- Mirage Beer announced the release of its Crips and Bloods themed beers, with bandana-designed cans and names like “Snitch Blood” and “Where you from.”
- The Seattle-based brand was quickly met with backlash online, with many calling the concept offensive and in poor taste.
- The company deleted the post and issued an apology saying that it would rename the beers and donate the proceeds to the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with other organizations recommended by the public.
A Seattle-based brewery apologized for its Crips and Bloods themed beers on Tuesday after facing much backlash online.
Mirage Beer initially announced the released in an Instagram post on Sunday by sharing a photo of the bandana-designed cans. One can was labeled “Snitch Blood,” while the other was labeled “Where you from.” The caption on the post included descriptions of the beers and said they would be available for sale starting Tuesday, May 28.
But the launch was quickly canceled after a number of people called the products offensive.
Most of the backlash came after a tweet from the account Beer Kulture, which describes itself as a brand that merges beer and urban culture. The account called Mirage Beer “entitled,” and said, “people have died over that shit you’re trying to use to be down & kool.”
Others chimed in with similar responses.
This is so fucked up. Knowing all the CHILDREN that died because of that, I fail to see the quirkiness of these cans.— Robin LeBlanc, from work (@TheThirstyWench) May 27, 2019
This is just awful. Absolutely horrified but sadly not surprised as the deaths of POCs have been treated as entertainment for so bloody long that to some, using them as a marketing tool must seem perfectly acceptable. How much longer are we going to be dehumanised like this?!— Amethyst Heels (@amethyst_heels) May 27, 2019
Many also called for the brand to support communities heavily impacted by gang violence.
I hope the proceeds are going to inner city youth programs to keep kids off the streets.— te-nice-ah (@MzTemenah) May 27, 2019
This is not a game! What’s up with this? Your intentions would be really nice to try to understand.— Kristine Gauthier (@kgauthier7) May 27, 2019
This is serious shit for many people.
You want to be cute? Sponsor a 3 on 3 or an art event in an inner city (and stay for the entire event).
Mirage Beer’s owner, Michael Dempster, apologized for the products with a brief statement posted on Instagram.
The post reads: “Full agree those lables were a dumb idea. Still going to release the beers, but obv with new names, and all proceeds going to the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
The caption below that post was later updated to say that a more in-depth apology was linked in the account’s bio. “I deeply regret the obvious element of appropriation, and further, that they trivialized the impact of gang violence on marginalized communities. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to find myself here,” the longer statement reads.
“I was blind, and stupid, and I wish I could take it back — not for my benefit, but to prevent anyone from feeling like this industry is any more hostile and/or insensitive than it already is. This was not my intent, and that’s part of the problem: I hadn’t thought this through,’ the post continues.
“I hope to further demonstrate my remorse in a way folks find meaningful, emphasizes the importance of inclusivity in beer, or otherwise helps prevent anyone from making similar mistakes.”
Dempster closes the apology by asking the public to offer suggestions of organizations that the brand can donate proceeds to, aside from the Southern Poverty Law Center. He also said he didn’t want to “just throw money” at the issue, but called it a “reasonable step.”
YouTube Shuts Down 210 Accounts Tied to “Influence Operations” Against Hong Kong
- YouTube has removed 210 channels that engaged in “coordinated influence operations” against the protest movement in Hong Kong.
- Earlier this week, Twitter and Facebook took actions to suspend similar accounts that they said were connected to a state-backed operation controlled by China.
- All three companies have recently come under fire for running anti-protest ads sponsored by Chinese government-funded media outlets.
YouTube Accounts Suspended
Google announced Thursday that it had suspended 210 YouTube accounts tied to a “coordinated influence” campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The move comes just days after Twitter and Facebook both said they had shuttered similar accounts linked to a state-backed operation launched by China to undermine the protest movement in Hong Kong that started over a proposed extradition bill.
Google, which owns YouTube, made the announcement in a blog post.
“Earlier this week, as part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” the statement said.
“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter,” it continued.
“We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.”
Twitter and Facebook Suspend Accounts
In a blog post on Monday, Twitter disclosed that it had found “a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong.”
Twitter said that it had suspended 936 accounts “originating from within” China, that were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.”
