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Grief is complicated. Especially when its on Instagram.

2023-03-19 06:15:51

Grief is complicated. Especially when its on Instagram.

Grief and mourning are complicated emotions to navigate, made even more so when combined with the ever-changing social conditions of digital culture. You want to post about your friend who passed away, but you don't want to post about them too much. You want to grieve with a community of friends, but you don't know if your relationship with the person you’ve lost is close enough to warrant sorrow on your part. You want to show support to other loved ones who are grieving their losses, but you don't know what is appropriate.

Grief is complicated. Especially when its on Instagram.(图1)

Grief is all-encompassing and inescapable — both IRL and online. Everything shifted in how we participated in mourning someone's death once the COVID-19 pandemic struck. We couldn't meet up in person; couldn't hold wakes; couldn't even say goodbye to our loved ones in person in the hospital. Unable to mourn in the ways we were used to, for months, we had to grieve online, where communities for grief thrived due to the unprecedented circumstances. A plethora of communities specifically dedicated to grief exist online: GriefTok on TikTok, dozens of pages on Instagram, r/grief on Reddit, pages on Facebook, you name it. The lyrics "take her name out of your mouth / you don't deserve to grieve" are highlighted in the more than 87,000 TikTok videos(Opens in a new tab) using CRAWLERS' "Come Over (Again)." Like all pieces of life that take the dangerous road from reality to social media, something shifts in how we feel, relate to, and examine our grief when we share it online. This can be good, bad, and complicated — much like the process of grief itself.

SEE ALSO: After a death in my family, I now understand why we use social media to mourn

Jensen Moore's cousin died in 2011. Almost immediately following her death, Moore noticed that everyone — family, friends, anyone who knew her — was posting about her cousin on her cousins' Facebook page. A page that had once glistened with life from Moore's cousin now served as a memorial.

"I attended the funeral and the wake, and even people who were at those events were on her page eulogizing her there," Moore, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, remembers. "The in-person event almost seemed as though it was meant more for the family than to share about her."

It got Moore thinking about how the internet has changed the way we grieve. She began tapping into some of the research coming out of clinical psychology about how people who are dying use social media as a sort of diary to post about their last days, knowing it will live on after them. This "opened up a whole venue for me to look at the actual mourner, and how the mourner was going to respond versus the person who was trying to share their life before they died."

Moore set out to study this space herself. In one of her research papers, Social Media Mourning: Using Grounded Theory to Explore How People Grieve on Social Networking Sites(Opens in a new tab), she found that people preferred grieving on social media for a variety of reasons. It allows them to be able to reflect without having to be forced into face-to-face interactions; to mourn and grieve privately, but to connect with a community immediately when they were ready.

That's the same reason one of my Instagram followers told me she prefers grieving on Instagram. She said it was "easy for friends to send words of support without being in awkward long conversations where you don't know what to say." Another follower said it was helpful to know you have the love and support of your friends and that it's "nice to have a way to let everyone know without having to individually reach out to people." 

At the same time, that follower told me it's "also frustrating because everyone says the same thing, 'sorry for your loss.' [It's] helpful that they are thinking about you but also not, because thinking is not a hug."

How do people grieve on Instagram?

One way people grieve on Instagram is to refer to a page like a memorial. If someone you know has passed away, immediate, verified family members can request that the page be removed. But anyone can submit a request to Instagram to memorialize the account(Opens in a new tab) instead, according to Instagram. Instagram does require proof of death — like a link to an obituary or news article — before it will memorialize an account, and immediate family members can override a request. 

As Vice pointed out in a piece on how COVID-19 impacted grief(Opens in a new tab), memorializing people on social media is just the latest iteration of a tradition we've been participating in for centuries. 

"New media technology will inevitably be used to memorialize the dead. It’s just what we do," John Troyer, the director of Bath University’s Centre for Death & Society, told Vice. "Now, this does not devalue the grief, which is always the risk of any new technology — because it is new it will initially be described as being inappropriate to use. I remember, many years ago, the gnashing of teeth over the use of Facebook to remember someone who died, and how that cheapened the experience of grief. Which, of course, was not true."

SEE ALSO: When a loved one dies, their Facebook profile is both a blessing and a curse

Desmond Patton(Opens in a new tab), a professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and Department of Sociology, told Mashable that Instagram has introduced "new ways of extending how we have traditionally grieved."

Before Instagram, we still wrote messages to our loved ones to comfort them in grief, connected with our community, shared information, and shared obituaries. But Patton says that what makes Instagram different is that it "allows us to bring others into that experience."

That convening power of Instagram, while it is so basic, is critically important, because it allows people to share and to be in community when things are getting really hard.

"It allows you perhaps a space to process because you may not have the words or you may not feel that you have the physical community to be able to process this," Patton said. "There is something that happens behind the keyboard that allows for various levels of vulnerability that I think are really important as well. And then it allows you to find others that are grieving. And that convening power of Instagram, while it is so basic, is critically important, because it allows people to share and to be in community when things are getting really hard."

Insta-grief as a form of activism

Oftentimes, we aren't just grieving our loved ones alone. In some cases, we're grieving someone who was lost due to violence — police violence, violence at the hands of the state, and more. In those cases, grieving on Instagram can be a form of activism, too. 

