Elon Vs. dril
If you ever needed more proof that Elon Musk fundamentally does not understand the site, he insists on deploying features or changing things on the weekends, which is when the site’s users have the most free time to mercilessly dunk on how bad they inevitably are.
This weekend’s big project was the forced re-verification of a both bunch of formerly-verified users and some popular users who were never verified at all. Oh, also, he verified a bunch of dead celebrities. It seems like this whole spiral is a response to the #BlockTheBlue movement. The protest was initially led by users such as dril and Eve 6’s Max Collins. On Friday, users began reporting issues with importing block lists. Then, on Saturday, Twitter verified dril.
Over the next several hours, dril would change his display to automatically remove the checkmark, only for Twitter to put it back a few minutes later. The game of cat and mouse finally ended with dril changing his display name to “slave to Woke” and losing the checkmark, but now dril can’t change his name back. Which is actually very funny, but I don’t Musk did it to be funny on purpose.
While the dril episode was pretty silly — honestly the most fun I’ve had just looking at the internet since maybe The Dress — the verification of dead celebrities that was happening at the same time on Saturday is actually very gross. Also, because of the wording of the verification drop down now, which reads, “This account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number,” it might actually also be illegal. I do not think Norm MacDonald, Chris Cornell, Anthony Bourdain, Chadwick Boseman, and Chester Bennington subscribed to Twitter Blue and I am very curious what their estates think about their accounts now saying that that they did.
As for why certain accounts were verified and why other weren’t, it seems fairly random. Chrissy Teigan, who was also forcibly verified, reported that she got a checkmark after tweeting about dril. Twitter user @NotABigJerk noticed that only certain Star Trek cast members were re-verified. My assumption for a while has been that at least half of what Musk does is based on random memos he found in the office and this feels like a lot like a list of important accounts from 2017 that was lying around. Either way, when the Auschwitz Museum is having to issue a public statement saying that they didn’t pay for Twitter Blue, it’s probably time for some deep self-reflection about what you’re doing.
Oh and now that advertisers have to subscribe to Twitter Blue to advertise, any extension that blocks Twitter Blue users will also probably block most ads. The business genius has another excellent idea.
Amid all the chaos this weekend, I tried to articulate something that’s been bugging me about Twitter Blue subscribers in a tweet and I’m not sure I nailed it, so I want to take another whack at it here where I have a bit more room:
According to a recent analysis of Twitter Blue subscribers, around 20% of them have less than a hundred followers. There is nothing wrong with having a low follower count. There are plenty of people who use Twitter as a reader app, which it actually worked really well as for years, or they just use it as a group chat for a small friend group. Whatever. But even the most violent antisocial incel frog avatars can get 100 followers. So someone with a double-digit follower count paying $100 a year to boost themselves over other users is a special sort of grim. And in trying to imagine who those people are, I have to assume that anyone doing that is a grifter, a confused old person who thinks they’re paying to eventually ride on a spaceship, or a reactionary weirdo. (Maybe all three?)
The big takeaway here is how swiftly Musk has not just devalued the verification checkmark, but actually completely reversed its meaning. Up until just a couple months ago, the blue checkmark, pretty much universally across every major platforms, meant that you were who you said you were and that you were important enough in some capacity to warrant the need to prove it. I’ve argued for years that verification should have been open to everyone for free, though, now that I know Twitter’s verification was literally manually managed by a big spreadsheet, I understand why it wasn’t. But being verified on Twitter now, however, just means you’re desperate enough to look important to pay for it.
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Grimes Is Open-Sourcing Her Voice To AI
Grimes tweeted on Sunday that she would “split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses” a clone of her voice. In her tweet she described it as the same deal she would make with any artist she collaborates with.
“I think it's cool to be fused w a machine and I like the idea of open sourcing all art and killing copyright,” she went on to write. Damn lol same actually.
This is an interesting idea, though it also has a lot of problems. The biggest one being that I’m not sure we’re really prepared for how fast AI content can be generated. The most useful term I’ve found for describing macro trends in AI content is “meta,” which is a concept from Twitch for growth hack trends that spread across multiple creators. And AI metas spread so far and so fast that they basically become spam in a matter of days. I assume as these tools get cheaper and more ubiquitous this novelty-to-spam timeline will shrink to a matter of hours.
