Zoombombing The Italian Senate
Read to the end for some bonus garbage about Spice DAO
Thank You To Everyone Who Sent Me The Italian Hentai Thing
I realized I have really developed a very specific kind of personal brand because when news broke yesterday of a Final Fantasy VII hentai video being played during an Italian senate Zoom call many Garbage Day readers made sure I knew about it! Thank you, but I already knew. My Google alert for “Italian senate hentai” went off the minute it happened. Let’s talk about what we know and what we don’t know, shall we?
News of the incident went viral on English-speaking Twitter thanks to this tweet from user @FrancescoDonald. Warning: If you click through, @FrancescoDonald shared a clip from the Zoom call, which is very NSFW!
As for the porn clip that played during the Zoom call, there appear to have been two that were shown in quick succession. One was a CGI porn clip of Tifa from the video game Final Fantasy VII and then the second was an extremely graphic clip featuring the character Xiangling from the video game Genshin Impact. And “hentai,” for the uninitiated, is a Japanese banner term for cartoon pornography.
OK, everyone up to speed on that? Let’s talk about what we know about the Zoom call itself.
The meeting was titled, “Towards A Transparent Civil Service” and it actually featured Giorgio Parisi, a Nobel prize-winning physicist lol. The meeting was organized by Italy’s populist Five Star Movement. The Five Star Movement is closely aligned with antivaxxers and neofascists and its adherents have become more militant during the pandemic. I wrote about it for Foreign Policy recently.
Because this occurred during a Five Star Movement Zoom call it’s actually tricky to figure out how and why this happened. Five Star members, according to Italian news service ANSA, claim they were hacked. And the timing of the porn clip being played right as Parisi was beginning to speak seems to confirm this was done as a prank.
Senator Maria Laura Mantovani, the event’s organizer, told local media that she booted the user who played the porn clips from the Zoom and reported them to law enforcement.
While this does seem like a pretty clear-cut prank situation, it’s worth pointing out that the far right loves hentai. This is an objective fact. There is really nothing that brings together the international far right as much as anime porn. Whether we’re talking about supporters of Trump, Bolsonaro, or Duterte, these people are obsessed with hentai. So I have a pretty easy time believing that a member of the Five Star Movement was Toobin-ing during a senate meeting and accidentally Zoombombed their colleagues.
Oh, and one other detail that I haven’t seen elsewhere that’s worth pointing out is that it seems like all the clips were shown on the Zoom via a Discord server (NSFW link). Whoever played the videos opened a Discord window and was playing media from one of the server’s channels. I’ve been hunting around for the server, but all the recordings and screenshots are too blurry to make out the name. (Hit me up if you know the server or the user tag.)
Anyways, the attention caused a lot of very horny Twitter users with anime avatars to try and figure out who made the porn clip. And we have an answer! The Tifa clip was watermarked and appears to have originated from a Patreon user named JuicyNeko, who does NSFW animation work. And the voice work was done by Twitter user @OolayTiger, who tweeted out a statement of sorts about the whole thing.
The other time that the @OolayTiger is referencing was when hackers apparently uploaded to the Cartoon Network website a Steven Universe porn she did voice work for.
As funny as this whole thing is, I think I’m honestly more interested in the Patreon-supported world of custom CGI hentai than I am in whether or not a member of the Five Star Movement was cranking their hog during a Zoom call. I did not know this was a thing!
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A Great Algorithmically-Generated Meme
I don’t know if this was actually created by an algorithm, but click through and check it out because it’s funny regardless.
The Swedish TikTok PsyOp PsyOp
OK, so this is an article I wanted to highlight with a bunch of caveats. Defense One is a national security-focused publication owned by Atlantic Media. They recntly published a piece by Elisabeth Braw, a senior follow with American Enterprise Institute, earlier this week, titled, “‘War Is Coming’: Mysterious TikTok Videos Are Scaring Sweden’s Children”. Braw writes:
“War is coming,” say some of the videos that the social-media platform is feeding to young Swedes. Other videos tell their Swedish users that Russian forces will bomb their country or even invade. No wonder the children are becoming anxious. The Chinese-owned, algorithm-driven platform is, in fact, the perfect tool for a country wishing to weaken another country’s morale.
It’s an interesting idea. The Russian info war machine, in theory, needs to update for the short-form vida era, so, of course, there must be Russian disinfo spreading on TikTok, right?
But Braw’s piece does not, however, actually link to any of the mysterious TikTok content scaring Swedish children. Instead, it cites this one tweet with 80 retweets asking if anyone else has noticed influence operations on Swedish TikTok and this article from Aftonbladet, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, which reports that a children’s welfare hotline in the country has received calls from teenagers worried about TikTok videos they’re seeing about an impending Russian invasion.
