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Social Media Needs A Reboot

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Our society currently reboots two things: computers and tired horror franchises. But one thing that could really, really use a reboot is social media. The Institute for Rebooting Social Media is embarking on a three-year “pop -up” research initiative to take a look at what’s going wrong with social media, what’s going right, and how to fix it. 

A Communications Renaissance

When social media was first created it was supposed to be the next level of communication. A renaissance of ideas because everyone could have a voice. It was the new town square where you could share your ideas and gather a community of like minded individuals. 

It was a place you could reconnect with old high school friends and see who got fat. You could share local events, plan get-togethers, and show off what you’re having for lunch. It was the birth of memes, of “liking,” how you remembered birthdays, and it was quickly becoming a primary source of information for the masses. 

And that’s when things started getting tricky…

What Is Wrong With Social Media

In the last several years, social media has gotten increasingly toxic. The hostile use of misinformation has taken what was supposed to be a new type of community has instead slid deep into the muck and mire. Instead of grandma posting “I’m eating peanut butter and jelly today, YUM!” she’s now posting, “beat COVID-19 with Ivermectin! Take that Big Pharma!

People taking Ivermectin to stick it to big pharma are going to feel really silly when they realize who makes Ivermectin… 

Since Zuckerberg and Dorsey are reluctantly doing the absolute bare minimum, it’s going to have to take this special commission to enact real change. Social media is arguably doing irreparable damage to institutional trust and our collective truth. 

It is also serving as a place where hatred thrives and spreads. Racism, sexism, homo/transphobia are all much easier to take part in from behind a keyboard. When you don’t see the person in front of you, suddenly being mean isn’t so difficult. 

Social media is particularly good at exacerbating conflict and insulating people in their own worldviews. It’s a little ironic that the very tool intended to bring people together actually divides them. 

And let’s not even get into FOMO

What’s Good About Social Media

Social media isn’t all bad. There are some clear benefits to having an online community. Business intelligence, for instance, has made direct-to-consumer marketing easier than ever. Have you seen Wendy’s tweets? That kind of engagement with customers is endearing and certainly one for the “pro” column. 

Another benefit is the ability to stay in touch with people who live far away. You may have a very dear friend who lives in Ottawa while you live in Philadelphia. Thanks to Instagram, you’re able to keep in touch with a very special friend. 

One crucial trait of social media is also the ability to campaign for a social good. Organizing a peaceful protest, sharing important issues quickly among the masses, and gathering support is enhanced specifically because of social media’s reach. We may not have a George Floyd Square if it were not for social media

What’s the Plan, Stan? 

The Institute’s plan over the next three years is much like a congressional commission. It will gather research using participants, analyze that data, write a report of their findings, and make suggestions as to how to act going forward. 

It will be the Institution’s goal to strengthen the healthy aspects of social media while minimizing its harmful effects. The scope of the study is very wide. They are going to throw everything they can at the wall to see what sticks. When democracy and peoples’ lives are at stake, something needs to be done. 

Their findings after three years will be anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure, Uncle Stephen is going to have to make more selective choices about what he posts.

Chris Blondell is a Philadelphia-based writer and social media strategist with a current focus on tech industry news. He has written about startups and entrepreneurs based in Denver, Seattle, Chicago, New Haven, and more. He has also written content for a true-crime blog, Sword and Scale, and developed social media content for a local spice shop. An occasional comedian, Chris Blondell also spends his time writing humorous content and performing stand-up for local audiences.

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Nature’s #MeToo: How Female Animals Fight Back

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The #MeToo social movement has gained international attention over raising awareness against sexual abuse and publicizing sex crimes and harassment. As it turns out, females fighting back when facing injustice isn’t exclusive to humans. In fact, recent studies show that certain animals also have their own ways of retaliating when ill-treated. 

Yes, nature has its very own #MeToo movement, and the hummingbirds and octopuses show us how it’s done in the wild.

#MeToo: Female Hummingbirds Take What’s Theirs

First, let’s talk about hummingbirds, particularly the white-necked jacobin hummingbirds (Florisuga mellivora). The male birds of this species have blue-colored heads and throats, while female ones have more muted hues – olive-green heads and backs, with spotted throats. On the other hand, some females also have blue coloring, and they often use it in their #MeToo movement.

According to a study published in Current Biology, researchers found that female birds display their blue coloring. Though birds often show their colorful features during mating season to attract those of the opposite sex, the study found that procreation isn’t their motivation. In fact, males don’t seem to prefer blue-colored female birds.

University of Washington evolutionary biologist Jay Falk who led the study, said mating choices don’t exclusively determine animals’ looks. Falk’s team released over 400 birds in Panama and used genetics to know their sex to conduct the study.

To make the research even more interesting, the researchers placed green or dull-colored dummies on feeders. According to the results of the study, males attempted to mate with the dummies, mistaking them for live female birds.

Falk described male jacobins as the” show-off jocks of the hummingbird world,” and for a good reason. Aside from attempting to court the dummies, some male birds also attacked the dummies. And when this happened, other species of hummingbirds also followed suit. According to Falk, this only goes to show why female birds wanted to show off their blue color – they want to have as much power as the males.  

Female Octopuses Don’t Stand Back

For other animals, it takes a lot more than showing colors to gain a bit of leverage in the struggle for power between genders. Such is the case for female octopuses off the Australian coast. Their #MeToo move? They throw a fit – literally. 

