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Travel hack: Heres how to reserve your spot in the airport security line

2023-03-19 06:15:25 author:dointy.com
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Travel hack: Heres how to reserve your spot in the airport security line

Ah, the dreaded airport security line — a place where dreams of early gate arrival are crushed and flights are missed. Even though you may have packed your bag like a pro, checked in early, and downloaded your boarding pass, the security line can still trash your savvy travel prep like that bottle of water you accidentally left in your bag. But there's a way to avoid the hurt, hack the system, and breeze through like a VIP.

Travel hack: Heres how to reserve your spot in the airport security line(图1)

Yes, there are apps for checking wait times so you can budget your time appropriately, including an official one from the Transportation Security Administration. But true travel pros know that the best way to expedite the airport security process is to reserve your spot in line.

SEE ALSO: The best carry-on luggage for every traveler

And it's free. Here's how it works.

How to reserve your spot in the security line

Clear, a travel tech company that uses biometric ID verification to expedite the security process, has a tool called Reserve. Get started by going to https://www.clearme.com/reserve(Opens in a new tab) on your computer or mobile and select the airport you're flying from. How far in advance you can reserve a spot depends on the airport, which can be found on the airport's website.

Reserve powered by Clear is available in 15 airports in North America and Europe: Calgary, Charleston, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, Orlando, Phoenix, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Munich. These cover many of the major travel hubs, but Reserve is planning to roll out in more cities, so don't worry if none of these are close to you. That will eventually change.

Fill out your flight info

Click on the airport you're departing from, and you'll then be directed to a new page where you'll need to fill out your flight info, including the date of departure, destination, airline, and flight number.

Credit: Clear

Next, select the number of people you'll be traveling with — up to 10 people.

Then, choose from a list of 15-minute time slots for your reservation. Note: Reserve will hold your spot for 15 minutes before or after your reservation time, so you have some wiggle room if you show up early or you're running late.

Credit: Clear

Fill out your name, email, and phone number.

Credit: Clear

Finally, review your information and click "Create an Appointment."

Credit: Clear

We love a QR code

Now that you've booked your spot, you'll receive a confirmation email with a QR code. When you get to the airport, follow signs to the Reserve line and scan your QR code with a Reserve agent. This will enable you to move to the front of the TSA line. Don't forget to wave to all the suckers standing in line.

Credit: Clear

The fine print

Reserve is different than Clear and Clear Plus, the latter of which is a paid membership that grants you access to Clear express lanes. If you have Clear or Clear Plus, you can use Reserve to book a spot in the security line. Although Clear Plus members already have expedited access in the Clear lane, so that wouldn't make much sense. If you have TSA PreCheck and use Reserve, it won't help much because Reserve takes you through the standard TSA screening line.

Plus, there's always privacy to consider. Using Clear has inherent risk because of all the biometric data it collects. According to its privacy policy(Opens in a new tab), Clear says it will never sell your data, you can delete your data at any time, and meets the highest standards of data protection. However, Clear's wealth of its customers' personal data makes it an appealing target for hackers, and it shares non-biometric data with its partners for marketing purposes. While Reserve doesn't require you to provide any biometric information, you'll still be sharing personal information (name, email, flight info) with the company.

As the saying goes, if you're getting something for free, you are the product, which is important to keep in mind whenever you share your info online. So be smart, stay vigilant, and happy travels.

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    K-pop fans spam Dallas police snitch app with videos and memes to support protesters

    On Saturday, the Dallas Police Department posted a tweet telling people to send them videos from ongoing protests against police brutality via the iWatch Dallas app.

    (图1)

    "If you have a video of illegal activity from the protests and are trying to share it with @DallasPD(Opens in a new tab), you can download it to our iWatch Dallas app," they wrote.(Opens in a new tab) "You can remain anonymous."

    Instead, Twitter users are flooding the official snitching app with unrelated videos, memes, K-pop fancams, and even footage of the police themselves.

    The U.S. is currently embroiled in widespread protests against police brutality and racism, sparked by the recent death of 46-year-old George Floyd. Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota after police handcuffed him and knelt on his neck for several minutes. Video footage of the incident shows police officer Derek Chauvin continued to pin Floyd to the ground despite his repeated cries that he couldn't breathe, and refused to relent even after Floyd became unresponsive.

    Floyd was just the latest of countless black people who have been needlessly victimised or died at the hands of police, prompting thousands to take to the streets in protest. However, rather than deescalating the situation, law enforcement have largely responded with increasing violence.

    Numerous viral videos have captured police officers assaulting visibly peaceful civilians(Opens in a new tab) at these protests, as well as indiscriminately targeting journalists and bystanders without provocation. Not even people standing quietly on their own front porch(Opens in a new tab) are safe.

    SEE ALSO: How to demand justice for George Floyd and support Minneapolis protesters

    Twitter users have therefore responded to Dallas PD's request for information by spamming the iWatch Dallas app with unrelated videos and encouraging others to do the same. The intent is that any information which could identify protesters will be buried by the flood.

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    K-pop fans regularly post clips of their favorite artists on Twitter, even in response to completely unrelated tweets. However, many fans have recently stopped tweeting so zealously about their favorite groups, hoping to keep #BlackLivesMatter(Opens in a new tab) and related phrases trending instead. Now they're using their collections of fancams to try to protect protesters and further help the cause.

    SEE ALSO: K-pop fans are supporting #BlackLivesMatter by refusing to promote their faves on Twitter

    It appears to be working, too. Dallas PD announced iWatch Dallas was temporarily down just one day after directing people to use the app, citing "technical difficulties."(Opens in a new tab) Exactly what said difficulties were remains unclear, though many Twitter users have attributed it to thousands of K-pop fans' coordinated spamming efforts. The Dallas Police Department's website(Opens in a new tab) was also down at time of writing due to an overwhelmed server.

    Mashable has contacted the Dallas Police Department for comment.

    If the police honestly expected this would end any other way then they're even more out of touch than we thought.

    UPDATE: June 2, 2020, 10:45 a.m. AEST It seems Kirkland police have learnt nothing from Dallas. On Monday afternoon, Kirkland PD requested people use the #calminkirkland(Opens in a new tab) hashtag on Twitter to give them information about the protests. The hashtag was already flooded with K-pop fancams mere hours later.

  • Brand tweets about being an anti-racist ally are not enough

    Brand tweets about being an anti-racist ally are not enough

    America is in chaos, but don't worry the brands are on it.

    (图1)

    The murder by police of George Floyd, a handcuffed, unarmed black man, has sparked nationwide protests and, at times, riots and looting. Police have frequently responded to demonstrations with shocking violence: running them down with SUVs(Opens in a new tab), teargassing them(Opens in a new tab), beating them with batons, shooting them with rubber bullets(Opens in a new tab). President Donald Trump has called for further violence and, just quoting the man in charge of America here(Opens in a new tab), told governors on Monday that they "have to dominate" protesters.

    All of this during a global pandemic.

    There is no quick fix here. (Though for starters there are ways to support the protesters and white people can educate themselves about how to be a good ally to people of color.) But I do know what we absolutely don't need in this moment: Tepid, boilerplate statements from brands.

    We really, really do not need them, but, holy hell, we're getting them nonetheless. They're everywhere. Just log on to the internet and, yep, there they are.

    A few big brands started doing it — a crossover post from Nike and Adidas(Opens in a new tab) got a lot of traction early on — and then every company felt the need to jump on the bandwagon.

    Twitter user @campster(Opens in a new tab) captured their near-universal style perfectly with this meme.

    As the protests grew over the weekend, major corporations, sports teams, and pretty much any brand you've ever heard of decided they needed to speak out. Some brands have commented on big social issues like race before, but rarely have they done so with this much vigor.

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    These statements on race are especially empty when they come from companies that have been criticized for mistreating people of color in the past. Hell, even Nextdoor, the neighbor app infamous as a platform for racial profiling(Opens in a new tab), released a statement. Amazon, a company known for mistreating its warehouse workers(Opens in a new tab), felt the need to jump into the fray.

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  • Justin Trudeau takes uncomfortably long pause before answering question about Trump and protests

    Justin Trudeau takes uncomfortably long pause before answering question about Trump and protests

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    Eventually, Trudeau did muster an answer.

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    Trudeau might also be hesitant to talk about the protests for reasons beyond his fraught relationship with the Trump administration.

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  • How tech leaders can do more for racial justice than just tweet

    How tech leaders can do more for racial justice than just tweet

    Solidarity is nice, but jobs and investment in black workers and businesses is better.

    (图1)

    Many tech leaders and companies have tweeted out support(Opens in a new tab) for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd's death and police brutality protests sweeping the nation. Acknowledging tragedy and injustice at all, and not actively enabling racism — we're looking at you, Mark Zuckerberg — is a positive for the often whitewashed tech industry. Floyd died after a police officer, who has since been charged with 3rd-degree murder, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

    However, people of color in the tech diversity space say the tweets don't go far enough. There's a better way tech executives in particular can promote racial equality, that would have more impact than a tweet: hiring black employees, fostering equitable workplaces, creating anti-racist products, and investing in black startups and other businesses.