The other troubling thing here is the American Enterprise Institute, which Braw is a fellow at, is a center-right think tank that is attached to a lot of anti-Russian news coverage being published right now. In fact, AEI was name-dropped in a sabre-rattling Thomas Friedman piece from yesterday, titled, “Putin to Ukraine: ‘Marry Me or I’ll Kill You’” and AEI’s director, Kori Schake, penned a piece for The Atlantic at the end of last year, titled, “Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine Is Backfiring,” in which she argues that Russia “seeks to further destabilize the country in advance of its elections, station troops in Belarus, divide NATO, and precipitate Western concessions to de-escalate the crisis.”
Now, look, this is not the kind of newsletter where we go down the rabbit hole around exactly who is PsyOp-ing who when it comes to NATO versus Russia. (Both? Is the answer both?) But this is a newsletter that takes TikTok trends very seriously! (Perhaps too seriously?)
So, basically, what I’m asking is for from any center-right think tank that wants to report on TikTok moral panics is, at the very least, link to the videos they’re talking about! Do I have any Swedish readers that can point me in their direction? I’m curious what kind of numbers these videos are doing that are causing a sizable reaction from Swedish youth because I suspect that this kind of unseen Russian TikTok menace is something we’re going to be hearing about elsewhere very shortly.
In fact, Braw’s Defense One article ends with her lauding Sweden’s Psychological Defense Agency, which is a new program aimed at combating disinformation and definitely doesn’t have an incredibly creepy name. Braw writes, “Indeed, other countries should consider a similar move. If the war-anxiety machine hasn’t already reached their children, it will soon.”
A Japanese Twitter User Spent Three Weeks Trying To Get To A Snow-Covered Vending Machine
A Japanese Twitter user named @bumWings started a thread three weeks ago, posting a photo of a vending machine that was rendered inaccessible due to snow, writing, “I couldn't buy [Calpis Gun Gun Gurt] steadily today, but I'm starting to see signs that I can.”
Then, every couple days, over the last few weeks, @bumWings updated their followers with the status of the vending machine. Some snowfall the first week of January made things pretty crazy! You can follow @bumWings’ quest to get their yogurt drink from the vending machine by clicking through on the thread above or you can go over to Japanese culture blog Grapee and check it out there. This story does have a happy ending!
Vince Staples Is A Right-Clicker
Last week, rapper Vince Staples changed his Twitter avatar to a cryptopunk NFT. Users reacted by either yelling at him for spending money on an NFT or congratulating him, depending on where they fall in the Web3 culture war. Hilariously, though, Staples didn’t actually buy the NFT. And then he eventually had to change his profile pic back because too many NFT people thought he was part of their community. “Lemme change this picture back cause these Nfteens talking to me like I just joined they cult,” he tweeted.
So, sadly, it sounds like Staples won’t be going to the “world's first member's only private dining club where membership is purchased on the blockchain as a Non-Fungible-Token,” which is now, apparently, a thing.
If you missed this, a restaurant called Flyfish Club is using NFTs as a way to track membership. A basic membership to Flyfish Club currently costs around $3,156.86 USD but it does give you access to some kind of boat party in Miami. Because of course it does.
And one last crypto thing for you, Shonen Jump, one of the largest comic publishers in Japan teased a big announcement on Twitter this week and then quickly had to clarify an important detail because users started panicking…
Willem Dafoe When you Trap Him Inside An Apple Watch
The Japanese Capybara Long Bath Championship 2022 Officially Begins
I can’t believe it’s time for the Capybara Long Bath Championship. The contest pits teams of capybaras at five different Japanese zoos in a contest to see whose capybaras can take the longest bath. According to Japanese culture site Sora News 24, the all-time record for longest capy-bath is 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 36 seconds. Impressive!
This year, capybaras at the Izu Shaboten Zoo won thanks to a capybara named Poru who took a 1 hour, 58 minute, and 38 second-long bath. Nice work, Poru!
A Good Tweet
Some Stray Links
“Incels are targeting ‘next generation of extremists’ online. Could algorithm reform help?”
BONUS GARBAGE: Inside The Spice DAO’s Epic Meltdown
I’ll be experimenting with Substack’s new paywall line to put bonus content in Garbage Day issues once or twice a week. If I didn’t do this right I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m trying to delete it, etc.
A new week, a new incredible crypto disaster. Last week, I spoke to @widesauce, a Twitter user who was hiding out in the Cryptoland Discord as its community blew up over age of consent laws. This week, I spoke to former Vice President of Data for Kickstarter Fred Benenson, who has spent the last few days livetweeting the Spice DAO’s implosion over who owns the Dune copyright. Here’s the inside scoop on what’s been happening on the Spice DAO server…
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