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The fake verified posts got way worse for Twitter

2023-03-19 06:20:35

The fake verified posts got way worse for Twitter

There's that famous meme(Opens in a new tab) from Arrested Development where Jason Bateman's character opens up a paper bag labeled "DEAD DOVE: Do Not Eat." He opens the bag, presumably finds a dead bird, and, full of regret, says to no one in particular, "I don't know what I expected."

The fake verified posts got way worse for Twitter(图1)

That's all to say: I picture Elon Musk, wandering the halls of Twitter HQ, whispering to no one in particular, "I don't know what I expected."

Because the latest shitstorm for Musk, amid a deluge of crashing shitstorms, is perhaps the most predictable thing in the history of the internet. Musk removed any barrier for verification on Twitter — putting a blue check up for sale for $8 — and people immediately used that ability to post fake news. See, while there was a difficult-to-find distinction between a blue check verifying the identity of a notable person and a blue check for having $8, it all pretty much looks the same on the timeline. So people could buy blue checks and post fake news, posing as someone or something notable. At first it was mostly people posting fake sports news. That didn't last.

Things have gotten much worse for Twitter. Predictably, people began posing as businesses, political organizations, political figures, and others. By Thursday evening it was out of control. At seemingly every turn was a fake account. Here's just a small sampling and, fair warning, these examples are pretty controversial in nature.

All this, obviously, is far more serious than a fake tweet about LeBron James. This is political and could be dangerous. Imagine the damage a bad actor could do on an election night. Less serious for the world — but quite serious for Musk and Twitter's future — this is the exact sort of thing that would scare the hell out of advertisers, which is basically the only way the platform makes money.

Unsurprisingly, Twitter has now paused the ability(Opens in a new tab) to buy a checkmark through Twitter Blue. Back to the drawing board for Musk. I'm not sure what he expected.

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

    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.


    "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.

    Some people have been submitting media such as SpongeBob SquarePants memes and the Bee Movie script to the Dallas police's app. Others have sent footage of police violence. However, by far the largest, most coordinated effort appears to have come from K-pop fans, who have no shortage of videos to spam the police with.

    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.


    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.

    On the surface, it seems like the right thing to do. But the problem is that it almost never involves anything like, I don't know... putting actual money or action toward the cause.

    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.

    In short, what brands are doing with these statements feels a lot like performative allyship(Opens in a new tab), doing something very public (and often very easy) to appear like an ally without, you know, doing the real work to actually be one. In the case of brands, their statements would mean more if they were paired with donations or commitments to take specific, meaningful steps to dismantle racism.

    The path forward from here will be difficult. It's going to take more than a blithe Instagram post gesturing at unity and all sides being in this together or whatever the hell.

    Please brands, just stop with the statements that say absolutely nothing. And think about showing up when it can help, not just when it makes you look good.

  • 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

    Canadian Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau took his sweet time — about 20 seconds — to find the right words to answer a question about President Donald Trump and his call for military force to be used against the widespread anti-racism protests in the United States.


    Eventually, Trudeau did muster an answer.

    "We all watch in horror and consternation what's going on in the United States," he said on Tuesday. "It is a time to pull people together but it is a time to listen, to learn what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades."

    Here's the video of the 20-second pause, which is probably even longer than you imagine. Seriously, at times it seems like maybe the video feed froze.

    As the questioner mentioned in the video, Trudeau has been hesitant to comment on Trump. When asked for further comment, he added(Opens in a new tab): "My job as a Canadian Prime Minister is to stand up for Canadians."

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

    Trudeau was the center of a massive racism scandal — and, of course, the U.S. protests are centered on police brutality and the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after one officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Back in September 2019, a racist photo of Trudeau in brownface surfaced from his time as a student at West Point Grey Academy. 

    If you'd like to help support protesters fighting for justice for George Floyd, here is a helpful resource. 

  • 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.


    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.


    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.


    "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


  • 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.


    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/

    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

  • Elons Twitter deal isnt final but hes already making himself at home

    Elons Twitter deal isnt final but hes already making himself at home

    Elon Musk might not officially be the head of Twitter just yet, but he's certainly taking his victory lap already.


    In the latest twist in a constantly evolving saga, Musk posted corny jokes on Twitter on Wednesday, seemingly celebrating the fact that he'd bought the social media giant before this Friday's purchase deadline.

    To wit: Musk posted a video carrying a literal, physical sink into the Twitter offices. "Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!" he wrote. Yes, it's a pun. A very bad pun. And a very old internet joke(Opens in a new tab), like lots of other Musk posts.

    In the video, Musk repeats the joke, laughing while saying, "You just can't help but let that sink in."

    In a sign further indicating his purchase has gone through or is set to go through, Musk also changed his Twitter bio(Opens in a new tab) to read: "Chief Twit." appears this thing is actually happening? Maybe?

    SEE ALSO: Twitter employees aren't pleased with Elon Musk

    It has certainly been a long, strange saga.

    In April, Musk placed a $44 billion bid to take over the company and then promptly put the deal "on hold" just a month later, claiming he was concerned the platform was riddled with fake accounts. He then tried to back out of the deal completely. Predictably, Twitter sued Musk.

    Earlier this month, it was reported that Musk had reversed course and would now be willing to buy the company again ahead of a court date. It seemed the drama had mercifully ceased, but then word got out Musk floated the idea of firing 75 percent of Twitter's workforce, causing employees of the company to reportedly draft an open letter criticizing the idea.

    SEE ALSO: Elon Musk is apparently buying Twitter again, says sources's unlikely he received a heroes' welcome entering the offices, even with sink joke.

    Musk has an almost impressive devotion to posting; he posts corny jokes, his latest thoughts, and some truly awful things. But he's always posting. The guy has an unfathomable amount of money — he could spend the rest of his days doing literally anything he could imagine and yet he just keeps posting to Twitter.

    It shouldn't be any surprise that the first real news of the deal being maybe, sorta official was a Musk pun brought to life. The billionaire literally carried a sink into an office to make a bad, old joke. And he did this while going into an office where he apparently plans to can three out of every four people he sees.

    We live in strange times.