Jolene Holgate, the training and education director for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women(Opens in a new tab), told Mashable that social media is a powerful tool for movement-building and education. She said that when Native communities experience a huge loss, Instagram allows them to reach more people. 

"Grieving George Floyd, our Asian relatives who are being attacked, and things like that [which] were happening in the last couple of years and even today not only allows us to connect with one another and to feel for and sympathize and empathize with the families and those involved, but I think it also activates people to want to do something, say something, repost it and re-share it on their page and educate one another," Holgate said. "And that's all a part of movement-building."

That kind of activism can make some people feel obligated to post, something we should probably investigate internally.

"Some people feel pressure, particularly when the grief is one at the societal level. So for example, if we're grieving Breonna Taylor, if we're grieving George Floyd, and you are not commenting on that death and the effect that it has on you and on our society and our culture, then you might get questions about the legitimacy of your political nature," Patton said. "I think at an individual level, it gets really complicated, because there's a question about oversharing and folks seeking support in perhaps more disingenuous ways. Maybe you didn't have the relationship with the individual that you're claiming to."

Oftentimes, our social media posts in the immediate aftermath of a public incident are compared back to what — and how — we posted in the past. If you never posted about racial inequity before George Floyd's death but are now posting as if you're an expert, it can be off-putting, and feel fake, for followers who have been active in the movement for years. There might not be a perfect answer for what users should do in situations like this, but consistency is important; caring when it isn't comfortable is important; and bystander intervention is important(Opens in a new tab). Otherwise, you run the risk of being as tone-deaf as the FBI mourning Martin Luther King Jr.'s death(Opens in a new tab)

Grief hypejacking, grief trolls, and grief tourists

In a study published in May 2022 that looked into the commodification of grief on Instagram(Opens in a new tab), author Crystal Abidin coined the term "grief hypejacking” to refer to the phenomena in which everyday users and influencers bandwagon on internationally trending social media hashtags about grief to "redirect attention to themselves or hawk wares."

There are also grief trolls, who go onto grief memorials and "basically try to stir things up," Moore said. Grief trolls typically set their sights on public memorials for tragic events. Then there are the grief tourists, who Moore says are "people who go on memorial pages just to see the mourning that's happening." Grief tourists are, in a way, participating in emotional rubbernecking — turning to see how others are reacting to tragedy. While many of us are guilty of morbid curiosities, grief tourists take this a step further by taking up space in others' grief.

"In some cases [grief tourists] will interject themselves and talk about, 'Well, I lost somebody myself,' or, 'Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss,' but they're not really mourning," Moore said. "They're just joining in so that they can see what's happening and they can see the emotional roller coaster that others are going through."

On the other side is grief policing, which is when people try to control how others should or should not be mourning online.

"For example, [after] Kobe Bryant's death a lot of people were online saying, 'Well, you didn't know him, so why are you so worked up about this and why are you grieving about it?'" Moore said. "There is this idea that if you're really not close to a person [who has died] or if that person isn't in your network or sphere, then you shouldn't be grieving."

But that kind of policing isn’t useful, Patton argues, "because it doesn't help us to understand why this person is here in the first place." And everyone does have a right to grieve public figures — they can be losses to our communities whether we knew them personally or not.

"Folks should have organic and healthy spaces to grieve," Patton said. "We need to imagine these domains as places where people feel that they're having healthy and healing grieving spaces. But the idea that we need to figure out who's grieving how and why, I don't think that's a great use of our time or our skill or our capacity in these spaces."

There's no guidebook for grief. There's no shortcut to feeling better or overcoming. But Instagram can be a tool to create community(Opens in a new tab), and that might be what we need(Opens in a new tab) most.

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

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    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.

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    "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."

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    "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."

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    "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."

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    "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."

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    "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.

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

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

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

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    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.

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  • Signals new blur tool will help hide protesters identities

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    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.


    "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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

Random articles


  • Bring holiday cheer to trans youth by donating to Trans Santa

    Bring holiday cheer to trans youth by donating to Trans Santa

    If you're able to spread some some good tidings this holiday season, Trans Santa(Opens in a new tab) makes it easy for you.


    Trans Santa is a mutual aid social media campaign that connects anonymous gift givers with queer and trans youth who are unhoused, in foster care, or otherwise without crucial support they need to thrive. It's a bit like Operation Santa(Opens in a new tab), the USPS's anonymous gift-giving program, but specifically for this vulnerable community.

    Here's how it works: Until Dec. 20, trans and non-binary young people (under the age of 24) can apply for the 2021 Christmas campaign(Opens in a new tab). In addition to completing a form on the Trans Santa website, participants upload a (handwritten or digital) letter to Trans Santa and create an Amazon gift registry. According to the application, the campaign receives hundreds of submissions daily.

    Letters are then posted on the Trans Santa Instagram page(Opens in a new tab) for donors to look through. To buy a gift, santas click the in a new tab); each letter on that page is tied directly to a different person's Amazon registry. Click through to see what gifts a particular person wants, and then purchase through Amazon.

