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Here's where the fake podcast clips come from
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X Users Are Raging Over A Porn Clip Again
Back in March, Twitter users were all up in arms over a podcast clip of a woman saying it’s important to sexually satisfy men multiple times a day. The video went super viral, but, as I discovered, it didn’t come from a podcast at all. It was an Instagram video advertising the porn star Victoria Banxx’s OnlyFans.
In the months since, Twitter has become X and the vibes on the site have only become more heinous. There’s now an entire content economy built around sharing videos of random young women — usually plucked off TikTok — saying salacious things and using them as proof that society has gone off the rails. There’s also a whole bunch of women making fake podcast clips to monetize that outrage.
But thanks to a new clip that went viral this week, I think I’ve stumbled across one of the biggest sources for these videos.
On October 29th, a Twitter user named @luvcalxb posted a video of a woman in the back of a van saying that she doesn’t cook, she just likes to have sex. @luvcalxb captioned it, “This generation is cooked 😂,” which is basically the same caption all these videos have. That video was then shared by a user named @scubaryan_, who captioned it, “no way she just casually said this… our generation might actually be finished 😭”. That version of the video was shared 4,000 times and “viewed” close to nine million times.
The video briefly had a Community Note on it that read, “the girl getting interviewed is an OnlyFans model and this is an undisclosed ad which is illegal,” which then, hilariously, linked to the model’s X account, giving her more promo. Great work, guys. Also, after digging through the replies a bit, I found a user asking, “where do fanbus find these women?” So I had a name and a page. The model goes by the name punannieannie and the clip comes from an Instagram Reel posted by an account called The Fan Bus.
The Fan Bus uploaded the Reel three days ago. Best as I can tell, it is not affiliated with the other, more famous, bus-related porn brand (iykyk). In fact, I actually dug through a business database of adult content sites to see if it had an owner and it seems like its totally independent. It launched its Facebook page in 2021 and its YouTube channel in 2020. And the OnlyFanBus.com URL was registered around the same time, though it doesn’t go to a website, it redirects to an OnlyFans account, The Fan Van. Which is where the name comes from: (Only)Fan(s) Bus/Van, get it?
But here’s where it gets crazy. I think The Fan Bus/Fan Van digital media operation was where the initial Victoria Banxx clip came from.
Banxx posted her video on her personal Instagram on March 6th. And one my big unanswered questions at the time about the video was why. If you go through her page, it’s basically all selfies until you get to March when suddenly she starts sharing “podcast” clips. Well, Fan Bus shared the exact same clip on the same day. It’s since changed its format, but all of its subsequent interviews use the same subtitling format (its a stock Davinci Resolve effect).
Since the Banxx clip, Fan Bus has changed up their format, moving the interviews to their van, but the marketing strategy is the same. They ask models super sexual questions and post the clips on every major platform. It’s all part of a series called “Bus Confessions,” which are also posted on their YouTube channel. Even wilder, the channel is beginning to experiment with longer videos. Its most recent upload is 45 minutes long. Which basically makes it a podcast?
There are a few big takeaways here for me. The first, and funniest, is that X users have become so right-wing and reactionary that they’re spending their time raging over literal ads for porn. The second takeaway is how savvy new porn operations have become. They’ve built these labyrinthian networks of SFW viral content on major platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube that guide users to their OnlyFans pages. And the final takeaway for me is that at our current late stage of Web 2.0 everyone is having such a Bad Time Online at such a consistent level that you can build an entire media company off of short videos of young women saying random stuff that makes weird men angry. Inspiring, really.
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If you've been enjoying Ryan's exhaustive cataloging of everything dramatic and bizarre Online, you might also enjoy my solitary journey into the underbelly of fraud, scams, and protracted societal decay. Sound fun?
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A Garbage Update
Good news, everyone! The Garbage Day universe is getting a little bit bigger. Garbage Day researcher Adam Bumas is coming on full time. You’ll be seeing his presence in the newsletter more often. He’s also spearheading the monthly Garbage Intelligence reports (which you can access if you sign up for or upgrade to the Garbage Intelligence paid tier) and we’ve got some fun ideas for regular features.
More good news! (Maybe?) Summer hours are officially over. Back in May, I went down to two issues a week. It was good for my brain and even better for my business — I had time to do a bunch of logistical stuff I had put off for three years. But I like the rhythm of three days a week and I’m excited to jump back into your inboxes with more regularity. Starting next week, there will be a free issue on Mondays and Wednesdays and the paid weekend edition on Fridays. You can get the weekend editions and Discord access by hitting the green button below.
