problematic history and culture; instead, the added context pushes us to engage in a larger conversation about how and why this was allowed to happen in mainstream media again and again.

    Which brings us back to Dawson. His apology video is full of statements about his own feelings, which centers him in the narrative over those who he has hurt (which now includes one of the most prolific families in Hollywood). He repeatedly asserts that he is not racist and would never do such a thing now — but this itself is the problem.

    Dawson presumably didn't identify as a racist when he painted his skin dark for "comedy," so why did he do it in the first place? While we're asking, why did Marbles serve up racist content? Why was hurting and angering people something they could accept a few years ago but not now, and how could they and others do better to create a safe entertainment culture for Black audiences?

    As American culture shifts, hopefully toward placing a higher value on Black lives, these are questions every entertainer must be able to answer. You can delete your tweets and videos and episodes, you can apologize and claim to be better, but as Black people have been telling us for weeks and truly years, you have to do the work. We have to create a culture that listens to Black voices without dilution and also one that doesn't have to repeatedly call out racist performances, because it prevents them from ever being aired in the first place.

  • Gorgeous Google Doodle celebrates Marsha P. Johnson for the last day of Pride Month

    Gorgeous Google Doodle celebrates Marsha P. Johnson for the last day of Pride Month

    As a tumultuous Pride Month draws to a close, Google is marking it with a tribute to transgender artist, activist, and drag performer Marsha P. Johnson.


    Johnson was a central and beloved figure in New York's gay scene from the 1960s onward, and is widely recognized as one of the first people to fight back against police harassing patrons during a raid on the Stonewall Hotel. This sparked the Stonewall riots, commemorations of which became Pride celebrations.

    Alongside Sylvia Rivera, Johnson also founded Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Activist Revolutionaries, or STAR, to offer housing, food, and other assistance to trans and non-binary youth. She said the "P" in her name was there for when people questioned her gender or presentation — it stood for "Pay it no mind."

    Johnson died in 1992, in what was officially ruled a suicide but believed by her loved ones to be a murder.

    The bright illustration, created by L.A. artist Rob Gilliam, features ribbons of color (including the trans, bisexual, and genderqueer flag stripes, and a rainbow topped with black and brown(Opens in a new tab)) emanating from a march led by Johnson's iconic smile.

    "As a queer person of color I owe Marsha so much," Gilliam said in a press release. "She was the catalyst for our liberation, the driving force behind the movement that has given many of us the rights and freedoms that we previously couldn't even dream of. Marsha created a space for us in western society through her empowering bravery and refusal to be silenced." 

    Elle Hearns, founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute(Opens in a new tab), envisions Tuesday's doodle as a pathway for more people to discover Johnson's legacy amidst the reckoning happening in American public life.

    SEE ALSO: Protests, pandemic have refocused advocates fighting for LGBTQ rights

    "This moment is a testament to our movement, and the amount of time and sacrifices Black trans people have made to contribute to something bigger than all of us," said Hearns in a statement. "I hope the collaboration between The MPJI and will serve as an opportunity for the world to interrupt its own fixation on transphobia and fear of redistributing wealth to communities that need it most. This is life-long work. Black trans women have always been here and will continue to be."

    "Marsha knew that the true key to liberation was intersectionality," said Gilliam. "The original Pride movement pulled in participants from across the lines of class and race and sexuality and gender expression and united an entire community. Recent times have been extremely divisive, and it's far too easy to fixate on what separates us as opposed to celebrating the commonalities we share. I think we could all be a little more like Marsha in that respect."

    Pride 2020 has been marked not only by restrictions on public celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also by the ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism. The demonstrations were sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade (a trans man), to name just a few of the unarmed Black people killed by police this year alone.

    Remember: the first Pride was a riot(Opens in a new tab), and there are still #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackTransLivesMatter protests in the streets. Stay loud, all year round.

    Related Video: The hosts of 'Queer Eye' reimagine the American dream

  • Police used ‘smart streetlights’ to surveil protesters, just as privacy groups warned

    Police used ‘smart streetlights’ to surveil protesters, just as privacy groups warned

    Well, we can't say we weren't warned.


    San Diego police have turned a technology pitched on the promise(Opens in a new tab) of reducing traffic fatalities and tracking carbon emissions into a tool to surveil protesters. And yes, legal and tech experts saw this coming years ago.

    In the midst of ongoing Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests following the killing of George Floyd, San Diego police looked to an unexpected source to gather surveillance footage: the 3,200(Opens in a new tab) so-called smart streetlights(Opens in a new tab) installed across the city beginning in 2017. So reports Voice of San Diego(Opens in a new tab), which, through public records requests, determined that in late May and early June the network of smart streetlights was accessed at least 35 times.

    "Records obtained by VOSD show that the San Diego Police Department was primarily looking into incidents of vandalism, looting and destruction to property," reads the Voice of San Diego report, "as well as objects being thrown at passing vehicles or police."

    While authorities' use of a supposedly progressive technology to monitor protesters might come as a surprise, it shouldn't. In 2017, the Electronic Frontier Foundation predicted the exact situation on the ground in San Diego today.

    A map of installed CityIQ sensors. Credit: Screenshot / city of san diego

    "There is an inherent risk of mission creep from smart cities programs to surveillance," warned the EFF in a blog post(Opens in a new tab) about a San Jose City Council smart streetlight proposal. "For example, cameras installed for the benevolent purpose of traffic management might later be used to track individuals as they attend a protest, visit a doctor, or go to church."

    And if that wasn't enough, in 2018 the American Civil Liberties Union put forth a similar — and similarly on the nose — warning.

    SEE ALSO: Encrypted Signal app downloads skyrocket amidst nationwide protests

    "Many of these [smart city] technologies involve cameras that can be tasked with jobs that range from keeping track of traffic to monitoring when the corner trash can gets full," reads the ACLU blog post(Opens in a new tab). "In a city blanketed with cameras — including in LED light bulbs found in streetlights — it would be very easy for the government to track which political meetings, religious institutions, doctors offices, and other sensitive locations people go to and to focus its attention even more on traditionally over-policed communities."

    In other words, the experts not only saw this potentially troubling use of smart streetlights coming, but warned the public about it as well.

    Perhaps next time we'll listen.

  • 5 trends that shaped TikTok in 2020, so far

    5 trends that shaped TikTok in 2020, so far

    In the last two years, TikTok has become a content machine. From its never-ending For You Page to its ability to spotlight new artists by making songs go viral, the platform's cultural influence is undeniable.


    While early critics dismissed the app because its user base is predominantly Gen Z, it grew into a massive platform with 2 billion downloads(Opens in a new tab) worldwide.

    Here are five major trends that shaped TikTok this year.

    1. The rise (and fall) of the Hype House

    A screenshot of the Hype House on TikTok. Credit: tiktok

    Content houses aren't new — plenty have formed and dissolved YouTube friendships — but the Hype House(Opens in a new tab) was one of the first major collectives made of popular TikTok stars. The formation of the Hype House fueled rumors about new couples, breakups, and in-house feuds. Much like the drama of many YouTube content collectives, the drama of the Hype House garnered millions of views for its members. A legal battle(Opens in a new tab) between co-founders Daisy Keech, Thomas Petrou, andDaisy Keech fueled even more gossip about the group's dynamic. The massive amount of content made about the content house's drama cemented TikTok's place among YouTube influencers.