    The process is safe and anonymous — last names aren't on the registry, and Amazon hides addresses from purchasers.

    SEE ALSO: Failed by the healthcare system, transgender people find help elsewhere

    Actor Indya Moore co-founded Trans Santa(Opens in a new tab) in 2020, and the program itself is run by a group of trans people, according to an FAQ highlight on the Instagram page. In addition to buying gifts, santas can also donate to Trans Santa(Opens in a new tab) all year long.

    If the letters on the Instagram feed aren't enough to encourage you to donate, the account's stories and highlights — which feature thank you messages — will. "I am overjoyed, humbled, and beyond grateful for what Trans Santa and everyone have done for me," said a participant named Sam in the Trans Santa highlights(Opens in a new tab) from 2020. "My whole wishlist was gifted to me and it has left me feeling so dang loved."

  • Before you sign up for a COVID vaccine, make sure you’re not being tricked by scammers

    Before you sign up for a COVID vaccine, make sure you’re not being tricked by scammers

    Scammers have found a new target for their money-making schemes: vulnerable people looking to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.


    Researchers with the email security firm Tessian have discovered(Opens in a new tab) that scam artists are behind many of the more than 2,600 newly registered domain names promoting COVID-19 vaccines. The scammers are looking to steal sensitive personal data from unsuspecting people seeking vaccine information.

    “Uncertainty over the vaccine roll-out and people's desire for information about how to get it has created the perfect storm for convincing phishing scams,” explained Tessian CEO Tim Sadler.

    Once a person clicks on a link to one of these malicious websites, they are usually directed to a login page if they want information about the COVID-19 vaccine. In some cases, users were even asked to make a payment on the site.

    How to spot the COVID scams

    1. Legitimate sites won't ask for your third-party passwords

    Researchers discovered that many of these specific sites presented users with an Office 365 or Apple ID login. For example, users were offered the opportunity to apply for a COVID-19 vaccination on some of these fake websites...if they entered their login credentials for one of these third-party platforms.

    An example of one of these malicious phishing websites discovered by Tessian. Credit: Tessian

    Even if a user doesn’t necessarily have sensitive information connected with those accounts, Sadler explained how a large percentage of people reuse their online passwords. All it takes is for a user to input their login credentials for one platform. A scammer can then take that email and password combination and try it on a user’s Google account or banking accounts. The possibilities are potentially endless.

    2. Watch for misspelled urls

    According to the report, nearly a quarter of these registered domains are spoofing authentic COVID information sites, like the CDC. Scammers register domain names that look like the official URL of a legitimate website, a practice called “typosquatting.”

    For example, the Center for Vaccine Development uses the domain name “” In order to trick users, scammers have registered domain names with one “C” in “vaccine.”

    The domains also target “common questions” related to the COVID vaccine, such as “where to get vaccinated?” Some of these sites also push disinformation claiming the vaccines cause side effects. According to Tessian's research, most of these domain names were registered in the U.S.

    3. "Find out more" prompts can be a trick

    Under the guise of a healthcare organization, some of these COVID-19 vaccination scams will reach out to you in your inbox. These emails will tease important information concerning the vaccines, asking the recipient to click a "find out more" link in order to access the crucial details.

    These "find out more" links take the unsuspecting user to one of those fake websites set up to steal their email, password, and other sensitive information.

    "You should be wary of emails that are claiming to come from health care organizations," said Sadler. "Always check the send name and address on an email."

    Sadler pointed out that some email clients obfuscate detailed sender information. So, to be safe, users should check official government websites in order to verify how they would go about contacting citizens when it comes to vaccinations.

    4. Be wary when a website asks for personal information

    Scammers can access a lot with very little information.

    “Question any websites that request personal data or credentials," explained Sadler. "It is unusual for a government website to ask you for your credentials [from other platforms].”

    Be extra cautious in giving up even more personal information such as social security numbers or medical history details.

    Before inputting any sensitive data, users should always directly go to official government websites themselves. Don't click on links that were sent to you.

    5. Don't pay for a spot in line

    A scammer's goal is to make a buck off of tricking users. Don't fall for any websites requesting payment for a spot in line for the vaccine.

    "Awareness is crucial," said Sadler. "People should be skeptical of emails or websites that are requesting any kind of payment."

    In the U.S., the COVID-19 vaccine is available for free(Opens in a new tab).

    In general, users should never enter bank account details or credit card information on a website that they are not familiar with.

    There could be even more scams

    This research is only a small look at the COVID-19 scams out there. Tessian pulled these domains based on searches for newly registered names containing keywords related to COVID-19. With hundreds of thousands of domain names registered(Opens in a new tab) on a daily basis, there’s certain to be new malicious websites taking advantage of the pandemic to scam people.

    So, how can people looking for COVID-19 vaccine information avoid falling victim to such scams?

    “When in doubt, just don't trust the website and actually reach out proactively to contact an agency or the government rather than have them contact you,” he recommended.

  • Tinder rolls out Relationship Types and pronouns

    Tinder rolls out Relationship Types and pronouns

    On the heels of releasing its new Relationship Goals feature, Tinder is now rolling out a couple more features to help daters: Relationship Types and pronouns.