University of Sydney scientist Peter Godfrey-Smith and his team filmed Sydney octopuses at a site in Jervis Bay. Some people call the place Octopolis because it’s one of the few locations in the sandy sea bottom where the octopuses can create dens, thus their big population in the area. 

According to the study, the females throw shells and silt to target males that harass them. How do they do it? Godfrey-Smith says the females hold algae, silt, or other objects under their bodies with their tentacles. They then angle their siphons and shoot water afterward. As a result, they propel the projectiles in a move akin to throwing.

Godfrey-Smith says octopuses often use this move to excavate dens or to dispose of the remains of meals. In that sense, it was easy to assume that the move was a harmless deed without malice. However, they started to suspect that something was up when they saw that the females hit males.

When they gave it a closer look, they indeed found the difference between throws that clear the den and throws that target others.

In fact, they even caught a female octopus throwing silt ten times at a male that was attempting to mate with her. The female was successful in hitting its target five times. The male tried to duck and avoid the projectile but to no avail.

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Hackers Threaten The Alexander Lukashenko Regime

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A group of hackers threatens Alexander Lukashenko’s empire. The hackers say they have data of all corrupt and misdoings of the dictator.

Belarus is a country bordered by Russia and Ukraine. It is the 13th largest country in Eastern Europe, with a population of 9.3 million. Its dictator, who has been appointed into office since 1994, is the first president of Belarus. For close to three decades, Alexander Lukashenko reigned supreme with the most restrictive police authorities. The tyrant used his power to remain in office to date.

However, Alexander Lukashenko’s opposition is trying to overthrow this almost 30-year regime by collaborating with a group of hackers. They aim to expose the wrongdoings of Alexander Lukashenko and his political intentions. 

The group of hackers called Belarus Cyber Partisans consists of activists in Belarus with over 77,000 subscribers on Telegram. Belarus Cyber Partisans has penetrated Belarus’s authoritarian government. 

Leaked information about Alexander Lukashenko

It all started when Belarus Cyber Partisans leaked information they gathered from the most confidential government and police networks. These activists protested against the dictator in September 2020. It’s by using government websites to unleash a series of fraudulent systems — including the country’s most recent election. 

Although Lukashenko won by a mile, the people of Belarus believed that the win was a total fraud. Experts believe that this might be the most comprehensive hacks of a nation in history. 

Belarus Cyber Partisans claims they have successfully infiltrated a majority of the Belarus administration by breaching the most sensitive police and government networks. The group has released evidence of Belarus police crimes, the country’s cover-up on the real COVID-19 mortality rate, and the violent crackdowns on the people’s peaceful protests. 

Since the group has hacked almost all of the administration’s systems, they assured more information is coming. They say that the series of leaked information is just a fraction of the other ruthless crimes that Alexander Lukashenko committed. 

An anonymous Belarus Cyber Partisans representative said in an MIT Technology Review interview that, “What we want is to stop the violence and repression from the terroristic regime in Belarus and to bring the country back to democratic principles and rule of law.”

The country’s thriving IT scene led to the formation of the Belarus Cyber Partisans. The group comprises 15 IT professionals who started causing turmoil in September 2020 when the group began defacing the country’s government websites.

Help from officers and former politicians

In December 2020, Belarus Cyber Partisans sought the help of a Belarusian law enforcement group called BYPOL. This is an organization of intelligent officers and former politicians working from outside and inside the country to dethrone Alexander Lukashenko and end his unjust and cruel methods. Last year alone, the dictator arrested over 27,000 people from peaceful protests. 

A former Belarusian diplomat attested to the regime’s criminal activities and supported both groups’ plans in exposing Alexander Lukashenko’s misdeeds. He says the groups will open the people’s eyes by making the crimes more “transparent.”

The series of leaked information also included drone footage of violent crackdowns of the people’s protest, audio recordings, and video feeds from surveillance cameras and isolation cells. 

Overall, the Belarus Cyber Partisans’ goal is to weaken the regime’s infrastructure by implementing cyberattacks that cripple the government’s security forces. Moreover, the group also ensures that protesters get the protection they need.

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Entertainment

Kim Kardashian Breaks The Internet. Again.

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Hey everyone. Kim Kardashian did another thing. And it’s not what you expect.

This year’s 2021 Met Gala theme was “American Independence.” This theme was so open that the outfits, dresses, and costumes were absolutely all over the place. From Frank Ocean’s puppet to Grimes’ Sci-Fi Warrier outfit, to AOC’s “Tax The Rich” gown this year’s Met Gala was one to see.

And who stood out amongst the crowd? Why, Kim Kardashian, of course.

When people expect something from you, the best way to maintain attention is to take that expectation and flip it on its head. Because Kim knows how to “break the internet,” Twitter went HAM on memes. 

Here’s a compilation of all the best memes made from Kim Kardashian and her attention-seeking outfit. 

If I woke up seeing that I’d have a very wet bed.

Definitely knock before entering.

Some people may be very disappointed when they unlock this character.

Me. So, so me.

Quick! Throw a Pokeball at it!

Best anti-social social outfit ever.

“dementor” is a little on the nose, no?

You know who had a way more impressive Met Gala appearance than Kim Kardashian? Lil Nas X.

Look at how shiny she is. You go on Lil Nas X, with your gay C-3PO look.

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