Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

(16 Jan 2019) A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash, Since it debuted Monday, the Internet-only ad has garnered nearly 19 million views on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — a level of buzz that any brand would covet. (Jan. 16)

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Elderly, conservatives shared more Facebook fakery

(9 Jan 2019) A new study by researchers at Princeton University shows that people over 65 years old and ultra-conservatives shared about seven times more false information than other groups during the 2016 election season. (Jan. 9)

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2018 Was All About “The Line” — And Everyone Who Crossed It (HBO)

This year was a difficult one for the concept we refer to as “the line.” Plenty of people, platforms, and memes, managed to cross it, often without realizing — or admitting they’d realized — the line was ever there.

YouTube’s enfant terrible, Logan Paul, rang in the new year crossing the line when he published his vlog of a trip to Japan’s so-called Suicide Forest, stumbling across an apparent suicide victim. It wasn’t until Paul uploaded a video a month later in which he tasered a dead rat that YouTube thought the line had been crossed far enough for ad revenue to be disabled on his videos — though just temporarily. The whole experience forced Paul to look inward and realize that the only true path to redemption was obvious: a pay-per-view boxing match between himself and another YouTuber.

Tide Pods began their year as a laundry product, but within a week, the Tide Pod Challenge had launched a thousand explainers, and morphed into just another reason for baby boomers to write off an entire generation.

Tech platforms wrestled with where to draw the line all year when it came to policing content, as seen in the case of Alex Jones. It took Apple deleting five podcasts connected with Alex Jones from its iTunes store for Facebook to finally act, deleting four of his pages, with Twitter following with its ban soon after.

So as the year wraps up, here’s our attempt at cataloguing all the lines crossed this year. And here’s to the new year, full of hope and possibility — and so, so many lines, yet-to-be-crossed.

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Feminist Apparel CEO Confessed To Sexual Misconduct And Then Fired His Staff (HBO)

Alan Martofel is the CEO of Feminist Apparel, a T-shirt company run out of a New Jersey strip mall.

After Donald Trump’s election, a number of Feminist Apparel campaigns and products went viral—and its shirts were a common sight at women’s marches. It was a Hashtag Resistance success story, with 360,000 followers on social media and a growing staff.

But this past July Feminist Apparel became the focus of a global Internet shitstorm, when Alan fired all but one of his employees.

It started five years ago, when Alan wrote a Facebook post admitting to having ”grinded up on women on buses and at concerts without their consent” and once putting “a woman’s hand on my dick while she was sleeping.”

He cataloged his sins, apologized, and declared the creation of Feminist Apparel his “humble attempt” at penance.

The post was public — and has since been deleted. But his employees had no idea. And when they discovered it, they were furious.

Alan had other ideas. Feminist Apparel would remain in business. But in an email to staff, he informed 9 of his 10 employees that they had been fired.

Feminist Apparel’s ex-employees say that the truth about the company’s founding is only part of their problem with Alan. ​​ ​

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Vape Influencers Think FDA’s Crackdown On Juul Won’t Matter (HBO)

Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced its long-awaited e-cigarette regulations. The new rules, subject to approval, will require more stringent age verification for people buying flavored nicotine. In a statement announcing the rules, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes but said he was shocked at how widespread teen e-cigarette usage is, which he believes makes kids more likely to try smoking.

On Tuesday vaping giant Juul preemptively announced it would temporarily stop selling flavored nicotine vapor pods to retail stores, until they impose strict age verification mechanisms, like ID scanners. And on Juul’s website, users will have to provide the last four digits of their social security number to buy flavored pods.

But all of the new rules from the FDA probably won’t stop the army of kids on sites like Youtube and Instagram who are essentially evangelists for the coolness of vaping. Juul doesn’t sponsor any of these influencers. They get their money from companies that make third party Juul pods, other vape juices, or bigger vape rigs.

Juul has transformed the e-cigarette landscape in just a couple years. It’s now worth 15 billion dollars and controls 70% of the market. In other words, it has a lot to lose. Juuls have been incredibly easy to get, and incredibly easy to hide. And that’s made them a hit among high schoolers. Kids can hit the Juul in class without their teacher noticing, and school administrators have been begging for a solution.

So ahead of the FDA’s ruling, Juul moved to appease regulators, not just with the pause on flavors, but also by deleting its Facebook and Instagram accounts, so that it wouldn’t be seen as marketing to kids. But Dash Drips and Donny Smokes have no plans to stop posting.

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We Posed As 100 Senators To Run Ads On Facebook. Facebook Approved All Of Them. (HBO)

One of Facebook’s major efforts to add transparency to political advertisements is a required “Paid for by” disclosure at the top of each ad supposedly telling users who is paying for political ads that show up in their news feeds.

But on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, a VICE News investigation found the “Paid for by” feature is easily manipulated and appears to allow anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone paying for the ad.

To test it, VICE News applied to buy fake ads on behalf of all 100 sitting U.S. senators, including ads “Paid for by” by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Facebook’s approvals were bipartisan: All 100 sailed through the system, indicating that just about anyone can buy an ad identified as “Paid for by” by a major U.S. politician.

What’s more, all of these approvals were granted to be shared from pages for fake political groups such as “Cookies for Political Transparency” and “Ninja Turtles PAC.” VICE News did not buy any Facebook ads as part of the test; rather, we received approval to include “Paid for by” disclosures for potential ads.

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Facebook’s Political Ad Tool Lets Us Buy Ads “Paid For” By Mike Pence and ISIS (HBO)

Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said making political advertising more transparent was one of the most important things the company would do after it was revealed Russians used the platform to attempt to manipulate the 2016 presidential election. But according to a small test run by VICE News, one of the new features Facebook rolled out this year is easily subject to manipulation.

In May, Facebook added a mandatory “Paid For” disclosure for every ad that relates to politics or what Facebook calls an “issue of national importance.” The idea is to lift the veil on the kind of inflammatory ads placed by anonymous advertisers that plagued Facebook during the 2016 race.

But when VICE News placed ads on behalf of prominent political figures such as Vice President Mike Pence, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, Facebook quickly approved them. We also tried submitting an ad on behalf of “Islamic State,” which was also approved by Facebook. We were able to get Facebook’s approval for political ads that included these names within the Paid For disclosure.

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AP Top Stories 18 P

(18 Oct 2018) Here are the top stories for Thursday, Oct. 18th: Images may show a connection between Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and the Saudi Crown Prince’s entourage as the investigation continues; Facebook has a new war room; Some zoo lions enjoy a fall romp.

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