    Tinder users in select markets, including the U.S., Canada, and Australia, can now indicate if they're into monogamy, ethical non-monogamy, open relationships, polyamory, or open to exploring. According to a study of 4,000 18-25 year olds in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia earlier this year, 52 percent of Gen Z prefer monogamous relationship — while 41 percent are open to non-monogamous connections. Open relationships and hierarchical polyamory (meaning when one or more partners are prioritized over others) are the most popular types of non-monogamous relationships, with 36 percent and 26 percent respectively interested.

    Want more sex and dating stories in your inbox? Sign up for Mashable's new weekly After Dark newsletter.

    Additionally, members in the U.S. can also choose up to four pronouns from a list of over 15 options. In the aforementioned study, 33 percent of Gen Z agree that their sexuality is more fluid, and 29 percent said their gender identity has become more fluid in the past three years.

    Forty percent of Tinder users are using the recent Relationship Goals feature, according to its own data from February, indicating that many people want to display their intentions for being on the app. Let's see how singles (and couples) fare with these new Relationship Types.

  • How to tell who’s viewed your TikTok profile

    How to tell who’s viewed your TikTok profile

    Thanks to a new feature on TikTok called Profile Views, you can finally see who’s been lurking on your profile. The catch is that both parties must have Profile Views enabled.


    Eager to see who’s been checking out your TikTok page? Let’s get started:

    Credit: Rizwana Zafer

    Open the TikTok app and tap on the "Profile" tab on the bottom right of your screen.

    Credit: Rizwana Zafer

    Once you’re on your profile page, tap on the icon of an eye, on the top right of your screen.

    Credit: Rizwana Zafer

    The icon should lead you to a prompt screen that asks if you want to turn on "profile view history."

    After you turn on Profile Views, you will be presented with a list of TikTok users who viewed your profile within the last 30 days. However, only users that also have Profile Views turned on are visible on your list. That means that if you turn Profile Views off, you won’t be able to see who’s viewed your profile, but other users won’t be able to see if you’ve viewed their profiles either.

    While going through my normal TikTok feed, I wondered: Is it possible to lurk on TikTok without other users knowing, while also keeping tabs on who’s viewed your profile? In the name of journalism, I put the theory to the test by lurking on my unsuspecting sister.

    With Profile Views turned on, I popped over to my sister’s TikTok profile and spent a few minutes scrolling through her content. I asked her if she could see that I viewed her profile, and she said yes. However, when I turned off Profile Views, my TikTok username disappeared from my sister’s list of profile views. This means that you can only see users who actively have Profile Views turned on, making the profile view history an incomplete list.

    You can have your cake and eat it, too: as long as you remember to turn off Profile Views after you’re done lurking.

  • Meet the women killing it on taxidermy TikTok

    Meet the women killing it on taxidermy TikTok

    Ashley Siebor(Opens in a new tab), a 30-year-old vet technician, was living in New York when her cat kept bringing her presents of mice and small squirrels he found around the apartment. Eventually, she decided to do something about it.


    "I just thought, why not just look it up?" she told Mashable about her first foray into taxidermy. "I watched a couple YouTube videos."

    She said she loves animals, and wanted to preserve them if she could.

    "I love being surrounded by them," Siebor said. "At this point my entire house is full of my collection. I know you follow me on TikTok. So a lot of those videos are pretty much my collection."

    TikTok taxidermy Credit: Ashley Siebor

    Taxidermy is traditionally a male-dominated industry. But Siebor, who now works in Connecticut, is part of a growing group of female taxidermists who have taken over my TikTok For You page. It was on Siebor's For You page where she first noticed Kelly Brong(Opens in a new tab), a 23-year-old taxidermist in Pennsylvania.

    "I'm like, 'Oh my God, that's so cool — another girl and that's in the taxidermy field,'" Siebor said. "So we kind of started talking and now we're best friends. It's cool to be in this field and find other people that like the same thing."

    Female taxidermists Credit: Ashley Siebor

    Brong got into taxidermy because, as a student of graphic design, she "loved the art of it."

    "I've always been into art and taxidermy is a super hands-on thing and I love animals so much," Brong told Mashable. "So this is the perfect way to combine art and animals together."

    "Plus there's like an amazing group of people that do it too," Brong added. "There's a lot of female taxidermists now. A lot of them. I'd say it's actually becoming more female dominated as the years go by, which is really, really cool. So there's a great group of people and everyone's pretty much willing to help you if you're a beginner or a veteran at it."

    Credit: courtesy Kelly Brong

    Data of taxidermists broken down by gender is hard to come by, but in Pennsylvania, where Brong works, the number of female taxidermists nearly doubled(Opens in a new tab) from 5% in 2005 to 9% in 2017. Now, TikTok is helping some women artists not only create their own community, but also to make the art form more approachable and lucrative.

    "I made some awesome friends throughout this and it definitely helped open up my business for sure," Brittany Emrick(Opens in a new tab), a 34-year-old taxidermist from Indiana, told Mashable. She added that TikTok helped her business boom across states, and attracted customers to her shop who might not otherwise have known she existed.