    "We’ve seen a number of leaders and companies speak out, but Black and brown people in tech are still waiting to see if this will lead to transformational change," Aniyia Williams and Syreeta Martin, of Black & Brown Founders(Opens in a new tab), an organization that supports entrepreneurs of color, wrote over email. "Use your privilege, platform, resources and influence to help bring about a change. A change that is measurable, sustainable, shaped and led by Black and Latinx people."

    Diversity among tech employees has remained dismally low(Opens in a new tab), despite many commitments by companies to improve. At major organizations like Google(Opens in a new tab), black employees comprise around 4 percent to 5 percent of the workforce. Diversity hiring programs over the past five years have only yielded a single percent or two of improvement. What's more, Karla Monterroso, the CEO of Code2040(Opens in a new tab), an organization that works to empower people of color in tech jobs, said since the election of President Trump progress has stalled in both attitudes towards diverse hiring, and actual hires made.

    "Going into 2017, it was really clear that companies had at that point in time started to disinvest from diversity programs," Monterroso said. "It really did hit its apex this year of that slowdown."

    The connection between police brutality perpetrated against black people, and a fair and diverse tech world, might not seem obvious. However, they are connected. The lack of diversity in tech workplaces is a result of all the ways our institutions keep people of color from economic opportunity. If tech leaders can truly examine, and hopefully seek to improve, why their companies most likely don't employ many people of color, they can begin to repair their own biases, enable economic empowerment, and be conscientious members of local communities their companies too often disrupt.

    Some tech leaders such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg(Opens in a new tab) and Uber's Dara Khosrowshahi(Opens in a new tab) have pledged money to Black Lives Matter and other criminal justice causes in social media posts (Facebook pledged $10 million; Uber promised $1 million). However, some leaders say that creating systemic change within the tech world would be much more powerful than a tweet, and even a donation.

    "While I think it’s great that they are giving money in this moment, there are things in your backyard that are happening that you are not giving money for," Monterroso said.

    Mashable spoke with leaders of organizations that are trying to improve racial equity in tech. Here's what they had to say for how tech leaders can do more to support black lives than just tweet.

    1. Face the tech world's blind spots

    The mythology of Silicon Valley revolves around meritocracy: that the best ideas (and people) will rise to the top. However, the economic and societal barriers that keep people of color out of higher education, job interviews, and board rooms tells another story. Correcting that problem involves acknowledging the implicit racism within the tech world — and reaching out directly to black people to help.

    "What I have appreciated with some of the folks reaching out and what I’m seeing, is that they’re at least saying I’m looking to support my black employees, my black suppliers, black founders, etc.," Rodney Sampson, who has worked for decades to promote equity in tech and runs an organization called OHUB(Opens in a new tab) that places and empowers people of color in tech jobs, said. "Acknowledgement is sort of a first step."

    There are a host of other problems Sampson said leaders need to take a hard look at. Chief among them is how tech hubs disrupt and gentrify(Opens in a new tab) communities of color, and how job opportunities don't make their way(Opens in a new tab) to local communities. The first step to solving those problems? Taking an honest look at yourself.

    "Tech being so influential in really being a driving force of innovation throughout the world, really opening up and being transparent about their shortcomings is critical," Sherrell Dorsey, the founder of a website covering black innovation, The Plug(Opens in a new tab), said.

    2. Be accountable to your promises

    The outpouring of support from the tech world caught Dorsey by surprise. She and her team began cataloguing(Opens in a new tab) all of the statements made by tech leaders and companies, and comparing them to donations made, diversity statistics, and more, in order to keep a record of these extraordinary times. Not letting the promises made in tweets float into the social media ether will be a critical next step in translating solidarity into action.

    "Whatever the place is coming from to make these statements, all the attention is on the next move."

    "I think transparency is definitely key," Dorsey said. "Whatever the place is coming from to make these statements, all the attention is on the next move. This list continues to grow."

    What's more, it shouldn't be up to people of color to hold the white tech world accountable. That responsibility has to come from within. Martin, with Black & Brown Founders, encourages tech leaders to 1) "Make space for our presence" and 2) "Acknowledge our experiences and our truth."

    "When you or your white colleagues, friends or families, find yourselves falling short on #1 and #2, call it out and take accountability through action, not just words," Martin said.

    3. Put your money where your mouth is and actually hire people of color

    Before COVID-19, according to Monterroso, there were 700,000 open jobs in tech. And yet reports show(Opens in a new tab) that people of color are not being hired for them.

    "You have an available talent pool, you have a lot of open jobs," Monterroso said. "We are not giving jobs to every person who gets trained."

    Tech has touted its commitment to diversity again and again, yet jobs have not materialized.

    "I'm actually fairly done with the 'commitments' to hire more people," Monterroso said. "They've been committing to hire more people since 2014 at least, if not more than that. That is not enough. Hiring them is enough. Actually do the hiring."

    4. Revamp the hiring process, evaluation, and retention

    The tech world contains barriers that both keep people of color out of jobs and undermine their success. Hiring, evaluation, and workplace environment needs an overhaul.

    To help people get their foot in the door, hiring managers should stop using elite educations as a way to pre-screen candidates.

    "By making university pedigree the largest factor in screening, what companies do is disproportionately take out black and Latinx people [from] a university system we already know is disenfranchising students," Monterroso said. "They are outsourcing their hiring to a university system that requires money, not just for entrance, but for preparation for standardized testing."

    Multiple experts brought up problems with employee retention at tech companies. Monterroso said that black employees get disproportionately low marks on performance reviews, which most likely speaks to bias in assessment, not performance. Additionally, workplaces can inadvertently push out black employees by fostering unwelcoming environments. One former Google employee wrote eloquently(Opens in a new tab) of the phenomenon in a memo circulated last year of how he "never stopped feeling the burden of being black" while working at Google.

    "Make space for our presence," Martin said. "This means not questioning whether we should be somewhere that you're at — be it personally or professionally. And definitely make space at the table from which you sit and lead."

    5. Reinvest in black businesses and venture funds

    Hiring is not the only way to empower black people in tech. Sampson pointed out a huge discrepancy(Opens in a new tab) in investments in startups with black founders, particularly black women founders. This should be a moment for change in how black businesses and funds get supported. There are also specific corporate incentives(Opens in a new tab) created to fund businesses that benefit low income communities, called opportunity zones; investors should educate themselves on how to take advantage of these programs. Additionally, companies can also look to their operational budget to work with black-owned vendors.

    "A company may argue they don’t have extra money to do hiring right now, they could spend money with black-owned businesses," Sampson said.

    Sampson wants to see the promises of this moment translate into black board members and funded companies.

    "Forget the virtue signaling," Sampson said. "Write a check. Write a large check. If you want to fund black economic empowerment, fund black businesses."

    6. Develop progressive products. And please, make sure your current products don't enable racism

    Some pointed Twitter moments emerged after Brand Twitter started to verbally support the Black Lives Matter movement. For example, the ACLU called out Amazon's tweet in support of Black Lives Matter, suggesting that stopping the sale of racist facial recognition software to police departments would be more effective than a nice sentiment. (Multiple tests(Opens in a new tab) have found that facial recognition algorithms, including Amazon's, misidentify people of color more often than white people).

    "New technologies are actively and/or passively oppressive," Deldelp Medina, of Black & Brown Founders, said. "From the automation of jobs to the elimination of well-paid work (for folks of color and Black folks in particular), to the gathering of personal data which is used to prosecute, give sentencing guidelines, and incarcerate, we are seeing it increase, not level off."

    From facial recognition software that could enable the surveillance of protesters to algorithms that amplify messages of hate, tech has often been complicit or enabling of racism and racist institutions. If tech leaders are tweeting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, they can start with not actively contributing to the problem.

    "No amount of money that is given out to criminal justice organizations by Mark Zuckerberg through CZI(Opens in a new tab), [Zuckerberg's family foundation], changes that that product is incentivizing and coloring the dialogue of the country," Monterroso said of Facebook and how its algorithm tends to favor(Opens in a new tab) polarizing content, including spreading demonizing characterizations of the recent protests seeking justice for Floyd.

    Some tech companies have taken steps to reorient their products and business deals in ways that don't enable hatred. But Sampson, and others, want to see more real world action.

    "It’s not time for kumbaya solidarity," Sampson said. "It’s gotta be transactional."

  • John Boyega makes emotional speech to Black Lives Matter protesters in London

    John Boyega makes emotional speech to Black Lives Matter protesters in London

    Star Wars actor John Boyega is one of the many people taking action in wake of George Floyd's death.

    (图1)

    Floyd died on May 25, after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, and in the week since, protests against racism and police brutality have spread around the world.

    Thousands of people in the UK gathered to protest in solidarity with the U.S. over the weekend, and on Wednesday, the British actor was seen delivering an emotional address in the middle of a Black Lives Matter protest at London's Hyde Park.

    Photos show Boyega speaking to the crowd of fellow protesters through a megaphone, and videos shared to social media caught snippets of his powerful speeches.

    "Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain't waiting," Boyega shouted into the megaphone.

    SEE ALSO: Thousands protest racism and police violence around the globe in solidarity with U.S.