And, finally, I’m running a little distributed content experiment for the next few weeks. I’m camped out on all the major platforms and I’ll be converting Garbage Day issues into native-ish content to see if any of it moves the needle. I’ll report back with a proper analytics rundown for those that are curious in a few weeks. So far, Tumblr is where I’m getting the most on-platform engagement, but Instagram is beginning to drive some actually noticeable traffic.
Kicking things off, here’s a YouTube essay I made collecting some recent writing I’ve done about Twitter/X.
A Good Post
Threads Will Probably Win And That’s A Bummer
I’ve been poking around Threads recently. I completely dismissed it when it first launched and I stand by all of those points. I think most of them are still true. But I’m not King of the Internet and I can’t control where people go. And, unfortunately for me, most of the important people in the world of media and tech have all decamped to Threads.
Here are a few stray observations I have after my first real week on the platform: Its algorithm is the same kind of bad that all of Meta’s products are. It also completely breaks the site’s ability to deliver breaking news. My new workflow is seeing news break on X and then going over to Threads five hours later to see what people who aren’t deranged goblins have to say about it.
Its interface is also still very bad. It nests replies into comment sections, which means conversations are hard to follow. And its users don’t seem to know about or care about sharing content. I think part of the reason for this is that shares do not appear to be shown publicly? Oh, also, weirdest of all, the majority of users seem to really like all of those things and if you post about these problems on Threads, as I may have over the weekend, they will yell at you for hours. Though, Threads is reportedly working on an API, which could help me, personally, deal with a lot of these things.
Anyways, here are five Bluesky invites if anyone wants them:
A Measured Anti-AI Take
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At a recent AI summit organized by The Washington Post, Meredith Whittaker, the president of the Signal Foundation, gave a pretty good rundown of why generative AI is still not super useful. Whittaker also talked about how the negative The World Is Ending hype cycle around AI is actually just a very useful marketing tool for the companies selling these services.
The Atlantic’s Charlie Warzel posted on Threads about Whittaker’s take, writing, “I think Whittaker's point is very real. I've struggled mightily to find any daily use case for generative-AI tools in my day to day work (not judging those who do, but for me...I don't find their outputs all that useful).”
I’m in the same boat as Warzel, where I think AI stuff is neat, but I can’t figure out how to do much with it. So far, the coolest thing I’ve done with an AI tool is building an AI model of Elon Musk that I “talked to” on stage at some recent Garbage Day live events and a little motion graphic I made for the video I embedded above where I fed the Garbage Day trash can into Runway and had it generate a bunch of different aesthetics, which I then compiled into a cool glitch effect. Which is to say, I still haven’t found a use for AI’s ability to “think” and still really only use it as a party trick.
But you know what you shouldn’t use it for? Auto-generating polls about how someone may have died, which is reportedly what Microsoft’s AI widget did on a Guardian story recently.
All that said…
AI Johnny Cash Goes Hard
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Artifact Is Actually Pretty Good
I’m thinking about doing a regular section where I talk about an app I actually like. The app that made me consider this is one that has quickly become one of my favorites recently. It’s called Artifact and it was built by the founders of Instagram (pre-Facebook acquisition).
It’s billed as an AI news reader, and while it does seem to be using machine learning to figure out what I want to read, I actually think its cooler feature is its push alerts. Several times a day, it’ll just send me a push alert for something it thinks I might be interested in. Sometimes I click through and sometimes the push alerts are enough. The app is clearly trying to gamify itself to get me to use it more, but so far I’m really enjoying casually clicking into it throughout the day.
Even cooler, the other day it sent me a push alert for a review of a new restaurant in Manhattan right as I was wandering around looking for a place to eat. I decided to roll the dice and it turns out the AI nailed it. Had a great dinner. If you feel like you’re missing a whole section of “news” internet now that X is rotting, it’s worth giving it a whirl.
Japan’s Boring Halloween Is Back
Japan’s Mundane Halloween, or Jimi Halloween, competition was this week. You can check out an English-language blog post here about it or click over here and see a bunch of costumes collected by Japanese blog Daily Portalz. I think this was my favorite one. It’s “the child who appears in the My Neighbor Totoro poster but never appears in the main story.”
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s evil Rick Astley.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***