    "This is only my third year on my own, and I've gotten more and more [business] every year," she told Mashable. "But [TikTok] has definitely brought in a wider demographic of people further away. It's made a huge difference for people traveling hours just to come drop something off."

    Brittany Emrick with her work Credit: brittany emrick

    Beyond the business aspect, Emrick said she likes posting on TikTok so people can better understand what taxidermy is all about.

    "I am a huge animal lover and it is confusing to [some people], but these animals that I taxidermy, they are feeding families," Emrick said. "The whole animal is going to use."

    Emrick also thinks TikTok and other social media platforms are helping make the "whole industry" more inclusive.

    "Taxidermy for a long time, and still some of the old ones are still the same way, but to try to get someone to teach you or to learn, nobody wanted to share their secrets," Emrick said. "So now it's all starting to come out more and it's not a big secret. So I think women are being more invited in to learn."

    One of Brong's goals for her TikTok is to "make this whole thing more approachable for a lot of people." And she thinks the female taxidermists on the platform are doing just that.


    "I think that a lot of these girls do make this more approachable," Brong said.

    But it isn't all that easy.

    Brong wants to post more of the process of taxidermy — something that can take weeks and involves measuring, skinning, salting a hide for preservation, preparing a mold, mounting, and more. But, because of the nature of the trade, it can get censored on social media.

    The process is really intense, Emrick said. "I think why some of us are doing the videos and stuff, so people can see what all is involved."

    Emrick at work Credit: BRITTANY emricK

    "I don't post anything too graphic, because you I don't want people to really think of taxidermy as a graphic thing. But stuff gets taken down anyway," Brong said. "Even me mounting a bird could get removed. So it is kind of hard, but you have to just keep posting and reposting and praying that your stuff doesn't get removed."

    Brong says that's frustrating, "especially because you try so hard to censor stuff and just make it very tasteful and approachable to people and it gets taken down and we work like a week or two weeks on a video and it just kind of things, but it is what it is. It all comes with the game, I guess."

    That's something many taxidermists on the internet experience. But, at least for now, Siebor says it's getting better.

    "Definitely in the beginning, my videos would get reported," Siebor said. "But now I'm actually getting a lot more positive vibes. I haven't had any mean or rude comments in a while. Because I feel like making it delicate or pretty in a sense or more feminine, it's more acceptable maybe. When you say taxidermy, you immediately think [of] hunting and just throwing a trophy on the wall, but I feel like mixing art with it and making it something pretty or something to really look at brings out the more positive."

  • You have to be extremely online to understand the threat America faces now

    You have to be extremely online to understand the threat America faces now

    Sometimes, as a reporter covering digital culture, I feel like I live in a world disparate from my friends and family. How do you, for instance, explain the vagaries and subsets of alt-TikTok to people who, at most, know TikTok as the app where the kids dance?


    Culture at large — things like music, film, news — reckoned with a digital invasion long ago. The Trump regime hastened that process for the staid world of politics. Was there ever — will there ever be — a more Online president than Donald Trump, who spent his days in office live-tweeting his every whim?

    It's obvious now: There is no distinction, not really, between the world online and the world offline. They bleed into and feed one another, now explicitly so when it comes to extremist political movements. You can't understand one without the other.

    For instance: If you don't, offhand, immediately understand the acronym WWG1WGA — pro-Trump conspiracy group QAnon's motto where we go one, we go all — it's difficult to truly comprehend the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, which was, in part, a real-life meet-up of desperate Q believers.

    The Jan. 6 insurrection is only the most obvious example of how this works. A witch's brew of right-wingers — Proud Boys, Q supporters, garden-variety Trumpers, militia groups, and others — transformed online organizing and conspiracy theorizing into real-life action. Lots of Q backers took literal oaths(Opens in a new tab) to be "digital soldiers" over the summer — is it any wonder they were willing to literally fight?

    "What they basically are saying [is] we're ready to fight on the information battlefields. So they're already taking an oath to fight somewhere," said Jack Bratich, a professor of media studies at Rutgers University who has researched conspiracies and QAnon. "And then you have, obviously something like Trump's campaign, which had this whole sector called the Army for Trump(Opens in a new tab)... So I think you have a convergence around November of these kinds of different levels of soldiers, in their minds. These people are ready for action."

    But if you weren't online — sorry, like, Online online — in the lead-up to the riots, you would've had no idea that it was possible. It's not that regular people, the un-Online, are at fault. Large swaths of media and news sources missed the chance to explain just how dangerous this all was. How deadly it could prove.

    And what about non-Q extremists? We could spend all day walking through the odds and ends of how memes infect real life — but suffice it to say groups like the Boogaloo Boys(Opens in a new tab) and Proud Boys(Opens in a new tab) have morphed online organizing and irony into IRL violence and action. To understand how these memes came into being requires at least a passing knowledge of 4Chan, a forum that has played a part in launching pretty much every recent rightwing movement.

    Talia Lavin(Opens in a new tab) — author of the book (Opens in a new tab)Culture Warlords(Opens in a new tab), which investigates and uncovers white supremacist spaces online via Lavin taking on invented online personas — said a central point of the book is that online extremism isn't new. Rather, the internet is convenient way of organizing that hate.