  • Mexican-style street corn recipe is easy to make in the air fryer. And tasty, too.

    Mexican-style street corn recipe is easy to make in the air fryer. And tasty, too.

    The best Mexican-style street corn you'll ever have will not be cooked in an air fryer. In all likelihood, it'll be corn cooked over charcoal, or fire, or some other heat source that imparts that delicious grilled flavor. But I'm here to tell you that this summer you can use your air fryer to make perfectly tasty elote without much work.


    I cooked up this recipe for folks who might not have a grill and have been charged with cooking a side for a cookout. Or maybe your grill is all filled up with burgers and you need to cook indoors. Or maybe all you have is an air fryer. Whatever your situation, this street corn recipe involves just a few minutes of cook time and very little prep, which should have a delicious result. Here's what you need to know.


    • 4 ears of corn, left on the cob

    • Canola oil

    • Salt and pepper

    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

    • 1/2 cup sour cream

    • 1 tsp smoked paprika

    • 1 tsp cayenne

    • 1/2 cup finely grated cotija cheese

    • Juice of one lime


    1. Brush the corn with oil then season generously with salt and pepper.

    2. Set your air fryer to 400 degrees and 10 minutes. Toss the seasoned corn in the air fryer and let it cook during both the preheating process and the entire ten minutes. Shake the basket every once in a while.

    3. While the corn cooks, make the elote sauce. In a long, shallow bowl or rimmed plate, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, cheese, paprika, cayenne, and lime juice. If you like it spicy, like I do, add extra cayenne and smoked paprika.

    4. After 10 minutes the corn should be ready. Some of the kernels should be blackened. If not, cook for a bit longer.

    5. Using tongs, dip and roll the cooked corn in the cheese mixture. Make sure all sides are coated. At this point you can enjoy it as is — that's what I did for simplicity's sake. But if you want more cheese and spices on top of the mixture, feel free.

    SEE ALSO: The best air fryers for making crispy food faster than the oven

    The Details

    There's really nothing too complicated about this dish. It's designed to be simple, quick, and easily customizable for your preferences. Cooking the corn is straightforward. Ten minutes worked for me when I tested the recipe a few times, but basically, just let it go until some kernels blacken. Shake the basket around and you'll be good.

    The only complication you may run into is finding cotija cheese. If you can find queso fresco, that would work as well, though it is milder than cotija. When you roll the corn in the mixture, just do you best to get things totally covered.

    The mixture being made. Credit: Mashable
    Make sure you coat your corn well. Credit: Mashable

    A note: This isn't the most authentic recipe in the world. The goal is to make an easy version of elote in the air fryer and that's what you'll get. In fact, if you wanted to go even a bit more inauthentic, you could cut the corn off the cob once it's air fried. Then you could stir together the corn and the cheese mixture and create a spoonable side dish, instead of the messier cobs. It'll taste good, however you decide to serve it.

    Here's how my final product looked.

    Corn! Messy delicious corn. Credit: Mashable

    The final verdict for air fryer elote? It's tasty. And messy. Very messy. But summertime corn is amazing and sweet. Pairing that with the creamy, salty cheese mixture really works. This will be a hit at any cookout and will take you no more than 15 minutes of total work. You can't beat that.

  • Whats on TikTok news whiz V Spehars For You Page?

    Whats on TikTok news whiz V Spehars For You Page?

    V Spehar started from the bottom. No, really. On their TikTok account "Under the Desk News,"(Opens in a new tab) Spehar delivers daily, bite-sized news bits to more than 2.7 million followers from the floor. Their journey to that carpeted plane is unlikely: After 10 years in Washington, D.C.'s catering industry, Spehar worked to increase food security in Baltimore before stepping up to Director of Impact for Womxn and LGBTQIA+ Programs at the James Beard Foundation. 


    When Spehar was furloughed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic they “started making little TikToks about how to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and what was coming out of the Small Business Association," Spehar tells Mashable, "stuff that we were teaching in our webinars for chefs." It turned out that they were really, really good at explaining current events and breaking down information. Now, millions tune in to Spehar's incisive, snappy clips, which they film from under their desk. 

    SEE ALSO: TikTok's 'West Elm Caleb' saga was never about Caleb

    Spehar recently began hosting a podcast called "V Interesting(Opens in a new tab)" (recorded sitting at a desk) with Lemonada Media to explain news and current events in a longer format. But TikTok will always be their no. 1. "I'm diehard," they say, "Like the folks who got on YouTube in 2009. If you ask Hank Green, 'What's the best platform?' he'd say, 'It's YouTube.'"

    Spehar spoke to Mashable about the best videos on their For You Page (in no particular order), their favorite creators to watch every day, and why being on TikTok is like watching your mayor perform in a local community theater production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

    1. @NotYourMommasHistory

    Mashable: I love the idea of someone walking out of a Goodwill with like, basically, a chamber pot.

    This channel just cracks me up; it gives you a chance to laugh at your ignorance. And also the fact that you've probably been eating gravy out of a female urinal. I love hidden history. I think what's so funny about it is that we ascribe meaning to history based on how we experience them now. To joke about the women's urinal gravy boat reminds us that the characters we recreate from history — politicians and policies, etc. — are based on what we think they are, and not in what they actually were then.

    V Spehar: Right, like the current interpretation of the Constitution is wonky because it did not mean the same thing. We're not talking about guns in the same way.

    We think about these historic figures in the Victorian era, in the Colonial era — I would say from 1776 through the early 1900s — as so put together. So smart, so coolly dressed, so successful, so educated, and their homes so ornate. And it's like no, they weren't! 

    Their teeth were falling out!

    Their children were working in mines, they were pissing in gravy boats, they were living too close to animals and spreading disease! The Indigenous people had to teach them how to bathe! You can laugh with NotYourMommasHistory because you're like, "Oh my God, who even knew that a women's urinal existed?"

    2. Kelly Krout (@KellyforArkansas)

    Kelly was new to me! The only other political candidate I've seen use TikTok well was that video where a girl was thirst trapping (Opens in a new tab)and then it cut to a politician who was on the floor and was like "hey, vote!"

