The internet's darkest story gets even darker

Read to the end for a cool Wikipedia article

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Chris Chan Was Arrested

This story is pretty upsetting and there are still a lot of unanswered questions about all of it, but considering how central Chris Chan, real name Christine Weston Chandler, has been to a certain kind of internet culture over the years, I feel like it’s worth covering. If you’re not looking to go into a really dark story about a really toxic form of internet popularity as well as allegations of sexual abuse, just scroll down to today’s second item.

Chris Chan became a popular target for 4chan and Encyclopedia Dramatica users in 2007. Chan, a trans woman with autism, caught the attention of various online message boards in the mid-00s after users discovered her comic, Sonichu, which was centered on a character she created that was a mashup of Sonic and Pikachu. The comic, and Chan, herself, became of the first real viral examples of “cringe” and she has stayed a mainstay on sites like 4chan ever since.

In the mid-00s, 4chan users were obsessed with finding people they believed were on lower rungs of society than them — sex workers, fetishists, people with special needs, members of the trans community — and ridicule and obsess over them. They would turn these people into memes and document every aspect of their lives, creating elaborate wikis, hoping to pressure them into logging off forever or, worse, committing suicide. It was an extremely perverse form of internet fandom that would eventually evolve into, well, basically how the modern conservative movement in America operates.

And, as the YouTuber ContraPoints put it in her video on “cringe” last summer, Chan was thought of as the human embodiment of embarrassing internet content. Chan was the quintessential 4chan mascot. And because of that, she has been doxed, hacked, and stalked for years. For a few thousand very unwell internet users, Chan is a huge celebrity, a legendary figure for online trolls.

Chan eventually pivoted to YouTube, where she amassed a following of over 60,000 subscribers. Chan used YouTube to document her My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fandom, as well as the ongoing writing of her webcomic, Sonichu. She was also using Patreon. Chan’s elderly mother, Barbera, made regular appearances in Chan’s videos.

Chan’s story took an unfathomably dark turn when rumors began circulating over the weekend that she had allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with her mother. And then, last night, video of Chan being handcuffed by police was livestreamed on YouTube.

Though, when the accusations against Chan started trending on Twitter, it wasn’t clear at first if these rumors were legitimate or if they were part of another elaborate trolling operation against Chan. The allegations were based on a leaked audio file shared by Chan obsessives that appeared to show Chan bragging about engaging in intercourse with her mother. Followers of Chan have been obsessed with her sex life for years, going so far as to send sex workers to her home and also, at one point, attempting to frame her for sexual abuse against a minor. There is an entire content economy for users who communicate with Chan, get her to talk about her sex life, and then leak those communications on various message boards. Chan also has a long history of responding to trolls with outrageous and inflammatory statements. Which was part of the cycle that made Chan so irresistible to certain kinds of internet users.

This morning, Virginia Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory issued a statement to Newsweek confirming that Chris Chan had been arrested, charged with one count of incest, and is currently awaiting arraignment. A mugshot was shared by Insider reporter Steven Asarch and the outlet confirmed that Chan was charged with incest.

I suspect there are some pretty dark takeaways to be had here about what all of this says about internet culture, but I want to wait until we know more. As I said at the top, there are a lot of questions about what actually happened. Per the Insider story, there’s no bond or court date set, yet.


A Good Tweet


A Streaming Update With Jungle Cruise

I’ve been really curious about how Disney+ streaming releases could intersect with both their internet culture footprint, as well as their box office earnings. I’ve found it useful to compare Marvel’s Black Widow, which was simultaneously released in theaters and on Disney+’s premier access, to F9, which was only released in theaters. F9 really hasn’t made any kind of lasting contribution to pop culture, save for one sort of popular meme about Vin Diesel and family, whereas Black Widow clips pretty much dominated Twitter, Tumblr, and TikTok the minute it came out.

But, interestingly enough, in terms of total box office, F9 completely trounced Black Widow. F9 made $623.9 million, Black Widow only $319.5 million. And in Black Widow’s opening weekend, it made about $60 million from premier access.