    "Overall, what I was trying to communicate was that the internet, with the complicity and aid of many tech companies, has essentially become the means of the metastasis of a pre-existing societal disease," Lavin said in a phone interview.

    There's an instinct to write-off online extremists as a kind of joke. Even after people died at the riots, one article(Opens in a new tab) called them a collection of "deadbeat dads, YouPorn enthusiasts, slow students, and MMA fans."

    It's an easy impulse to indulge. To make these people other. Laugh it off: Look there's some dude dressed up in a viking shaman outfit. There's the Boogaloo movement wearing silly Hawaiian shirts while toting assault weapons. But to separate the so-called LARPing from people who are Online(Opens in a new tab) from the real world is a fool's errand. The online world is the real world. When people talk about wanting a civil war online, many of them actually believe it.

    You'll miss it all if you're not Logged On. It's what people who monitored these spaces had been saying for ages, but it's tough for normal folks to surf through years of jargon, in-jokes, and layers of irony.

    "What's really happening is people are, are transforming themselves through these things — sometimes they're games, sometimes they're alternate reality performances, cosplay — even if they seem playful, they're not superficial or light," Bratich said. "They're actually serious business when it comes to ways of pushing action into the world... [People] think of it as a kind of entertainment part of the world, when actually it's culture. And culture is how people develop themselves and develop relationships to each other."

    Yes, there were some funny-looking extremists who raided the Capitol, but as Lavin noted(Opens in a new tab), there were also lawyers, police officers, soldiers, doctors, and people from pretty much any other profession. Your uncle who posts bonkers shit on Facebook? He's either posting even more bonkers stuff elsewhere, or his bonkers opinions have filtered to him through those places.

    "There's a really well established 4Chan to Fox News(Opens in a new tab) pipeline," Lavin said. "I mean QAnon sounds insane when you try to explain to someone who's never heard of it. And it was born in the fever swamps of 8Chan(Opens in a new tab)."

    But Q's tentacles, as an example, soon spread to boomers on Facebook, shitposters on Reddit, and pretty much everywhere else. You'd seen it winked at on Fox. Then you'd see it at Trump campaign rallies. Then you'd see it on Trump's own Twitter feed(Opens in a new tab). Then you'd see it in Congress(Opens in a new tab) and in positions of power(Opens in a new tab). Then finally you saw it tearing into the Capitol.

    Extremism online isn't silo'd off from you. It doesn't matter who you are. But if you rely on Sunday news shows, cable TV, or front-page stories for your info — maybe if you're of an older generation — you probably don't get that fact. Again, using QAnon as an example, the coverage of the cult-like movement leading up to the 2020 election mostly did not reflect the severity of what was taking place.

    "It was seen then as a curiosity, as an extreme and completely kooky belief system. And occasionally they would talk about it terms of a handful of electoral candidates who were flirting with QAnon," Bratich said. "But what [corporate media] wasn't examining is how rooted in culture and how rooted in everyday life [Q is] for some people. It's fringe in a way — for sure, in terms of numbers — but it's not marginal in the sense of its effects, or its meaningfulness to the people who are into it. The casual way that red flags were raised by corporate platforms...they don't take it as seriously as someone devoted to analysis."

    In short: Online extremism isn't an oddity. It's a pervasive force. The things some people wrote off as "edgy jokes" are real, at least sometimes. And the folks who devote their time to this sort of thing have been telling us that for years. We all might have to get a little bit more online, or at least be aware of what's happening online, to understand our IRL world.

    "It's not going away," Lavin said.

    A new president does not change what has come to be our new reality. Trump might've been an accelerant. His Twitter feed was a megaphone and millions heard his rallying cry. But now these groups are the real-life opposition, and they've got powerful people just itching for their support(Opens in a new tab).

    "It's really hard to make yourself see a dangerous, ugly, and sort of intractable reality," Lavin added. "I recognize there is a certain feeling of oxygen rushing back into a room after Donald Trump kind of sucked it all up for the past four years. We're all a little heavy. We all want to move on. But it's dangerous to slip back into complacency."

  • Matt Gaetzs bizarre shoutout to his son Nestor instantly became a copypasta meme

    Matt Gaetzs bizarre shoutout to his son Nestor instantly became a copypasta meme

    Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz wants the world to know about his large adult son, Nestor. And his announcement is now a Twitter copypasta.


    Nestor's existence came up during a heated exchange about race and police reform between Rep. Gaetz and Rep. Cedric Richmond during a House Judiciary meeting on Thursday.

    During the discussion(Opens in a new tab) on whether to label antifa(Opens in a new tab), the decentralized political protest movement, as a terrorist organization, Richmond complained that the Republicans on the committee, who were all white, were stalling.

    "You've never lived in my shoes, and you do not know what it's like to be an African American male," Richmond said. "And all I'm saying is if you are opposed to this legislation, let's just have the vote, but please do not come in this committee room and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community."

    Gaetz, who is white, asked Richmond if he was "certain that none of us have non-white children." The conversation blew up into yelling after that, and as usual, Gaetz lost his cool and made it a spectacle.

