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Over 1 million users and counting: How Hive Social became Twitters newest rival

2023-03-19 06:14:53

Over 1 million users and counting: How Hive Social became Twitters newest rival

For the past four days, social app Hive Social has been sitting pretty near the top of the list of most-popular free apps in the entire App store — above TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and, yes, Twitter. Elon Musk's tumultuous Twitter takeover has prompted hundreds of thousands users to flee the app into the warm, waiting arms of alternatives like Hive Social, which has seen growth of more than 750,000 users since Thursday, Nov. 17.

Over 1 million users and counting: How Hive Social became Twitters newest rival(图1)

Hive is helmed by 24-year-old CEO Raluca Pop, who also goes by Kassandra when people have difficulty pronouncing her Romanian name. She and two teammates — marketer Pablo and developer Josh (their last names kept off the record for privacy) — have been working furiously over the last four days to keep up with demand.

But when Mashable reaches Pop late in the evening on Nov. 21, she sounds like a vacationing optimist: calm, cheerful, and grateful. If she's stressed or nervous about the growth of her app, it doesn't show. There's an eagerness in the way she signs off our call by saying, "I'll most likely be up again all night."

We chatted with Pop about Hive's humble beginnings, it's rapid growth, and what it feels like to be on Musk's radar.

Self-funded, self-built, and home to 1 million users

In June 2019, Pop began to build an app using coding skills she had taught herself. Though she had no technical background (she graduated with a psychology degree), Pop launched the first version of Hive in October 2019. She believed in it so much that she soon took out two personal loans to hire a freelance developer and pay for server space. Just one other person, an angel investor who personally enjoyed the app, pitched in $25,000 investment to cover expenses.

As reported by Teen Vogue,(Opens in a new tab) the app's first influx of mostly Gen Z users came in early February 2021. Pop recalls that One Direction stan account 1DPsychic(Opens in a new tab) (which appears to no longer be very active) shared a screenshot of Hive Social on Twitter. Fans poured in, especially K-pop fans. "All of a sudden, we had this massive influx... it really pushed the boundaries of the servers," she says. "It was just another wild ride like right now, although right now we're way better prepared."

Last Thursday, Nov. 17, was "just a normal day" says Pop. That is, until Hive started trending on Twitter. "I sat in the same spot on my bed just with my phone, looking at all the comments and responding to everybody," she marvels. "And just seeing our number go up on trending that day, in the Philippines and Thailand too. That's when the K-pop fans came, that was the first big wave."

Last week, just as they did in 2021, K-pop fans embraced Hive Social as a new outlet for expression. The first to arrive were Carats, fans of K-pop group Seventeen, who were directed to the app by a fellow fan's tweet(Opens in a new tab) that now has more than 129,000 likes. Word spread from there: a post about Hive(Opens in a new tab) from a fan of the group Treasure received 11,000 likes. Next came the Star Wars(Opens in a new tab) fandom(Opens in a new tab). Then the gamers(Opens in a new tab) arrived.

Pop estimates that more than 80,000 people created accounts on the app between Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. "Our servers did crash. We were working frantically on Friday to get them back up."

Three days later, on Monday, Nov. 21, the app tweeted that it had reached 1 million users.(Opens in a new tab) The timing was perfect: Pop's team had released the first Android version of the app less than a week prior. And the numbers keep growing: on Tuesday, the Hive Twitter account noted that 250,000 users had joined overnight.(Opens in a new tab)

Raising $250,000 in 72 hours

Hive Social's rise in popularity hasn't just grown its user base but its funding, too. More than 800 people have invested more than $300,000 into the app since Thursday through crowdfunding site WeFunder(Opens in a new tab).

Pop is stunned. She says she's been approached by venture capitalists to pitch Hive to investors many times, but no one has ever taken the leap. An abysmal 2 percent of all VC funding(Opens in a new tab) went to women-led businesses in 2021, and a fraction of that goes to Black and Hispanic women founders. "We have to work a million times harder to be taken seriously," Pop says. "You and me could go to pitch Hive tomorrow, and I'm pretty sure we wouldn't even raise the amount of VC funding that a guy could [by] just walk[ing] in, pre-revenue pre-product. I've seen the difference in how we're treated. I call it how I see it."

Hive has blown past its investment goal in less than a week. Credit: WeFunder, Hive

Pop credits writer Clarkisha Kent(Opens in a new tab) for seeing Hive Social's value first, and advocating for it to others. "She's been a huge supporter of Hive, sharing our posts, commenting and liking, and trying to tell people about it," says Pop. When Kent asked Pop if there was any other way to support the app, Pop remembered that a WeFunder page she had set up a year ago was still online.

"We didn't have anything in the account Thursday morning," Pop says, "I sent [the link] to [Kent], and I didn't think anything of it." After years of VC rejection, Pop wasn't convinced it would make a difference. "Who knows if people really want to take a chance to actually put their own money in? And then they did. And it was just wild. We went from $0 to $245,000."

"We are really grateful to everyone who's contributed... It's so awesome," says Pop. "You get to actually read people's comments along with their investment," and it's all thanks to Kent's initial belief in the app. "She wanted to see the app thrive because... for women in tech, it's really, really hard to be taken seriously," Pop says, "I really appreciate her help. She's done so much for us."

Why people love Hive

Pop says users tell her that Hive Social is "much more intuitive" to use than alternatives, but Pop thinks the app's competitive advantage is "the care that [our team has] put into the community... I think we built a different culture around the app."

To start, "we did make some pretty vocal statements that [former President Donald] Trump and [Andrew] Tate are banned from the platform. There's no place for white supremacists(Opens in a new tab) on the app." And the team values engaging with the community directly and being transparent about how small but mighty they are.

Pop is quite active on the company's Twitter account, updating followers on the status of the app and its crashes, replying to questions, and retweeting user feedback and content. Pablo runs the Hive Brazil Twitter account, reaching out to Latin American users who often are forgotten in the race for relevance in North America. For Pop, outreach on Twitter is crucial to making users feel heard so that the team can make the app better. The trick is "being personal... so you don't sound like a robot. We try to have fun with it. And honestly, we do because it's our passion."

Those who fled Twitter to flock to Hive Social seem to revel the return to a platform rooted in aesthetics. Tweets show that people love the customization of visual elements, like changing the color of your profile, as well as the ability to add songs. And those features remind millennial users of the mid-aughts delights of MySpace or the thrills of 2010s Tumblr. The app also incorporates an optional personal Q&A function that was popularized on platforms like Tumblr and CuriousCat.

Over the next month, the team plans to push out weekly development updates to the app to accommodate feedback. "A lot of people are also dissatisfied with feedback that they give other apps, that it's not really taken into consideration," Pop says. "So we do our best to listen. And obviously, we can't incorporate every single suggestion. But we try our best to accommodate everyone."