    Ken Russell from Florida! He and Kelly are the two best. They truly are here for the community, and they are authentic TikTokkers. I pride myself on knowing a lot about politics, and I didn't know what the lieutenant governor did or that they were elected separately, as dumb as that sounds. I just thought, you know, the governor probably picks his best friend, and that's who it is. But it's a whole separate race. And sometimes you do have a Republican governor and a Democratic lieutenant governor.

    Kelly has done so well with using songs, TikTok, and merch to get her message out, and not just to the people voting for her in Arkansas, to inspire people to run. She's the mother of seven [and] makes jokes about how she can handle a rowdy Congress. She's so relatable that there are women sitting at home who are like, "I'm a mother of seven! Maybe I'd run for Congress." She and Ken are not on TikTok to get somewhere else; they're here because this is where their community is, and they like it and it's fun. I watched Ken in the primary debate against another Democrat because he live streamed it on TikTok. Every time I watch them, I feel like they are talking directly to me, a non-binary person who lives in Rochester, New York, who cannot vote for either of them. But I'm a part of their community.

    What's a poor use of TikTok by a politician?

    There are politicians who joke that their account is run by their Gen Z intern. That's cringey because I don't want to watch it then. I would rather the intern do her own account, I would love to see what she's doing. I don't need somebody to speak for you. I've called TikTok the community theater of social media platforms; we want to see you be the star. I want to see the little mayor of my town play disciple number five in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar that's put on in the high school gym-slash-cafeteria. That is what I want. And I'll show up for you and I'll clap for you. Give me the show. I think that's why celebrities don't do well [on TikTok]. Similar to me wanting to see my friends and family and their little show do well — have their moment to be a star, get their applause, and entertain us — I don't want to see Justin Timberlake come play Jesus in my hometown.

    That's not where he should be.

    Right. I love TikTok for the fact that everybody has a turn to be the star. It's very show-and-tell, it's very community theater. It's super accessible. Anybody can make a TikTok right now, you don't need a ton of talent in video production the way you do with YouTube. And you don't have to be hot like on Instagram. You could be anybody in the whole world. And in fact, the more yourself you are, the more people love you. 

    3. Jonathan Kung (@ChefJonKung)

    I've seen Jon's videos on my feed, they're beautiful. Tell me a little more about why he's one of your favorite creators.

    I've known Jon Kung's cooking for years because I worked with independent chefs at the James Beard Foundation. He was popular on Instagram before he was popular on TikTok. As a young chef, he understood that having an Instagram and a social media presence is the new James Beard Award in some ways. Your following gets you jobs, opportunities, and paid work in an industry that, even to this day, underpays their talent. So he learned how to use a camera. I think it's such a great lesson to say, "I'm very good at being a chef, but I need to learn something that has nothing to do with cooking because now it has everything to do with being a successful cook."

    Jon is a Detroit chef. He identifies as queer. He's Chinese-American and talks a lot about third-culture(Opens in a new tab) cuisine. He takes people through Detroit in a way that I think the average American public probably thinks of Detroit, and they think of maybe a rundown, abandoned place. 

    Or Eminem. 

    Right! But Jon Kung's Detroit is a place that I want to visit. When you go to Jon Kung's Detroit, you are running past some of the most incredible artistic graffiti that has meaning and history and soul to it. He's showing you his world that happens to be this place that you might not have known anything about.

    What I love about Jon's cooking is that it is a place where your mind can rest. He has created a little universe where he films that is very beautiful, and you get the idea you're in that universe with him. You see all the spices, he's moving slowly and gracefully. It's like choreography. And then he's telling you a story about the food, and how to prepare it, and he's also giving you permission to eat it. It's just one minute, as you're scrolling through your phone, to stop and say, "I'm gonna let John come keep me company, entertain me, educate me, and feed me."

    4. Imani Barbarin (@Crutches&Spice)

    I follow this creator on Twitter for their insight, I didn't know they had a TikTok!

    She is the go-to when things come up for the disability community on TikTok, that everybody is tagging for their opinion, the history, what we do next. She carries a lot of water for the disability community and for educating the non-disabled community on why an issue is important and what's going on.

    I learned even the most simple facts from her. I had no idea how many canes, wheelchairs, and mobility aides were broken going through TSA — it's thousands a year(Opens in a new tab)! She has a way of being like, "Yes, it's true." She says it with authority and catches you up right away. 

    I appreciate her skill and talent for sifting through a lot of the emotions, pain, and frustrations that she as a disabled person experiences herself, and then still being able to put it out in a way that can get folks to take up action to improve. That's such a special skill. I watch her every time she comes up on my FYP. And it's groovy stuff, too. She talks about smoking weed, she's a regular person. I feel so grateful to have the information from her, and I respect her so much, but I do worry for her. I see her get tagged in every video, and I'm like, man, that's gotta be a lot to carry.

    5. Kendahl Landreth

    I also love Kendahl. Anytime she imitates her mother, I want to die.

    Kendall Landreth is the funniest person you could ever be blessed to be friends with. Everything about her is funny to me — the way she impersonates her mom, her grandma with the dog. She impersonates characters on TLC shows, making fun of being a dance mom or Say Yes to the Dress. She creates a character that would exist in that universe so authentically that we can laugh at it without making fun of people. And that is a skill. Her compassionate comedy is next level. I freaking love her. 

    And I love her mom and that her mom comments on her videos. And that her mom follows “Under the Desk”! I felt very honored when Darla started following me.

    Are you friends with Kendall?

    Not in real life, just in TikTok life. 

    What does that mean? 

    I've never met Kendall in real life, I don't have her phone number, and we've never had dinner or anything. But I feel like I know her. It's what the kids will call a "parasocial relationship." And she also feels like she knows me! We've had DM conversations. I would say to somebody with a straight face, "I'm friends with Kendall Landreth," but I'm not!

  • How to use Bumble, and is it better than Tinder?

    How to use Bumble, and is it better than Tinder?