Also on Monday, Facebook announced that it had “removed seven Pages, three Groups and five Facebook accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a small network that originated in China and focused on Hong Kong.”
“The individuals behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts […] to manage Pages posing as news organizations, post in Groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites,” the post continued.
Facebook also included examples of the content that had been posted on some of the pages it removed.
One post translated by Facebook compared the protestors to Islamic State militants. “Protesters. ISIS fighters What’s the difference?” the post read. Other posts referred to the activists as “cockroaches.”
Google, however, did not explicitly say in its blog post if it had found that the Chinese government was behind the now removed accounts.
A Google spokesperson had no comment when asked by BBC if the company agreed with Twitter and Facebook’s findings that the suspended accounts were part of a state-backed misinformation campaign to undermine the demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Platforms Slammed for Chinese Ads
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have also been criticized for running anti-protest advertisements from state-owned Chinese media companies.
Twitter responded to these complaints Monday by announcing that it would no longer sell ads to state-controlled news media outlets.
Facebook did not indicate that it was changing its ad sales policies, though a spokesman did tell Reuters that the company will “continue to look at [our] policies as they relate to state-owned media.”
Facebook’s statement comes after BuzzFeed News reported that they had found three ads from Chinese state-owned media on Facebook downplaying the human rights abuses occurring at Muslim internment camps run by the Chinese government.
YouTube also said it was not planning to change it’s ad policies, but told Reuters that “it would soon be expanding its labeling of state-backed media outlets in the region.”
According to Reuters, while YouTube places disclaimers on government-funded networks from all over the world, including several Chinese outlets, it does not give that disclaimer for the Chinese newspapers People’s Daily, China Daily, and Global Times, all of which are funded by the Chinese government.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, planned demonstrations continued Friday as protestors formed a human chain that reportedly spanned more than 20 miles.
The demonstration was planned for the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, a peaceful demonstration against Soviet occupation where an estimated two million people formed a 372-mile-long human chain across Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Friday’s event comes as part of a series of other demonstrations planned for the 12th consecutive week of protests in the city. It also follows a march last Sunday that protest leaders said drew 1.7 million people in one of the biggest shows of support since the movement began.
Despite escalating clashes with the police and mounting pressure from China, which has said it is not afraid to use force against the protestors in Hong Kong, the activists do not appear to have plans to stop their efforts any time soon.
Celebrities, Politics, & Scandal: The Truth About Deepfakes & Future What Ifs…
Deepfakes are defined as any “fake” or manipulated video, image, or even audio created using something known as deep learning technology. In this video, we’ll discuss how that technology works as we dive into the complex and controversial world of deepfakes.
You’ll hear from some of the most talented creators on YouTube who use this powerful technology to create impressive fake videos. We’ll also take a look at the more malicious uses of this technology including non-consensual pornography, white-collar crime, and election tampering. Check out our video for the full story.
Weight Watchers’ Kids App Draws Backlash From Parents and Nutritionists
- Weight Watchers recently introduced a new app called Kurbo, which is aimed at helping adolescents between the ages of 8-17 lose weight.
- Some are happy to see the company create an easy to use app for the millions of children struggling with their weight.
- But many parents and nutritionists worry that the app could promote unhealthy relationships with food and worsen or create body image issues and eating disorders.
WW Launches Kurbo
More than 80,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for Weight Watchers to remove its new weight loss app aimed at children.
Weight Watchers, which now calls itself WW, introduced a new app called Kurbo last week, saying the program is designed “to help kids and teens ages 8-17 reach a healthier weight,” according to a WW press release.
In 2018, WW acquired the nutrition app, which is based on Stanford University’s pediatric obesity program and “30 years of clinical nutrition and behavior change research,” according to the app’s website.
After purchasing Kurbo, WW spent about a year developing it, adding in features like breathing-exercise instructions, a Snapchat-inspired interface, and multi-day streaks to encourage daily activity.
Users in the U.S. can download the free app, add in their height, weight, age, and health goals, and begin logging in what they eat. In their statement announcing the program, WW explained that Kurbo uses the “Traffic Light System” to guide adolescents towards healthy food choices.
“Kids and teens are encouraged to eat more of the healthy “green light” foods (such as fruits and veggies), be mindful of portions of “yellow light” foods (such as lean protein, whole grains and dairy) and gradually reduce but still include consumption of “red light” foods (such as sugary drinks and treats),” the statement reads.