Their main focus for future updates is amping up accessibility. Alt-text, a standard accessibility feature, is at the top of their list. Pop and Josh will be also be adding new text type and sizing options for a handful of users who have said they have trouble reading in the app. And one user has suggested replacing swiping with tapping so people with limited hand movement can better use certain features, which Pop says is an option they'll add soon. "It doesn't really matter to us if it's a small group of people" asking for a feature, she says. "We would rather have the option to accommodate them if needed."

"Elon is watching"

What's next for Hive Social, now that it has the internet's attention and $300,000 dollars to support its growth? Pop plans to quit her full-time nonprofit job to focus on Hive 24/7. But she is cautious about growing her team and its ambitions too quickly. "We don't want to expand ourselves too much... we want to use [the funds] wisely."

Even if this wave of users becomes a trickle, the team has support: It was recently accepted into the Google for Startups Cloud Program, which provides access to technical training, business support, and up to $200,000 of cloud cost coverage. And when it comes to long-term monetization, Pop points to the app's two functioning revenue streams: "minimally invasive," post-like ads that Pop says users don't seem to mind and adding additional songs to your profile, starting at $.99.

But when asked about future plans around revenue, Pop demurs: "I don't want to give out too much of that, just because I know Elon is watching." She suspects that the Twitter CEO is keeping an eye on Hive Social after Twitter users noticed(Opens in a new tab) that the app's Twitter profile and replies to its posts may have been suppressed. After our conversation, Musk replies to a tweet mentioning Hive.

Pop's not phased by the "newfound pressure." She's been preparing for this moment for a long time. "I think people are concerned [that] it's just two people [running the app](Opens in a new tab), but it's been two people for two years. We are used to functioning this way. All three of us being passionate about it makes it feel a little a little easier."

Does Pop plan to take any time off soon? "I had been meaning to explore the West Hollywood area," she laughs. "My plans were thwarted this past weekend, but in the best way."

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    In a word: Retaliation. It's no secret that the federal government likes to surveil anti-racism protests through social media. The Intercept(Opens in a new tab) and Vice(Opens in a new tab) both reported on government monitoring of protest movements through social media after the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.

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    How to blur photos

    The good news is this isn't so tough to do on your own, even if you aren't a Photoshop wizard. A cursory Google search reveals plenty of free websites that can do it automatically or give you the tools to do it manually in a hurry. Facepixelizer(Opens in a new tab) is just one I found that seems to work pretty well. Encrypted messaging app Signal is also adding a blur tool.

    The fine folks over at Motherboard(Opens in a new tab) recommended Image Scrubber(Opens in a new tab), developed by Everest Pipkin, for covering up faces in protest photos. Image Scrubber is great because, aside from letting you easily and manually blur out faces on either a computer or a phone, it scrubs metadata from photos, too. Photos you take contain hidden data such as the date, time, and potentially even location in which they were snapped. It's possible(Opens in a new tab) for someone to get that information if they really want it.

    Load a photo into Image Scrubber and the first thing it does is list this data in plain text form. It also gives you the option to nuke it from your scrubbed photo. To test it out, I put a photo of my family's cat Max into the tool. Here is Max staring blankly into the distance, generally unaware of the world around him, as usual.

    Max, unscrubbed. Credit: barb perry

    After about two seconds of painting over Max's face with Image Scrubber's Microsoft Paint-like tools, the cat can no longer be recognized. It doesn't look professional, but it doesn't have to.

    Max, scrubbed. Credit: alex perry / mashable

    It only takes a few seconds to rid a photo of valuable metadata and blur out a face. Given the intensity of police response to these protests after less than a week, it can't hurt to do this with any photos you plan on sharing on your social feeds.

    Even if everyone at a protest is acting well within their rights, they can still face retaliation. We've seen peaceful protestors get tear gassed(Opens in a new tab) for the sake of a presidential photo op just this week. It can't hurt to go the extra mile to protect strangers you photograph.

  • The Iraqi man who threw his shoes at George W. Bush is a Twitter hero for todays protesters

    The Iraqi man who threw his shoes at George W. Bush is a Twitter hero for todays protesters

    "Hope you know you're an actual icon and we love you," wrote Twitter user @StreaamLightsup to Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi. "This video is my daily dose of serotonin."


    The video was one many Americans know on sight — when al-Zaidi threw his shoes at former President Bush in 2008.

    @StreaamLightsup's tweet is just one of many praising al-Zaidi, who often issues charming responses of support. He's using the platform, where he has more than 56,000 followers, to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the protesters calling out police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

    The shoeing incident(Opens in a new tab), as it's referred to on Wikipedia, occurred at a press conference at Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's palace. The Iraq War had dragged on for five years at that point and ravaged the country. As al-Zaidi later explained in an op-ed in The Guardian(Opens in a new tab), his duties as a journalist required him to report on daily tragedies. He would enter ruined homes, hear the screams of orphans — and he pledged to seek vengeance.

    When he saw his opportunity to do so that day, he took it.

    "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," al-Zaidi yelled as he threw the first show. "This is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq," he added as he threw the second.

    Al-Zaidi spent nine months(Opens in a new tab) in jail for the act, where he said he was tortured. In his Guardian essay, al-Zaidi explained that he threw the shoe to defend his country. "When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people," al-Zaidi wrote.

    In the piece, al-Zaidi denied being a hero — but over a decade after "the shoe," his legacy as a hero has blossomed on social media. "Dude who threw the shoe at George W. Bush has done more for the betterment of America than most of its politicians and a huge segment of its actual populace," wrote another user on Twitter, @thankfulreact69(Opens in a new tab). "Absolute king shit."

    It's a sentiment many on social media share, especially after al-Zaidi publicly threw his support towards the current protests. Additionally, al-Zaidi has dedicated his freedom watch to Floyd.

    "We stand in solidarity with these protest[ers] because they are oppressed," said al-Zaidi in an interview with Mashable. He said he'd been aware of the protests since George Floyd's death, and knew they would escalate. "We in Iraq have suffered from American power and authority since the occupation of the US military in 2003 so all the support, sympathy, and solidarity with them."

    Not only are police inciting violence(Opens in a new tab) on peaceful protesters, but they're also targeting journalists(Opens in a new tab). As a journalist himself, al-Zaidi said he stands in solidarity with them, and that the police are violating their rights.

    He also said he knew from the beginning of Trump's presidency that he was spiteful of journalists. "Who[ever] hates journalists hates the truth," he said. "And Trump is the most untruthful person, so he is hostile to journalists because they convey the truth and he wants… the journalists to convey his lies."