    2. That one quarantine coffee

    Remember the beginning of quarantine? When we all thought social distancing would only be necessary for a few weeks and everyone got really into baking bread? TikTok brought whipped coffee(Opens in a new tab) to internet fame. Also known as dalgona coffee, cloud coffee, or simply "TikTok coffee," the sweet, fluffy drink became wildly popular and widely shared on social media. As of Friday, the tag #dalgonacoffee has over 389 million views.

    Related Video: How whipped coffee works, according to a scientist

    3. Alt TikTok

    While the mainstream end of TikTok feuded, the app's hyper-specific algorithm bred "Alt TikTok." Alternative, LGBTQ users rejected the popularity of major influencers like Keech and Hudson, and instead used the platform to share surreal videos inspired by Millennial Dadaist humor. From creating fake department store accounts to imagining Elon Musk' and Grimes' child's first words, the rise of Alt TikTok took everything weird and made it viral.

    4. Protest TikTok

    As the Black Lives Matter movement inspired protests around the world, American TikTok users began using a remix of Childish Gambino's "This Is America" to highlight police brutality against peaceful protestors. Following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer, protestors took to the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They were met with violent use of force from police officers and the national guard. TikTok users used a version of "This Is America," which touches on themes of systemic oppression, racism, and police brutality, to show the excessive force police used against protestors. The sound quickly went viral, and became an anthem for protestors. TikTok became the go-to platform to stay informed about the protests.

    5. TikTok users trolling Trump

    TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: Supporters listen as Lara Trump speaks before President Donald J. Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again!" rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) Credit: The Washington Post via Getty

    The Trump campaign's ill-timed rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — where the prosperous "Black Wall Street" was destroyed by white rioters in days of race-fueled violence — was widely criticized for taking place during the height of nationwide protests for racial equity. In protest, TikTok users called upon each other via viral video to reserve tickets for the rally so the campaign would expect an overflow of supporters. While the Trump campaign bragged(Opens in a new tab) that well over a million supporters had reserved tickets for the rally, a paltry 6,200 showed up to the venue that could hold 19,000. The president had to face a devastatingly empty stadium. To top it off, the campaign also has to contend with(Opens in a new tab) contributing to the spike in COVID-19 cases around Tulsa.

    Lesson learned: TikTok may be lighthearted, but you'd probably want to avoid pissing off its user base in the future.

  • The 27 Guy Fieriest Guy Fieri tweets of 2020, so far

    The 27 Guy Fieriest Guy Fieri tweets of 2020, so far

    Logging on in 2020 feels a little like staring straight into the hot blaze of a giant flaming dumpster fire. But not everything online is bad.


    It can be tough to scroll through social media these days without succumbing to a deep sense of dread, so we're once again here to remind you that Guy Fieri's Twitter account exists and can offer you a little comfort and comic relief when the world feels overwhelming.

    Fieri has spent a good chunk of 2020 helping restaurant workers who were financially impacted by the coronavirus, but he and his Knuckle Sandwich team haven't stopped cranking out some of the most delightful memes on Twitter.

    Here are 27 of Fieri's best tweets from 2020, so far. (We obviously expect more greatness to follow as the year continues and will keep you updated.)

    1. Guy's first tweet of 2020, back when people still liked fireworks

    2. The Simpsons / Triple D crossover we never knew we needed

    SEE ALSO: Guy Fieri has reached an emotional turning point

    3. Guyfield the cat

    4. TFW you try Donkey Sauce

    5. Fieri the frog sipping some tea

    6. This absolutely masterpiece of an Office edit

    7. Guy taking a page out of Dolly's book

    8. Captain Flavortown

    9. SpongeGuy FieriPants

    10. Gotta taste 'em all

    11. Guy will be there for you

    12. Hey, look at this photograph

    13. Vote Guy for Mayor of Flavortown

    14. World's Best Guy

    15. A dynamite game

    16. Tiger King has nothing on the Flavor King

    17. Guy's rollin' out and pickin' up the phone

    18. Dying to shake some trees and collect fruit for Guy

    19. The show all kids should be watching

    20. Guy's a big Michael Jordan fan

    21. Changed the times they have

    22. Guy-der Man

    23. Put him in, coach

    24. Food Network, PLEASE make this happen

    25. A painful year indeed

    26. Guy Smash!

    27. Guy's first voice tweet. Historic.

    Keep bringing your signature flavor to Twitter, Guy. The good people of Flavortown love you.

  • Scrabble tournaments may soon ban slurs, because they didnt before

    Scrabble tournaments may soon ban slurs, because they didnt before

    In the latest instance of an organisation finally acknowledging racism is a thing they should maybe do something about, the North American Scrabble Players Association(Opens in a new tab) will soon vote on whether to ban slurs in tournament play. Because apparently the N-word was considered acceptable up until now.


    The members of the NASPA's Advisory Board(Opens in a new tab) will vote on whether to expunge 236 offensive terms from its word list(Opens in a new tab) within the next few days, after CEO John Chew(Opens in a new tab) proposed the move on behalf of the Executive Committee(Opens in a new tab).

    "I have felt for a long time that there are some words in our lexicon that we hang onto in the mistaken belief that our spelling them with tiles on a board strips them of their power to cause harm," Chew wrote in a June 20 letter(Opens in a new tab) to the association's members.

    "When we play a slur, we are declaring that our desire to score points in a word game is of more value to us than the slur's broader function as a way to oppress a group of people."

    Chew stated discussions concerning the use of slurs in Scrabble had been ongoing within the NASPA "for many years." The game had also previously been criticised(Opens in a new tab) for allowing bigoted language(Opens in a new tab).

    However, this latest development only came about after a player in the NASPA's Facebook group(Opens in a new tab) asked what the association was doing regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. This prompted another player to suggest removing the N-word in solidarity, sparking "a spirited discussion."(Opens in a new tab)

    "I couldn’t have found a bigger wedge issue if I tried," Chew told the New York Times(Opens in a new tab).

    Some of that debate was recapped in Chew's letter, in which he listed reasons given for and against removing slurs. One of the arguments against it was that doing so would be "like tearing down statues of Confederate figures." This was also an argument for it.

    Though Chew formulated the original list of potentially banned words, it was subsequently revised following invited input from the public. The list(Opens in a new tab) currently under consideration includes offensive words regarding ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, and disability, as well as anatomical and scatological insults.

    SEE ALSO: #BlackLivesMatter saw tremendous growth on social media. Now what?

    Scrabble manufacturer Hasbro is not involved in maintaining the NASPA's word list, however the company does license the name "Scrabble" to the association. Speaking to the New York Times(Opens in a new tab), Hasbro spokesperson Julie Duffy stated the company will be changing the official Scrabble rules "to make clear that slurs are not permissible in any form of the game." The NASPA's decision will likely impact online versions of Scrabble as well, as the association licenses its word list to software developers.

    Mashable has reached out to both Hasbro and Chew for comment.

    It's good that spelling out slurs will probably be banned in Scrabble tournaments soon. However, it's also disappointing that there had to be global outcry before people stopped using racist, discriminatory language to literally score points.

    UPDATE: July 9, 2020, 1:09 a.m. AEST Chew told Mashable the 236 slurs under consideration are derived from 73 root words, and that deliberation and voting could potentially conclude by tomorrow night.

    "It's been a long process to remove offensive slurs, and the result is overdue," said Chew. "We made two big mistakes along the way: we accepted the argument in 1994 that there was no qualitative difference between a mildly offensive word like FART and the N word; and we thought that inclusivity meant giving voice to racists when making difficult choices.