    Until the meeting, Gaetz has not publicly acknowledged the fact that he has children. He followed up the meeting with a bizarre tweet on Thursday, in which he shared a selfie of his allegedly adopted son Nestor.

    "We share no blood but he is my life," the representative wrote. "He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida. I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, more rewarding thing I've done in my life."

    It is unclear whether Gaetz has legal guardianship over Nestor, or whether he ever formally adopted him. In a video from December 2017, he refers to Nestor as his "helper."

    His son Nestor also isn't listed on his website, but his dog, Scarlett, is.

    Among the confusion surrounding Gaetz's large adult son, his tweet became a Twitter copypasta. Twitter users started using his caption verbatim and pairing them with random photos of their large adult sons.

    Even The Good Place actor Mitch Narito got in on it. That's his son, but not like his son.

    Who is Nestor? No idea, but if there's anything to take away from this, it's that every Twitter user seems to have a secret adult son.

  • 12 TikTok creators to follow for easy recipe inspiration

    12 TikTok creators to follow for easy recipe inspiration

    Bored of your weekly rotation of meals? Look no further than TikTok.


    Cooking can be repetitive for seasoned chefs and novices alike, especially if you tend to stick to the same list of meals that you know how to make. Some people are naturally attuned to experimenting, and others need a bit of inspiration to broaden their culinary horizons.

    Here are twelve TikTok creators to follow for recipe inspiration.

    1. shreyacookssss(Opens in a new tab)

    Shreya's ongoing series for people who don't know how to cook is a much-needed departure from the overwhelmingly bland recipes usually catered to the less experienced in the kitchen. Her account highlights delicious recipes from South and East Asian cuisines, and shows that making a meal rich in spices is simpler than you'd think.

    2. menwiththepot(Opens in a new tab)

    Looking to unwind with some food content? Check out MenWithThePot's soothing cooking videos, filmed entirely in the great outdoors. The no-fuss meals — often prepared with a single knife, a cutting board, a handy cast iron pan, and a campfire — will remind you that you don't need a fancy kitchen set up to make a hearty dinner.

    3. cheesedaily(Opens in a new tab)

    Cheese Daily's content — which originally centered around preparing meals for her husband — was widely criticized by viewers for espousing a traditional, outdated relationship dynamic. The creator leaned into it, though, and since first posting from her account, has spun a juicy background story of deceit, cheating, and revenge between herself and her "husband" to accompany her cooking videos. Watch it for the cheese-laden paninis, stay for the drama.

    4. janellerohner(Opens in a new tab)

    You may recognize Janelle Rohner's keto recipes from stitched videos asking, "Is it bussin, Janelle?"(Opens in a new tab) The meme poked fun at Rohner's low-carb alternatives, like using a halved bell pepper instead of bread for a keto-friendly sandwich. Rohner, to her credit, embraced the meme, and has concluded TikToks assuring videos that her low-carb, high-fat meals are indeed bussin.

    5. newt(Opens in a new tab)

    Newton Ngyuen's career started when he began posting easy, low cost recipes for people to make in small spaces — his first videos were filmed in the kitchen of his family's mobile home(Opens in a new tab) in San Jose, California. Though Ngyuen has since relocated to a larger home with a much larger kitchen, his videos still focus on recipes that anyone could follow.

    6. thegoldenbalance(Opens in a new tab)

    Ahmad Alzahabi describes himself as a "professional fat ass," and his account features decadent comfort foods like fried fish tacos, Palestinian hummus, and Cajun pasta. You'll wish you could taste these meals through the screen, but since you can't, Alzahabi's videos are clear enough to follow along and make these meals yourself.

    7. sad_papi(Opens in a new tab)

    Brandon, known online as sad_papi, has worked in restaurants for over ten years. He not only shows his viewers how to cook new meals in his videos, but he also shows them where to source ingredients, highlighting local farmer's markets and grocery stores from different cultures.

    8. the_pastaqueen(Opens in a new tab)

    Nadia Caterina Munno — known online as The Pasta Queen — specializes in pasta. The Rome-born pasta expert's videos feature mouthwatering recipes like plant-based carbonara, one-pot green pea pasta, and velvety penne alla vodka. You'll learn about the endless kinds of pasta, and also about Italian culinary history.

    9. thekoreanvegan(Opens in a new tab)

    Joanne Molinaro, who goes by The Korean Vegan on TikTok, makes plant-based versions of Korean comfort foods, which are traditionally based in seafood and meat. Her stunning videos are accompanied by Molinaro's soothing, almost poetic narration in which she reflects on Korean-American identity, her past experiences with love, and trying to live a more sustainable life.

    10. iamtabithabrown(Opens in a new tab)

    Tabitha Brown describes herself as "the world's favorite mom." Watching her videos feels less like watching a cooking show and more like FaceTiming your mom for an old family recipe. Brown's account shows videos how to make healthy, hearty meals, and her warm narration welcomes viewers to enjoy cooking as much as she does.

    11. eitan(Opens in a new tab)

    Eitan Bernath has been a food blogger since he was 12, and found success as a teenage culinary personality on TikTok. From viral recipes to original concoctions, Bernath's digestible, fast-paced content encourages other young people to try cooking out for themselves.