    SEE ALSO: Facebook engineer resigns in protest of Zuckerberg's bankrupt morality

    Al-Zaidi pointed out that when protests erupted in Iraq(Opens in a new tab) last year, it didn't get nearly the same attention as the current U.S. protests. "In Iraq seven months ago we had demonstrations and more than 700 demonstrators were martyred by the Iraqi police without the world moving," he said.

    Regardless, al-Zaidi isn't hesitant to show his solidarity with demonstrators in the US and around the world. In fact, he sees his fame as a responsibility to do so. "Since people listen to your words," he said, "you must [show] solidarity with the people and the oppressed wherever they are. When there were demonstrations in America, solidarity with them [is] everywhere in the world."

    Al-Zaidi's advice to young protestors and activists is to keep peaceful demonstrations. "The peaceful weapon does not belong to the arrogant, dictatorial, and oppressive states of freedom," he said. "Instead, it has weapons, prisons, police, and media."

    Peaceful "weapons," al-Zaidi continued, are the best and longest-lasting weapons. "The authorities do not possess and do not want" these peaceful methods, he said, "so keep the peace as much as possible until your revolution triumphs."

  • K-pop fans are flooding QAnon hashtags with memes and fancams

    K-pop fans are flooding QAnon hashtags with memes and fancams

    K-pop stans are legion and cannot be stopped.


    Just about a week after overwhelming a Dallas police "snitch" app with memes and fancams, K-pop fans are now flooding QAnon hashtags with fancams, videos, and memes. It's beautiful.

    After the hacker group Anonymous called for spamming QAnon hashtags, K-pop stans rushed in to do their part.

    If you don't know anything about K-pop — Korean pop bands — just know they have massive amounts of fans who hold the power to make literally everything go viral. The most notable band is BTS, whom you must have heard of.

    But, in the wake of mass protests against racism and police brutality, those fans have channeled their power for good. They've done the nearly unthinkable: stopped tweeting about their faves to ensure Black Lives Matter hashtags rose to the top of trending. And again, they also spammed a Dallas police department app aimed at identifying protesters with such force that it took down the app.

    And if you don't know anything about QAnon. Well, bless your good fortune. But basically, it's a very (Opens in a new tab)powerful, pro-Trump(Opens in a new tab), absolutely bonkers, winding conspiracy theory — the seeds of which were planted by a Reddit user nicknamed Q — that the president is actually in control of a plan to up-end the so-called "deep state" and expose(Opens in a new tab) countless powerful pedophiles.

    If you search common QAnon hashtags on Twitter, like #qanon and #WWG1WGA — which stands for "where we go one, we go all" — there is some typical conspiracy nonsense but also lots and lots of K-pop stuff.

    It just goes to show you: QAnon might be a powerful online conspiracy, but K-pop stans are a powerful online force with the ability to overwhelm conversations and change the dialogue.

    Of course in the wrong hands, this sort of power can be really dangerous, considering it's the sort of tactic employed by Russian bots(Opens in a new tab) during the 2016 election cycle.

  • These moments from CNNs Sesame Street town hall on racism will give you hope

    These moments from CNNs Sesame Street town hall on racism will give you hope

    On Saturday morning, CNN hosted a joint town hall for kids and families with Sesame Street, called Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism(Opens in a new tab).


    Racism and police brutality are difficult subjects to broach with adults, let alone children. But given the global protests, these issues are — and should be — impossible to ignore. This goes for children, who see what's going on either through media or their parents. In order to adequately explain these complex issues, it's necessary to talk about them even if it's uncomfortable.

    But how do you talk to children about something as ugly as racism without ruining their innocence? Guests like Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?(Opens in a new tab), fielded questions like these from children, parents, and Sesame Street characters. Here are some of the highlights:

    Children may be wondering why people are out in the streets at all. Elmo's dad Louie explained that it's an effort to end racism:

    Eight-year-old Xavier said that his nana marched in the 1960s, and asked why we still need to "do this again and again." A lot of us adults wonder the same thing. Sesame Street cast members Roscoe Orman (as Gordon Robinson) and Sonia Manzano (as Maria) discussed the importance of protesting:

    Keedron Bryant, the 12-year-old who went viral for his powerful song "I Just Want to Live,"(Opens in a new tab) visited Sesame Street to discuss the song:

    Some moments of the special were heartbreaking, like 9-year-old Saniya asking what to do when she encountered racism:

    The finale was especially touching. CNN hosts Van Jones and Erica Hill along with Sesame Street characters pledged to do better. "We can do better, we must do better, we will do better," Jones, Hill, Big Bird, and Elmo said in union:

    The town hall didn't dive deep into these issues; there's only so much that can be said in an hour. Hopefully, though, there will be more town halls like this one — and more importantly, hopefully this encourages parents to have these difficult conversations with their children.

Random articles


  • Peloton is hiking up prices, blaming inflation

    Peloton is hiking up prices, blaming inflation

    Peloton is hiking up prices for its Bike and Tread products, allegedly as a result of inflation. Now the already rather expensive products will be even more so, beginning January 31.


    At the end of the month, customers will be made to pay an extra $250 for the delivery and setup of the Bike, and an additional $350 for the Tread. The total cost for each is now $1,745 for the Bike, and $2,845 for the Tread.

    These two services were previously included in the price of the products. Yikes.

    The Peloton website now says that delivery and setup are included in the price of each product until Jan 31. Credit: Screenshot: Peloton.

    The cost changes will also take place(Opens in a new tab) in the UK, Germany and Australia, but in terms of equipment rather than for delivery and setup. Meanwhile, the monthly subscription fee for connected fitness users (eager for that on-demand content) will stay priced at $39.99, worldwide. The higher-priced Bike+ will also retain its original price of $2,495.

    SEE ALSO: Peloton is making a video game you can play on its bike

    According to CNBC, who obtained recordings of a Peloton meeting, both growing inflation and higher supply chain expenses are being cited as the incentive. In a statement, a Peloton spokesperson said that "Peloton is being impacted by global economic and supply chain challenges" that "many other businesses" are currently experiencing.

    Peloton is no stranger to fluctuating prices. In August, the company cut it less expensive Bike by about 20 percent in a bid to appeal to more consumers and amp up sales.

    In 2020, Peloton shares rocketed by 440 percent, but saw a decline of 76 percent last year.

    The company is also said to be working with consulting group McKinsey & Co., in an effort to review cost structures(Opens in a new tab) and potentially cut down on some jobs and stores.

  • Kim Kardashian issues rare statement on Kanye West’s mental health

    Kim Kardashian issues rare statement on Kanye West’s mental health

    Following his surprise campaign announcement(Opens in a new tab) for the 2020 election, Kanye West has been drumming up controversy with statements on race and politics. But West has also been speaking out about his private life with his wife, Kim Kardashian.