    Despite many new additions to the dating app landscape, Bumble continues to be one of the most popular apps with 40 million users(Opens in a new tab) as of February 2021. The app, known for its unique feature of only allowing women to message first, remains in close competition with Tinder as a "top" dating app. But how does Bumble work — and is it better than Tinder?


    How does Bumble work

    To create an account on Bumble(Opens in a new tab), sign up with either your Facebook account or your phone number. From there, you create your profile: add photos, write a bio, share traits like astrology sign and exercise level, and answer prompts like "I'm a great +1 because."

    Before using Bumble, you'll also want to set your match preferences. You can set "Date Filters" to determine age and location ranges, as well as whether you want to see men, women, or everyone (there's no specific option for non-binary or trans users).

    With a free Bumble account, you can set two out of 11 "Advanced Filters" and sift out users based on other factors like lifestyle (such as drinking or smoking) or what they're looking for (like something casual or a relationship). You can set as many Advanced Filters as you want with a Premium account.

    Here are the in-app prices listed for Bumble Premium(Opens in a new tab) subscriptions:

    • 1 week at $19.99

    • 1 month at $39.99

    • 3 months at $76.99

    • Lifetime for $229.99

    Alternatively, there's Bumble Boost(Opens in a new tab), which is a bit cheaper. In-app prices are:

    • 1 week at $8.99

    • 1 month at $16.99

    • 3 months at 33.99

    • 6 months at $54.99

    With Bumble Boost, users can backtrack (reverse a left swipe); extend time on matches(Opens in a new tab) for an additional 24 hours; receive unlimited swipes, one Spotlight(Opens in a new tab) per week (putting your profile at the top of the swiping "stack"), and five SuperSwipes(Opens in a new tab) a week (letting a potential match know beforehand that you want to match).

    Premium members receive all those perks, plus unlimited Advanced Filters; the ability to rematch with expired matches; Travel Mode(Opens in a new tab) (swipe anywhere you want to); and seeing everyone who's already liked you (aka your Beeline(Opens in a new tab)).

    Possible traits to include in a Bumble profile. Credit: screenshot: bumble
    Gender, age, and location preferences on Bumble. Credit: screenshot: bumble

    After completing your profile and preferences, it's time to swipe. Bumble is similar to Tinder: swipe left to dislike, right to like. Scroll down to view more of a viewer's profile. Bumble doesn't give a specific number of swipes free accounts have per day(Opens in a new tab), but if the app notices you're on a frenzy, they'll limit your swipes for 24 hours.

    As noted earlier, Bumble has a unique feature that only allows women to message first (unless you're a man messaging another man). If you're wondering, "How does Bumble work for women?" it's simple.

    If you're a woman, you have 24 hours to respond to a match, or else it disappears — barring your one extension per day(Opens in a new tab) on a free account. Once you message, it's in your match's hands. If they don't message back within 24 hours, the match expires too. Should both of you message, the match won't go away unless you manually report or unmatch the other person.

    You don't have to use Bumble to date ("Bumble Date"), however. There's Bumble BFF(Opens in a new tab), for those looking for platonic relationships, and Bumble Bizz(Opens in a new tab), a networking offshoot. The UX is similar, where you swipe to match with users. Users can only choose one setting at a time, though.

    Is Bumble better than Tinder?

    Given Tinder's less than stellar reputation(Opens in a new tab), one may ask whether Bumble is the better option. Their interface is similar, so if you don't like swiping, neither Tinder nor Bumble is the dating app for you.

    If you don't mind swiping but you do mind men sending appalling first messages, though, give Bumble a shot. Still, Bumble's 24 hour rule on both sides can be daunting. Sometimes you may not be in the mood to chat right away, or you may be swiping during a work break and forget to check back in. Tinder doesn't have time restraints.

    Tinder also doesn't have alternative services like Bumble BFF or Bizz. If you're already in a relationship but looking for a different kind of connection, Bumble is your best bet.

    There's also chatter about the "types" of people you'd find Tinder versus Bumble(Opens in a new tab), like that users on the latter are more serious than those on the former. Given that Tinder has resulted in long-term relationships(Opens in a new tab) and marriages — and so has Bumble(Opens in a new tab) — I don't take stock in those assumptions. In 2021, people are on all types of dating apps for all different reasons; the specific app may not matter.

    Users on Bumble may be looking for marriage — or something less serious. Credit: vicky leta / mashable

    What are the pros and cons to Bumble?


    • Bumble is free to use (but some features — like seeing who already liked you — are only available for Premium users)

    • Women message first — this can be a pro or con, depending on how you look at it

    • Matches must match each other within 24 hours — a pro if you want to avoid flakes

    • Bumble has a lot of filter options about lifestyle and interests (though you can only set two unless you're a Premium user)

    • Bumble has fun prompts to answer to get to know your match better

    • Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz make it possible to either make friends or add to your professional network on the app


    • One month of Bumble Boost runs you $16.99 according to in-app price numbers, whereas Tinder has several subscription tiers(Opens in a new tab) beginning at $4.99 a month

    • Men can't message first, unless they're matching with other men

    • Matches disappear if both people don't message within 24 hours, unless free members use their one extension/day or members have Boost or Premium accounts

    • Bumble has many gender options(Opens in a new tab) in profiles, but only allows search for men, women, or both

    • You can only use one mode of Bumble (Date, BFF, or Bizz) at a time

    SEE ALSO: 5 things you can't do on Bumble

    How does Bumble work for men and women? What about queer folks?

    For straight people, women must message their matches first.

    If you're not straight, Bumble works a little differently. If you're a woman looking for another woman, for example, either of you can message first (though the 24 hour limit for both people still applies). The same goes for men looking for other men. If you're a man looking for both men and women, you're able to message a man first but not a woman.

    If you're non-binary, Bumble will prompt you(Opens in a new tab) to select whether you want to be shown to people looking for women or men. This isn't the most inclusive, and a downside of the app (though, in fairness, Tinder also only allows search for men and women).

    Bumble is a popular dating app that, like any, has its advantages and disadvantages. The only way to see if the "buzz" is worth it is to try it out for yourself.