Disney’s release of those figures was one of the first real looks at what kind of money streaming movies could make. Platforms like Netflix are notoriously close to the vest about that sort of thing, so up until now we really haven’t had a good look at how much money a major studio could make via a streaming platform for a one-off release. And now we have a bit more of the picture, thanks to this weekend’s release of Jungle Cruise on Disney+ premier access.

According to Deadline, Jungle Cruise brought in about half as much as Black Widow in streaming revenue, only about $30 million, with a total box office just under $100 million for the opening weekend. And here’s another interesting detail per Deadline, apparently Black Widow only grossed $6.4 million this weekend, which is the lowest fourth weekend gross for a Marvel title ever. Which could be the real effect of dropping a major blockbuster on a streaming service right away: your streaming movie it’s affected by the attention span of the internet. It isn’t just competing with other movies, but also maybe video platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch, each with infinite repositories of up-to-the-second fresh content. And it could be that streamng movie just doesn’t turn into the cultural event traditional studios are used to.


A Look At An Astroturfing Campaign In The Making

The intrepid info warriors over at Reddit’s new r/Digital_Manipulation discovered a really interesting new network of sock puppet accouns being set up on Reddit. According to user u/abrownn, they discovered close to 50 brand new accounts on Sunday that were using deepfake photos for profile pictures and had lyrics from different Arabic language songs as their account descriptions.

I always think it’s really fascinating and useful to get a glimpse of a botnet or an astroturfing campaign like this before it really launches into gear. The users aren’t totally sure what the accounts are being set up to promote, though they suspect it could be related to recent conflicts in Yemen. Definitely click over to see archived screenshots of the whole network.


A Member Of The Pirate Party Is Luxembourg’s First Politician On TikTok

I came across this thanks to the excellent @PopulismUpdates Twitter account. Sven Clement is a 32-year-old politician from Luxembourg. He’s a co-founder of the Pirate Party of Luxembourg, which promotes access to information and data protection. As the @PopulisnUpdates account pointed out, Clement is one of the only elected Pirate Party politicians in the world. The first Pirate to get elected to a real seat of power was Birgitta Jonsdottir, the leader of Iceland’s Pirate Party, in 2016. Neat!

Clement’s TikToks are pretty good and now you have a brand new trivia fact.


Here’s Indiana Bones

Yes, before you ask, he has an Instagram and it’s very good.


Here’s A Really Good Post From The Boston Fire Department

Every single pixel of this image is perfect. Just an absolute masterpiece.


Tumblr’s Obsessed With This Chocolate Man

His name is Amaury Guichon and he’s all over my dashboard lately. Also, to be clear, he’s not made of chocolate (unless…), but his whole deal is making extremely intricate sculptures out of chocolate. He’s a French pastry chef based in Las Vegas and it turns out he’s actually the head instructor at an academy for pastry making.

Watching his videos is kind of like that couple of months where everything on Twitter was secretly made of cake. Though, I find myself a lot less angry when I watch Guichon make extremely impressive furniture out of chocolate.


Some Good Advice From The Hustle Internet

You might remember this epic poster from a viral Twitter thread about tomatoes and power washers.


Niantic Is Reversing The Feature That Made Pokémon Go Good Again

So, if you didn’t know, at the beginning of the pandemic, Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, made a few really interesting tweaks to the game. They doubled the distance required to interact with Pokestops and gyms, added a ton of gifts and presents for players, and make incense more powerful and effective. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, basically, they made the game easier to play from your couch. You could battle and catch Pokémon without having to wander around your neighborhood in a face mask. Over the course of the pandemic, I actually got back into the game. The pandemic tweaks made playing it way more enjoyable and less stressful. It’s now become one of my main time-wasters.

However, Niantic began reversing things like interaction distance in the US and New Zealand this week. The decision to roll these features back is being widely criticized because, one, most importantly, the pandemic is still raging, and, two, the tweaks made the game a lot more fun to play. But, also, they gave disabled players the ability to interact with the game in a much more accessible way.

Players are now trying to organize a boycott and pressure Niantic to leaving the pandemic measures in place permanently. Curious to see what happens next with this.


Some Absolutely Incredible Orangutan Content


Some Stray Links


P.S. here’s a cool Wikipedia article.

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***