[News] The Internet Was a Mistake

A thread for updates on the various ways the internet is destroying everything and the undying hellsites of social media. Let's all laugh at the abyss.

They did it because they want meta world peace to be their spokesperson.
It is the only logical reason!

RE: This weekend's tragedy at Travis Scott's "Astroworld" festival

So, I've been following some of this stuff for work, and I gotta say, holy sh*t, a surprisingly large number of people are apparently buying that this entire thing was a demonic sacrifice?

Like, what's really amazing to me, is that in 2021, I see people, young people, earnestly parrot the opinions of a Christian mom from the 80s about D&D and Metal. Like, the patently absurd "Wayfair is engaged in child trafficking" thing, which I saw lots and lots of young people touting. Just bizarre.

Prederick wrote:

RE: This weekend's tragedy at Travis Scott's "Astroworld" festival

So, I've been following some of this stuff for work, and I gotta say, holy sh*t, a surprisingly large number of people are apparently buying that this entire thing was a demonic sacrifice?

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died.

Prederick wrote:

RE: This weekend's tragedy at Travis Scott's "Astroworld" festival

So, I've been following some of this stuff for work, and I gotta say, holy sh*t, a surprisingly large number of people are apparently buying that this entire thing was a demonic sacrifice?

It's a common thing in really unhinged conspiracy theories to try and make everything going on a part of the conspiracy theory. Like when Ever Given was stuck in the Suez Canal, suddenly that became part of QAnon. They claimed the ship was full of bodies of dead kids or kids being trafficked or whatever crazy sh*t they settled on that day. And really, this was primed by Q because his posts did this often: make reference to something going on in the world and imply it was connected to the "Deep State" without ever explaining how.

Oh, the Qunatics will do anything, but one of the things I've noticed that IS really concerning is how much Q-lite stuff has seeped into the mainstream.

For instance, every few weeks, there'll be a really big viral story about a big roundup of sex traffickers and finding their victims. But those stories are often misleading.

Sex trafficking is an issue, but, somewhat unsurprisingly if you actually care about this kind of stuff, a fairly complicated and difficult-to-define one.

The "boogeymen out to kidnap all of our children" part, however, is a much simpler, easier sell, and as I said, it's Q-lite. And you can get fairly broad agreement on that from all walks of people, because who is going to say "Well actually" to "Child sex trafficking is bad and we should stop it"?

Prederick wrote:

The "boogeymen out to kidnap all of our children" part, however, is a much simpler, easier sell, and as I said, it's Q-lite. And you can get fairly broad agreement on that from all walks of people, because who is going to say "Well actually" to "Child sex trafficking is bad and we should stop it"?

Matt Gaetz? Jim Jordan? Roy Moore?

Anyway, specific to the Astroworld tragedy, if Travis Scott didn't have previous, he might not be getting quite as much blame as he currently is. Like, I'm genuinely sympathetic to the idea that he had no clue what was going on.

But again, he's got previous (not to mention the Houston Chronicle reporting that Scott continued performing for another 37 minutes after it was declared a Mass Casualty Event is.... a spectacularly bad look). And those previous incidents make this look like, instead of a random out-of-nowhere tragedy, like a dude who already had a DUI on his record plowing into a minivan with a family in it while driving home drunk from a bar.

I do wonder what the ultimate fallout from this will be for him. He's not going to be found criminally liable in any "going to jail" way (no-one likely will be) but he is going to have his wallet lightened by several civil suits which I imagine will all be settled out-of-court. And in the short-term, he will be a public pariah (I say public because I don't think anyone in the entertainment industry will turn on him. I don't say that as a good/bad judgement, just as a statement of fact) but long-term... I think he'll still have a career. Although God help us/him if he releases a song attempting to address this, 'cuz that's gonna be one hell of a bar to clear.

TikTok has been ON FIRE regarding Astroworld since it happened, and man - I sort of buy the demon sacrifice rumors. I saw Scott’s eyes when he looked at that dead body being wheeled out. They were dancing with glee. The man needs to be held accountable.

Obvious horsesh*t story is horesh*t.