  • Harrys House finds a home on TikTok

    Harrys House finds a home on TikTok

    The world is on fire. So much so that TikTok can sometimes feel like an alternate reality. The trends keep trending. The algorithm never stops churning out content onto our feeds. This week, we are all in Harry's House. Harry Styles's latest album is all my FYP can talk about. But he wasn't the only musician going viral on the app; Halsey's exposé of  the music industry’s obsession with TikTok marketing also struck a nerve with users on the platform. 


    But before we get into this week's TikTok trends, this is your reminder to call your senators(Opens in a new tab).

    Harry's House (Glee Version) 

    On May 20, Harry Styles released his third solo album, Harry's House, and it has since found a home on TikTok. Between thirsty fan edits and track rankings, the 13 tracks on Harry's House are unavoidable on the app. And so are clips of the singer performing the album during his One Night Only show in New York City on its release day. 

    SEE ALSO: 'Harry's House' album leaks are a lesson in fandom politics

    The first single off the album, "As It Was," is going on its second month of TikTok stardom with almost 2 million videos made using the audio clip. 

    Some highlights of Harry’s House TikTok have been fan reactions(Opens in a new tab) to the energetic track "Satellite(Opens in a new tab)" and the random, but perfect crossover the album has had with the Glee fandom. (Yes, Gleeks still exist.) It all began with @skatie96's astute observation(Opens in a new tab) that the Glee cast would body "Music for a Sushi Restaurant." Another creator, @graciwithluv(Opens in a new tab), proceeded to impeccably assign each song on the album to a member of the original New Directions. (I would pay good money to hear Sam sing "Daylight," whereas Mr. Schue performing "Late Night Talking" would indubitably ruin the song for me). 

    Warblers version of "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" when?! Credit: TikTok / skatie96

    Perhaps the best Harry's House trend is a soundbite from Styles’s interview with Zane Lowe. In the interview, Styles describes the inspiration behind the song "Matilda." He explains, "I had an experience with someone where, in getting to know them better, they revealed some stuff to me that was very much like, 'Oh, that’s not normal, like I think you should maybe get some help or something.'" TikTokkers have taken the serious conversation out of context, isolating the, "That's not normal, like I think you should maybe get some help or something," and using it for classic TikTok antics. It's become the soundtrack to descriptions of obsessive fan behavior and other concerning actions. So far, the sound has been used in over 13,000 videos.

    The clip was originally posted by @heart4harry1(Opens in a new tab) with the caption, "my friends after seeing me crying over every single thing Harry does." The trend has become popular outside the Harry Styles fandom with videos like @bowanderson's(Opens in a new tab)that reads, "When your a grown adult but still need to have your whole body under the duvet in case the monsters get you."

    Industry discourse of the week 

    This week, Halsey took to TikTok (Opens in a new tab)to call out the music industry's dependency on TikTok marketing, lambasting her label for asking her to create a viral moment for a yet-to-be-released song. In turn, Halsey’s TikTok exposing industry tactics created a viral moment… which is what we call meta marketing.

    On May 22, Halsey posted the TikTok that launched a thousand conversations. In the viral TikTok. the singer writes, "basically i have a song that i love that i wanna release ASAP, but my record company won't let me…i can't release it unless they can fake a viral moment on tiktok." The TikTok received nearly 9 million views and over 1.2 million likes. The comments section is mixed between support and comments like, "this is the viral marketing video," which makes an excellent point that videos like Halsey's insight sympathy and may make people more inclined to stream Halsey's forthcoming song. 

    Later on in the TikTok Halsey said, "Everything is marketing. They are doing this to basically every artist these days."

    The discussion eventually migrated to Twitter, where users posted screenshots of other artists who have complained about being forced to make TikToks to promote their music, including Charli XCX, FKA Twigs, and Florence and the Machine. Charli XCX later clarified that her TikTok was just a joke, but it doesn't negate the fact that artists are being asked to create content on TikTok to help a song take off on the app. If the song can gain traction on the platform, then, as we've seen time and time again, it will only help its streaming numbers and position on the Billboard charts. So are the labels necessarily wrong in wanting their artists to have a hit record? Or should artists be allowed to promote their music however they want? 

    Halsey followed up with a second TikTok that played a recording of a conversation between them and a label exec about promoting their song on TikTok. It reads, "I wish I was kidding lol."

    Regardless of where you stand on the issue, Halsey’s TikTok discourse definitely speaks to the impact of TikTok on the music industry. 

  • Has sex tech capitalism hijacked sexual liberation?

    Has sex tech capitalism hijacked sexual liberation?

    Roll up, roll up, it’s 2022 and sexual liberation is here. Or at least, a watered-down version of it. 


    Female sexuality continues to have its moment. We have campaigns encouraging women and femmes to talk about wanking. There are ads for vibrators and posters for Viagra on the Tube. You can probably take an online quiz to find out which high end sex toy you’re most like based on your favourite Netflix show — though it’s unlikely to end up suggesting a toy that actually works for you. 

    But are we only OK with talking about 'female pleasure' because we can sell cis women cute vibrators? The short answer is yes. Sex toy sales soared during lockdown, and in the last 12 months a number of celebrities — including Lily Allen, Cara Delevingne(Opens in a new tab), Demi Levato(Opens in a new tab) — have endorsed or released their own sex toys. There’s never been more permission and encouragement for self-exploration and self-pleasure, but in the eyes of sex educators like Ruby Rare, author of Sex Ed: A Guide for Adults(Opens in a new tab), these strides forward in sexual liberation are driven by capitalism. 

    For evidence of this, Rare points to the difference in how we treat sex toys designed for cis women and cis men. While vibrators for women — well, for white, straight, thin, abled, cis women — are marketed as ‘essentials’ and promoted as empowering, sex toys for cis men still carry the same stigma. It's a different social shame from that of a cis woman having a one night stand, but equally as pervasive. 