    The 28-year-old was seen wiping tears from his cheeks at the event, and also encouraged everyone around him to take a knee at one point.

    "Thank you for coming out today. Thank you for being there to show your support to us. Black people, I love you. I appreciate you. Today is an important day. We're fighting for our rights, we're fighting for our ability to live in freedom, we're fighting for our ability to achieve," Boyega said. "Today, you guys are a physical representation of that."

    You can watch Boyega's full speech below.

    Last week Boyega addressed the death of George Floyd on his Twitter account(Opens in a new tab), and has since fired off several other tweets condemning racism and criticizing those who took issue with him speaking out. The actor also spoke to followers in an Instagram Live video(Opens in a new tab), during which he said, "Although I don’t live in the States, I’m black…So I'll say it again: Fuck you racist white people. I said what I said. And if you don’t fucking like it, go suck a dick."

    Boyega and other protesters in London defied coronavirus restrictions to attend these rallies. As of right now the UK is still under severe coronavirus restrictions, and the government has stated that groups should not contain more than six people(Opens in a new tab).

  • Signals new blur tool will help hide protesters identities

    Signals new blur tool will help hide protesters identities

    Secure messaging app Signal has announced a new in-app blur tool that will allow users to censor faces in photos before sharing them. The feature is being introduced to protect protesters currently demonstrating against police brutality by helping to hide their identities.

    (图1)

    "Right now, people around the world are marching and protesting against racism and police brutality, outraged by the most recent police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor," Signal wrote in a blog post(Opens in a new tab) on Wednesday. "At Signal, we support the people who have gone into the streets to make their voices heard."

    Floyd died on May 25 after Minneapolis police handcuffed him and knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Taylor died on March 13 after Louisville police entered her home(Opens in a new tab) and shot her multiple times. They are just two among countless black people who have been needlessly assaulted or killed by law enforcement, sparking the widespread protests.

    SEE ALSO: How to demand justice for George Floyd and support Minneapolis protesters

    Many feel it important that the civilians currently protesting are able to remain anonymous, as police have largely responded to the protests with further unprovoked violence(Opens in a new tab), and law enforcement has a history when it comes to using facial recognition technology, as does ICE.

    As such, Signal's blur tool will enable users to censor photos before sharing them, obscuring protesters' faces so they can't be easily identified.

    The new blur feature will be able to automatically detect and hide faces in an image, with all processing taking place on the user's phone to ensure security. Signal users will also be able to manually censor parts of a photo by tapping on the blur tool in the image editor. Face-detecting software isn't always perfect, so this will allow users to pick up any faces that might have been missed.

    The update will roll out "as soon as possible" on both the Android and iOS Signal apps, having already been submitted to the app stores.

    Signal will allow users to manually blur images before sharing them. Credit: signal

    Signal has seen significantly increased traffic over the past few days. The encrypted messaging app has been downloaded thousands of times since Floyd was killed and the protests began, with 121,000 downloads in the U.S. alone. This may be partially because Signal doesn't keep its users' message data, making it ideal for those concerned the law enforcement might try to subpoena their chat logs.

    In further support of the protestors, Signal has also announced they are currently looking into manufacturing masks and distributing them for free. Details are currently being finalised, with more information to come.

    As the company's blog post noted, "One immediate thing seems clear: 2020 is a pretty good year to cover your face."

  • Meghan Markle on the killing of George Floyd: The only wrong thing to say is to say nothing

    Meghan Markle on the killing of George Floyd: The only wrong thing to say is to say nothing

    Silence speaks volumes.

    (图1)

    But silence is not an option after the killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, prompting widespread protests across America and around the world.

    In a virtual commencement speech(Opens in a new tab) addressing students graduating from her former school Immaculate Heart High School, Los Angeles, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, gave a powerful statement on these times.

    "I wasn't sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that I wouldn't or it would get picked apart," she said.

    "I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing."

    SEE ALSO: How to demand justice for George Floyd and support Minneapolis protesters

    Markle then went on to say the names of black people who were killed by police.

    "Because George Floyd's life mattered, and Breonna Taylor(Opens in a new tab)'s life matter, and Philando Castile(Opens in a new tab)'s life mattered, and Tamir Rice(Opens in a new tab)'s life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know. Stephon Clark(Opens in a new tab), his life mattered," she said.

    Markle then reflected on the words a teacher once said to her in her sophomore year of school: "Always remember to put others' needs above your own fears."

    If you're looking for more information about how to demand justice for George Floyd, read this. To learn more about how to become anti-racist, read this.

  • Gamers take to Toontown to stand with Black Lives Matter protesters

    Gamers take to Toontown to stand with Black Lives Matter protesters

    As protests and demonstrations flood the streets of the United States and beyond with people calling for the end of police brutality and abuse of power, there's one place packed with vocal Black Lives Matter supporters that you won't find on any map: Toontown.

    (图1)

    Players in Toontown Rewritten (a free-to-play, not-for profit, and barely legal recreation of Disney's defunct MMORPG Toontown) are bringing messages of support to oppressed and abused communities with messages containing "Black Lives Matter" and calls to action to sign petitions and defund the police.

    It just goes to show that you can show up and support this movement no matter how old you are.

    As the Toontown Rewritten community comes together to spread these messages, the developers behind the game released a statement that they support players who are using their game as a platform for positivity around diversity, equality, and inclusion. Additionally, the team noted that they will suspend any player using the game to spread any form of hateful oppression.

    Toontown Rewritten players were previously being warned for sharing messages containing "Black Lives Matter," according to some users(Opens in a new tab), but the game has been updated(Opens in a new tab) to allow players to use that phrase and other relevant messages within the game without any penalty.

    Toontown Rewritten is a child-focused game, so messages promoting violence are still not allowed in the game. Still, players seem to be able to get their points across.

    Toontown may seem like a bit of an odd platform for people to spread their messages against police violence and abuse of power, but its core has always revolved around the struggle against systems and people in power. The main enemies in Toontown are Cogs, which are robotic corporate people who are trying to turn the town into a cookie-cut version of their own ideals. There are business Cogs, law Cogs, and cash Cogs, and players take them on by doing gags like hitting them with seltzer or pies.

    Club Penguin, another kid-focused online game from the mid-2000s, also saw protests spring up in the Rewritten version of the game that officially closed down in 2017.

    For those who either can't get out to protest themselves or are looking for ways to support the movement in creative ways, this method is certainly surprising but ultimately a positive direction as the world expresses its rage and frustration at the systems that continuously do harm to the communities they're supposed to protect.

  • The NFLs backtracking apology forgot one thing: Colin Kaepernick.

    The NFLs backtracking apology forgot one thing: Colin Kaepernick.

    Say his name, Roger Goodell.

    (图1)

    The NFL would like to apologize for ignoring players who have protested police violence and racial inequality since 2016. There's just one problem: Colin Kaepernick is still being erased.

    "We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a video statement released Friday night. "We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

    It's a nice enough statement if you're willing to overlook the fact that it's coming four years late, and pointedly ignores the man responsible for getting players to protest. It is a well-known fact now that Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, put the spotlight on the NFL in 2016 when he started kneeling during the pre-game national anthem.

    Over the years, Kaep's critics have embraced a bad faith framing of the protest being an intentional act of disrespect toward the American flag, and by extension U.S. troops. That's a lie, plain and simple. Kaepernick spelled out his intent very clearly in 2016.

    "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he told(Opens in a new tab) the media arm of the NFL. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

    Just a few days after those quotes surfaced, Kaepernick pointed out that his protest isn't a show of disrespect for the flag or for U.S. troops, as many had leapt to assuming. "I have great respect for men and women that have fought for this country," he said during a press conference, as reported by Sports Illustrated(Opens in a new tab). People who listened and took the man at his word actually got it(Opens in a new tab).

    Unfortunately, the NFL wasn't among those who listened. Kaepernick played through the season and then opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season. No team stepped up to sign the promising young quarterback, leading to suspicions that he'd fallen victim to a coordinated effort to keep him from playing professionally again. That suspicion eventually gave way to a lawsuit, which the league settled(Opens in a new tab) in 2019.

    Even after that, and with Kaepernick expressing a continued interest in playing professionally, no team would have him. All throughout, both before and after the lawsuit, the league's handling of Kaepernick, whose protest caught the eye and ire of Donald Trump early in his first term, was marked by unusual events.

    There was, for example, the very strange moment when Kaep's name was removed from a song on the Madden NFL 19 video game's soundtrack. On the YG track "Big Bank" during Big Sean's guest verse, a direct reference to the former 49er by name was censored out.

    The next year, months after the lawsuit had settled and midway through the 2019-2020 season, there was supposed to be a confidential NFL-sanctified workout session for Kaepernick. A moment when he could show the league that he was still up to the challenge of playing professionally.

    Unfortunately, the whole thing fell apart at the last minute. There's a lengthy story(Opens in a new tab) behind the undoing of the workout, but it boils down to two major points of contention: a liability waiver from the NFL that Kaepernick refused to sign due to disagreements over the waiver's outside-the-norm demands, and the fact that the league went public with the workout despite prior discussion to the contrary.