    "I am glad that we are finally in a position to be able to solve these problems, and am ready to move on to making a more meaningful contribution to issues of equity and inclusivity."

    Also responding to an inquiry from Mashable, Hasbro spokesperson Julie Duffy did not provide a timeline for when the game would be updated to specifically exclude slurs. However, she did note that the company removed offensive words from Scrabble's official word list in 1994.

    "More recently, we’ve been in discussion with the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA) who have agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play, which is managed solely by NASPA and available only to members."

  • Heres why Gabbie Hanna is all over TikTok

    Heres why Gabbie Hanna is all over TikTok

    Gabbie Hanna, who first gained internet fame through Vine, is now the butt of jokes all over TikTok.


    The 29-year-old Vine star turned YouTuber turned musician left social media this month after weeks of accusing YouTube of suppressing her content. Although her views and subscriber count has been dropping, per SocialBlade(Opens in a new tab), Hanna's YouTube channel is still publicly accessible.

    Hanna is no stranger to controversy — she was widely criticized(Opens in a new tab) for associating with former Vine star Curtis Lepore, who plead guilty to sexually assaulting his then-girlfriend Jessi Vasquez. Vasquez, known online as Jessi Smiles, accused Hanna of being friends with Lepore's friends, who protected him when Vasquez accused him of sexual assault. She detailed the fallout between herself and Hanna in a 27-minute-long video in November 2019 titled "Gabbie Hanna needs to be stopped." YouTuber Trisha Paytas(Opens in a new tab) was also involved in the feud after Hanna allegedly told Paytas' then-boyfriend that Paytas had a sexually transmitted infection.

    It didn't help that days before, Hanna tweeted that she wanted to be involved in a scandal because "views are down." But as Business Insider reports(Opens in a new tab), the resulting drama ultimately cost her 70,000 subscribers.

    Given her online presence, it's no surprise that Hanna has previously been the subject of a meme. In 2018, a clip of her Genius interview about her song "Monster" went viral. To Hanna's credit, she leaned into the joke and posted a video(Opens in a new tab) reacting to the memes making fun of her.

    Her poetry book Adultolescence was also criticized(Opens in a new tab) by both social media users and poets alike for its immature approach to discussing mental health.

    Hanna's departure(Opens in a new tab) from the Vlog Squad, a group of popular Vine stars who began posting YouTube videos together, also fueled the rumors(Opens in a new tab) about drama between herself and other YouTubers. Other members included David Dobrik, Liza Koshy, and Trisha Paytas.

    As the controversy surrounding Hanna continued, her view count and subscribers fell. In a series of tweets in June, Hanna claimed that YouTube shadow banned(Opens in a new tab) her, or prevented other users from seeing her content. She posted a screenshot(Opens in a new tab) of a YouTube search of her name in incognito mode, and pointed out that commentary channels criticizing her came up first over her own channel. Hanna furthermore claimed that her fans were automatically unsubscribed from her channel and that they weren't able to subscribe again. Although Hanna said she was discussing the issue with YouTube, the company has not publicly commented.

    Hanna addressed her concerns in a YouTube livestream on Jun. 16. In the hour-long video, she compared YouTube to a manipulative, gaslighting partner and accused drama channel TeaSpill of defamation. While social media users have asked for proof that YouTube shadow banned her, Hanna has not provided evidence other than screenshots from searching in incognito mode.

    "Say you've always suspected your boyfriend cheats on you, and you've never had proof," Hanna explained. "And then you finally find out... And it's this huge rush of release of, 'Oh, I'm not crazy.'"

    On her podcast(Opens in a new tab) Box of Thoughts, she defended herself against her critics, which she decried as "bullies" and "narcissistic abusers."

    "I'm not gonna show you the facts and the evidence because I'm 29-fucking-years-old," Hanna ranted on her podcast. "And I'm not gonna sit down and make a video with screenshots exposing my bullies. Those are bullies. These are high school fucking bullies and they wanna come at me saying, 'You're 29-years-old [with] how you're acting?' Fuck you. You're in your 30s."

    She then quoted the lyrics from her song(Opens in a new tab) "Glass House," singing, "So point the finger, pull the trigger, throw them off your trail, you'll get yours eventually."

    The two sounds went viral on TikTok, feeding the memes and criticism surrounding her.

    In one video(Opens in a new tab), TikTok user countingschleeps mimicked Hanna's livestream rant, matching her cadence and rhythm. In another, a TikTok user laughed at excerpts of Hanna's poetry while her rant played in the background. Remixes(Opens in a new tab) of the rant with Meg Thee Stallion's "Savage" and controversial YouTuber Shane Dawson's livestream rant(Opens in a new tab) also went viral.

    Gabbie Hanna is the butt of TikTok jokes. Credit: tiktok / mikaylalohman

    A clip from Hanna's 2018 spoken word poetry video(Opens in a new tab) "ROAST YOURSELF EVEN HARDER CHALLENGE" also went viral. In one, a TikTok user compared it to "whenever that one classmate gets too into the popcorn reading." In another, a TikTok user covered the song in Lin-Manuel Miranda's voice, adding it to the end of a Hamilton track.

    Gabbie Hanna is the butt of TikTok jokes. Credit: tiktok / austiincho
    Gabbie Hanna's poetry was widely mocked on TikTok. Credit: tiktok / umokayig

    As of Thursday, the tag #gabbiehanna has over 133 million views on TikTok. Hanna deleted her Instagram and Twitter accounts, and made her TikTok private.

    YouTube has unintentionally shadow banned creators before. In March, popular vlogger Meghan Rienks revealed that her main channel had been hacked. When she successfully changed the password, the channel became inaccessible to viewers. Subscribers couldn't view Rienks' content at all. Her secondary channel was also taken over by a rogue beauty brand, Dexerto reports(Opens in a new tab), which began reposting content ripped from various makeup Instagram accounts. While Rienks did gain control of her channels again, she couldn't recover her backlog of videos.

    But Hanna's case seems to be different, as viewers can still see her channel and all of her public videos.

    While some of the criticism is justified, especially from former members of her inner circle, much of the pile-on is especially cruel. Hanna's viewership has been declining for years, and although she's found some success(Opens in a new tab) in her musical career, being embroiled in conflict has taken a toll on her reputation.

    It's unclear whether Hanna will continue to post on YouTube. But it's clear that her content isn't resonating like it used to for the younger generation just now discovering her on TikTok.

    Mashable has reached out to Hanna for comment, and we'll update this post if we hear back..

Random articles


  • Cann is like LaCroix that gets you high. And it rules.

    Cann is like LaCroix that gets you high. And it rules.

    The information contained in this article is not a substitute for, or alternative to information from a healthcare practitioner. Please consult a healthcare professional before using any product and check your local laws before making any purchasing decisions.


    Beer is over. We’ve evolved past the need for beer.

    OK, that’s a little harsh, but I can’t pretend like the thought didn’t cross my mind as I spent this past weekend "testing" out Cann’s(Opens in a new tab) THC- and CBD-infused sodas. Cann, which started making its line of drinks(Opens in a new tab) in California in 2018, is currently only available for pickup and delivery(Opens in a new tab) in a handful of states right now (like California, Colorado, and Oregon). And my time with it only gave me another reason to be mad that weed isn't federally legal yet.