    West posted a series of now-deleted tweets in which he said he's been trying to divorce Kardashian(Opens in a new tab) for two years. Hours later on Wednesday, Kardashian released a statement via Instagram stories concerning her husband:

    While she doesn't explicitly mention West's recent behavior, Kardashian addresses how the stigma surrounding mental illness affects those who live with it and their loved ones. (West has bipolar disorder(Opens in a new tab) and first confirmed it publicly with the release of his album Ye(Opens in a new tab) in 2018.)

    "I've never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I'm very protective of our children and Kanye's right to privacy when it comes to his health," she wrote. "But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about his mental health."

    Up until now, Kardashian has been largely supportive of West in public. When he announced his presidential candidacy, for example, she showed subtle support on Twitter:

    Other times, she's denied controversy surrounding West — such as when she refuted that West said that "slavery was a choice" on TMZ Live(Opens in a new tab) in 2018.

    She has publicly discussed his bipolar disorder before. In her Vogue (Opens in a new tab)cover interview(Opens in a new tab) last year, Kardashian said that she and West were "in a pretty good place" with his diagnosis.

    In her Instagram statement, Kardashian pleads for compassion and empathy. "Those that understand mental illness or even compulsive behavior know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor," she wrote.

    She continued, "People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual themselves have to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard friends and family try."

    In a statement to Mashable, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), said, “Being the loved one of a person with a mental illness can be extremely challenging. On top of dealing with a complex health condition, they often face judgement, shame and discrimination. We commend Kim Kardashian for her openness about the complexity and difficulty of her position and of the many, many more like her. We at NAMI support her during this trying time and encourage those in her and her family’s situation to seek support for themselves and their loved ones."

    While the statement makes vague mention of Kanye's "big dreams," it was not immediately clear what the status of his presidential candidacy actually is. Whether the family will actually handle this privately — and whether the public will allow them to do so — also remains to be seen.

    If you or a loved one is looking for support with mental illness, you can contact the NAMI helpline(Opens in a new tab) and find additional resources on their site(Opens in a new tab).

    UPDATE: July 22, 2020, 3:07 p.m EDT This article was updated to include the statement from NAMI.

  • Instagram is currently in its flop era

    Instagram is currently in its flop era

    I was a freshman in college when Facebook died. It didn't actually die, but rather, it stopped being a social media platform that young people actually used, which is to say it lost all relevancy. In 2017, I primarily opened Facebook for three things: coordinating with campus organizations in Facebook groups, looking at my college meme page, and posting photo albums at the end of each semester. 


    During the week before finals, in a tried and true procrastination technique, all my friends would go through their photos from the semester and carefully pick out all the photos that best conveyed "I am having fun in college." Then they would upload them into a Facebook album that was typically titled with a silly, unfunny joke that reflected which year in college they were in, like "Senior Citizen" or "Sophomore Slump."

    A Facebook album was your b-roll of the semester.

    At the time, posting a Facebook album was a little self-involved and cringey. You expect someone to go through 50 photos from your sorority’s date party? C'mon. But most people still did it. It was a way to document all of the mundane moments that weren’t Instagram-worthy. A Facebook album was your b-roll of the semester.  

    Today, photo dumps on Instagram have replaced the Facebook album. I'm no longer in college, and I never open Facebook anymore, but I've watched my former classmates post countless semester-in-review photo dumps that feel oddly reminiscent of my Facebook album days. I'm not the only one who's noticed.

    To be clear, I find posting on Instagram mortifying. I still do it, but I'm embarrassed when I post. I even feel embarrassed when I look at other people’s posts. It’s the way I felt about Facebook albums. I've gone through stretches where I deactivate my account or don’t post, but ultimately, if other people are getting attention for posting flattering pictures of themselves then I want that, too. And once you start posting and racking up likes, it's kind of addictive.  

    At some point, however, I noticed a change. Instagram is slowly dying. A 2021 survey from financial services firm Piper Sandler(Opens in a new tab) found that only 22 percent of teenagers said Instagram was their favorite social media platform, coming in third after Snapchat and TikTok. Back in 2015, the same survey showed Instagram as the preferred social media app among(Opens in a new tab) teens, with 33 percent of participants claiming it as their favorite. In that time, the platform has undergone significant changes.

    In 2016, the platform introduced in-feed shopping(Opens in a new tab) and switched from a chronological feed to an algorithm. In 2017, the app introduced recommended posts. And in the years since, Instagram has become more about e-commerce and less about sharing photos with your friends. Today, our feeds are inundated with sponsored content and recommended posts — and a photo disappears as soon as you like it, making it hard to see what your friends are posting. The updates to Instagram are so unpopular that Instagram announced it is working on bringing back the option to have a chronological feed

    Additionally, Instagram launched Reels, a worse version of TikTok, in August 2020, and they're planning to "double down(Opens in a new tab)" on the video product in 2022. Instagram wants to do everything — become a destination where users create and watch short-form video content; shop for things they don’t really need but definitely want; and share snippets of their lives in Stories — but it's losing sight of why young users liked it in the first place: It's a destination to curate your own aesthetic and, therefore, your identity. The influx of photo dumps and the desperate attempts by Instagram to stay cool are the writing on the wall that the platform is on its way out as a social media platform for young people.

    Instead, it’s on the same downward trajectory as Facebook, now both owned by Meta.

    Casual Instagram is all about a studied carelessness. These photos make beauty seem accidental.

    Not only has the app itself changed, but the way young people post on Instagram has shifted since the start of the pandemic. There used to be perfect grids full of photos with subtle VSCO filters. This made Instagram an obvious highlight reel of your life. The new Instagram norms don’t make that so clear. 

    In 2020, the idea of posting casually on Instagram took hold. Casual Instagram is all about a studied carelessness. These photos make beauty seem accidental. They're slices of life. It might involve posting a blurry photo that says, "I am having too much fun to stop and take a photo." 

    SEE ALSO: TikTok cried 'make Instagram casual,' and now users are having second thoughts

    At first, TikTokkers were encouraging their followers to post casually. The idea was well-intended. On the surface, it urges people to be more real on Instagram and to post photos from their daily life, but like anything on social media, it’s still a performance. In the past couple of weeks, TikTok users have started voicing their concerns about the trend. In one video, @cozyakili(Opens in a new tab) explains how posting casually on Instagram is more curated than people think. He likens casual Instagram to reality television because they are both hyperreal performances. Posting casual photo dumps on Instagram makes your life an aesthetic even more than before.(Opens in a new tab) 

    These conversations around posting casually recognize the discomfort and irony surrounding this way of posting. We understand that the trend isn't casual, and that Instagram hasn't been casual since it came out in 2010 — when everyone just posted random objects with heavy filters and twee captions. In fact, nothing about Instagram is casual.

    If we can see that Instagram is entering its Facebook by acknowledging the unpleasantness of posting casually, then at what point do we just stop opening the app altogether?