For instance, right now, making Grimes’ voice sing a Coldplay song or something, requires some effort. You have to get an acapella of her singing, load it into an AI tool that can clone it, give it lyrics to sing, tune them correctly, and then beatmatch them to an instrumental of the Coldplay song. I was recently messing around with trying to get an AI model of Joe Biden to sing Blink-182’s “I Miss You” and it took several hours to get it to sound even slightly passable. But good techniques for making this kind of music will spread, AI tools will get better, and I’m sure there’ll eventually be something that can do everything I described above via a single prompt.
Which honestly makes any attempts at embracing or fighting against this stuff feel sort of pointless? Like trying to surf a tsunami.
Let’s Talk About The Quiet Luxury Trend
If you spend any time on TikTok you’ve probably seen videos about this. Or if you spend time on Twitter, you’ve seen tweets complaining about those videos. It’s a “new” aesthetic called quiet luxury, which Vogue recently defined as “less austere than minimalism but more polished than normcore.”
My take is that quiet luxury, like other online aesthetics like cottagecore or dark academia, is just another expression of longing for a non-online life. I also find it fascinating that most quiet luxury videos focus on specific products that can help you achieve the look. Which is a very TikTok-ified idea. “Here’s a list of gear to buy to look like you have generational wealth.”
But more than anything the entire trend just makes me think of this meme:
Twitter Took A VTuber’s $1,000 And Didn’t Pay Them Back
Alright, one more Twitter thing. A VTuber that goes by @CovfefeChan (god help me) paid $1,000 to be considered for Twitter’s Gold verification, which is only for institutions and organizations. @CovfefeChan was denied and Twitter still kept the $1,000. Which means Twitter is operating a level of desperate once reserved for teenagers running Kickstarters on Tumblr.
But you know who did successfully got a gold checkmark? Disney Junior UK, which is a parody account. It was verified as an organization, seemingly without paying, most likely because someone at Twitter thought it was a real account affiliated with Disney. It’s since been suspended. Great job all around, everyone.
Alienposting Is So Hot Right Now
Alienposting is the hot new meme in town. Here’s a link to the tweet above and here’s an alienposting video I came across on Tumblr this morning. There’s, obviously, no bigger thing here. It’s just photoshopping stuff to look like green aliens. That said…
I do think the prevalence of green memes over the years is interesting — Shrek, Pepe the Frog, Dat Boi, the green M&M, Kermit, Mike Wazowski, etc. I’ve always wondered if there’s something about screens that results in memes being green more often than other colors, like how the way comic books used to be printed meant that illustrators favored blue in character designs. Anyways, there’s a new green meme.
The Imgurpocalypse Is Actually A Disaster For The Internet
On May 15th, Imgur is clearing house and removing out a lot of content from the platform. Most of the headlines have focused on the fact it’s deleting all of of its pornographic content. But the fact that it’s also planning to delete “old, unused, and inactive content that is not tied to a user account” is a huge deal.
If you aren’t familiar with how Imgur fits into the internet landscape, it has effectively operated as Reddit’s personal file-sharing service. Reddit has, over the years, tried to ween their users off hosting all of their content on Imgur, but it’s still one of the top domains on the platform.
So next month, when Imgur nukes all its inactive content, a huge archive of internet history is likely disappear. So if you’ve got any memes you love on Imgur, I’d recommend making a copy before its too late.
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This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by acorn.
Some Stray Links
This piece on AI music was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by pete and it’s great
P.S. here’s a chill cat.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
It sounds paranoid but it's likely there is an enormous troll / bot / comment network trying to create a sense that there's a groundswell of support for all the weirdo right wing qanon or q-adjacent causes. There just cannot be THIS many people organically saying the EXACT same totally absurd things about drag, for example. This was definitely all set up in the pandemic to go coo-coo bananas over vaccines so why wouldn't it just shift over to go coo-coo bananas over Budweiser or whatever? We know these brigading networks exist...They aren't exclusive to the US right wing. Lots of ideological actors in different countries have them. I know social media creates a hive mind sometimes but the hive mind online is too coordinated to be JUST an accident. A random news story on a fairly liberal outlet will pul in 300 transphobic comments but a related story will pull in many nuanced non-repeating ideas. I just can't believe the outrage about the elites blowing off Twitter Blue is naturally expressed by 3000 people using some variation of 4 main ideas over and over and over. Maybe it's just dumb chumps or maybe it's a coordinated brigade...Either way it sure is visible!
Kate Beaton just won the CBC Canada Reads prize for her graphic novel, Ducks. Highly recommended, I devoured it in a couple of hours.