    I can't speak for anyone else I routinely go to parties and picnics with, but as soon as sitting outside with my buds is preferable to running up my utility bill with a noisy A/C, I'll be gripping a can of Cann. Sorry, White Claw.

    What is Cann?

    Who needs calories, anyway? Credit: Alex Perry / Mashable

    Cann calls itself a “social tonic” on the packaging, but really, it’s a lightly carbonated, juice-flavored beverage that packs 2mg of THC and 4mg of CBD (two of the main chemical compounds in cannabis) into a roughly Red Bull-sized 8oz can. Yes, the name is a pun on both “cannabis” and “can.” It's also got financial backing(Opens in a new tab) from Gwyneth Paltrow, whose recent business ventures might understandably make you skeptical. We don’t have to dwell on either of those things because, as I'll explain in a bit, Cann is really good.

    Aside from the cannabis aspects, there really isn’t much going on here ingredient-wise. Each can includes just five ingredients (such as carbonated water, cannabis extract, and agave) and none of it is artificial, per Cann's website(Opens in a new tab). Plus, they only come in at around 30 calories and are gluten-free so all the homies with gluten allergies can get in on the fun, too.

    Cann comes in a couple of other form factors, as well, though I didn't get to try those. You can empty a Cann Roadies(Opens in a new tab) packet into sparkling water yourself, or get Cann Lite(Opens in a new tab), which only has nine calories. I wouldn't personally deviate from the default configuration, but hey, more options are always welcome.

    Speaking of flavors, Cann sent me three: Lemon Lavender, Grapefruit Rosemary, and Blood Orange Cardamom. There are more on Cann’s website, like Ginger Lemongrass and Cranberry Sage, but sadly, I wasn’t able to try all of them. That said, purely in terms of taste, there’s plenty to like about the flavors of Cann I did get to try.

    "The best thing about Cann is that it doesn't really taste like weed."

    Blood Orange Cardamom was easily my favorite of the trio. Despite its fancy-sounding name, it just tastes like orange soda with more citrus and less carbonation. It's like juice that has just a tiny bit of kick to it to make you feel alive. Personally, I could go for even more bubbles. I find it refreshing when a soft drink feels like it's sanding down the inside of my throat on its way down and accelerating the loss of my teeth. I'll just get dentures when the time comes.

    I’d put Lemon Lavender in second place. It’s got the sweet tang you expect from lemon with a slight edge of minty lavender, but not enough to negate the much more satisfying lemon taste. Unfortunately, Grapefruit Rosemary went too far in the other direction for me. The grapefruit part of the equation makes for a pleasant enough first impression, but that quickly gives way to a rosemary aftertaste that’s way too herbal for me. I don't personally want any beverage to remind me of the nasty mouthwash they give you at the dentist's office.

    The best thing about Cann is that it doesn't really taste like weed. If you've ever tried edibles, you know that even the most flavorful brownies, cookies, and gummies all sort of taste like someone mixed burnt grass into them. That's how it feels to me, anyway. I only put up with it because the destination matters more than the journey. I never felt that with Cann.

    But even if I did, I would happily drink it anyway. That’s because Cann does exactly what you would want a THC-infused drink to do: Get you high.

    What can Cann do?

    I can(n) think of one way these people could be having a lot more fun. Credit: Compassionate Eye Foundation/Hero Images/Getty Images

    Dear reader, speaking as someone with a pretty high weed tolerance derived from years of edible use, let me tell you: Cann works. Sure, such small amounts of THC and CBD probably won’t leave you motionless on the couch watching YouTube fireplace videos for eight hours, but I was shocked at how noticeable the effect was, regardless. For reference, a single dose of a weed edible is generally thought to be between 5 and 10mg of THC, and one can of Cann comes in well below that.

    I popped open my first Cann in the midst of a month-long tolerance break from THC and felt the buzz before I’d even finished the tiny drink. My mood got better, my shoulders became less tense, and I couldn’t wait to drink more. I never became so stoned that I couldn’t function (I tried to keep it to one or two cans a day), but it made a terrific companion for playing Apex Legends with the crew, streaming the NBA playoffs, or watching Top Gun for the first time on Netflix.

    (Top Gun kicks ass, by the way. Movies don’t need plots, they just need boys playing shirtless beach volleyball and romantically giving each other approval to be their wingmen.)

    "Cann does exactly what you would want a THC-infused drink to do: Get you high."

    To its credit, Cann got me just stoned enough to properly appreciate a movie where basically nothing happens, and the nice thing is that there's hardly any risk of going too far with it.

    The buzz from one can of Cann ultimately doesn’t last much longer than an hour — at least it didn't for me. The 8oz serving size means that you can drink more than one in succession if you know your tolerance level and feel comfortable doing so. It’s not like Hard Mountain Dew, where the friendly flavor tempts you into having too much of the alcoholic soda at once, leaving you to suffer from the hellish darkness of inebriation.

    I’m actually pretty bummed out that you can't get Cann easily in most of the U.S. because it would be perfect to bring to the park with your friends on a sunny summer day. As someone who’s personally fallen out of love with alcohol pretty hard over the past couple of years, it’s real nice to have a version of hard seltzer that makes me feel good instead of the kind of bad that has me guzzling down ibuprofen.

    At the end of the day, isn’t that all anyone really wants?

    SEE ALSO: I drank Hard Mountain Dew and felt like I was staring at God

  • Singles dont want to date non-voters, according to new OkCupid survey

    Singles dont want to date non-voters, according to new OkCupid survey

    If I'm perusing a dating app and someone mentions being apolitical, or not caring about politics, I grimace. Being apolitical? In this (ravaged) economy (and global pandemic and time of social unrest)?


    I'm not alone in this, according to data found by OkCupid(Opens in a new tab). Over 500,000 users said they couldn't date someone who didn't vote, according to new data provided by the dating app. Those who say they're registered voters are 63 percent more likely to get a match — and 85 percent more likely to receive a message.

    SEE ALSO: The funniest dating memes for finding love during these trying times

    Given that its user base cares about the upcoming election, OkCupid is launching the Voter 2020(Opens in a new tab) badge to millions of users across the country. Here's how it'll work(Opens in a new tab): The app will ask users the new matching question, "Are you registered to vote in the 2020 election?" Those who answer yes will see the badge automatically added to their profile.

    What about if users answer no? In a partnership with When We All Vote(Opens in a new tab) (WWAV) — a non-profit dedicated to increasing voter participation, co-chaired by Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, and other A-listers — a page from OkCupid and WWAV will pop-up so the user can register.

    Credit: okcupud

    "Now more than ever, daters want to connect with people who share their values," said Ariel Charytan, CEO at OkCupid in a press statement. "We have always empowered people to match on what matters to them, and our millions of daters across the United States overwhelmingly prioritize civic engagement when it comes to finding someone they are compatible with. So this year, we are thrilled to announce our first-ever Voter 2020 badge, which will allow people to connect over their shared passion for exercising their right to vote."

    It's not just being involved in politics that matters — it's the politics themselves that can be dealbreakers. Seventy-six percent of respondents said that a potential match's political leaning is very important, according to OkCupid's Voter 2020 Report(Opens in a new tab).

    The majority of OKC users surveyed lean left: 73 percent of women and 57 percent of men. Coronavirus is at least one reason for this, with 2.4 times more people saying the pandemic has made them more liberal in a question answered by 250,000 people about how coronavirus has impacted them.