    There are other examples, including the league's efforts to stamp out all acts of protest in a post-Kaepernick world, but you should see a picture forming here. Outwardly, the league stuck to a company line of Kaepernick being a free agent. But the reality was that Kaepernick, a proven talent, failed again and again to generate any traction with quarterback-hungry teams.

    Even now, in the midst of all the unrest and what could accurately be described as a more mainstream recognition of the systemic racism that's plagued the United States since its birth, the NFL sticks to that line. On May 30, league spokesperson Joe Lockhart suggested that the Minnesota Vikings should have signed Kaep in 2017.

    He then added: "Colin is a free agent. Clubs may sign him if they choose to do so."

    Lockhart was doing the press rounds(Opens in a new tab) in the aftermath of the NFL's initial response to the current round of protests. Many saw the statement, which expressed solidarity with Black Lives Matter and acknowledged the country's deeply rooted racism, as deeply hypocritical. The statement made no mention of Kaepernick, no mention of player protests of any kind.

    Days later, a group of prominent NFL players released a powerful video in which they expressed solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The video was a direct response to the NFL's May 30 statement.

    The video provides the NFL with a blueprint, from the players, for a statement on current events that isn't openly hypocritical and ignorant of the league's own recent struggles with systemic oppression. Goodell's video statement, which arrived the very next day, is an almost word-for-word reproduction.

    SEE ALSO: The 49ers, Kaepernick's last NFL team, criticized for Blackout Tuesday post

    Unfortunately, the league didn't take the obvious next step of naming Kaepernick. He's a victim of the same system of oppression that's made COVID-19 (and the ensuing economic destruction) a greater threat to black Americans. It's also the same system that killed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and a heartbreakingly long list of others. Kaep kept his life and leveraged his platform to find success in other ways, but he lost the career that he apparently loved.

    For years, the NFL has gone out of its way to passive-aggressively erase Kaepernick from the narrative around the protests that he himself started. That erasure continued on Friday with Goodell's statement.

    The league clearly still has a lot to learn.

  • Protesters turned Donald Trumps #BabyGate fence into something beautiful

    Protesters turned Donald Trumps #BabyGate fence into something beautiful

    The fence Donald Trump had erected around the White House because he's too cowardly to have protesters exercising their First Amendment rights on his doorstep has been transformed.

    (图1)

    The barrier that was quickly dubbed #BabyGate has now become something of an art installation for protesters gathered around its perimeter. They may not be able to air their grievances in front of the White House anymore, but they can decorate every inch of the fencing as they mass around it.

    That's exactly what has happened. Based on the photos and videos appearing on social media, the fence is now partially or wholly covered with signs of protest. Literal signs, I mean. So even when the protesters have dispersed, the protest itself lingers on right where it's most important for those grievances to be heard.

    The protests in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere continue to surge onward, almost two weeks after the killing of George Floyd, who died on May 25 in police custody. The death occurred after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the 46-year-old black man's neck for almost nine minutes while three other officers either simply watched or actively helped "restrain" Floyd.

    As the protests spread out from Minneapolis and arrived in D.C., crowds began to mass in front of the White House. (As much as Trump would like to relinquish all responsibility for bad things that happen, the buck still stops with the U.S. president.)

    The fence went up not long after Trump's desire for a photo opp led to the forced removal of a peaceful protest(Opens in a new tab) from in front of the White House.

    SEE ALSO: How to find a protest near you to seek justice for George Floyd

    It's not clear how long our image-obsessed president will allow the fence postings to remain sitting on the fence, especially in the midst of daily curfews sending D.C. residents back to their homes. But you can bet that for every item removed, protesters will return with more as these ongoing protests carry on.

    Related Video: Want to donate to help the Black Lives Matter movement? Here's how.

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  • Book clubs should always meet on Zoom

    Book clubs should always meet on Zoom

    When the pandemic first hit, everything that was once an in-person experience was slammed into the two dimensional screens of Zoom. At first, it was exciting: You could have your own snacks, wear whatever you want, and go to bed immediately after chatting with friends. But, soon, the novelty and shine of it all faded away, and we were left missing the physical touch, chatter, and community that is inherent with hanging out in real life.

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    Most gatherings were simply made worse when they transition from real life to online. Online weddings were a total bummer. Dating over Zoom was weird. And birthday parties online could not be more awkward, attempting to have a casual conversation while each person had to be specially muted or have their mic turned on.

    Then, vaccines became more readily available and in-person hang outs were no longer a thing of the past. We started meeting in person again, and it was beautiful. Nearly every gathering that made it through the pandemic shift was brought to life in a bigger and better way after more than a year of being siphoned onto the internet. Concerts are sold out, bars are full and it's rare to see someone deny an invite to a BBQ.

    Nearly every gathering, that is, except book clubs.

    I read a lot, and I love the low pressure engagement of a virtual book club. I was bad at attending book clubs in real life before the pandemic, because my book club friends and I all have very busy schedules, so finding a time for us all to meet up was difficult. Scheduling online hangouts is easier because you can do them from anywhere — at your family's house, with your partner, or even from your own bed. Now that the meetups are returning to apartments and bars, scheduling is once again more difficult and, honestly, I don't want to participate in them anymore. Conversations always gets way too sidetracked and I don't like having to get dressed up and buy a cheese board to discuss a book I didn't like that much.

    But it's not just the scheduling — there are four main reasons book clubs are ruined by an IRL meetup, and why I'll be staying home.

    Snacks are better at home

    I love to eat and drink with my friends but I also love to have money to pay for rent. Eating at home is simply cheaper and, if you do want to splurge, you can have the exact snacks you want (a cheese board with Takis on it) without having to be embarrassed or compromise with those who may have a more refined palate.

    I'm trying to keep it comfy

    Everyone knows it’s easier to read and enjoy a book when you’re snuggled up in sun loungewear or pajamas. Sure, you could theoretically wear this to a bar or restaurant but it’s a whole lot easier to do it in the comfort of your own home. There is something about discussing a book in pajamas that makes it more palatable than when you're wearing denim. Let me be comfortable while we chat about difficult topics!

    Let's make it low-pressure

    Something I came to love during the remote, stay-at-home era of 2020 is how low pressure a Zoom book club is. You can come and go as you please, you can mute your mic if you don't feel like contributing to the conversation, and you can take it all in without the pressure of adding in any additional comments. That isn't nearly as easy when you're meeting in person, going from reader to reader to ask how they felt about a passage.

    Keep the discussion on track

    Discussion about a book consistently gets derailed when you’re hanging out with friends in real life. This is amazing and very fun and can create a really great group hang but if you’re actually trying to meet up to talk about a novel that you loved or hated or I felt something in between about, it's very difficult to navigate that without being rude. Folks have side conversations that make it difficult to follow along with the main discussion and, sometimes, the side conversations are more fun! But if the purpose of a book club is to talk about a book, that is far easier to do over Zoom, where you can’t have side conversations and the conversation doesn’t get derailed as easily. I learned over Zoom that having one person in charge can make everything go smoother, but you do not necessarily need an agenda. It's simply helpful to have one person in charge of the mute button.

    So for now, while I appreciate the idea of seeing my friends in real life, I’m going to dip from my book club and only stay in my remote hangs. My book club pals seem to fully understand — and maybe, one day, I’ll convince them to join me on Zoom.

  • State Department website declares Trumps term over, throws internet into chaos

    State Department website declares Trumps term over, throws internet into chaos

    Folks online noticed something odd on Monday. President Donald Trump's biography on the State Department(Opens in a new tab) website suddenly said his "term ended on 2021-01-11 19:45:20." That's today.

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    Now, let's be clear. This almost certainly doesn't indicate Trump is going to vacate his office today. In fact, soon after people noticed the what was up with the State Department website, Christopher Miller with BuzzFeed News reported(Opens in a new tab) that it was the work of a disgruntled staffer, according to two "current-serving diplomats." Vice President Mike Pence's page contained a similar message.

    Mashable has reached out to the State Department for comment but has not yet received a response. In the meantime, tweets flew in as the nation waited for an official explanation. It's all people could post about. And the jokes were fantastic.

    At the time of publishing, both biographies for Donald Trump and Mike Pence were redirected to a 404 page.

    Credit: screenshot/state.gov

    To be clear, President Donald Trump is still president...for now. President-elect Joe Biden is, however, scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. BuzzFeed reported(Opens in a new tab) that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had ordered an investigation into the website change, "beginning with interns and employees leaving the State Department this week and next ahead of the transition."

    So while Trump reportedly isn't stepping down, it's not totally wild to think the president might resign, considering he incited his supporters to carry out a deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol last week. Many have called for the president to be removed from office, either by the 25th Amendment or by impeachment, which House Democrats have indicated(Opens in a new tab) they'll soon vote on.

    Related Video: How to recognize and avoid fake news

  • Amazons Halo tracks your body fat and how happy you sound

    Amazons Halo tracks your body fat and how happy you sound

    Amazon knows your shopping secrets. Now it wants to collect data on your body fat and emotional state.

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    The company announced the launch of a new fitness band and companion app Thursday that it's calling Amazon Halo(Opens in a new tab). Like competitors Apple Watch and Google-owned FitBit, it measures things like activity, sleep, and other health metrics. But it goes much further.