    Not all sex toy marketing is created equal

    Men owning sex toys still comes with a perceived 'seedy' stigma. Sex toys marketed towards cis men aren't considered a fun addition to partnered or solo sex, as sex educator and sex toy reviewer Kelvin Sparks says, "Men are less shamed for having sex and more shamed for not having sex than women are, and sex toys are often treated as evidence somebody isn't having partnered sex." ​​Nor have we moved past the idea that using butt plugs or exploring anal play makes a man 'gay' — even though sex acts have nothing to do with sexual identity. Sparks also argues that 'feminist' sex shops are often perceived as more ‘middle class’ and thus more acceptable than the 'sleazy' sex shops aimed at predominantly male customers.

    SEE ALSO: The Luna Massage Wand is the best vibrator under $30

    All of this taboo around sex toys designed for men is much harder to shake, even with a smart marketing campaign. A cis man thrusting his penis into a toy shaped like a porn performer's mouth just isn't palatable in the way a photo of a cis woman caressing a carefully placed grapefruit with a purple vibrator is. It’s not that sex toys for people with penises aren’t profitable, or that there aren’t innovative designs being brought to the market, it’s that the stigma around them isn’t so easily purplewashed and sold to consumers as empowerment. 

    The classic. Credit: Moussa81 / Getty Images

    It feels like the aim is just to sell sex toys successfully, rather than actually help people feel good about their bodies, so why not go for the easier — and cuter — marketing option?

    The suggestive grapefruit is a recurring motif in sex toy marketing, because in an erotophobic society even the biggest companies need to work within the rules of what is ‘acceptable’. In order to get around the social taboo — and the strict nudity guidelines and censorship of sexual content on social media –- they have to get creative. But getting creative almost always means sanitising their brand and leaning into a ‘clean’, desexualised aesthetic.

    A company taking this to the extreme is Maude, a sexual wellness company which reached an unprecedented $10 million in funding in 2021 — and saw actor Dakota Johnson joining the team as an investor and co-creative director in 2020. Maude insists(Opens in a new tab) that its products are not sex toys: they are instead referred to as "essentials" for sexual wellness. However, sex toy reviewer and blogger Epiphora tells me Maude is "creating the illusion of doing something meaningful" and not genuinely interested in empowering customers. If the company were, it might consider that not everyone uses sex toys (so they cannot be 'essentials') and not everyone uses them for 'wellness' — sometimes we’re just horny and want to get off! 

    "Sex toys are toys for sex," Epiphora says. "Removing the word 'sex' is not a destigmatising move, and don't even get me started on 'toy.' Maude is attempting to make their products palatable to a wider audience, and in doing so, they are choosing to disregard marginalised consumers." Choosing to avoid the word 'toy' does tend to impact the idea of pleasure and playfulness from sex, turning it into something serious — not something we might actually like. As Epiphora writes in her blog post(Opens in a new tab) about why we need to call sex toys exactly that: "They are meant for adding playfulness and fun to your sex life. In our sex-negative culture, where to even enjoy sex (especially as a woman) is somehow blasphemous, this is important."

    Sex toy companies really, really love pink and purple. Credit: Shutterstock / Nataliia Maksymenko

    Éva Goicochea, CEO and founder of Maude, says that the company's aim is to take sex — and the pleasure of people with vulvas – seriously in a world that often doesn’t do that.

    "70 percent of women don’t orgasm during vaginal sex and so external stimulation is often needed," she says. "It's a very normal thing and I think that because as a society we’ve continued to call them toys it just feels like they’re these add-ons or novel items as opposed to necessary items."

    Sexual empowerment or profits?

    Increasingly, sex toys are sold not merely as items for sexual play, but as tools for sexual empowerment. Sex toys, we’re told(Opens in a new tab), are how we reclaim our bodies from the patriarchy. They’re marketed to us as a way to own our sexuality, as well as showing how progressive and feminist we are. But with everyone captioning their new sex toys with #orgasmsareselfcare, we miss out on the bigger conversations around sexual liberation. We miss out on talking about consent, about bodily autonomy, about how sex can be messy, playful, and fun. A marketing campaign for a new 'sonic wave' toy might be based around 'self-love(Opens in a new tab)', but it’s simply not palatable to dig into reproductive justice. 

    Basically, it’s not necessary when your goal is profit rather than sexual liberation. Despite companies claiming how feminist their toys are, how well are they really doing?

    "Sex toy companies proudly tout being founded by women, when those women are almost always white, cis, straight, young, and able-bodied," Epiphora points out, "Is this something to celebrate anymore?" This ‘lean in’ feminism — based on Meta executive Sheryl Sandberg's thesis that women in positions of leadership can only be a good thing — doesn't have a tangible impact on just how pleasurable the sex toys end up being, or indeed the people they're designed to be used by. "It means more sleek boxes, less penis-centric designs, and hip marketing materials," Epiphora says.

    SEE ALSO: Does pineapple really make your cum taste better? An investigation.

    Trendy marketing materials can still alienate people. 27-year-old Betty, who is in a long-term relationship, says that although she logically knows that sex toys are for everyone, the way they’re marketed makes her feel like they’re only for "sexy people doing sexy things" — a group she does not count herself among.

    "Anytime I've tried to wear something 'sexy' I feel like a pile of lumpy mashed potato and it completely ruins everything and no one’s ever seeing me anywhere near naked again," she says.

    It’s important to recognise that sex tech companies aren’t talking to all women. They routinely leave out people of colour, queer and trans people, disabled people, older people, fat people, and even non-monogamous people. You can see this in how often sex tech marketing focuses on how the toy will help cis women close the orgasm gap, which is ​​the term coined to describe the disparity in orgasms between cishet couples. It's an important issue, of course, but one that disproportionately  affects straight cis women. A 2017 study(Opens in a new tab) showed that straight cis women say they always orgasm during sex only 65 percent of the time — compared to 95 percent of straight cis men.

    There’s no such thing as a universal sex toy

    It’s not just celebrities endorsing sex toys either: it’s every influencer with a brand deal who’s just been given their first vibrator to shill. Deborah Frances-White and her guests on The Guilty Feminist — a feminist podcast with over 95 million downloads — rave about the Satisfyer Pro 2 on multiple episodes(Opens in a new tab). Which would be fine, if they had at any moment reminded their audience that not every toy works for everyone. Instead, we get sweeping statements – "It’s a miracle!" – as though everyone is guaranteed mind-blowing orgasms with that particular toy. 