    This is far from the first time OkCupid has gotten involved in social issues; earlier this year, they introduced a Black Lives Matter badge and opened up its pronoun feature to all users. In 2020, being apolitical is not only irresponsible but it's a turnoff — and OkCupid users just proved that.

    Related Video: How to go on a virtual date during the coronavirus pandemic

  • Election Day is providing a lot of context for no-context Twitter accounts

    Election Day is providing a lot of context for no-context Twitter accounts

    No-context pop culture Twitter accounts are getting a whole lot of context this week, sharing some very pertinent, relatable screenshots amidst the 2020 U.S. presidential election. It's a bit of wry levity to help claw us through this.


    Out-of-context Twitter accounts typically post screenshots of television shows without comment, often highlighting the absurdity of particular moments or phrases. While many accounts are still doing so this week, there's also been a noticeable trend in what type of stills are being highlighted. Themes of despair, comfort, fear, and voting have been prominent in many of these accounts' latest tweets, offering some sly commentary on the political hellscape that is U.S. Election Day.

    We're all just giant arancini balls of anxiety and dread, but at least we're in this together.

    There have also been many references to drinking. Which, fair. Even if you don't drink, now seems like as good a time as any to have a sip.

    Politics were truly unavoidable even for the most apathetic this year, with the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden becoming the most heated, high-stakes election in modern American history. Everyone is biting their fingernails to the bed, waiting to find out how deep their emergency bunkers need to be.

    Novelty Twitter accounts can help manage the anxiety, but also remember to step away from the screens when you can. It's a tough day in a tough year, and there's no shame in temporarily tapping out for the sake of your mental health — once you've voted, of course.

  • How to change language on Facebook

    How to change language on Facebook

    Immersing yourself in a new language is a great way to force yourself to learn it. One way you can do that is by changing the default language on Facebook.


    Whether you are learning a new language or need to change the language on Facebook for some other reason, we've got you covered. Changing the language on Facebook is very easy and straightforward. Changing it on desktop involves a different process from changing it in the mobile app.

    Follow the steps below to change the default language on Facebook on both desktop and mobile.

    How to change language on Facebook on Desktop

    1. Navigate to the Facebook website

    2. Select the upside down gray triangle in the upper right hand corner

    Select the gray arrow. Credit: screenshot: facebook

    3. Select "Settings & Privacy" from the dropdown menu

    Select "Settings & Privacy." Credit: screenshot: facebook

    4. Select "Settings" from the dropdown menu

    Select "Settings." Credit: screenshot: facebook

    5. Select "Language and Region" on the left hand side of the screen

    Select "Language and Region." Credit: screenshot: facebook

    6. Find "Facebook Language" and select "Edit"

    Select "Edit." Credit: screenshot: facebook

    7. Select the upside down arrow next to your current Facebook language

    Select the arrow. Credit: screenshot: facebook

    8. Scroll to find your preferred Facebook language in the dropdown menu

    9. Select your preferred Facebook language

    10. Select "Save Changes"

    Select "Save Changes." Credit: screenshot: facebook

    How to change language on Facebook app:

    The language on the Facebook app is dictated by the language your iPhone is set to, so to change the language on the Facebook app you have to change the language of your iPhone.

    1. Open the Settings app

    2. Scroll down and tap "General"

    Tap "General." Credit: screenshot: apple

    3. Scroll down and select "Language & Region"

    Tap "Language & Region." Credit: screenshot: apple

    4. Tap "iPhone Language"

    Tap "iPhone Language." Credit: screenshot: apple

    5. Search for your desired language and tap it

    Search or scroll through to find your desired language. Credit: screenshot: apple

    6. Tap "Change"

    Tap "Change." Credit: screenshot: apple

  • Bruce Willis did not sell rights to have deepfakes replace him in future films and ads

    Bruce Willis did not sell rights to have deepfakes replace him in future films and ads

    In a statement from Bruce Willis' representative, the actor has denied any claim that he has sold the rights to his digital likeness for future films and ads, according to The Hollywood Reporter(Opens in a new tab). In a statement shared with THR, the rep. said that Willis "has no partnership or agreement with this Deepcake company."


    A spokesperson with Deepcake told THR that Willis’ digital-likeness rights cannot be sold. As such, any involvement with the actor has to be done through his representatives at CAA. Willis collaborated with the company to create a digital twin for an ad back in 2021 and "any future use of the likeness would be up to Willis."

    Deepcake uses the same kind of tech used in the Star Wars franchise to recreate the younger versions of actors, including Mark Hamill, and to create digital versions of Carrie Fisher after her death. Just last week, James Earl Jones approved the AI recreation of his voice on future projects as he eyes retirement.

    SEE ALSO: Scream time: 20 best horror movies on Netflix

    In March 67-year-old Willis was diagnosed with aphasia(Opens in a new tab), a language disorder stemming from brain damage that affects comprehension of written and spoken language and communication. By then, reports of his struggle to recall lines and cues(Opens in a new tab) had been circulating within the industry for some time.

    Engadget reports that Willis worked with Deepcake on a 2021 ad for Russian telecom company Megafon, in which his face was swapped on to that of actor Konstantin Solovyov. Engineers used scenes from Die Hard and Fifth Element to create a likeness of Willis that lives on the company's AI platform. Willis's estate will have final approval on any future projects.

    Deepfakes are a new and unregulated area of technology that's already being used nefariously by scammers to spread misinformation. They have also been used to produce pornography without the consent of the subject and overall present a whole host of ethical and safety implications(Opens in a new tab) for celebrities and normal folks alike.

    UPDATE: Oct. 2, 2022, 12:08 p.m. CDT This article has been updated due to new information and for clarity purposes. Bruce Willis’ representative has released a statement denying widespread media reports that the actor’s digital likeness has been sold. This story has been updated accordingly.

  • Taylor Swifts Midnights promo was weird, right?

    Taylor Swifts Midnights promo was weird, right?

    It’s been a long, two-month promotional cycle, but Taylor Swift's Midnights is officially here. While the pop star tried every social media and corporate tactic to build anticipation and participation in the album release, something about the  Midnights era just felt off. It left some diehard Swifties wanting more.    


    Swift is consistently setting new standards for album rollouts and social media engagement across the music industry. In her early career days, she was establishing close bonds with fans through Tumblr conversations(Opens in a new tab) and secret listening parties(Opens in a new tab). She took the internet by surprise after ceremoniously cleansing her Instagram(Opens in a new tab) and rebranding her account ahead of Reputation’s release. The surprise drop of her folk-era albums Folklore and Evermore won her a Grammy and internet prestige. And by re-recording and releasing her early albums to gain complete ownership of her catalog, she’s setting a precedent for other artists to follow. In many ways, Taylor Swift is the blueprint when it comes to building a successful and long-lasting career. So what felt different about the rollout of Midnights

    It used to be easier to reach fans on social media through different fandom spaces. Now, these online communities are a more complex ecosystem, with TikTok, Discord, Reddit, Twitter, and even Tumblr all having their place — making it more challenging for artists who connect with fans online, like Swift, to have effective, authentic social media campaigns without spreading themselves too thin. 

    As a music and fandom tastemaker, Swift seems to now be struggling with where to go next — and the rest of us are reflecting on the ways her choices have impacted other artists.  

    Mashable reporters Elena Cavender and Chase DiBenedetto, two lifelong fangirls, dive into the world of Midnights and celebrity branding. 

    Midnights Mayhem? No way. Bedtime is at 10 p.m. 