  • What is MeWe? Everything you need to know about the social network competing with Parler.

    What is MeWe? Everything you need to know about the social network competing with Parler.

    You're probably already familiar with the pro-Trump social network Parler. And it's likely you've heard of Rumble, the video service that conservatives are using as an alternative to YouTube.


    But, are you familiar with MeWe?

    The social media platform known as MeWe was actually the second most popular free app in Apple's App Store – right behind Parler – in the days following the 2020 Presidential election. While it hasn't reached that peak in some time, it's still being used by conservatives as an alternative to mainstream platforms like Facebook.

    Here’s everything you need to know about MeWe, the site competing with platforms like Parler and Gettr(Opens in a new tab) for conservatives looking for a new online home.

    What is MeWe?

    MeWe is an alternative social networking site that's currently experiencing a surge in new users as Trump supporters search for new platforms in order to avoid Facebook and Twitter. It bills itself as the “next-gen social network” and centers its sales pitch to new users around data privacy and providing an ad-free experience.

    MeWe is owned by a company called Sgrouples(Opens in a new tab), which was actually also the name of the platform early on. It was founded by internet entrepreneur Mark Weinstein. In an interview with Rolling Stone(Opens in a new tab) in 2019, Weinstein called himself “one of the guys who invented social media.” While that’s giving himself a bit too much credit, Weinstein was in the space early on. In 1998, he created a very early social network type site called SuperGroups(Opens in a new tab), which was shut down by its investors in 2001.

    In 2011, Weinstein started a new online business venture which eventually resulted(Opens in a new tab) in the creation of MeWe.

    In his interview with Rolling Stone, Weinstein explained where the name MeWe came from.

    “My life is composed of ‘me’ and then my ‘we,’ which is everybody that’s part of my life,” he said.

    Who is using MeWe?

    Almost everyone is using MeWe! Let me explain…

    There are accounts for a number of major news outlets and personalities on MeWe. For example, here’s President Donald Trump’s account.

    Credit: MeWE

    However, it’s not really Trump’s account. Neither he nor his team set the account up. MeWe did. The account can be followed by MeWe’s real users. It displays a feed of Trump’s tweets on Twitter in real time.

    Credit: mewe

    There are unofficial MeWe accounts like this for the New York Times, the NFL, Fox News, HuffPost, and even the Onion.

    On one hand, it’s good that any random user can’t set up an account on this social network and pretend to be these official outlets. On the other hand, it’s also beneficial to MeWe to fill up its site with content from platforms it's trying to take on to make it seem like there’s more activity on the site than there really is.

    Credit: mewe

    When it comes to MeWe’s real users, it may sound a lot like Parler, but it is a bit different.

    For one, MeWe wasn’t founded as a social network for conservatives. It just became one and welcomed them with open arms. The right-wing surge on the platform was first noticed in 2019 after Facebook started cracking down(Opens in a new tab) on vaccine misinformation. Many different types of conspiracy theorists, such as the anti-vaxxers, started joining the site, likely due to the strong anti-Facebook rhetoric pushed by the site.

    Now, MeWe is experiencing a boom just like Parler as pro-Trump supporters boycott Facebook and Twitter over their anti-misinformation policies in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat in the election.

    It should also be noted that unlike Parler, MeWe does have users who aren’t conservative. It’s not even all about politics like it is with Parler. There are MeWe groups for supporters of the Green Party, groups for dog and cat lovers, and arts and music groups, to name a few. However, the most active users on the site seem to be there to discuss conservative politics.

    Does MeWe "censor" users?

    Users joining MeWe over the past few days are met with a message by its founder, Mark Weinstein, promoting the site's rules.

    “No Ads, No Targeting, No Political Bias, No Newsfeed Manipulation, and No BS!” reads Weinstein’s post.

    Credit: mewe

    But, again, just like Parler, MeWe is no “free speech” paradise. Obviously, there’s the usual ban on unlawful conduct and content. But, the social network’s policies(Opens in a new tab) also ban “obscene or pornographic content” as well as impersonating someone.

    “If you’re just a regular person from around the world who has a political point of view and you’re abiding by our terms of service, that’s none of our business…[but] if you’re a conservative or a liberal and you’re spewing hate, you’re gonna be out,” Weinstein told Rolling Stone(Opens in a new tab) in 2019.

    Weinstein also told the magazine that there were no policies banning misinformation or fake news, which he categorizes as just “opinion.” There’s lots of QAnon content on MeWe, for example.

    Yet, Weinstein also stressed to Rolling Stone that MeWe does not allow the promotion of groups on its platform, meaning users have to actually seek out the content. Ironically, this is exactly how Facebook deals with many types of groups spreading misinformation concerning topics like health. Mark Zuckerberg’s network allows the content to exist, but it does not promote it.

    However, last November, a MeWe spokesperson reached out to Mashable to share a blog post(Opens in a new tab) by Weinstein where he demands Rolling Stone retract its piece on MeWe. At the heart of the matter is Weinstein's disagreement that his platform has become an online home for the far right.

    How is MeWe different from Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit?

    Unlike Parler, MeWe isn’t trying to replicate every other social media site. Weinstein’s intent seems pretty clear in the marketing of the site and in his interviews: MeWe wants to be the alternative to Facebook.

    This probably explains why the site tries to replicate Facebook’s user interface. Users can give thumbs up, hearts, and smiley faces to posts. They can share posts to their various feeds. There are user profiles and separate pages, as well as a groups feature for people to congregate around a specific topic.

    This is all set up very similar to how it is on Facebook, down to the messiness of the UI. However, MeWe’s design does make it feel like the whole platform was bought off one of those sites that sell turnkey website solutions so you too can be the next Mark Zuckerberg!

    What's the future of MeWe?

    While MeWe has dropped out of the spotlight a bit since it's post-election bump, the company is still touting its success thanks to its new conservative user base.

    Prior to 2020, MeWe was trudging along as a fairly small alternative social platform.

    For example, in 2019, Weinstein said that MeWe had 5 million users(Opens in a new tab).

    Then the election happened.

    In the days following the 2020 Presidential election, a spokesperson for MeWe told Mashable that the platform had 10 million users, with one million of those users signing up for a MeWe account during a 72 hour stretch.

    Mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower(Opens in a new tab) shared with Mashable that MeWe received more than 200,000 new installs on Google Play and the App Store in the U.S. during that period as well.

    Fast forward to present day. In a July 2021 interview with Axios(Opens in a new tab), Weinstein said that MeWe now had 20 million users. However, 20-30 percent of them are "considered monthly active users."

    Obviously, MeWe still pales in comparison to Facebook’s 2.7 billion users or even Twitter’s 330 million users, but the site's growth has attracted interest from investors.