Details are still emerging from the tragic events at Friday’s Astroworld music festival. Founded and headlined by rapper Travis Scott, the night ended in a deadly crowd surge that left eight dead. However, one dubious theory, at least, has been debunked. According to investigators, no one was “stabbed with a syringe” at the event, a rumor reported without evidence and reiterated by police.

“He says he was struck in his head, he went unconscious, he woke up in the security tent,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, who earlier told reporters of the syringe theory. “He says that no one injected drugs in him. So we want to clear that part up.”

Finner shot down the story today but helped perpetuate it on Saturday when he told reporters that a security staff member lost consciousness after feeling a pinprick in his neck. TMZ was the first to report that a man with a needle injected festival-goers with unknown substances. Soon after, Police Chief Finner reiterated the theory to reporters on Saturday.

..................

Speaking to Vice News, Claire Zagorski, program coordinator at the Pharmacy Addictions Research and Medicine Program at the University of Texas at Austin, said that, even without experiencing an overdose, a patient could feel more alert afterward. Furthermore, Zagorski notes how hard it would be to stab someone with a syringe.

“Injecting someone in the neck is difficult,” Zagorski said. “We’re getting very much into urban legend here.”

This some straight-up Black Mirror stuff.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/y3vz...

OMG who could have guessed?

Oh, right, f*cking everyone except the cops.

Prederick wrote:

Oh, the Qunatics will do anything, but one of the things I've noticed that IS really concerning is how much Q-lite stuff has seeped into the mainstream.

For instance, every few weeks, there'll be a really big viral story about a big roundup of sex traffickers and finding their victims. But those stories are often misleading.

Sex trafficking is an issue, but, somewhat unsurprisingly if you actually care about this kind of stuff, a fairly complicated and difficult-to-define one.

The "boogeymen out to kidnap all of our children" part, however, is a much simpler, easier sell, and as I said, it's Q-lite. And you can get fairly broad agreement on that from all walks of people, because who is going to say "Well actually" to "Child sex trafficking is bad and we should stop it"?

Interesting video from last year on this very topic.

https://www.vox.com/videos/2020/10/2...

Had the massively disappointing realization this evening that the Venn diagram between "the Astroworld tragedy was a demonic sacrifice by the cabal" and "the 760,000+ COVID deaths are a hoax" is a circle.

I Made the World’s Blandest Facebook Profile, Just to See What Happens

Interesting, if only to underline, as Jamelle Bouie mentioned on Twitter, Facebook, purely in terms of its functionality as a social media site, absolutely sucks.

For two weeks, I’ve been conducting my own Facebook experiment. I decided to make a new account on the platform as an alternative, apolitical version of myself who enjoys only the most widely beloved things in life. Like the fake Ryan Broderick, and the imaginary Carol Smith and Karen Jones, I would not send or accept any friend requests. I uploaded a real picture of myself, and added my real hometown as my location. Then, my editor and I decided on a list of “likes” that might reflect the tastes of a thoroughly nonpartisan, general-interest American: the Rolling Stones, Grey’s Anatomy, Domino’s Pizza, Target, Oprah, wine. From there, I engaged only with pages and groups and posts that Facebook curated for me, in all of its data-hoovering and look-alike-audience-building wisdom.

When I liked the Target page, a little widget popped up immediately and prompted me to like 10 other pages, which I did. Some of these recommendations were what one might expect: “Target Careers,” “Amazon Toys and Games.” Some were not, but they didn’t surprise me: “Dr Pepper Snapple Group,” “Sweet’N Low.” And some were a total mystery: a financial adviser named Max who lives in Nevada, a home-health-care service in Massachusetts run by an Irish couple. When I liked the “Wine” page, I was recommended “Beer,” and also a page called “We Like the United States of America.” When I liked Domino’s Pizza, I was recommended “Arby’s Curly Fries,” as well as the page for a specific Domino’s location in Zimbabwe that had apparently burned down in September.