    Chase: We have to say it. We didn't like the pre-album cycle. Something about it was off. She was doing too many things, and even though I appreciate that she didn't rely on her tried and true Easter eggs (which was actually not the case at all), it all still felt half-baked. She had collaborations with every major company: TikTok, Spotify, Tumblr, and Amazon Prime Video. Not to mention, a dozen variants of her album on vinyl, exclusive signed art cards only available at midnight on certain days, and the classic new era merch. 

    Elena: I am a lifelong Taylor Swift fan, and me and my fellow IRL Swifties all agree that the Midnights promo feels like a return to Taylor Swift™. With all of Swift's platform partnerships and cross-posting it was hard to keep up with her promo and know where to look. 

    While the promo for Red (Taylor's Version) was also TikTok heavy, there was something really endearing about it. Swift tapped into our collective nostalgia, and it felt like more people were on her side in her fight for ownership over her first six albums. I honestly can't remember an album release that had my corner of social media more excited. With the Midnights release the sentiment in my circles is "c'mon Taylor, you want us to watch Thursday night football? Gimme a break." 

    Chase: You're right. The Red (Taylor's Version) release felt like the perfect combination of all of her marketing strategies with an added benefit of nostalgia. It appealed to everyone I think, not even just Swift fans. I even had old highschool friends messaging me about our first listen to the original version. 

    Elena: But even with Red (Taylor’s Version), she tried to get "Nothing New" (the heart-wrenching track about aging featuring Phoebe Bridgers) trending on TikTok by posting clips of herself when she’d "had too much to drink" and encouraged fans to do the same. At the same time the song became an organic trend with users posting images of themselves at 17 to the line "the kind of radiance you only have at 17." The fan-created trend had more depth and spoke to fans’ connection with the song. That kind of thing can’t be artificially created by an artist’s marketing team. 

    She’s aiming to create digital trends again with Midnights, but this time it’s through a partnership with YouTube Shorts. The #TSAntiHeroChallenge is exclusive to YouTube Shorts, and any fan activity being pegged to a brand is immediately a turn off. 

    Chase: Swift used TikTok a lot to promote the Midnights album, too, even partnering with the app again, but it had an artificial note to it. I loved that she revisited her old Tumblr blogs and cringe millennial posting during the Red (Taylor's Version) release because that felt genuine to the moment and the era. Instead, I didn't feel any motivation to tune into the nightly scripted videos she put on TikTok.

    Elena: Totally, her Midnights Mayhem with me videos felt so stilted! 

    Taylor Swift, girl, Easter eggs are your whole thing! 

    Chase: Swift has so much power in the music industry to steer trends. She embraced eras, rebrands, Easter eggs, and drama. But instead of leaning into that again, she backed off. This was probably because she wanted to come off as earnest, but I think that's the opposite of what happened. 

    Elena: Album clues are literally a part of her existence as an artist. She created this monster in terms of fans who now look for Easter eggs in everything she does. So why change her strategy for this release? Taylor, just be yourself. Never change. 

    The mainstreaming of intense fandom behavior and other artists taking note of Swift’s conspiratorial strategy has inspired everyone to take that approach. 

    Chase: Ideally, I want other artists to never use Easter eggs, and Swift to lean heavily into them. But the opposite was happening! She has to either fully embrace the fact that she's redefined the industry's marketing tactics and continue feeding into the Swiftie conspiratorial universe, or seriously scale back on the promotion! She doesn't really need it at the end of the day, and half-baked promotion cycles aren't fun.

    Elena: The music speaks for itself! As frustrated as I may be by this album’s promotion, ultimately I connect with Swift the songwriter, rather than Swift the brand again. 

    With the "Midnights Mayhem with Me" series on TikTok, Swift explained the premise of every song on the album, which was a complete 180 from the Folklore and Evermore releases, where we knew nothing. There was almost too much information ahead of the album. It’s nice for artists to give fans the opportunity to interpret a song before traditionally heading to read a magazine profile on their inspiration. Instead, Swift gave us all the information herself weeks ahead of the album, which wasn’t an effective tool to build anticipation and suspense for the album. Those TikToks should have come with a spoiler warning! Though, I do appreciate that there ended up being seven additional songs — that no one knew was coming. 

    Chase: Her entire brand seems to be relying on a bait and switch with her fans. That would probably backfire with other fanbases, but Swift seems to exist beyond that.

    The TikTok-ification of artist branding

    Chase: The very obvious elephant in the room that we can't stop mentioning is TikTok. The music industry, and now the broader celebrity economy, is so wedded to the app and its ability to instantly blow up a song, artist, or video. While new artists are being discovered from TikTok covers and original songs, established artists are now implying that the only way to ensure their releases are successful is if they become viral on TikTok. Taylor definitely uses that to her advantage. 

    Being so attached to TikTok and its algorithm is a dangerous game, but it helps when you also have big brands on your side, as well as collaborations with the company itself and a legion of fans investing in a multiverse of content

    Elena: Midnights brought to you by TikTok™ and Amazon Prime Thursday Night Football. 

    Chase: Capitalist first, pop star second?

    Elena: The current moment on TikTok is weird for artists, too. Obviously, having a trending audio is a signifier of an artist's cultural relevance and leads to streams (and money), which can make an artist's presence on the app feel disingenuous. On the other hand, chances are we’re going to be seeing more and more of this, especially considering TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, filed for a trademark for "TikTok Music," and seems to be constructing its own streaming platform. 

    "Taylor Swift is the music industry"

    Chase: As soon as Swift announced Midnights, Twitter was flooded with tweets about the "Tumblr Renaissance", with people noting that OG artists like Taylor, The 1975, Arctic Monkeys, Tegan and Sara, Death Cab for Cutie, and Carly Rae Jepsen were all coming out with albums this fall, following a year of releases from other Tumblr-era artists like Lorde and Charli XCX. While Easter eggs weren't necessarily part of Tumblr-era music promotion, fandom conspiracies certainly were part of the conversation. Is this where we, as former Directioners, nod to One Direction's "Larry Stylinson?" We simply don't have enough words to go into that. 

    Elena: We definitely saw the mainstreaming of "Gaylor" conspiracy theories in the way that we saw with Larry years ago. 

    Chase: The Midnights promotional cycle is serving us the same vibes as the weird Harry's House Easter eggs — which aren't over, by the way! He's still launching mysterious fake businesses(Opens in a new tab) to promote his suspected new music video, which is coming out months after the album. It's an advertising strategy he's never used before until this year.

    Elena: I still don't know what the doors were about, and I'm a diehard Harry fan! What were those random photos that you could literally reverse image search? Styles and Swift both understand that you need to be engaging fans where they gather, the internet, but both of their album promos missed the mark. 

    Chase: And we hated the Discord channel he launched. So many artists are branching into Discord in ways that seem to cater to super fan communities who are into theorizing, surprise drops, and other forms of mysterious posting — even emo legends Paramore launched a Discord to go along with an even more mysterious website rebrand(Opens in a new tab) ahead of their new album. As a long-time fan of theirs, I don't really understand why they felt the need to do that, unless they are trying to cater to a new (possibly younger or more "online") audience. 

    Elena: Marketing teams and celebrities know about the popularity of Easter eggs and are just sitting in a room trying to come up with them.

