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TikTok Has Become America's Big Awful Digital Dorm Room

Read to the end for three interesting tweets about the year 2028

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First, An Extremely Grim TikTok Video

The TikTok/YouTuber person on the right is 25-year-old Gabi DeMartino. She’s very popular — 1.3 million followers on TikTok, 4.4 million on Instagram, 3.2 on YouTube. You get the idea. The woman on the right is Gabi’s friend Alex. In the video, they do the “BFF income challenge,” which is just as awful and uncomfortable as you could imagine. Gabi reveals she spends $9,000 a week and has a personal chef. Alex, a secretary, reveals she spends about $100 a week.

The video is a mess and further compounds a belief I’ve had for a while about viral content. Most of the “games” or “challenges” or “trends” that people have been doing with each other since the rise of mainstream social media platforms are really just digital versions of those awkward icebreakers you’d have to sit through during the absolutely unbearable sober moments of a college dorm party. But on the internet, the party never arrives, so we all just have weird performative surface-level conversations with each other until they inevitably turn toxic and we have to change the game. This appears to be TikTok’s entire content strategy.

Gabi’s fun and relatable video was not received as fun and relatable by non-internet millionaires. In fact, people were pretty mad about it! She had to make an apology video and deactivated her account for a while over the weekend. Oh well, on to the next icebreaker, I guess.

The Gen Z Nazi Tattoo Thing

Alright, so if making really gross videos bragging about your unimaginable wealth is not cool anymore, the next game we should all play on TikTok is… *spins wheel* accidentally getting a Nazi tattoo!

I’ve seen this kicking around a few places and I’m always extremely skeptical of stories like this. I mean, Nazi symbol or not, I don’t think a huge amount of teenagers on TikTok are going to go out and get tattoos.

The whole #GenZTattoo thing started when a user named @smoothavacado went on TikTok and said that everyone in Gen Z should all get a matching tattoo. Which, as I said above, is exactly the kind of ridiculous thing a college freshman says while pregaming in their dorm room. And, once again, as I said above, because TikTok’s algorithm turns every asinine thing teenagers do into global content trends to sell Chipotle ads against, the idea of a Gen Z tattoo quickly became a very big deal. Unfortunately for @smoothavacado, the proposed Gen Z tattoo design that she shows in her video looks almost exactly like a Nazi Wolfsangel rune. Whoops.

It seems like she’s deleted the video and she also made an apology video explaining that’s just how she writes her Z’s. “My entire point was to bring my generation together,” she says, crying in the video. “It was about love and unity.”

Twitter over the weekend filled up with people talking about the Gen Z tattoo. It’s all very dumb, but the fact the pandemic has turned TikTok into an automated digital dorm room for every college kid in the country means this is probably not the last time something like this will happen this fall. Anyways, don’t get the Nazi rune tattoo — or any tattoo that goes on viral tbh. Just ask older the millennials with faded finger mustache tattoos.

Let’s Go Inside The Anti-Trump Simulation

If you’re looking for a really good Twitter account that tracks misinformation on Reddit, I highly recommend @DivestTrump. He flagged this r/Digital_Manipulation Reddit post over the weekend that is an absolute trip. The user u/abrownn appears to have uncovered a bizarre ad campaign based around completely fictitious Trump tweets. The entire thing is as impressively intricate as it is dumb to be honest.

A link appeared on r/Libertarian 11 days ago, claiming Trump was threatening a British band. Which, honestly, of all the thousands Trump subplots happening at any given moment, it’s believable, I suppose. If you clicked the link, you would take you to a website called The Daily Gazette.

None of the links or ads are clickable on the site, though, as u/abrownn notes in his initial post. The website appears to have been created to support this band Tokyo Taboo’s weird fake beef with Trump. The article claims that Trump is mad at the band for featuring a Deepfaked Trump in a diaper in the video for their new song. It includes this screenshot of a Twitter conversation between Tokyo Taboo and Trump that never happened.

The article then goes on to talk about how great the band’s Deepfaked diaper Trump looks and also includes a SECOND Trump Deepfake of him fake-responding to the band, demanding they take their video off YouTube or whatever.

You can tell this was made by a British person by the way because an American would never zip their windbreaker all the way up to their chin. The band’s fake “Trump is mad at us” promotional campaign isn’t just playing out across Reddit, YouTube, and their fake tabloid article. They’re claiming on their Facebook page that Trump is threatening them. I also put the Gazette article into Crowdtangle and was pretty surprised to see it getting shared across a bunch of anti-Trump Facebook Groups. Not in huge numbers exactly, but definitely more than I expected.

So I clicked on some of the Groups to see who was sharing it and it turns out they’re all posts from the same person — the band’s singer. If you want to check out the nitty gritty of the spoofed Daily Gazette website and how they seeded it to Reddit to make it look legitimate, definitely check out that r/Digital_Manipulation post.

It’s all harmless, I suppose — and not exactly convincing — but it’s still annoying. On Facebook, everything’s a grift, even people protesting the grift.

Here’s A Cool Rock Instagram

If you’re looking for a nice and chill Instagram page to stare at in the middle of night because you can’t sleep because you’re wasting the best years of your life wearing sweatpants inside every day watching helplessly as the very structure of society crumbles around you, you should follow Sue Cooper’s Broken River Mining! This page is great. It’s run by an Australian opal miner and it’s full of pictures and videos of dusty rocks being cracked open to reveal beautiful gemstones. Like me in July 2021, when I get to sit shoved up against other people inside of a dive bar and stuff my face with $1 hot dogs and burnt popcorn again.

RIP Longcat

A few weeks ago, I shared my discovery that ur-famous internet cat Longcat was still alive. Her real name was Shiroi (白い) or “white,” and she was 18 years old. Japanese message boards nicknamed her “nobiiru-chan” or “Stretch,” and she was one of the first 4chan memes. Well, I’m sad to say she passed away over the weekend. Real old corners of the internet have been paying tribute to her. There’s a thread in her honor on Fark and there were even some fairly earnest posts on 4chan about her.

It’s definitely very weird that people around the world are mourning the death of this very old Japanese cat, but I suppose there’s something kind of nice about it too. The world is a very very very different place than it was when Longcat first appeared online in 2016, but, after surveying the weird and funny tributes to Longcat happening across social media right now, maybe not as different as we tend to think it is.

There’s A Twitter Account Tweeting The Whole Shrek 2 Script

Don’t really have much more to say about this really. You can follow it here. Apparently it completely Shrek 1 a little while ago and it tweets every hour.

Twitter’s Facial Recognition Algorithm Appears To Be Favoring White Faces

Over the weekend, Twitter user @colinmadland discovered something interesting about Twitter’s facial recognition algorithm while tweeting a thread about Zoom’s own issues with facial recognition. Madland was sharing a story about how his Black colleague couldn’t get Zoom to recognize his face, which meant the virtual backgrounds wouldn’t work. When Madland tweeted out pictures though, he realized that on Twitter mobile, the app would only feature pictures of his own face — meaning it too was not recognizing his Black colleague’s face. This led to other users putting different photos of white and Black people into tweets and seeing which photo the app would favor. Every time, the app would show the white face over the Black face.

Typically these kinds of stories don’t get a proper ending. Users fight amongst each other, people make up their minds about what they believe, and move on. So I was really surprised to see Twitter’s comms person Liz Kelley address it.

“We tested for bias before shipping the model and didn't find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing, but it’s clear that we’ve got more analysis to do,” Kelly tweeted. “We'll open source our work so others can review and replicate.”

And Finally, I Waited To Publish Garbage Day Today Just To Make Sure This Made It In

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

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