I liked all of it! And then I “liked” all of it. I also joined the first 30 groups that Facebook recommended, including three Rolling Stones–related groups, some generic-sounding stuff like “Funny sarcastic quotes” and “Aesthetics,” and some other things … such as “Nana Funny Society,” “Germany dating serious site,” and “Old Men With Trucks.” The next day, an updated (and presumably refined) list of suggested pages appeared in my feed, including a meme page called “Twisted Abyss,” a page for a Travelodge Inn & Suites in South Carolina, a page touting the health benefits of dandelions, and a page for a psychic based in Tucson. I liked all of those and waited a few more days. When I came back, my new suggestions included “Memes for inmates,” “Skulls,” and a page called “Darkness of evil” with an About section signed by “the jokerman.” I liked all of those too.

After a week, Facebook started suggesting that I send some friend requests. Though I had entered my hometown, in upstate New York, as my location, almost all of the profiles collected into the “People You May Know” widget in my feed were from either Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. In the following days—though I did not send a friend request to anybody—the concentration of Wisconsinites and Pennsylvanians in the widget grew even higher. (Both swing states, so perhaps appropriate for my middle-of-the-road journey?) Yet for some reason, many of my suggested friends from Pennsylvania were specifically from New Castle, a small city in a county northwest of Pittsburgh that voted for Trump by a 30-point margin.

After establishing my presence on the platform, I loosened up a bit. I checked in each day and liked a few of whatever pages were suggested to me, joined a few of whichever groups, and scrolled through the main feed briefly, liking whatever I saw. I would be told to join a niche-sounding dating group, and end up watching a 30-minute video of a British man livestreaming from his kitchen in a group called “Foreigner’s Looking For Filipina,” but clearly not with the goal of finding anyone to date; he was just talking about his breakfast and his life, and telling commenters, “Please, don’t call me ‘daddy’; I actually have two daughters.” Or I would notice a vague but ubiquitous hashtag, like #BOOMChallenge, attached to a post about trusting in God or manifesting money, and click to see if I could decipher its meaning, which I never could.

In the comments below memes about how men and women tend to behave (differently), I would find links to expensive self-help courses or terrifying diet powders. Startled by an extremely graphic photo of a vagina or a butthole, I would realize I was looking at an optical illusion being played for laughs and engagement. (Click at your own risk.) Moments of true novelty were few and far between, and not any more pleasant. (Again, be warned.) I ended up in one amazing group called “Goofy Huskies,” which was full of great content, but alas, the time I spent there seemed to skew my recommendations toward pages that random people had made for their pets.

A few days later, I came across an image of white text on a black background, reading, “GIRLS HAVE MAGIC POWERS. THEY GET WET WITHOUT WATER. BLEED WITHOUT INJURY. AND MAKE BONELESS THINGS HARD.” The first comment beneath this post started, “I was totally broken when the love of my life left me,” and ended by providing the WhatsApp number for some kind of love sorcerer named Dr. Moses. Reading these words filled me with despair, but also a sense of cosmic surety that I’d reached the end of my journey.

After just two weeks on the platform, consuming only content that Facebook’s recommendation systems selected for me, I found myself at the bottom of a rabbit hole not of extremism but of utter trash—bad advice, stolen memes, shady businesses, and sophomoric jokes repeated over and over. Facebook isn’t just dangerous, I learned. It doesn’t merely have the ability to shape offline reality for its billions of users. No, Facebook is also—and perhaps for most people—senseless and demoralizing.

Automated Facebook Pages About Cats Are Outperforming Ben Shapiro

According to Roose’s Twitter account, animal pages really didn’t start showing up until May. Then, around June, they became an almost daily fixture of Facebook’s top performing public pages. By the end of July, animal pages were regularly outperforming right-wing Facebook juggernauts like Ben Shapiro. But it gets stranger.

There are several animal content publishers that continue to show up in Roose’s data, the biggest of which is a page called Love Meow. The first time they broke through the top 10 was on July 9th this year. Love Meow has over 4 million followers and appears to be a real website that is regularly publishing new content. According to the site’s about page, it seems to be run by a woman named Amy. OK, all good there. The other animal pages breaking through, however, are a totally different story.

A page called Top13 published the top performing post across all U.S. Facebook pages on October 8th. From what Luke and I could tell, that post was this link to a story on Top13’s site titled, “Shelter Pit Bull Made His Bed Every Day Until A Family Adopted Him”.