    Chase: The music industry on the whole has been contending with a lot of internal upheaval, not to mention a lot of global pop acts that are redefining the fan-artist relationship, and you can see it reflected in how artists use their social media, whether or not their accounts feel like pure promotion or personalized, relatable feeds. You also have new generations, engaging with live music and fan culture for the first time, dictating the success of established artists in new ways like viral TikTok sounds, trending conversations, and ticket sales. Fans have always ruled online, and they rule the music industry, too. 

    One final "Question…?"

    Elena: What are your favorite tracks off the album?

    Chase: "Midnight Rain," "Karma," and "Lavender Haze," definitely. I'm a "False God" stan, so I think that all tracks. What about you?

    Elena: "Mastermind"... and "Sweet Nothing." Songs about Joe Alwyn have got to be one of my favorite genres.

  • Vaginal discharge: what its colour, texture and smell can tell you

    Vaginal discharge: what its colour, texture and smell can tell you

    There’s nothing fishy about wanting to know more about vaginal discharge. In fact, it could save your life.


    Women and people with vaginas have body-confidence-shattering obstacles thrown at us by society time and time again. But, when it comes to our sex organs, we’re often at the mercy of derogatory cleanliness myths and STI shame.

    Navigating through myths associated with the body as a young adult (and a fully grown adult, for that matter) can be difficult. That’s because we attach a lot of focus and shame to the vagina and vulva, especially when it comes to the way it smells. 

    You may have heard the pretty grim rhyme: "if it smells like chicken get licking, if it smells like trout get the fuck out." And, if you haven’t, I’m sorry to have brought it into your life. But, it’s playground-ish rhetoric like this that finds its way into lad-culture discourse that can make it feel shame-inducing to own a vagina and vulva sometimes. So much so, that according to(Opens in a new tab) a study by Vagisil in 2019, over two-thirds of women are self-conscious about their smell. This affects things like pleasure, with over 50 percent of women avoiding oral sex and a staggering 58 percent of women avoiding intimacy altogether. 

    SEE ALSO: What to do when body image is affecting your sex life

    Discharge is part of the (and I cannot stress this enough) totally natural way the vagina self-cleans. Sometimes gooey, sometimes a bit smelly, one hundred percent normal. Often found in underwear, or in folds of the inner and outer labia, discharge can come in a range of textures, smells and colours, depending on what’s going on with your body, your diet, and your menstrual cycle. And, it can tell you a lot about your health and fertility.

    Where does discharge come from and why is it important?

    Dr. Deborah Lee, of Dr. Fox Online Pharmacy(Opens in a new tab), tells me that having some discharge is completely normal (told you). "During the reproductive years, the female genital tract produces secretions quite naturally, as a way of lubricating the genital area and cleansing it," she says.

    Discharge is part of the (and I cannot stress this enough) totally natural way the vagina self-cleans.

    She goes on to explain that when ovulation begins, young women start to notice their vaginal secretions. During the menstrual cycle, the ovary produces oestrogen, which leads to a natural increase in vaginal discharge. "The fluid is a transudate – tissue fluid that is found naturally throughout the body – which exudes from the mucous membranes in the pelvic floor and genital region," she tells Mashable. 

    SEE ALSO: Why do I bleed after sex?

    As the fluid seeps downwards, it picks up desquamated (read: scaly) epithelial cells from the endometrium (womb lining), the cervix, and the vagina, along with white blood cells and a range of bacteria, "Especially lactobacilli," she tells me. "Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, meaning the pH of the vagina is naturally acidic. The fact it is acidic makes the environment hostile and stops other bacteria from growing."

    What’s a normal amount of discharge?

    It may not surprise you to find out that a normal amount is different from person to person, and there are things like the progesterone-only contraceptive pill that can affect how much your body secretes, as well as pregnancy.

    SEE ALSO: How to have sex on your period

    Lee explains to Mashable that when oestrogen levels peak around day 14 of the monthly cycle and then fall if no pregnancy occurs, this means vaginal discharge often becomes more copious, in the second week of the cycle, in the run-up to ovulation. The cervix also produces mucus which becomes thin and stretchy mid-cycle – like raw egg white – to facilitate the passage of sperm towards the egg. After ovulation, in the second half of the cycle, this mucus becomes thicker and more yellowy.

    How to tell if your discharge has become abnormal

    Every now and then our discharge can change. When this happens it can be indicative of something that’s out of balance in the body, an STI, or a bacterial infection — none of which are worthy of shame. 

    While we shouldn’t be ashamed if we contract an STI or bacterial infection, we absolutely should go and seek treatment. Discharge can be considered abnormal if, there is more of it than usual, it has changed in colour and consistency, it smells (perhaps of rotten fish), there are associated symptoms such as itching, irritation, or soreness or if it is blood-stained

    What's the difference between non-STI and STI-related abnormalities?

    Lee explains that non-STI abnormalities may be caused by candidiasis (thrush or a yeast infection) or bacterial vaginosis (BV). And, while many people might automatically associate anything wrong with their genitals as thrush, it’s most likely to be BV. 

    This is because of the acidic environment of the vagina. It’s perfectly balanced to protect the microbiome from being colonised by other bacteria. "If you constantly wash and use hygiene products, these raise the vaginal pH, making it more alkaline, and the natural protection from the lactobacilli disappears, meaning other bacteria can now grow," she explains. "You can see that by washing and washing with the wrong products, you are washing away the healthy lactobacilli, and simply making BV worse."

    SEE ALSO: Can you have sex when you have a yeast infection?

    Lee advises that the only way to treat BV is with a course of antibiotics, but that you’ll also need to change your hygiene practices so that you don’t end up with recurring BV. "There is no need to use any soapy products in, or anywhere near, the vagina or vulva. You can simply shower the outside of the vulva and leave the inside alone."

    She also explains that abnormal discharge can be indicative of other things upsetting the body, such as allergic vulvovaginitis (a sensitivity to hygiene products which includes soap, douches, vaginal deodorants, shampoo, bubble baths, and shower gels); a foreign body in the vagina such as a forgotten tampon, or sex toy; Or, a gynaecological diseases. And, while the latter is rare in young women of reproductive age it’s worth knowing that cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancers can all cause an abnormal discharge. 

    STI discharge is a little different, as it may be caused by chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, or trichomoniasis. Though it is easier to catch an STI if you have sex with multiple partners, engage in risky sex or if you don't use barrier protection, such as condoms and dental dams. Anyone can catch an STI and so regular gynaecology health checks, especially if you’ve encountered a new sexual partner, are essential. 

    What else can you do about it?

    If you’re unsure about anything, then it’s best to pop to the GP. If you’re worried about copious amounts of discharge, and you’re taking hormonal contraception, Lee suggests changing to a less oestrogenic pill, such as a 20 mcg pill, or a progesterone-only method of contraception, as this generally thickens the secretions.

    She also stresses the importance of avoiding soaps and washes that alter your natural PH balance. "Keep your vagina safe, and save yourself a lot of money by not buying feminine hygiene products," she says.

    Vaginas and vulvas are supposed to smell like vaginas and vulvas. Not sugar and spice.

  • The Queen of Basketball director tells Biden bring Brittney Griner home during Oscars speech

    The Queen of Basketball director tells Biden bring Brittney Griner home during Oscars speech

    When Ben Proudfoot won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short for directing The Queen of Basketball — a documentary about Lusia "Lucy" Harris' accomplishments in the sport — he gave a shout out to current WNBA player Brittney Griner.