    Whenever a product is presented as universal, the nuance of sexual desire disappears — and it’s the consumers who suffer. Astrid, who is 27 and bisexual, used to buy into the idea that in order to be a sexually empowered, feminist woman, she 'needed' to find a vibrator that worked for her. When she tried air-pulse technology toys AKA 'clit suckers,’ she found that they didn’t give her the mind-blowing orgasms she’d been promised.

    "That made me feel weird, like everyone else had figured it out and I used it wrong," she says, "or maybe there was something off about me that I didn't love it as much as I thought I should."

    SEE ALSO: How to travel with sex toys

    Yet having celebrities endorse sex toys is revolutionary. The sex positive steps we've taken forward to get to this point are so important. I turned eighteen in 2016: for nearly the entire time I’ve been able to buy sex toys, they’ve been available in cute pink boxes at Boots. It’s a hard-won privilege that vibrators are as easily purchased as condoms, and one I probably take for granted. (Though let it be noted that it’s easier to buy a vibrating cock ring than dental dams, because heterosexual, penis-in-vagina penetration is still front and centre.) 

    The progress we’ve made in being able to openly talk about female pleasure is important and should be celebrated. Celebrities holding up sex toys and saying 'I use this, I wank too' changes the cultural narrative around sex toys and female pleasure. They’re helping mainstream culture start to have conversations that were only years ago considered incredibly taboo. Slowly, piece by piece, we’re chipping away at the shame that surrounds sex. Women are feeling more empowered to talk about sex and ask for what they want in the bedroom. 

    Trying to make sex 'respectable'

    Yet that empowerment, like the shame it's supposed to replace, still comes with strict rules for what is socially acceptable or celebrated. Rare points out that companies' prioritisation of cute, clitoral vibrators over dildos promotes a heteronormative view of sex that prizes the penis above everything else: nothing should be allowed to replace it. (Although clitoral stimulation is important: a 2017 study(Opens in a new tab) found that almost twice as many cis women can orgasm with clitoral stimulation during penetration than from penetrative sex alone.) The majority of sex toys marketed at cis women come in non-threatening colours — pink, purple, and sex-toy teal. There are many dildos in skin tones, but these are more often marketed towards queer men; the idea that a woman might want to fuck herself with something resembling an actual penis seems to be far less palatable. Or, possibly, far more queer.

    Sex tech companies can’t get away from the fact that they’re selling sex toys — even though some try — but they can make the sex they’re selling us as ‘respectable’ as possible. And for bigger companies, that means ignoring the fact that their customers aren’t all white, straight, thin, abled cis women. It means ignoring just how queer using sex toys can make the sex you’re having. 

    It means using the language of sexual liberation to sell sex toys when kickstarting these conversations is merely a side effect of what companies are trying to do. 

    SEE ALSO: Bottoming TikTok: Meet the creators educating the internet about anal sex

    These conversations are important, but they’re only the first step. While women might feel more empowered to ask for what they want in bed, they’re still socially shamed out of it a lot of the time. While that is changing, Rare believes that in order to ensure profit, sex tech companies will need to keep the conversation as ‘clean’ as possible. Slut-shaming and sexual assault will be glossed over in favour of yet another 101-level discussion about pleasure.

    Pleasure is a worthy goal, of course. "A vibrator can't convince you you're worthy of love," Epiphora says. She’s right. Sexual liberation driven by capitalism will never be truly empowering, despite all its feminist marketing. In a sex negative society, sanitising your brand and working with celebrities might get you trending on Twitter, but making sex toys more accessible doesn’t mean they’re more inclusive. In marketing sex toys as wellness items, we skip over the truth that sex can be fun — and playful and messy, though not always very sexy! 

    And as brilliant as they are, orgasms are only one small part of sexual liberation. The sex tech industry may be able to thrive without digging underneath the sanitised version of sexual empowerment that they’re selling us, but we can’t. 

  • Inside the viral collab house featuring OnlyFans and TikTok creators

    Inside the viral collab house featuring OnlyFans and TikTok creators

    What happens when creators across mega social media platforms combine forces to create a stash of content from a weekend getaway?


    A group of TikTokers and OnlyFans creators found out recently — and went quickly viral in the process. A bunch of internet stars and sex workers met up to create content together at a sprawling rented cabin in an undisclosed location in the U.S. over the weekend of Sept. 17. The crossover collab was dubbed #OrigamiCamp.

    Organized by @hawkhatesyou(Opens in a new tab) and @the_gothbaby(Opens in a new tab), Origami Camp brought together these creators on the heels of OnlyFans announcing its ban on sexually explicit content. The paid subscription platform was previously credited as an empowering space for sex workers to host content, so the company's decision incited outrage from both users and creators. Just days after this announcement, the site decided to reverse its ban in the end.

    Following this backtrack, Origami Camp was an opportunity to connect with likeminded creators from both OnlyFans and TikTok.

    "The purpose of the Origami Camp was to get some creators who know each other together to collab and make TikToks, plus any other content [we] were comfortable making since all of us are sex workers,” says Natasha Noel (@babygirlnoell(Opens in a new tab)), who took part in the event. Noel, like most of the creators at the event, uses both TikTok and OnlyFans.

    The creators doing a TikTok dance challenge. Credit: SCREENSHOT: TikTok / @Lunababyyy69

    "Origami" is a substitute for the word "orgy", says Luna (@lunababyy69(Opens in a new tab)), one of the participants in the camp (who would like to keep her full identity private out of safety concerns). The creators brought in the substitute word to avoid censorship online, she explains. "Origami camp was one last 'big collab' after news broke that OnlyFans wanting to rid the platform of creators like us," says Luna. "It was an absolute blast and such a beautiful group of people."

    It's important to note that while OnlyFans reversed its decision, it's unclear if the decision will be permanent.

    The getaway had the creators making a range of content for both TikTok and OnlyFans. The content from the weekend posted on OnlyFans is vastly NSFW. The videos from the Origami Camp group on TikTok, though, are primarily behind-the-scenes footage of the gathering: dance routines and classic TikTok challenges.