A couple things about this. First, the idea that in 2021, the top performing link post on Facebook only has 9,000 shares is, honestly, horrifying. If you are a publisher using Facebook, for the love of god, please stop. But, here’s the real kick in the pants. This post about a shelter dog was published in 2015!

Top13, a website with the tagline “Pawsome Animal Stories,” hasn’t posted any new content since 2020. And even in 2020, it was only publishing new content once a month, if that, according to its RSS feed. Its Facebook page, which only has 300,000 followers, posts three times a day, at 1PM, 3PM, and 5PM, none of it new content. The fact these posts are coming at the exact same time every day makes it highly likely that this account is entirely automated. In fact, none of these posts even have share text. But Top13 isn’t the only zombie animal page making its way into the top 10 rankings.

Honestly, this is just depressing.

Katy Garner and her sister grew up in a small town in Arkansas and were always close.

“We both were cheerleaders in school, made pretty good grades, and loved to just hang out with friends and each other. No one has a perfect childhood, but we had each other. We knew that. And that's what made us so close. We even have matching tattoos to remind each other of that,” Garner told VICE News.

They both became nurses, and Garner’s sister married a doctor and had three children.

Then, around the time of the 2020 presidential election, Garner’s sister started looking at some of the conspiracy theories swirling online about how former President Donald Trump lost the vote. Ultimately she found QAnon.

“It took her about three months to become totally obsessed,” Garner said. “That’s all she would talk about. You could call her and somehow the conversation would turn into how we live in a world with reptilians and how the Clintons are evil baby-eaters.”

Then she found Michael Brian Protzman, known to his followers as Negative48, who is the leader of a QAnon offshoot that’s been camped out in Dallas for the last three weeks awaiting the return of John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr.

Garner’s sister left her family behind and drove to Dallas about a month ago and has cut off almost all communication with her family.

According to Garner, her sister has so far handed over about $200,000 to the group, and is being forced to drink a hydrogen peroxide solution and take “bio pellets” to ward off COVID-19 and stay healthy. Her phone calls and messages are also being monitored, according to Garner, who believes her sister will never return.

“She left her children for this and doesn't even care. She is missing birthdays and holidays for this. She truly believes this is all real and we are the crazy ones for trying to get her to come home. But she won’t,” Garner said. “I don't believe she will ever come back from this. We are in mourning.”

Garner’s sister was one of the hundreds of people who initially traveled to Dallas to see JFK reappear on Nov. 2. However, when that didn’t happen, the goalposts shifted, and Protzman convinced dozens of people that if they waited long enough, something else would happen.

Katy says her sister’s brief messages to her parents have gone from “be home in a few days” to “I am not coming home, my husband can take care of the kids. I am not leaving until this is over.”

also, a neat story about the misinformation hell we're all stuck in:

This is all pretty low stakes. Yes, unfortunately, there will be people who now think that this monkfish is a tasselled wobbegong shark, but — though I could be wrong — I assume that this will not further dismantle our democracy or endanger our public health. But, who knows, these things can spiral, I suppose. What I think this whole episode does illustrate, however, is how, essentially, every mechanism on the internet is broken, possibly irreparably. Let’s summarize:

A content creator learns a fun fact about a shark. The content creator either googles the name of the shark and tweets out the first picture they see or they’re sent that photo from someone else. But it’s the wrong photo because an SEO farm run by random man from Wales has inserted the “misinformation” into Google’s search results. The content creator, though, has to mute the Twitter thread they’ve created because it’s gone too viral for anyone to actually follow. It’s also still doing traffic, so the content creator, when they finally learn that the tweet is incorrect, doesn’t actually delete the tweet. Then dozens of verified experts attempt to debunk the incorrect tweet, except all they’ve done is trick Twitter’s trending algorithms to further promote the tweet because of the attention being driven to the post.

The current landscape of the internet is essentially a series of levers and automations because the largest companies responsible for how we use the web are operating at a scale that can no longer be properly moderated by human beings. Which means, increasingly, that if a glitch makes its way into the system — in this instance, a photo of a monkfish incorrectly labeled as a shark — there is no chance for that glitch to be removed. And, even more confoundingly, if human beings do try and intervene, it only makes the glitch worse. idk seems bad!