    "If there is anyone out there that still doubts whether there is an audience for female athletes, let this academy award be the answer. Lucy Harris is not here tonight because she passed away before this film was nominated. But her family is here tonight so I'd ask you to please give your recognition to them," Proudfoot said of Harris, who was the first and only woman to be drafted into the NBA in 1977, during his acceptance speech. "And one last thing: President Biden, bring Brittney Griner home. Thank you. Long live the queen."

    Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and player for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested on allegations of smuggling narcotics at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17, according to Russian authorities and CNN(Opens in a new tab). An official from the U.S. embassy in Moscow told CNN that Griner — an openly queer Black woman, which are two identities marginalized in Russia — is currently "in good condition." She faces up to a decade in prison in Russia.

    There's no current conditional terms to her release by the Russian government, meaning she is not currently publicly being considered a hostage. Griner's agent and the WNBA said they support her and are prioritizing her(Opens in a new tab) "swift and safe return to the United States." Russia's war in Ukraine only further complicates the issue.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said(Opens in a new tab): "There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point. Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia."

    We'll see if Proudfoot's pressure at the Oscars has any impact on bringing Griner back.

  • How Bonus Jonas Frankie Jonas became an unlikely TikTok star

    How Bonus Jonas Frankie Jonas became an unlikely TikTok star

    Frankie Jonas, the often forgotten fourth Jonas brother, finally found his place in the spotlight on TikTok.


    Kevin, 33, Joe, 31, and Nick Jonas, 28, performed as the Jonas Brothers in the early 2000s and after a hiatus, reunited in 2019 for an immensely successful comeback album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 100.

    Frankie Jonas has had his share of stardom, including voicing one of the main characters in the Studio Ghibli film Ponyo and making an appearance in Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, which starred his brothers, but for the most part has lived in the shadow of his older brothers' musical success. Now, the 20-year-old college student is making a name for himself with his delightfully unhinged TikTok presence.

    Frankie Jonas was known as the "Bonus Jonas" for a majority of his life. Credit: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

    Since he started posting videos in October, Frankie Jonas has amassed more than 880,000 followers and 14 million likes. Frankie is more than aware that he's known as the "Bonus Jonas," and jokes about being left out of the band, forgotten by his brothers' fanbase, and getting by as he rides the coattails of his brothers' success.

    In one video(Opens in a new tab) with over 670,000 likes, Frankie duets a clickbait-like video that claims people can be in the top 1 percent by doing "what 99 percent of people don't do." Before the original creator continues, Frankie interjects with a dry, "Have famous brothers and get by on nepotism your whole life." In another(Opens in a new tab), he uses a song written by the sister trio Haim, which refers to a "secret" fourth sister who they call their "little Frankie Jonas."

    Aside from his brothers' celebrity, Frankie's videos are so popular because they're steeped with Gen Z humor. His content is sardonic, refreshingly self-aware, and just a little surreal. He participates in the "introduce yourself as your high school rumor" trend by posing in front of 2016 news articles about his marijuana arrest. He recreates scenes(Opens in a new tab) from Married to Jonas, a 2012 reality TV series starring his oldest brother. His content is wildly at odds with the clean-cut image his brothers portrayed during their Disney Channel careers. When his brothers were around his age, they were promoting abstinence(Opens in a new tab). Frankie, on the other hand, posts tributes to hentai(Opens in a new tab) and violates TikTok community guidelines(Opens in a new tab) for accidentally showing his genitals.

    Frankie Jonas is making a name for himself on TikTok. Credit: TikTok / frankie Jonas
    Frankie Jonas' TikTok content is delightfully self aware. Credit: tiktok / frankie jonas

    Frankie's TikTok presence highlights the generational divide in celebrities from a decade ago to public figures who grew up online. The line that separates celebrities from their followers is less clear on the internet, as platforms like TikTok give public figures and the general public direct access to engaging with each other. Frankie replies to comments, answers questions, and more recently, even put out a call for new friends.

    Given the youngest Jonas' online popularity, TikTok users now jokingly refer to the elder Jonas brothers as "Frankie Jonas' brothers."

    "Omg is this frankie jonas' brother????" one TikTok user commented on a video posted by Nick Jonas.

    "FRANKIEEEE JONASSSS HAS A BROTHER????" another commented. "SINCE WHEN????"

    In a recent TikTok, Frankie preens in front of screenshots of the comments. Nick Jonas replied in a duet on Saturday, calling up his other brothers.

    "Joe, Kevin, forget what I said about letting Frankie in the band," Nick said.

    But it doesn't seem like Frankie needs to be in the band to get some recognition. His TikTok presence is going strong, and even if he accidentally violates the community guidelines again, Gen Z will probably love him even more.

  • Why I ditched app folders and embraced phone chaos

    Why I ditched app folders and embraced phone chaos

    I don't know the exact second I stopped caring about app folders, but I think it was during the pandemic. I just couldn't bring myself to spend half an iota of energy on organizing my apps.


    First, a confession: I'm not an organized person. It's always been hard for me to keep everything in its place. I have gotten marginally better at it for the sake of co-existing with my partner, but it's not something that comes natural.

    So, I never really got much enjoyment out of app folders, or any sort of organization, on my phone's home screen. I once saw a person who color coded their apps by page and it threw me for a loop — that might as well have been climbing Everest in my mind.

    We here at Mashable have even suggested ways to organize apps in the past, using everything from verb-based folders, to alphabetical order, to folders labeled with emoji.

    Apple debuted folders(Opens in a new tab) for the iPhone in 2010 and I've used them roughly ever since because iPhones are the sole smartphone I've owned. At first, folders felt super useful. There were only so many apps on my phone and it kept things look tidy. They allowed me to see my phone background clearly. But with time, every damn thing had an app. My laundry is now run by an app — I literally can't wash my clothes without it. Using folders to neatly organize my countless apps — many of which, granted, I hardly use — felt impossible. It felt more like a task than a useful tool, and finding the apps became more difficult, not easier.

    So, eventually, some combination of the pandemic and my natural state led me to the ethos of fuck it. No folders, no semblance of order, no here's where my food apps are, here's transportation, here's messaging. No wondering if Snapchat is social media or messaging. No worries over keeping my phone neatly organized. No gods, no masters.

    Here, look upon my works and despair. (And, by the way, this is just three pages of many on my phone, all cluttered with apps.)

    My many apps, entirely unorganized. Credit: Screenshot: iphone / Tim Marcin / mashable

    And you know what? This home screen chaos has made my life better. Peacock under my laundry app? Sure. TikTok and Zillow? Why not. Cheesesteak restaurant with package tracking? Makes sense.

    As an unorganized person, it just works better for me. Instead of rambling through different folders trying to find the app I need, my brain goes into autopilot and swipes to the page and, bam, opens the app.

    Yes, it's a mess, but it's my mess.

    You know that kid in school who had the binder stuffed with haggard-looking papers? Crumpled assignments sandwiched between rulers, open pens, and sheets from semesters ago. But then, somehow, they always turned up exactly the piece of paper they needed? That was me.

    My phone's screen is just the latest version of that. Yes, it's a mess, but it's my mess. And running off muscle memory and a wide-open display works better for me than everything has a place and every place has its thing.

    I mean, if worst comes to worst, I just swipe down and search for what I need, which I suppose I could've done with my apps in folders — but then I would've had to have wasted time putting my apps in folders. Everything is chaos on my phone, and to me, that's beautiful. I have given up control and, in that act, found my own little form of organization.