    Amazon says that it can measure your body fat percentage just through photos. Using the full-body selfies you submit to the app, it can create a "3D body model" that it recommends re-doing every two weeks. That measurement will also tell you how your body fat compares to other people of your sex and age according to "medical literature." You can use a slider to "visualize" what you would look like with more or less body fat.

    Look, it's me, in the cloud! Credit: amazon

    Its second distinctive feature is that it measures the tone of your voice, or how energetic and positive you sound. It's supposed to help you reflect on your interactions with other people to understand how you're coming off in conversations.

    First, you create a "voice profile" so that your Halo can recognize when you're talking. Then, Amazon says(Opens in a new tab) that Tone runs "passively and intermittently in the background...Throughout the day, it will take short samples of your speech and analyze the acoustic characteristics that represent how you sound to the people you interact with." You can also get "continuous tone analysis" for a conversation of up to 30 minutes if you press a button to "bookmark" an interaction you're having with another human being.

    Hmm, wonder how I felt today. Better ask a robot! Credit: amazon

    Let's just get this out of the way: these features sound creepy as hell. Who is the person just dying for an eavesdropping robot on their wrist to tell them how happy they sound while chatting with friends? Is the goal to sound happier, more energetic, all the time?! WHY?

    And, excuse me, Amazon, but why would I want to create a 3D model of myself that exists in the Amazon cloud? It seems like that would encourage a negative body image and obsessive thinking (especially with that comparison feature).

    On the other hand, we gotta acknowledge that a lot of the AI technology Amazon Halo relies on sounds pretty cool. Measuring body fat usually involves sending electrical pulses through your body on specialty smart scales. Amazon says it can do it with just your pictures.

    But just because Amazon can doesn't mean anybody should.

    Amazon has been making inroads into the health industry for some time. It already analyzes and stores health data for hospitals. It acquired prescription delivery service PillPack(Opens in a new tab), and it's launching an insurance venture with Berkshire Hathaway.

    So Amazon clearly has big plans for healthcare. But how does Halo fit into them? Yes, it gets money from the fitness tracker and the subscription fee of $3.99/month. But given Amazon's reliance on collecting mountains of information(Opens in a new tab) to sell products, you can bet data will have something to do with it.

    That's especially true since your Amazon Halo account is linked to your Amazon Prime account. So data about your fitness and engagement with the app is quantified alongside information about past purchases.

    Amazon has built in a few important privacy features(Opens in a new tab), and, of course, insists that Halo is dedicated to privacy. Most crucially, data is encrypted when it's moving between your device and your smartphone, and you can download and delete your Halo data at any time.

    Additionally, Amazon says the most sensitive data — your voice recordings — never leave your device and are deleted immediately after processing. Similarly, Body Scan images are supposedly deleted from Amazon's cloud after they're processed, and only live on your device (unless you enable cloud backup).

    But aside from the raw voice and image files, what about the data related to your mood and emotions? How about your fluctuations in body fat? Amazon told Mashable that data related to users' body fat and tone will not be used to make shopping recommendations.

    Halo's privacy policy(Opens in a new tab), however, does say Amazon "can collect information relating to your fitness metrics, body fat composition, demographic data, sleep, and tone of voice," but does not clearly specify what it will do with that data. It merely says: "This helps us improve the Halo service to provide features and content that are most useful for customers." Amazon wouldn't explain further when contacted by Mashable.

    Amazon's privacy statement on Halo includes some important data protections, but leaves many questions unanswered. Credit: screenshot: rachel kraus / mashable /amazon

    We know that Amazon uses our data to sell us things. Its cloud storage systems have been at the root of multiple third-party data breaches. Add that to the numerous privacy questions around its Echo inappropriately listening to users (including kids)(Opens in a new tab) and collecting voice data. Is this the company you want knowing how often you go for a run, when you go to sleep and when you wake up, whether you're gaining or losing weight, and how damn happy you are?

    Well, if the answer is yes, we have good news for you. Amazon is offering a six-month promotion with Halo on sale for $64.99 instead of $99.99.

  • YouTuber MrBeast challenged people to keep their finger on an app. It went for 70 hours.

    YouTuber MrBeast challenged people to keep their finger on an app. It went for 70 hours.

    Jimmy "MrBeast" Donaldson is at it again.

    (图1)

    The YouTuber, who is known for his elaborate stunts and cash giveaways, challenged willing participants to join his "Finger on the App(Opens in a new tab)" competition. The premise was simple: Be the last person to take your finger off your phone screen while the game plays and win up to $25,000. Though the rules stipulated that all players who didn't cash out would decide how much money people win if there was more than one winner.

    Donaldson partnered with the internet art collective MSCHF(Opens in a new tab) to launch the game on June 30. The game ended on July 3 at 1:15 p.m. ET.

    After 70 hours of playing, Donaldson congratulated the last four people remaining and announced they would all receive $25,000. He called up two of the winners to tell them the exciting news and then insisted they sleep.

    They weren't the only players to benefit from Donaldson's generosity, however. The 22-year-old gave some players the chance to win thousands of dollars if they took their fingers off the app. It worked. On July 2, two players won $5,000 each and an additional two nabbed $10,000 apiece the next day, according(Opens in a new tab) to The Verge.

    The app required participants to move their finger at times, though there were some controls to catch potential cheaters. Donaldson told The Verge he was especially interested in ensuring that people "couldn't just duct tape their hand to the phone." Though he admitted not all of it was up to him.

    SEE ALSO: YouTubers fighting climate change celebrate 20 million trees planted

    "I think the beauty of the game is that we don’t really have control," Donaldson said. "It’s really up to the people playing and seeing who lasts the longest, and I think our main thing was just keeping the game fair."

  • Snap still isnt very diverse, but its engineers are trying to build a more equitable product

    Snap still isnt very diverse, but its engineers are trying to build a more equitable product

    Snap engineers are working to root out racial bias from the company's products, even as improving diverse representation in the company's workforce is slow going.

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    Snap, Inc. released its second annual diversity report(Opens in a new tab) Thursday, containing mixed results. The company has made modest gains in hiring underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, increasing by .5 percentage points to 13.6 percent at the leadership level.

    There was notable improvement in hiring Black employees, particularly Black women, (with hiring in the latter group growing from 2 percent to 5 percent of new hires) and elevating women to tech leadership roles. On the other end of the spectrum, retention of Hispanic employees dipped slightly, as did representation of Asian people in leadership roles, to 14.3 percent (which is disproportionately low compared to representation of Asian people across the company as a whole at 34.3 percent).

    Overall, Snap's representation of Black and Hispanic/Latinx employees tracks with the rest of the tech industry(Opens in a new tab), at around 4-6 percent each. Just under half of Snap employees — 47 percent — are white.

    Snap has collected diversity data internally for years, but released its first ever public diversity report in July 2020. The company's CEO Evan Spiegel was reportedly hesitant to release the data(Opens in a new tab) because he said he feared it would do more harm than good by potentially giving numerical credence to the notion that people of color are underrepresented at tech companies. Ultimately, Snap released the data, which showed it fell in line with most tech company averages.

    As with the first report, demographics were not the sole focus of this year's report. This year, Snap highlighted the work it has done to share the experiences of people of color with the workforce as a whole, empower Employee Resource Groups with broader access to leadership, foster diverse talent with training programs that have led to internships at the company, make diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a performance metric across the company, and more.

    It's also ensuring that its Discover content accurately reflects the demographics of its users by surveying and studying viewers. It has increased representation for people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals in Discover shows to over 50 percent. This initiative on the content team in particular is notable, in part, because Snap came under fire last year after employees shared, and Mashable reported on, past racially biased practices on the content team. Snap subsequently conducted an investigation, and managers involved with the allegations have since left(Opens in a new tab) the company.

    "Our ambition is to ensure that our Discover content platform, which we intentionally curate, features content that reflects the diversity of Snapchatters and their interests," the report says.

    Engineering equity

    As a tech company, Snap has also focused these efforts on the product, not just the people. This has resulted in initiatives around removing unconscious bias and racial insensitivity from coding language, machine learning, and even the mechanics of a camera.

    "We are both rewriting our machine learning algorithms to remove unconscious bias and adopting inclusive design principles into the way we develop our products at the front end," the report says. "We are committed to building a more inclusive camera for Snapchat, one that is accessible to anyone, inclusive of everyone—in terms of age, status, skin tone, body size, ability, and language—and is shaped by diverse perspectives."

    It's early days for all of these projects, but Snap wanted to share its initial efforts — even if it is somewhat light on detail.

    A Snap spokesperson shared with Mashable the origin for the camera inclusivity project. Bertrand Saint-Preux, an engineer on Snap's camera team who is Black, reflected on his personal experience using the Snap camera, noticing that it did not always accurately represent him. This caused him to dig into the history of the camera(Opens in a new tab), finding that the way cameras calibrate light is built on white skin as the default. Apertures are often still not wide enough today to capture all skin tones.

