The Neopets uprising has begun

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The Neopets NFT Conflict Finally Boils Over

Back in September, Neopets, the long-running social experiment to see exactly how much you can torture and disregard the well-being of a fanbase, announced that they were teaming up with crypto startups Raydium, Solana, and Moonvault to launch Neopet NFTs. Users were not happy at all!

“the venn diagram of active neopets users and crypto mouthbreathers is two circles a light year apart,” Twitter user fallentemplis wrote. “I’ve never seen such a breathtaking display of stupidity and mismanagement of a website, and i used tumblr for years”

For context, Neopets has been undergoing a large-scale attempt at something resembling modernization. In 2020, there was an estimated 1.5 million users still on the site, which now finally works properly on mobile. Earlier this year, it finally began allowing users to post LGBTQIA-related content. But as Neopets has attempted to pull itself out of the early-2000s, problems continue to pop up. There are parts of the site that still don’t work after Flash was retired. And, most recently, an exploitable hack allowed users to generate previously rare Neopets. The site’s in-game economy was essentially a black market of custom characters and this hack tanked the market, creating a wave of hyperinflation.

Neopets’ NFT project is being managed by a group called Neopets Metaverse, which is being organized by a Hong Kong-based tech startup called Cherry Picks and Moonvault, a DeFi investment startup. From what I can tell, the Neopets Metaverse is mainly a DAO-esque Discord community for Neopets NFTs. I had a quick peak around the server and it looks like it’s having some moderation issues. Also, Tumblr users have accused it of being racist and homophobic.

As for the actual Neopets NFTs that are being sold, users say they’re over-priced and low-quality.

“The ‘NFTs’ are literally just randomly generated stock Neopets. With thousands and thousands of pet/color/clothing combinations to choose from, they all inevitably look like absolute shit. You cannot dress them up, change their color or species or outfit, or even name or care for them or pick their gender,” Tumblr user kate-shadow wrote.

There are also now accusations of NFT enthusiasts buying old accounts and trying to astroturf the community into believing that everyone loves the new blockchain-based Neopets. There are also fraudulent Neopets NFT Telegram groups and users are mass-logging off for days at a time in protest. Basically, everything that could go wrong is. It’s a mess!

The Neopets Metaverse Twitter account then decided to respond to the controversy earlier this week by posting this now-deleted tweet:

Neopets users, and members of the Discord, were furious that they used a meme long-related to racists on 4chan. The Neopets Metaverse account them made another thread apologizing for posting it.

“What we posted expressed an ignorance of widely understood context and contained imagery (or “memes”) generally known by net users to be hateful. We sincerely apologize for our use of this content and are having internal discussions about how we can avoid similar acts in the future,” the account tweeted.

The webmaster for Neopets fan site told Polygon this week that they plan to continue to put pressure on Neopets’ owners, video game studio JumpStart Games, using the hashtag #NoNeoNFTs.

“We started the #NoNeoNFTs campaign at Jellyneo to spread word of the perils that the Neopets Metaverse project has faced since its announcement: the abhorrent homophobic and racist behavior from the NFT community and the unprofessional behavior from the team running the project; the threat to the Neopets site and brand; and the low quality and scammy aspects of this project in particular and other NFT projects in general,” the webmaster told Polygon.

Though this whole story is centered on the super insular world of Neopets, I suspect this culture clash — between crypto bros who casually throw around 4chanspeak and, well, everyone else — will only get worse as more tech companies make a play for Web3. There is a truly unimaginable amount of money being thrown at the crypto world right now and it seems highly likely that over the next year an internet community you’re apart of is going to be sucked into this stuff. So it’s worth watching what happens with Neopets NFTs. Once again, as always, Neopets is microcosm of the internet.

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Facebook’s List Of Dangerous Organizations Leaks

On Tuesday, The Intercept leaked Facebook’s secret list of of “Dangerous Individuals And Organizations”. You can go through the whole thing here. According to The Intercept, it includes over 4,000 names and appears to date back to 2012.