    12. scheckeats(Opens in a new tab)

    Jeremy Scheck is a Cornell University student double majoring in Spanish and Italian, with additional studies in nutrition, food science, and culinary science. In addition to his course load, Scheck also runs his TikTok account and a recipe series called Collegetown Kitchen(Opens in a new tab), which is specifically aimed at fellow college students. The recipes are made for anyone on a budget who isn't used to cooking, and teaches readers to organize their kitchens, use basic cooking techniques, and eat healthily.

    Happy cooking!

  • Staggering YouTube Shorts viewer numbers dominate latest YouTube CEO letter to community

    Staggering YouTube Shorts viewer numbers dominate latest YouTube CEO letter to community

    It's that time of year again for YouTubers: 


    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has published this year's annual letter to the video platform's community and the big focus is clear: 2022 is going to be all about YouTube Shorts.

    According to Wojcicki, YouTube Shorts content has hit "5 trillion all time views" on the platform. It appears clear in the letter that YouTube is very happy with how it's built-in shortform video platform – a way for the company to keep up with its competitor TikTok – is performing.

    "More people are creating content on YouTube than ever before," says Wojcicki. "We’re seeing momentum across the platform, including on Shorts."

    The letter continues to tout the success of its Shorts Fund, a monetization program set up to specifically foster the growth of shortform video on YouTube. Significantly, over 40 percent of creators who received money in this way weren't even a part of the YouTube Partner Program, the traditional way to make money on YouTube. 

    To qualify for the Partner Program, creators need to reach certain viewership and subscriber criteria in order to monetize their channels through advertisement, paid memberships, and other methods. The fact that a significant portion finding success on YouTube Shorts don't just overlap with already-established creators making money on YouTube is certainly a sign that the platform is successfully branching out.

    Looking ahead, the company says it will focus on making Shorts more discoverable, and offer users more ways to edit and remix content for shortform video.

    And if Shorts is taking on TikTok, YouTube is coming after another competitor next: Twitch.

    Livestreams are a ubiquitous feature of the online gaming community and, in her letter, CEO Wojcicki says that the company is working on better "discoverability" when it comes to live content on YouTube. She mentions more "chat features" on the way as well, which seems like a clear reference to Twitch's currently more robust live chat feature on streams. Wojcicki also specifically mentions "Gifted Memberships" as a feature rolling out later this year, meaning users will be able to buy memberships to a creators channel for others… a feature already long available on Twitch.

    YouTube also intends to bring on additional employees in order to get more "specific about policy violations." A common complaint from YouTube creators is that when users are notified of a strike on a video, the company doesn't specify exactly what the violation was. Providing users with a timestamp of the policy violation, something they already started testing(Opens in a new tab) last year, is one possibility, according to the letter.

    One final thing to mention from the letter, which might result in a collective sigh from a large swath of creators, was that it mentioned Web3… and specifically, NFTs.

    Wojcicki says that, when it comes to monetization for creators, YouTube is "following everything happening in Web3 as a source of inspiration." 

    "We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs," she writes.

    Crypto, NFTs, and other emerging "Web3" technologies have frequently been lambasted by consumers of whatever industry tries to retrofit them into an existing service. Most recently, gamers (Opens in a new tab)revolted(Opens in a new tab) against a number of moves made by developers to launch NFTs. So, it'll certainly be interesting to see what exactly YouTube is looking to do in this space and how it's received by a base that is far from shy about broadcasting its opinions.

  • Beyoncé publishes open letter calling for charges in Breonna Taylor case

    Beyoncé publishes open letter calling for charges in Breonna Taylor case

    Beyoncé Knowles published an open letter(Opens in a new tab) to Louisville attorney general Daniel Cameron on Sunday demanding that the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged.


    Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT and Louisville resident, was killed in March by Louisville police officers Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison, who were executing a no-knock search warrant at her home. Her boyfriend and neighbors have disputed(Opens in a new tab) the police's assertion that, despite the no-knock warrant, they made themselves known before entering.

    In the letter, which was posted on her official website, Knowles addresses this inconsistency, as well as the incident report's claim that Taylor suffered "no injuries." "Yet we know she was shot at least eight times," she wrote.

    SEE ALSO: These tools automatically populate emails so you can fight police violence

    She goes on to call for criminal charges for the three officers, a "commitment to transparency" as the officers' conduct is investigated, and an investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department's handling of Taylor's death.

    "With every death of a Black person at the hands of police, there are two real tragedies: the death itself, and the inaction and delays that follow it," she wrote. "This is your chance to end that pattern."

    On Friday, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer announced he would sign "Breonna's Law," which will ban no-knock warrants(Opens in a new tab) in the city. The FBI also opened an investigation(Opens in a new tab) into Taylor's death on May 21. However, those campaigning for justice — including Knowles — want to see further action. In recent weeks, several(Opens in a new tab) petitions(Opens in a new tab) have circulated calling for the officers' arrest.

    Demands for justice in Taylor's case have ramped up on social media during the past few days in particular, as activists call on the public to fight for Black women, who are frequently overlooked(Opens in a new tab) in the ongoing struggle against police brutality.