    Saint-Preux led an effort internally to combat the camera's racially biased historical legacy. Now, Snap is collaborating with experts in film and TV photography and videography to ensure its camera (which, on smartphones, uses physical phone hardware, but runs on Snap software), accurately captures skin tones and facial features for all people. This includes improving the way the front-facing flash captures low light (important for accurately lighting a subject and capturing color and detail). It is also working on photo processing after a photo is taken to make sure its representation is accurate.

    A second initiative revolves around machine learning (ML). ML powers a lot of the Snap camera experience, from photo editing to AR effects. However, because artificial intelligence systems like ML reflect the unconscious biases of their makers, they can function in an unequal way in practice.

    Part of this is because datasets, such as face photos, are often not racially diverse, so a white face becomes the default for identifying a face. This makes systems like Snap's face tracking less effective for people of color. This ineffectiveness also comes from the priorities written into algorithms. Snap explains that "If the algorithm has not been optimized for variance — if it is not programmed to be as good at looking for anything that’s not White — then it will fail at seeing darker faces." In the report, Snap acknowledges that finding better training data has been a challenge.

    "While ML is a powerful tool that can help personalize a Snapchatter’s experience, it’s inherently designed to learn and optimize in aggregates," the report says. "So while the overall product experience may improve per global measures, we may be coming up short for certain populations within our community."

    Snap is trying to "optimize for variance" as it audits its algorithms. It is investigating times when face-tracking algorithms don't work very well, and creating systems to identify these scenarios, predict when they may occur, and, ultimately, fix them.

    A third engineering initiative is to root out racially insensitive language from the actual code that powers Snap. For example, some coding uses terminology like "master" and "slave" to classify things. Recognizing the racial bias in coding language has launched a reckoning in the coding community(Opens in a new tab), and now it's come to Snap, too. Last year, senior engineer Tammarrian Rogers became Snap's first Director of Engineering Inclusion to spearhead the project.

    It is certainly convenient that Snap is choosing to share these early-stage engineering initiatives in the same breath that it is releasing underwhelming diversity statistics. However, that doesn't diminish their importance, and the potential they have for raising the DEI bar in the tech industry as a whole.

  • Mark Zuckerberg promises to make your Facebook and Instagram feeds even worse

    Mark Zuckerberg promises to make your Facebook and Instagram feeds even worse

    If you feel like your Instagram and Facebook feeds have gotten worse, you're far from the only one. Many users have complained about a significant uptick in the number of posts they're served from accounts they don't follow, courtesy of Meta's annoying algorithm. With so many people deriding this change, you'd think the company would be working to reverse it.

    (图1)

    Alas, it seems Meta is instead doubling down.

    In Meta's second quarter earnings call(Opens in a new tab) on Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg made clear that not only is he aware that people's feeds are packed full of posts they didn't sign up to see, but that this is actually the company's plan. He also committed to make it twice as bad.

    SEE ALSO: Why Zuckerberg DGAF about losing Facebook users

    "One of the main transformations in our business right now is that social feeds are going from being driven primarily by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly also being driven by AI recommending content that you'll find interesting from across Facebook or Instagram, even if you don't follow those creators," said Zuckerberg in prepared remarks.

    "Right now, about 15% of content in a person’s Facebook feed and a little more than that of their Instagram feed is recommended by our AI from people, groups, or accounts that you don’t follow. We expect these numbers to more than double by the end of next year."

    It would be bad enough if Meta was just ignorant to how hated these changes are. Yet it seems Meta actually knows how much everyone despises them, and is determined to power through anyway. Earlier this week, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri addressed the widespread unpopularity of several of its changes, including the uptick in recommended posts, and reaffirmed that they're happening regardless.

    "Now, if you're seeing things in your Feed that are recommendations that you're not interested in, that means that we're doing a bad job ranking, and we need to improve," said Mosseri. "But we're going to continue to try and get better at recommendations because we think it's one of the most effective and important ways to help creators reach more people."

    Never mind that many people don't want to be reached by creators they don't know.

    According to Zuckerberg, these changes are actually beneficial for both engagement and the quality of users' feeds, rather than irritating impediments to the content you actually want. Of course, there's also the side benefit for Meta that it already knows how to effectively monetise such algorithm-led content. We are all but money piñatas in the dead eyes of Big Tech.

    Meta doesn't seem concerned that users will abandon it for greener, less detritus-strewn pastures, with Facebook's Daily Active User count back on the upswing after experiencing its first ever decline late last year. 

    Even so, the ability to squeeze users for every ad-revenue dime is still struggling to mitigate the income hit Meta took from Apple's privacy policy update last year. This change allowed iOS users to stop apps from tracking them, consequently taking a big chunk out of Meta's advertising strategy. Wednesday's earning call reported Meta's total revenue fell by one percent(Opens in a new tab) when compared to the second quarter last year.

  • Pete Buttigieg once again uses a Fox News interview to calmly dismantle the Trump campaigns logic

    Pete Buttigieg once again uses a Fox News interview to calmly dismantle the Trump campaigns logic

    Pete Buttigieg is certainly making the most of his time on Fox News this week.

    (图1)

    On Wednesday he was interviewed by Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier, and managed to completely turn around their question on policy differences between Senator Harris and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden using a simple comparison to the Trump campaign.

    Then, on Thursday, he popped up on the network once again — this time chatting to Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends about Trump's refusal to appear in a virtual debate.

    "Well it's too bad, I don't know why the president's afraid to participate in a debate. All of us have had to get used to virtual formats," says Buttigieg, before attacking the president's decision directly in relation to safety.

    "It's not something I think most of us enjoy, but it's a safety measure. And I think part of why the U.S. is falling behind, is badly behind the rest of the developed world on dealing with the pandemic is because every time there's been a choice between doing something that's more safe, or less safe, this president seems to push forward less safe.

    SEE ALSO: Trevor Noah unpacks Trump's controversial return to the White House

    "Of course, the only reason that we're here in the first place is that the president of the United States is still contagious, as far as we know, with a deadly disease," Buttigieg concluded. "I don't know why you'd want to be in a room with other people if you were contagious with a deadly disease."

    You can watch the full interview, which also includes some fairly scathing comments from Buttigieg about Trump's denial that he called fallen troops "suckers" and "losers,"(Opens in a new tab) below.

  • Freezing your eggs? Find support in online communities.

    Freezing your eggs? Find support in online communities.

    For those who aren't ready to start a family just yet, or want to ensure they have the option down the line, egg-freezing is on the rise.

    (图1)

    The process, in which eggs are harvested, frozen, and stored for later use, is even being offered as a fertility benefit by some companies. Facebook and Apple(Opens in a new tab) started covering employee egg freezing in 2014, with other major Silicon Valley companies(Opens in a new tab) following suit. Pinterest announced(Opens in a new tab) in December 2021 that two cycles of IVF and egg-freezing will be available for every employee globally. Financial institutions(Opens in a new tab) have also jumped on the bandwagon.

    This trend fits into the larger, rising demand for egg-freezing, one that was only accentuated by the pandemic(Opens in a new tab). Clinics across the United States(Opens in a new tab) and the United Kingdom(Opens in a new tab) have seen a surge of patients freezing their eggs in the past few years.

    The egg freezing process is complicated, and online conversations on the topic sometimes lack nuance. Across the internet, tons of information surrounding egg freezing exists. But the amount of information out there is vast, which sometimes makes it hard to navigate.

    The process itself may also evoke complicated feelings. Dr. Cesar Diaz-Garcia, Medical Director at fertility clinic IVI London(Opens in a new tab), says that the egg-freezing procedure can "bring up unexpected emotions".

    "It’s important to recognize that freezing eggs is a big decision for many people, and so it’s a good idea to have a supportive partner, friend or family member to be there for you during the process," he says.

    Social media, too, can provide a sense of community. Within some spaces online, people who are freezing their eggs can find support, solace, and guidance, from those undergoing or having experienced the process themselves.

    Explore a variety of platforms

    As Mashable's Rachel Kraus explored, social media is rife with advertisements about egg freezing. However, those ads may not be the best resource for finding answers. They are more aimed at promoting a business(Opens in a new tab), rather than aiding the individual, glossing over the cost, process, and more.

    Instead, there are forums and groups that facilitate community-led conversations. On Facebook, for example, several(Opens in a new tab) private(Opens in a new tab) support groups(Opens in a new tab) exist for this purpose. The questions and answers here are niche and led by people who have undergone the process themselves.

    Egg Freezing Support Community(Opens in a new tab), for example, is a Facebook group made for those who are curious about egg freezing. "If you are wondering if egg freezing is right for you, or when the right time to freeze your eggs is or how the process of egg freezing goes, then this is the right place for you!", the group's description reads.

    Chloe Quinn, the founder and admin of the group, tells Mashable that the group has grown "exponentially" since its inception: "I had only dreamed it would be as helpful and supportive as it is today."

    "Egg freezing is a lonely, scary and expensive process. It can be draining on emotions and mental health, which is why support from women that understand what you’re going through is so important," Quinn, who is an advanced registered nurse practitioner, says. "We aim to keep it as positive and supportive as possible without giving false hopes and unattainable expectations."