Users can also consult with a personal coach through the app for a fee, starting at $69 a month. This gives them access to 15-minute video chat sessions with Kurbo coaches every week.
Kurbo says their coaches are “specially-trained, Kurbo-certified and come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds including counseling, fitness and nutrition-related fields.”
The company also claims that its mission is to help kids build long-lasting healthy habits.
“According to recent reports from the World Health Organization, childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. This is a global public health crisis that needs to be addressed at scale,” Joanna Strober, co-founder of Kurbo, said in a statement released by WW.
“As a mom whose son struggled with his weight at a young age, I can personally attest to the importance and significance of having a solution like Kurbo by WW, which is inherently designed to be simple, fun and effective.”
Fans of WW are supportive of the app, saying they hope the company can transform the lives of children the way it has for so many adults. Others point out that millions of young people struggle with their weight, so it is important to have easily accessible tools to help with weight loss.
About 13.7 million U.S. children between 2-19-year-old are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the CDC uses data based on body mass index (BMI), a measurement based on weight and height that many health professionals have slammed as arbitrary and inaccurate.
Despite some support, many parents and nutritionists are concerned that Kurbo can create unhealthy relationships with food at a highly impressionable time in a child’s life. In fact, some studies suggest that childhood weight loss efforts can lead to or worsen eating disorders and body image issues.
Critics have also expressed concerns about specific points on the app, including the success stories section which shows before and after photos of children as young as eight, along with their weight loss totals and testimonials.
“Looking at before and after pictures of kids who have lost weight is absolutely something that could lead to children to feel horrible about themselves and it really is a form of body shaming,” Keri Glassman, a New York City-based registered dietitian told Good Morning America.
“They could have created an app for children that promoted healthy eating and healthy lifestyle and good health education and information and help children boost confidence,” she said. “But I feel like the way this app was built is so similar to Weight Watchers, and just geared completely towards weight loss, weight loss, weight loss.”
Others have criticized the goals section on the app, which includes the options: eat healthier, lose weight, make parents happy, get stronger and fitter, have more energy, boost my confidence, or feel better in my clothes.
Kurbo has stressed that the app is meant to be a “family-based-approach,” but many say that working to lose weight to satisfy family members can be damaging and parents handing their child this app can make them feel like something is wrong with them.
Nutritionists have also criticized the coaches, who they argue are not health-care experts. Based on staff descriptions on the app’s website, the trained experts include people with degrees in economics, tourism management, and communications.
However, WW responded to this with WW’s Chief Scientific Officer Gary Foster telling CNBC: “If we want to live our purpose of making wellness accessible to all and doing it outside an academic medical center, we’re not going to be able to hire pediatricians, dietitians, exercise physiologists and psychologists.”
“What we do well is take science and scale it, measure the impact to make sure we’re living up to our purpose.”
WW was likely expecting some backlash over the app, but still, many are sharing the petition that calls for its removal to spread awareness about the concerns. Holly Stallcup, the woman who started the petition told GMA that she is recovering from an eating disorder herself.
“The story that you are hearing over and over again is all of us who started struggling at the age that this app is targeted for saying it was already bad enough without an app,” she said.
“If we had had this app in our hands to literally log every bite of food to eat, we know that some of us would have actually died from our diseases because it would have so enabled our unhealthy, mentally ill thinking.”
The petition quickly spread online and has even been shared by Good Place actress Jamella Jamil, a vocal advocate for body positivity.
Christy Harrison, a registered dietitian who specializes in helping people recover from disordered eating, penned an opinion piece in The New York Times warning parents not to let their children use this app, or other similar weight loss programs.
“Our society is unfair and cruel to people who are in larger bodies, so I can empathize with parents who might believe their child needs to lose weight, and with any child who wants to,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, attempts to shrink a child’s body are likely to be both ineffective and harmful to physical and mental health.”
“If we truly want to help children be the healthiest and happiest people they can be, we need to stop putting them on diets of any kind, which are likely to worsen their overall well-being. Instead, we need to start teaching them to trust their own inner wisdom about food. And we need to help them make peace with their bodies, at any size,” she added