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What Will Facebook Do To Audio?

On Monday, Sidechannel, a new Discord collective for independent writers that I’m part of with amazing folks like Casey NewtonCharlie WarzelAnne Helen PetersonEric NewcomerNick QuahDelia Cai, and Kim Zetter, had our first guest — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Casey interviewed him about the company’s plans to create an audio product that can compete with both Clubhouse and Spotify.

You can read a full rundown from Casey here about what Facebook has planned, but the main things they want to focus on are short-form “snackable” bits of audio content, long-form audio like podcasts (and I guess music), and, of course, live audio.

Readers of Garbage Day already know that I am extremely bearish about Clubhouse. Mainly for its increasingly toxic user base, but also I think live audio for live audio’s sake is a fad. That’s not to say that some people haven’t figured out how to do some great stuff with the medium, but I don’t see conference calls with LinkedIn dark enlightenment wizards as The Next Big Thing In Tech. I assume we’ll look back on it as a weird COVID fad. And, more worryingly, I fear that Clubhouse’s ultimate legacy will be that any app can grow a massively over-inflated valuation simply because it convinced 1000 extremely rich people in Silicon Valley to use it first. The app is already seeing a 72% drop in downloads. So I’m not exactly optimistic about Facebook’s foray into the space.

As for short-form audio and long-form audio, I suspect it will go exactly like all other content types supported by Facebook. At first, the algorithm will over-promote it. Because of the scale of the site and economic value of Facebook virality, this will create an audio gold rush on the platform. More than a few media companies will almost certainly get involved. If audio doesn’t stick with Facebook users, which I think is likely, the dial on audio will be turned down, any media companies that staffed up for the push will have layoffs, and there will be like a couple dozen random people who are suddenly massive podcast names with millions of listeners that you’ll probably never hear about until they come out as anti-vaxxers or something.

If audio on Facebook does work, what will happen will most likely be a subtle shifting of the medium. Content that works on Facebook and Instagram tends to slowly morph over time into content that only works on those platforms. I assume that’s by design. Think about all the bizarre massively viral videos living inside of Facebook Watch right now that are specifically made to only really be consumed inside of Facebook. Or Instagram comments or stories, which literally cannot be viewed correctly outside of the context of the app. Now, compare that to TikToks or tweets, which, for better or worse, are regularly shared all over the web. This has all led to an interesting phenomenon where we simply just don’t see content from Facebook apps outside of the app as much anymore. And if we do, it’s typically something completely insane (NSFWish link).

The reason this is particularly sad for the world of podcasting, in particular, is because its massive growth and popularity is largely due to decentralization and a massive hobbyist community. It is a medium that has been shaped by people who are genuinely enthusiastic about it. I don’t want to see what Facebook prank magicians do with once it becomes the Newsfeed’s shiny new toy. What is the Russian dashcam or wellness guru livestream equivalent of audio? Because we’re about to find out.

Those Like Graph Line Diagram Meme Things

These memes are everywhere! I think the one above is the original, but, as far as I can tell, the meme format doesn’t have a name yet. I tried googling stuff like “joint graph meme,” but I didn’t get anything useful. I did come across one pretty good Tumblr masterpost of a bunch of different ones.

I think if i had to choose, this is my favorite one currently:

A Good Kevin Bacon Video

The Josh Fight Is Coming

This Facebook screenshot has floated around the internet for a while now, at least since last year. It shows a person named Josh Swain adding all the other Josh Swains on Facebook and challenging them to a fight. Quick aside: I was actually in a Ryan Brodericks group for a while. It was pretty cool until it got confusing and annoying. Anyways, this screenshot is a huge fixture in meme communities on Reddit.

Though, Tumblr users, in particular, right now, are super excited right now about the Josh Swain fight. The fight is this week!

Where’s it happening? Where is 40.8223286, -96.7982002? Well, if you put the longitude and latitude coordinates into Google Maps, you get a random field in Middle Creek, Nebraska. I saw rumors floating around that it was near some kind of “Church of Josh,” but I can’t find it on the map. So basically, this Saturday, a bunch of Joshs might meet up and fight each other in a random field. If anything actually happens, I’ll let you know!

Let’s Check In On How Elon Musk Is Doing

Ah, ok, cool. Moving on!

Is Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva A Barb?

OK, a quick Brazilian politics lesson before we get into this: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a former president of Brazil. He’s one of the country’s most popular politicians. He helped found the left-wing Worker’s Party (PT) and is sort of like if Bernie Sanders was also Jimmy Carter, maybe? He was convicted of corruption twice and was sentenced to almost over 20 years in prison. He attempted to run for president in 2018 from jail, but that was deemed illegal. In 2019, he was released from prison. And then, last month, the country’s Supreme Court annulled the charges against him. He’s now expected to run for president again in 2022 against the far-right current president Jair Bolsonaro. All of this has sent the country into a bit of a Lula buzz at the moment. He’s become one of the loudest voices speaking up about Bolsonaro’s completely disastrous COVID-19 response.

Also, he liked this tweet about Nicki Minaj recently.

This is a big deal. Brazilian Twitter probably has the most aggressive stan armies on the planet. And the Brazilian branch of the Barbz fandom, or fans of Nicki Minaj, are no exception. The tweet he liked reads, “Nicki Minaj supporting the candidacy of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva in mid-1998” lmao.

I dug through Lula’s likes and, yes, he did like the tweet, but his account likes a lot of memes. But you better believe the Brazilian Barbz noticed. Twitter has been going wild about it. Here’s my favorite tweet about it, which basically says, “It’s old news that Lula is a Barb.”

Interested to see which pop star stan army Bolsonaro will be recruiting for his 2022 re-election run.

The IKEA Guy

We have to talk about the IKEA guy! His name is Scott Seiss. He spoke to the Daily Dot recently about his videos, which are going insanely viral right now. He’s originally from Baltimore, he’s currently living in New York City, and he isn’t currently working at IKEA. Which means this won’t become one of those weird Sherwin-Williams fiascos.

For folks in non-TikTok countries, here’s a Twitter mirror to another one of his videos that’s really good.

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Yahoo Answers might be RIP but flagrant, dangerous misinformation isn’t.

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