    The members of the group (or "egg tribe" as they like to call themselves") value their privacy, Quinn says. The group has strict guidelines against harassment, abuse, and spam. Its private nature also allows for open conversations.

    Another option is Reddit, where egg freezing threads often get high engagement. Like Facebook, it provides a space to anonymously and openly ask for advice.

    Take r/AskWomenOver30(Opens in a new tab), a popular subreddit with 130,000 members. Here, people have asked a number of questions(Opens in a new tab) on egg freezing, including How stressful is freezing eggs?(Opens in a new tab) and How much should it cost to freeze my eggs? /Should I do it?(Opens in a new tab)

    Similarly, groups like r/IVF(Opens in a new tab) and r/SingleMothersbyChoice(Opens in a new tab), also offer the space to ask such questions or share personal experiences on the subject of egg freezing. Conversations include navigating dating(Opens in a new tab) while freezing your eggs or egg freezing when your period is irregular(Opens in a new tab).

    Across Twitter and Instagram, people who have frozen their eggs have also shared their stories; there are multiple threads and posts, sharing the emotional nuances that go hand-in-hand with egg freezing. Maxime Billick, a Resident Physician at the University of Toronto, chose to freeze her eggs in January of this year. She took to Twitter to share her experience, in an honest and comprehensive thread. She included resources from medical journals, pictures of herself undergoing the process, and why she chose to do this.

    Billick said the response to her thread was "incredible".

    "Many people opened up to me after this post, or asked questions, or showed interest," she says.

    Dr. Safina Adatia also shared her personal egg freezing journey on a Twitter thread that reaped a similarly positive response.

    "I wanted to speak out about my experience to hopefully help and inspire other young women to do the same," she tells Mashable. "I can’t tell you how many women messaged me saying they were considering it and were so glad I shared as my post gave them the push they needed to pursue it for themselves."

    Both women who shared these threads said they did so because they felt they hadn't heard about others' experiences while they went through the process. And they wish they had.

    On Instagram, such conversations also appear under the hashtag #eggfreezing(Opens in a new tab), which has over 54,000 posts and counting. Other communities on Instagram exist under #eggfreezingjourney(Opens in a new tab), #fertilitypreservation(Opens in a new tab), and #eggretrieval(Opens in a new tab). Here, there are posts from individuals, charities, and organizations, each united in sharing the complexities of the fertility journey. Doctors share bright infographics about the egg retrieval process; women post pictures of the procedure, outlining in their caption what it took to get to this place. Posts are reflective and empowering, transparently explaining the personal motivation to extend fertility.

    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Writer Seetal Savla(Opens in a new tab) chose to share her own egg-retrieval and fertility story online in 2019, but prior to this, she observed communities and resources from others on Instagram. "At first, I simply absorbed their experiences without engaging with them in any way. Reading stories about people (predominantly women) battling similar issues made me feel seen at last."

    Ask the right questions for you

    Egg freezing can be a confusing time, with all sorts of questions arising depending on the individual. If joining a support group or reaching out to people online, asking the right questions can be crucial.

    Kayleigh Hartigan, the founder of Fertility Mapper(Opens in a new tab) (a website that aims to provide clear information on fertility clinics), says that "there is a lot of information out there" and navigating this information requires some thought.

    "In starting this process, ask: What do I want to know?" she says. "Everyone will have things that are more or less important to them." She says that writing down such questions can help soothe the sense of overwhelm that accompanies the egg freezing process.

    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Hartigan encourages people to find a community tailored to the individual and their questions before embarking on the egg-freezing journey. These queries can range from the right clinic or nutritional advice to how to balance the process with work and a social life.

    "These questions can be anything from: how to find a clinic, how much it will cost, how the process will work, how it will feel, should they do anything to prepare for the process such as getting fit or changing nutritional behaviour..." she explains.

    She recommends this practice can then help in discovering the right communities and information. "The fertility journey can be hugely emotionally draining and physically challenging. When you’re in that process, you want the right care," she says. "It's just really complicated: it involves finance, emotions, healthcare."

    Beware of misinformation

    There is a disclaimer, though: there's a chance of misinformation and false advertising when looking at such hashtags on Instagram or exploring private groups. Weeding out such posts is important, and asking questions along the way is key. Dr. Adatia said if there are any hesitations, confer with your personal doctor or a medical professional.

    "I would advise to read everything with caution and check the sources of your information to ensure they’re reliable," she recommends. "This type of procedure can be tough and [if] you’re paying out of pocket, it’s important that you’re engaging with your doctor to ensure whomever is helping you with fertility is reliable and safe."

    Billick says the same, telling Mashable, "Go to a physician who you trust, someone who’s grounded in the medicine, someone who has experience."

    She also said that many of her friends encountered misinformation online: "I suspect if there’s a lot of information out there that’s incorrect. I’ve had friends who have been told to buy thousands of dollars worth of supplements to 'improve their egg quality'", she says.

    Many of the people in these online spaces, however, are just looking to inspire or support others.

    "It’s a privilege to provide comfort to others online, and be entrusted with their personal stories," as Savla says.

    Hartigan says that many people who share their experiences online are "desperate to help other people", while also reflecting for themselves.

    "It's a virtuous cycle," she says. "And some people are not comfortable sharing their stories with their IRL friends/family so going on line means you can connect and hear from people going through the process which might not be possible offline."

  • The surprising reason Lily Allens Smile went viral on TikTok

    The surprising reason Lily Allens Smile went viral on TikTok

    TikTok users all over the globe are dancing like mad to Lily Allen's "Smile," 14 years after its release.

    (图1)

    The 2006 breakup anthem is now part of a genuine dance trend after a TikTok user posted his jubilant choreography in response to the recent uptick in "racists getting exposed." It now has millions of likes and hundreds of thousands of reshares. And, some Twitter users' whining notwithstanding, the dance is good.

    TikTok user zockjat posted his celebratory dance routine(Opens in a new tab) set to "Smile" in late June, captioning it, "Me watching all these racists getting exposed." His choreography embodies pure joy — there's no other way to describe it. It's cheerful, unforgiving, and an absolute delight to watch. The song, after all, is about someone facing consequences for their actions. What better way to bring it back to pop culture dominance than to apply it to canceling racists?

    In "Smile," Allen sings about finding joy in a cheating ex's unhappiness. "At first, when I see you cry, yeah it makes me smile," she croons. "At worst, I feel bad for a while, but then I just smile, I go ahead and smile."

    Since the Black Lives Matter movement re-inspired a widespread fight against systemic racism after George Floyd's killing by police in May, public figures have been called out and removed from positions of power. YouTubers Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star have been steadily losing subscribers(Opens in a new tab) for their past racist comments. Dozens(Opens in a new tab) of company leaders have stepped down after former employees alleged they fostered hostile work environments. High schoolers are using Instagram(Opens in a new tab) to expose other students for their racist actions. Polls suggest(Opens in a new tab) the latest iteration of Black Lives Matter may be the largest mass movement in U.S. history.

    From taking down centuries-old statues of colonizers(Opens in a new tab) to speaking out against abusive workplaces, the last six weeks have seen rapid change in the way we think about race in American culture.

    Credit: Tiktok / zockjat
    Credit: TikTok / zockjat

    With all that as its backdrop, Zockjat's original video has become wildly popular on TikTok. It currently has over 3.3 million likes and more than 200,000 shares. It has also inspired hundreds of thousands of other users to attempt the dance. Over 133,200 videos on the platform currently use the song. There's a slew of tutorials on both YouTube(Opens in a new tab) and TikTok(Opens in a new tab) with breakdowns of Zockjat's every move. TikTok users have copied it while on a skateboard(Opens in a new tab), using puppets(Opens in a new tab), and in groups(Opens in a new tab).

    While the dance gained traction on TikTok, however, a few Allen fans expressed disappointment that her song has become a TikTok trend. Several annoyed(Opens in a new tab) Allen fans took to Twitter to complain(Opens in a new tab), voicing(Opens in a new tab) their disbelief(Opens in a new tab) at the reason the song was so popular again.

    "TikTok teens won't stop until they've ruined every song on the planet," one curmudgeonly Twitter user said.

    Personally, I'm biased because I spent a good 30 minutes of my day trying to learn this impossibly difficult dance, and I do admittedly have a soft spot for defending The Youths. But I'm all here for this dance trend. We need this sort of jubilant energy now more than ever, especially with the rapidly deteriorating state of the pandemic(Opens in a new tab).

    While TikTok users have woefully misinterpreted songs with inappropriate choreography before — Addison Rae was heavily criticized(Opens in a new tab) for dancing to a song about body image issues while promoting her brand sponsorship with American Eagle — this isn't the case with "Smile," a song that touches on deeper issues.

    We've seen plenty of YouTube apology videos from creators tearfully trying to make amends for their racist behavior. It's OK to rejoice in folks finally having to face some consequences, even if it's incredibly late and not nearly enough.

    Besides, trying to keep the younger generation from enjoying the music you listened to at their age in their own way is some real elitist Boomer energy. Let us have our joyful dances. There are plenty of terrible internet trends to complain about. This isn't one of them.

  • Taylor Swifts Midnights is here. Lets talk about those fan theories.

    Taylor Swifts Midnights is here. Lets talk about those fan theories.