    When the company reached out to Mashable in the days after the 2020 election, a MeWe spokesperson said it had raised over $18 million to date since its inception. At the time, MeWe had backing from celebrity investors such as fashion designer Rachel Roy and founder Lynda Weinman. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is considered the father of the world wide web, even has an advisor role(Opens in a new tab) with MeWe.

    Since then, MeWe has raised additional funding. In his interview with Axios, Weinstein says the company has now raised a total of $23 million. New investors in the social network include pro surfer Kelly Slater and Earth Wind and Fire bass guitarist Verdine White.

    Aside from it's funding, Weinstein told Axios that the company has made over $3 million in revenue over the first four months of 2021 by selling premium subscriptions to the service. As a comparison, Weinstein said the company broke even in 2020 when it brought in just over $1 million.

    Still, MeWe faces many of the same challenges any startup social media company faces today: keeping users engaged on the site when everyone they know is on the more popular platforms.

    But, as MeWe’s platform fills with Trump supporters, MeWe’s success may rest on one man: President Trump.

    Aside from the video platform Rumble, Trump has yet to join MeWe, Parler or any other of these alternative social networks. The former President of the United States has been suspended or banned from major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube following the events of January 6 when Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the election results.

    Related Video: How to recognize and avoid fake news

    This story was originally published in January 2021 and updated in July 2021.

  • Whats a robot manicure really like? Quick, cheap, and guilt-inducing.

    Whats a robot manicure really like? Quick, cheap, and guilt-inducing.

    A robot gave me a manicure last week.


    Let me stop you before you envision a bipedal humanoid carefully dipping a brush into a bottle and lacquering my nails. Instead, the experience felt more like inserting my hand into a 3D printer.

    Cameras inside an oversized microwave-like purple box scanned each fingernail. Then a small tube of purple-gray polish that I had loaded into a front-facing compartment like a printer cartridge started "painting" my nails one by one in a circular pattern. But the tube only started painting after I clearly said, "Ready" — or hit a button on the touchscreen — with my hand in position, making sure to keep still. It wasn't even painting as much as calculated squirting, since there wasn't a brush.

    When robots take over your beauty routine. Credit: Valentin Mahé-Duverger / mashable

    After about 10 minutes of inserting and re-inserting my fingers into the machine, my fingertips were neatly and consistently polished. All for under $8.

    The process reminded me of those key-copying machines at home improvement stores, where you stick in your key and after some noise and moving parts, you have a new copy. Instead, the key was my finger, and the big box was one of two robots from the robotics company Clockwork.(Opens in a new tab)

    Clockwork's "lab," a storefront in San Francisco's hip Marina District, is the first known nail salon to feature any robot nail techs. It's something of a pop-up for at least the next few months as the company tests the machines. Appointments are booked solid into July.

    This robotic experience wasn't devoid of human contact. Far from it. Two Clockwork employees, including the recently hired director of business development and operations, Tracy Torhan, welcomed guests, helped us select from 10 color options (ranging from dark reds to bright blues and greens), and explained how everything worked. If any customers came in with old polish, these two helped remove it.

    Near the two humans, the two Clockwork machines sat on tables across from each other. Even though the machines' screens clearly explain what to do, taking you through each step on how to position your hands and fingers, some guidance from the humans helped things run more smoothly. For instance, when I sat waiting for the tube to start painting but hadn't pushed my finger far enough into the hand slot, the humans gave a helpful nudge or suggestion: "Just a bit more until you hear the click." The robot doesn't have that personal touch.

    With 10 fingers, you have enough time to get into the rhythm and cadence of the robotic dance. By the time I inserted my last pinky into the soft plastic strap used to keep each finger in the right spot and grabbed the hand rest that I clicked into place for each finger, I was already envisioning coming back for another manicure. I was impressed, not just with the low price but also the efficiency. It was faster, so exacting, and more consistent, with no stroke lines compared to a traditional manicure.

    Eventually I would be a pro, I imagined, with no need for a human to remove the paint for a re-do like I needed on one of my smudged thumbs after the robot painted it. I'd be in and out within roughly 10 minutes, not including the time to let my nails air dry. The next time I wouldn't be distracted by the novelty of the machine and human-free process. I'd also know how to position my hands so that my painted thumb wouldn't nick the side of the hand rest in the future.

    This is a bare-bones manicure: no pedicures, gel paint, acrylics, designs, or French tips. There's a single coat of polish, and no nail clipping, trimming, cuticle removal, buffing, or filing. And there are no hand massages with lots of lotion. The nails you came in with will look and feel the same on the way out, just with some color on them.

    Enjoy some robotic pampering. Credit: Valentin Mahé-Duverger / mashable
    Ten fingers later, I'm done. Credit: Valentin Mahé-Duverger / mashable

    But the whole thing cost just $7.99, pre-paid online or at the store through a digital wallet. No tip. No awkward money exchange. No stilted small talk. And this is where it gets uncomfortable. It was almost too easy, too fast, too efficient, too cheap. (The workers assured me that each manicure uses a high-quality polish like Essie, OPI, and Sally Hansen.)

    You're lucky to find a traditional manicure in a city like San Francisco for $15, not including a tip. It takes time (about an hour) and requires a person to deal with your fingers and nail clippings and the grime underneath your nails. It can be awkward to pay someone to pamper you for this purely aesthetic, unnecessary beauty ritual.

    But the nail industry is also a major job source, even if it's a dangerous workplace(Opens in a new tab), especially for undocumented workers. In New York City alone, there are more than 4,000 salons, according to the New York Nail Salon Workers Association(Opens in a new tab). During the COVID pandemic, as many as 80 percent of nail salon workers in the city didn't qualify for federal assistance even though most salons shut down, permanently closed, or drastically cut hours, as Allure(Opens in a new tab) magazine reported(Opens in a new tab).

    Now salons are reopening, and there's even more competition — from a contact-free nail technician that doesn't want your tip and isn't poisoned by salon fumes and chemicals. Automation is coming for more and more jobs in trucking, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare: as many as 20 million by 2030, according to a study from Oxford Economics. For the beauty industry(Opens in a new tab), robots have typically been more involved in cosmetics production as opposed to providing the services. More robots interacting with customers could make nail work healthier by taking the brunt of workplace risks(Opens in a new tab), and yet, what happens to human workers when their jobs are taken over by robot techs?

    Clockwork's CEO Renuka Apte, a Georgia Tech computer science alum with a background in engineering, doesn't intend to run nail salons out of business or replace human nail workers. Instead, the Bay Area-based company views itself as complementary, for in-between appointments. In the New York Times(Opens in a new tab), the CEO called her service “minicures.” Clockwork claims it could be incorporated into a salon, working alongside nail workers for touch-ups and quick re-colorings. The lab location in SF is more about proof-of-concept than a long-term salon setup.