    More TikTok content from Origami Camp. Credit: SCREENSHOT: tiktok / @mykendoll

    Tariq (@mykendoll(Opens in a new tab)) is another one of the creators who participated in the camp. He is also keeping his full identity private for the purposes of safety. "I had such a good time bonding and getting to know all the creators," he tells Mashable. "Everyone was so nice and there’s nothing better than getting to work with your friends."

    Noel agrees, saying, "It felt great to meet some fellow creators that I've only ever seen online."

    Videos under the hashtag have 24.5 million views on TikTok at the time of writing. Members of the Twitter-verse, too, appreciated the trend just as much as the creators appeared to enjoy it, with people posting about how #OrigamiCamp was the ultimate highlight on social media throughout the weekend. Talk about viral content.

    "The group was honestly completely blown away and excited that we made such an impact on the internet over the weekend," says Noel. Luna expressed the same. "We did expect [Origami Camp] to get popular but definitely not at the level it has gone. We just kept watching it blow up in a matter of hours and there were thousands of stitches and duets, then came the articles, and we were all so shocked but ecstatic."

    Origami Camp is a positive movement for sex workers looking for a welcome space, both physically and in the digital realm. OnlyFans has been flagged for becoming saturated with influencers and high-profile celebrities. The descent of these big names has impacted a once-safe space from sex workers who rely on the platform as a primary source of income (though OnlyFans has been criticised for taking 20 percent of revenue for years). It also made the platform a far more crowded one. With Origami Camp, it seems that these creators are carving out an empowering space of their own.

    Natasha Noel taking followers through the Origami Camp weekend. Credit: SCREENSHOT: tiktok / @babygirlnoell

    Luna also touched upon the importance of recognition, especially after OnlyFans dangled the possibility of taking away the livelihoods of sex workers on the platform.

    "Our community deals with so much backlash from [both] regular people and platforms that will completely censor us. It was nice to finally get some recognition for the years of work we've put into our content," she says.

    #OrigamiCamp is just the latest of the phenomenon of collaborator houses for platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Amongst the most publicized was "Hype House"(Opens in a new tab), the Los Angeles mansion that once had 19 TikTok creators (including Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae) weaving in and out of the space, collaborating on digital content. The locale was home to a fair bit of controversy, too, but is allegedly still running(Opens in a new tab). This was just one of the content houses that became a cornerstone of the wild world of influencers. YouTube collectives have been doing this for years too, with houses in West Hollywood and in other lux neighborhoods throughout LA.

    View this post on Instagram
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    A post shared by Tariq (@tgardner07)(Opens in a new tab)

    The Origami Camp group's weekend home doesn’t appear to be a permanent residence for them, like other established collab houses. But though temporary, it allowed creators to both bond and concoct truly viral pieces of content all under the same roof, speaking to a burgeoning trend amongst digital natives.

    It's more than just behind-the-scenes stuff. Content made about the content will always have a home, it seems.

  • Apple Watch Ultra debuts for hardcore outdoors enthusiasts

    Apple Watch Ultra debuts for hardcore outdoors enthusiasts

    The Apple Watch just leveled up.


    At its big iPhone 14 launch event on Wednesday, Sept. 7, Apple showed off the latest addition to the Apple Watch family: the Apple Watch Ultra(Opens in a new tab). It has a larger 49mm case than the 41mm and 45mm regular Series 8 watches, and comes with titanium casing to withstand all your outdoor adventures. It can last 36 hours on a single charge, too.

    The Apple Watch Ultra will launch on Sept. 23 for $799.

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    SEE ALSO: How to preorder the new Apple Watch models
    The new Wayfinder watch face has a detailed compass. Credit: Apple

    When I say Apple is aiming this watch at people who love nature, I mean it. It's got the same temperature and blood oxygen sensors as the regular Apple Watch Series 8, but it can do so much more. For instance, it will automatically bring up a water depth and temperature sensor when you dive, with Apple demonstrating the ability to dive up to 40 meters underwater.

    It has more precise GPS than other Apple Watches and a new Wayfinder watch face that displays a bunch of vital information for activities like hiking. Wayfinder's detailed compass will show latitude, longitude, and a host of other details to keep you on track. On the hardware side, a new "action button" can be customized to do whatever you need, with one example being that it can play a loud siren noise to alert others to your presence.

    Three different types of watch bands for different activities. Credit: Apple

    Apple is also selling different watch bands for different kinds of activities. There's a thin Trail Loop band for runners, a strong Alpine Loop band for hikers, and an Ocean band that's meant to be worn over a wetsuit. Apple also says the device can endure external temperatures ranging from -4 degrees to 131 degrees Fahrenheit.

    It's all very intense, but so are the kinds of lifestyles lived by the target audience for the Apple Watch Ultra. If the marketing is to be believed, this may be a dream companion device for the adventurers out there.

  • TikTok is trying to BeReal

    TikTok is trying to BeReal

    Now TikTok why are you copying BeReal?


    Announced today (Sept. 15), TikTok is launching TikTok Now, it's very own BeReal clone. The new feature "invites you and your friends to capture what you're doing in the moment using your device's front and back camera."

    Like BeReal, TikTok Now sends out a daily notification and gives users a three minute time frame to post (BeReal only gives you two minutes). In the daily notification, TikTok Now swaps out BeReal's signature warning sign emoji for lightning bolts and changes the language from "It's time to BeReal" to "Time to Now," which just doesn't flow as well.

    The BeRealification of TikTok. Credit: TikTok

    The only noticeable innovation of BeReal that TikTok Now makes is allowing users the option of posting a 10-second video instead of a photo.

    SEE ALSO: BeReal promised authenticity online. That doesn't exist.

    In the U.S., TikTok Now can be accessed through the TikTok app on a new feed where users can add which friends they want to view their Nows. For other regions, TikTok Now might be a separate app entirely, in which case you should just download BeReal!

    TikTok isn't the only social media company that's attempting to monopolize on BeReal's popularity; Instagram is testing its own clone of the app, and Snap recently launched Dual Camera. It looks like everyone is trying to be a real copycat.