    Taylor Swift's tenth studio album Midnights just dropped, and we have to talk about the buildup. Swift's known for her conspiratorial fans and album Easter eggs, but with her latest drop she said she wasn't going to be up to her old tricks. Instead, capitalizing on her social media prowess, Swift had her fans glued to TikTok for a series of direct-to-camera posts. Still, fan speculation and conspiracy theories dominated conversation on the app, exposing even the most casual of fans to the Swiftie brain. 

    (图1)

    The Midnights promotional cycle was a testament to Swift's dedicated fan service. By connecting with her fans in the digital spaces they frequent, she not only stoked the flames of curiosity but also stayed true to her $500 million dollar brand(Opens in a new tab). Swift has always been social media savvy, from the early days of her Tumblr lurking to her iconic Instagram reset pre-Reputation, but the Midnights era strategy has been more robust, spreading herself thin across TikTok, Instagram, Spotify… and Amazon Prime. 

    SEE ALSO: Look what you made them do: People can't stop tweeting about Taylor Swift, Twitter confirms

    While fans were divided on whether or not Midnights was really living up to previous cycles, one thing rang true: Swift got every media platform, company, and brand on board. Below, we break down the social media impact of the Midnights era. 

    A timeline of Taylor Swift events 

    Hidden lyric Easter egg at NYU 

    Unbeknownst to the world, and also against Swift's own promise to defy her past as an avid Easter egg dropper, the singer's NYU 2022 commencement speech actually held the first Midnights clue: a hidden lyric from the upcoming album. 

    Announcement at the MTV VMAs

    Swift announced Midnights at the Aug. 28 VMAs in her acceptance speech for Video of the Year for “All Too Well: The Short Film.” She wore a silver, bejeweled (eye emoji) dress that was suspiciously similar to a dress she wore in the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video. As any Swiftie knows, the VMAs are holy ground for the pop star, adding weight to her decision to announce the album there. 

    New social media era

    Soon after, Swift posted the first Midnights images(Opens in a new tab) to her Instagram, including the full album art, number of tracks, and release date (no hiding it here). The caption to the post read, "Midnights, the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life, will be out October 21. Meet me at midnight." She followed up with several TikToks introducing fans to exclusive vinyl(Opens in a new tab) and album art, and weeks later, Swift finally made it back into the social media moment with a "Making of Midnights" video(Opens in a new tab) posted on Sept. 16. It stoked fan theories across TikTok and Twitter, and (unsurprisingly) held some album clues as well. What a lovely snowy beach! 

    Midnights Mayhem time

    Swift's promotional cycle really started here and solidified TikTok as her Midnights base. On Sept. 21, Swift dropped the first(Opens in a new tab) of 13 midnight-timed videos revealing the entire tracklist, hosted by TikTok. "I know I have a habit of dropping cryptic clues and Easter eggs when giving you information about my music," Swift said in the video, "and I'm not here to deny that, but I am here to defy that." For the next 17 days, Swifties, and even casual listeners, tuned in to the app to see Swift spin a bingo cage, pull out a lucky song, and unveil the Midnight release through her vintage phone (a meta moment). The track titles were also accompanied by track explanations — a rare thing from the usually cryptic pop star. 

    These videos were also on Instagram, and even on YouTube Shorts, which many artists have pivoted toward to maximize the so-called demand for short-form video content. 

    Spotify collaborations begin

    Swift's next huge social media swing was with streaming giant Spotify (a departure from Apple Music heavy Taylor's Version promo of the last two years). Swift released exclusive videos with even more information about the album, including the "5 things that inspired Midnights(Opens in a new tab)" — "self-loathing, fantasizing about revenge, wondering what could have been, falling in love, and falling apart."

    In the week leading up to the album, Swift then released an entire calendar(Opens in a new tab) of online events. At the same time, Spotify began a lyrical journey around the world, revealing select lyrics from all the Midnights songs in undisclosed locations. This effectively shifted Swift's promo over to the Twitter Swiftie-verse, within which stan accounts and Taylor Nation(Opens in a new tab) itself weighed in on lyric and era theories. 

    And even more collaborations upon collaborations

    In the 24 hours before the album release, Swift asked her devoted fans to take to the field for Amazon Prime Video's Thursday Night Football (because… that makes sense), where they got the first glimpse of the album's music videos ahead of its release. She also collaborated with her old haunt Tumblr to release a custom Midnights blog theme(Opens in a new tab)

    And if she wasn't directly working with the brand ahead of the new music, companies sure were using the Midnights internet moment to boost their social media accounts, from Dominos UK(Opens in a new tab) to Auntie Anne's Pretzels(Opens in a new tab).   

    Fans spent many sleepless nights theorizing about Midnights. Here are the speculations filling up your timeline. 

    Myth: There were Easter eggs being dropped this whole time…

    Status: True! (duh)

    Even though Swift pledged to defy her old habits this time around, Swifties were not going to let go of an opportunity to hunt for secret messages — and they were right to do so! Turns out Swift had hidden a Midnights reference as far back as her May commencement speech at NYU, and other sharp-eyed fans found vague nods to the album scattered throughout her posts and social media bios. 

    Myth: Each song represents a different era or previous album. 

    Status: Busted! 

    When Swift announced the album she said it was "the stories of 13 sleepless nights throughout my life." Fans speculated that each track on the album would represent a different era or previous album, potentially drawing on her large vault of unreleased tracks written over her long career. But Swift isn’t recycling old songs. In an interview with SiriusXM where she answered fan questions Swift said, "Everything on Midnights is new work. Nothing is leftover from a different album. It might have been ideas or concepts or things I’ve thought of maybe making in the past, but I didn’t write anything until I was making this album."

    Myth: niceboy ed is Joe Alwyn

    Status: Unconfirmed. 

    A couple weeks after announcing Midnights, Swift uploaded a 15-second montage(Opens in a new tab) of the making of the album to TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube set to the song "life you lead" by niceboy ed. Despite Swift’s assertion that she’s denying her Easter egg past, Swifties immediately jumped on her seemingly random song choice. The track was niceboy ed’s first streaming credit and had only been released the day prior, making it suspicious to her fanbase. Swifties theorized that niceboy ed is a childhood friend of Swift’s beau Joe Alwyn based on the fact Alwyn is following him on Instagram, while others thought this was a William Bowery situation where Alwyn is actually niceboy ed. Swift has yet to address her mysterious song choice. 

    Myth: Taylor Swift is actually releasing two albums including the "lost" album, Karma

    Status: Unconfirmed, but be serious.

    Take a seat, put on your tin hat, and let us fill you in on some Taylore. There is a popular conspiracy theory that there is a “lost” album which fans dubbed Karma. Therefore, when Swift announced that track 11 on Midnights was titled "Karma" all hell broke loose in the fandom. 

    Prior to Reputation, Swift had released an album every two years setting up her sixth album to be released in 2016. She dyed her hair platinum blonde, signaling a new era, and fans geared up for a release. But all that was thwarted by the Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Swift drama that resulted in Swift leaving the public eye until Reputation’s release in 2018. 

    Swift hinted at Karma’s existence in "The Man"(Opens in a new tab) music video where Swift dressed as a man pees on a wall that has the title of all her albums in graffiti…and the word "karma." Additionally, in a 2016 interview with Vogue(Opens in a new tab) Swift said "Karma is real." Do with that what you may, but we’d very much like to be excluded from this narrative. 

    Myth: The Tumblr renaissance is happening on Midnights

    Status: Partially true.

    The Internet's deep obsession with the so-called 2014 Tumblr resurgence also crept its way into the Midnights release, as fans theorized Swift might be bringing on fellow Tumblr musical icons. Top picks were a feature from The 1975 or Lana Del Rey, both fellow Jack Antonoff collaborators. 

    Fans speculated that frontman Matty Healy of The 1975 was featured based on Swift being one of the first listeners of the band's new album Being Funny in a Foreign Language (revealed in a Healy interview with Pitchfork(Opens in a new tab)). But Healy immediately shut down the rumors on his burner Twitter account. 

    The Del Rey speculation began thanks to Swift wearing the same shirt in a photograph with Del Rey and Antonoff as in the making of Midnights video. Sadly, only one legend made it onto the album, confirmed by the reveal of "Snow On The Beach," featuring Lana Del Rey, in the last episode of Midnights Mayhem(Opens in a new tab). The sad, witchy girls won. 

    Myth: The upside down phones in "Midnights Mayhem with Me" signifies the album's singles

    Status: Partially true.

    During the Midnights Mayhem releases, fans quickly spotted some unusual behavior from the carefully crafted artist, including two videos in which she held the Midnights phone upside down as she unveiled the track titles for "Anti-Hero" and "Vigilante Shit." Swifties immediately correlated this with some kind of hidden meaning, spawning several theories like a potential collaboration or a music video. Surprise, surprise: "Anti-Hero" was confirmed to be the first single and music video release from the album. And the second? "Vigilante Shit" — which is definitely one way to describe all of the sleuthing Swifties have been doing in anticipation of Midnights. But we don't know exactly what the upside down phone means as the Thursday night football teaser suggests there's more to come.