    Ideally, Clockwork wants other businesses (whether they be traditional beauty salons or apartment buildings looking to offer better amenities) to lease or buy its manicure machines.

    Pick a color for the robo-manicure. Credit:

    Clockwork —formerly known as Marionet AI when it first formed as a beauty tech company in 2017 — recently emerged out of stealth mode after raising its first round of $3 million from Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian's (and cofounder Garry Tan's) venture firm, Initialized Capital. Now it's anything but stealthy.

    TikToks(Opens in a new tab), Instagrams(Opens in a new tab), YouTube videos(Opens in a new tab), and selfies of robo-painted nails are peppering the internet and blowing up discussions about our inevitable robot takeover. The robotic nail salon even made it onto a recent episode of NPR's weekend quiz show(Opens in a new tab), "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" as a part of a limerick clue: "When your fingers come out, they’ll look so hot...manicures done by a robot."

    Other nail tech is popping up, but that's more focused on the at-home experience, like the ManiMe app(Opens in a new tab) that ships custom 3D-printed nail stickers after photographing your hands. Or the Nimble home manicure machine(Opens in a new tab) with a robotic arm that brushes on polish; it's already fully backed on Kickstarter.

    A steady stream of passersby stopped by during my Friday afternoon appointment to check out what was behind the sign in the window that read, "The First Robot Manicure for Unstoppable Humans."

    SEE ALSO: Give yourself a spa-level facial at home with this hot little gadget

    The company keeps collected camera footage of your fingernails for about 24 hours, but that's to train and improve the nail-identifying AI that works with the 3D cameras. As the bot made its public debut less than two months ago, it's still learning more about different types of nail shapes, sizes, and lengths. Each day Clockwork engineers overview what mistakes and issues came up from the "lab" appointments, like when a nail needed to be repainted because of a missing spot or uneven painting. Data from my manicure should help with future shorter nails after the machine glossed a small smudge onto my fingertips beyond the nails.

    Maybe next it'll learn how to do pedicures.

  • How to create a privacy zone on Strava

    How to create a privacy zone on Strava

    Strava has a solution for users with privacy concerns.


    Strava is a fitness tracking app that incorporates social media features. It allows you to record a wide variety of activities from running to windsurfing and share your activities with your followers. Depending on your privacy settings, your workout route is shared on to everyone, to your followers, or kept private. Unfortunately, if you make your activities only visible to your followers or completely private you cannot participate in challenges on the app.

    If you're nervous about posting runs that begin or end at your home or work, but you still want to participate in challenges, Strava has the option to create privacy zones which hide specific areas in your workout. You can adjust the size of the radius from one-eighth mile to one mile. The privacy zone only applies where you start and end an activity, so if you pass through a privacy zone on a run it will still show up on your activity map.

    Because we know how important your safety is, we've broken down to how to create a privacy zone on Strava.

    How to create a privacy zone on Strava:

    1. Open the Strava app

    2. Tap the gear in the upper right hand corner

    Tap the gear icon to access your settings. Credit: screenshot: strava

    3. Scroll down and select "Privacy Controls"

    Tap "Privacy Controls" to access privacy zones. Credit: screenshot: Strava

    4. Select "Privacy Zones"

    Tap "Privacy Zones" under "Additional Controls." Credit: screenshot: strava

    5. Select "Add a Privacy Zone"

    Tap "Add a Privacy Zone" to hide a specific address. Credit: screenshot: strava

    6. Enter the address you want hidden

    Enter the address you want to be hidden. Credit: screenshot: strava

    7. Adjust the radius of your privacy zone

    Use the gray circle to adjust the radius of your privacy zone. Credit: screenshot: strava

    8. Tap "Add" in the upper right hand corner

  • Meet the indie musicians who are making a living on TikTok

    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.


    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."

  • The 12 best and funniest tweets of the week

    The 12 best and funniest tweets of the week

    What a weird week for Twitter, huh?


    Elon Musk might buy the whole dang thing because speech or something, or maybe because he's bored and online too much. Who could know? Anyway, it seems like his bid might not be accepted(Opens in a new tab), but again, who knows.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 most streamed movies of the week

    Regardless, the tweets rolled on. The tweets keep going, baby, no matter the news cycle. That in mind, per usual, we scoured the internet and collected the best tweets of the week. Just for you. Here they are, the 12 best and funniest tweets of the week. Enjoy!

    1. The way I am absolutely stealing this the next time I do karaoke.

    2. This is a freeing thought, in my opinion. I love being Some Guy.

    3. Friends: Lord Pickles. LORD freaking PICKLES.

    4. I'm going to be honest. This is just a really good meal I made. But look at that smoked pork. And the homemade tortillas.

    5. A perfect text.

    6. Obligatory dril tweet.

    7. This is a good point.

    8. We were promised flying cars.

    9. This lyric really doesn't make any sense, does it?

    10. Absolute king shit. What a great kid.

    11. Great wordplay.

    12. And finally, this.

  • Apple Watch now monitors (and notifies you about) low-level cardio fitness

    Apple Watch now monitors (and notifies you about) low-level cardio fitness

    Timed to the launch of its Fitness+ service, Apple has also launched some new features for the Apple Watch.


    Starting with iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2, the Apple Watch will monitor a user's cardiorespiratory fitness levels.

    Prior to this update, the Watch measured VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise, typically a measurement of someone's fitness level), but only for average and higher levels. Now, Apple Watch will also estimate lower levels, giving less active users a more complete picture of their overall fitness.

    Get Mashable Deals delivered to your inbox daily
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    Credit: apple

    To do this, the Watch uses multiple sensors, such as the optical heart sensor, GPS, and the accelerometer. Apple says this is a breakthrough as measuring VO2 max accurately typically requires clinical testing with specialized equipment.

    SEE ALSO: Apple's MagSafe Duo, which comes without power adapter, isn't compatible with Apple's 29W adapter

    "Cardio fitness is increasingly recognized as a powerful predictor of overall health, and with today's update to watchOS 7, we are making it even more accessible to more people," said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

    To turn on notifications for this feature, users can go to the Health app on their iPhones.

    Related Video: Exercise equipment that helps you work out while working from home

  • #GriefTok allows TikTokkers to celebrate life and express loss

    #GriefTok allows TikTokkers to celebrate life and express loss

    Where do you go to speak about grief, to encapsulate what it means to lose a loved one?


    These conversations may take place in living rooms and coffee shops, with close friends or family members, or perhaps on a video call. Sometimes, the words aren't really expressed at all, with no space quite right for what needs to be said.

    Today, GriefTok(Opens in a new tab) is creating a new setting for conversations about grief, with TikTok proving a space for discussing the universal experience of loss. Grief has become a subgenre on the app, with TikTokkers sharing stories of death and remembering lost loved ones through photographs, video, and narration.