Brian Fishman, the head of counter-terrorism and dangerous organizations at Facebook, published a lengthy Twitter thread responding to the leak. He said that the list published by The Intercept wasn’t comprehensive and the one used by the platform is routinely updated.

A major criticism, both from users on Twitter and included in the original Intercept piece, is how small the section is on white nationalist groups and militias are. Which is something Fishman responded to, as well.

“More than 250 white supremacist entities are designated under our most restrictive policy as hate groups. Tier 1. That means no ‘praise, support and representation’,” he tweeted. “In 2020 we expanded our DOI policy to include ‘Militarized Social Movements’, including militias. As far as we know, this is also the most comprehensive list of its kind and reflects the legitimate concern we had regarding potential political violence in 2020.”

It’s worth reading this Twitter thread in full if only to get a better idea of how those on the inside of Facebook are thinking about these things.

The Tom Cruise Deepfake Is Still Posting On TikTok

The TikTok account run by a deepfake of Tom Cruise has yet to be sued into oblivion and is still regularly updating. (And may be getting more and more convincing?) Earlier this week, Justin Bieber was duped by one of the account’s videos. There was also apparently some confusion about whether or not the real Tom Cruise was at Giants game recently. (I think it was him.)

If you’ve never heard of this account before, the actual human being behind AI Tom Cruise is an actor named Miles Fischer. The Tom Cruise deepfake face was created by a visual effects artist named Chris Umé. Umé and Fischer earlier this year started posting fake Tom Cruise videos around the internet and they quickly went viral. Their popularity led Umé to then, in June, launch an AI company called Metaphysic.

But deepfake Tom Cruise isn’t the only “fake” TikToker that’s blowing up people’s For You pages right now. There’s an excellent Insider piece this week about a company called FourFront which created a bunch of influencers who are real people — no AI involved — but are playing characters that populate the company’s “cinematic universe”. I see deepfakes, VTubers, and scripted influencers as pieces of the same macro trend.

Clearly, TikTok users are becoming more and more comfortable with inauthenticity. For a long time now, internet fame has been defined as a conflict between authenticity and relatability. The most popular influencers, even if they’re mega-wealthy, are typically monetizing some kind of stylized version of relatable content. Christian Girl Autumn is a good example of this. Obviously, not every Christian white lady is going to go put on a huge hat and sit in leaves or whatever, but the idea is that, if they could, they would. And, so, I think we’re seeing internet users right now slowly get comfortable with the idea that they don’t actually need anything authentic to relate, consume, and share internet content. And once that idea goes out the window, well, who knows what happens.

A Redditor Has A Problem

Hmm, this really seems like a doozy. Let’s see what the comments have to say:

  • “Looks like you have a skin glove on”

  • “You need a hat for those wrist-bangs.”

  • “You could probably try to taper the hair down closer to your hands. Like a gradient effect.”

  • “I want to see it all”

Paramore’s “Still Into You” Finally Gets A Drill Remix

A drill remix of Paramore’s “Still Into You” is trending on TikTok right now. It’s extremely good. It was created by a DJ named @shobeatz. It’s goes extremely hard and works surprisingly well.

According to Know Your Meme, a YouTube called called Shadow Music put out an extended version, which you can check out here.

I Can’t Get This Video Out Of My Head

I watched this video recently and it has haunted me ever since. I can’t shake it. It’s so bizarre and weird and hilarious. I don’t know what to do with it.

A Fantastic Spotify Playlist

This playlist by user catpotion is a truly heinous collection of music called “worst songs to have sext to”. It includes songs like System Of A Down’s “Chop Suey!,” a Kidz Bop version of “Gangnam Style,” a song from Hamilton, and the Big Bang Theory theme song. It is a psychosexual nightmare. You can listen to it in all its glory here.

A Good Tweet

An Hour Of Sighs

In case you missed it, last month, comedian (and voice of movie Sonic the Hedgehog) Ben Schwartz and comedian Gil Ozeri released a video that is literally an hour of them sighing. That’s it. That’s the whole thing!

Some Stray Links

P.S. here’s a spooky treat.

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

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