    The community is extremely popular on the app, #grief(Opens in a new tab) has 1.4 billion views while #grieftok(Opens in a new tab), has over 40 million views at the time of writing. Here, there are videos that share anecdotes from therapy(Opens in a new tab). Others feature relatable reenactments(Opens in a new tab) illustrating how grief comes in waves — emphasizing that the aftermath of loss isn't always a linear path.(Opens in a new tab)

    Other hashtags, like #griefjourney(Opens in a new tab), have over 338 million views, and delineate the ups and downs when it comes to living through loss over time. Some videos share how people can help those who are grieving(Opens in a new tab), while others speak to processing years later(Opens in a new tab). People often share treasured moments, or depict visuals revisiting their grief, through old momentos, photos, or flower-strewn graves.

    TikToker and licensed therapist Jacqueline Garcia shares her thoughts about the stages of grief and loss. Credit: Screenshot / TikTok: @therapylux.

    My first thought on stumbling upon this space: perhaps, if I discovered this years ago, such a community would have proved cathartic, if not as a participant then as an observer. Perhaps this content mitigates the loneliness of grief.

    A few years ago, I lost both a family member and a friend. The ensuing grief, from both deaths, would ebb and flow(Opens in a new tab). But amongst everything I was feeling, there was a deep sense of isolation, an added layer to navigate. Until I began publicly writing about loss(Opens in a new tab), the visceral presence of grief felt like a secret I had to keep to myself. It was this public release and portrayal of my grief(Opens in a new tab) that gave me ownership over the disorientation of losing people I love.

    "Grief can be an incredibly heavy emotion to navigate alone," agrees TikToker and content creator Lauren Bulloch(Opens in a new tab), a member of GriefTok. Bulloch creates videos about grief and healing, speaking about the loss of her father and sharing advice from her therapist.

    "Grief can be an incredibly heavy emotion to navigate alone."
    - Lauren Bulloch

    "I personally love to share on TikTok because, when I found myself in a really dark place, a saving grace was hearing the stories of others that had walked a similar path," she tells Mashable. "We all have to face grief of some kind — it is woven into the fabric of life right along with the joy and all the rest in between."

    Psychologist Zoe Clews(Opens in a new tab), who specializes in PTSD and trauma, says that grief is an individual experience that varies from person to person. As a result, it is difficult for anyone to wholly convey their thoughts and emotions, or entirely understand how another is processing grief. Yet, communication and storytelling are tools that can help, Clews explains.

    "By sharing how we feel we can also open the door to others who, while they can't put themselves entirely in our shoes, have had grief experiences that are so similar they can be reassuring, comforting, and inspiring," Clews says. "That sense of shared experience often provides the strength we need to stand up, lean our shoulder into the emotional wind and press on."

    TikToker @andreaparedesp1 frequently shares her story of loss and journey through grief on her TikTok account. Credit: Screenshot: TikTok / @andreaparedesp1

    The daily prevalence of loss cannot be quantified, but according to the numbers, in 2019, the U.S. reported over 2.8 million deaths(Opens in a new tab). In the UK, 1 in 29 people aged 5-16 have lost a parent or a sibling, according to family support charity Child Bereavement UK(Opens in a new tab).

    The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated grief globally. As of this month, 5 million people(Opens in a new tab) have lost their lives to COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker(Opens in a new tab). India has seen over 450,000 deaths while Brazil has faced over 607,000 losses. Also, an estimated 1.5 million children worldwide(Opens in a new tab) lost a parent or other caregiver in the first 14 months of the pandemic.

    These losses in particular came at a time when mourning could not be traditionally conducted in person, due to global lockdowns, travel bans, and social distancing rules. The restrictions in place distorted rituals of mourning and processing, with funerals being replaced by Zoom calls or other goodbyes rooted in technology. This resulted, for many, in complicated grief, and while most restrictions like these have lifted, the effects last.

    And while grieving using technology can be a surreal experience, connectedness is often tangible on social sharing platforms. Reddit, for example, has helped people process and express everything they have lost, with threads dedicated to grief support. These spaces can reinforce and cement community at times when human connection is vital for healing.(Opens in a new tab)

    SEE ALSO: The pandemic of grief: How we mourned together but alone

    Madilynn James(Opens in a new tab), a TikTokker who posts mainly about sibling loss, similarly explains that the GriefTok community is important to her because "it truly makes things less lonely."

    "I've actually made some awesome friends through the GriefTok community," James tells Mashable. "I don’t have a lot of friends that understand so it is nice to find support and a group of people who understand."

    This concept of visibility in grief is also explored by Megan Devine, author of It's OK That You're Not OK(Opens in a new tab), who writes in her book: "When you become visible in your grief, it's like a portal opens, a doorway into acceptability and openness. When you start talking about your loss, it's like there's suddenly this permission, and we think Oh, thank goodness, we're talking about grief now."

    Credit: Screenshot / TikTok: @lauren_bulloch

    GriefTok has indeed allowed people like James to facilitate connection with those who have similar stories.

    "Videos like this one(Opens in a new tab) have shown me how much [opening up] about sibling loss can help people in a positive way," James says. "I received so many DMs of people reaching out to me to share their story and connecting."

    Clews says that TikTokkers in the GriefTok space have created "herd safety," allowing "tolerance, empathy, and support to flourish" in this particular community. She also says that, by sharing in wide numbers and via multiple people, spaces like TikTok could be contributing to the destigmatization of mental health through such open support and discussion.

    Psychotherapist Terence Watts(Opens in a new tab) adds that social media platforms like TikTok are designed for creative and individualistic expression, which bolsters the grieving process. "TikTok allows people to choose how they express themselves through music and images or other sound that is meaningful to them," he says. "Every individual has their own way of expression and TikTok and other social media channels are as valid as talking face-to-face."

    Credit: Screenshot / TikTok: @_madijames

    James also says that making and posting these videos via GriefTok is a way of processing in itself.

    "I share my grief progress on TikTok to look back on how much progress I’ve made and making videos helps me grieve in general," she says.

    SEE ALSO: A guide to Facebook etiquette after someone has died

    GriefTok, then, serves many purposes. It exists not only to educate and communicate about the intricacies of grief, but also to celebrate how far some of us have come in our journeys of loss. In the overwhelming aftermath of loss, it is spaces like this which allow for some sort of togetherness, connecting with those who have walked the same difficult path.

    If you want to talk to someone, text Shout at 85258 or call 999 for emergency help in the UK. You can also contact the Samaritans(Opens in a new tab) on 116 123 or Childline(Opens in a new tab) on 0800 1111.

    If you’re in the U.S., text the Crisis Text Line(Opens in a new tab) at 741-741. Alternatively, a further list of international resources is available(Opens in a new tab).