- Social media star Elijah Daniel has purchased the small town of Hell, Michigan and renamed it “Gay Hell,” where only pride flags can be flown.
- Daniel says the move was made in response to the Trump administration recently rejecting requests to fly pride flags on flagpoles at U.S. embassies during Pride Month.
- He hopes that presenting issues in fun or humorous ways will encourage his young audience to become involved in politics.
Social media influencer Elijah Daniel is making headlines again for another creative stunt he pulled to bring attention to LGBTQ issues.
On Monday, the 25-year-old comedian and internet personality announced that he had purchased a small town in Michigan named Hell and has renamed it “Gay Hell.”
In a tweet revealing the move, Daniel explained that he purchased the town in response to the Trump administration recently rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to fly the pride flag on flagpoles during Pride Month.
“Ahead of pride month Trump’s administration put a ban on embassy’s flying pride flags,” he wrote. “So as of today, I am now the owner of Hell, Michigan.”
“The only flags allowed to fly are pride,” Daniel added.
Daniel also included photos from his newly renamed town. “Gay Hell, Mi has everything. A library, a place to lock your love in Gay Hell, and even a WEDDING CHAPEL TO GET GAY MARRIED IN HELL!”
As far as why he purchased Hell, Daniel told NBC News, “I have a young audience who is 16 to 24 who would not be involved in politics if it wasn’t in a funny or meme way.”
“I’m just trying to have fun and get my audience politically active.”
Daniel did not reveal how much it cost him to purchased Gay Hell, but he did confirm that he will only be the temporary owner of the town. According to the Detroit Free Press, the five-acre town is a commercial property that was on the market in 2016 for about $900,000.
His move was praised by many on social media. Massive beauty YouTuber Jeffree Star tweeted that he was also interested in purchasing land in Gay Hell.
Musician Awsten Knight, a member of the band Waterparks, and YouTuber Jessie Paege tweeted about wanting to go to the town.
suddenly i’m moving— Jessie Paege (@jessiepaege) June 18, 2019
U.S. Flag Policy
Outrage over the flag policy sparked earlier this month after NBC News reported that U.S. embassies in at least four countries were denied the ability to fly the pride flag during Pride Month. Those four countries were Israel, Germany, Brazil, and Latvia.
The report noted that during the Obama administration, the government had granted blanket permission to embassies overseas to fly the pride flag during June. But State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a press conference last week that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has the position that, as it relates to the flagpole, that only the American flag should be flown there.”
Vice President Mike Pence also defended the move, telling NBC News that “it’s the right decision.”
“When it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies,” Pence said.
Pence also said that the administration had “put no restrictions” on the pride flag or other flags flying elsewhere at U.S. embassies.
This is far from Daniel’s first eye-catching act linked to LGBT issues and politics. In August of 2017, the social media star made headlines when he served as the mayor of Hell for one day and banned straight people. He was impeached shortly after.
At that time he said the move was in response to Trump’s travel ban. “My ban is a copy-and-paste of Trump’s Muslim ban, but with heterosexuals instead,” he told HuffPost at the time.
That same year he released “The Holy Bible But Gayer,” in which God is Rihanna, Donald Trump is Satan, Eve is renamed Steve, and Jesus turns water into mimosas.
Instagram Restricts Posts Promoting Diet and Cosmetic Surgery Products
- Instagram is restricting users under the age of 18 from viewing ads promoting weight loss and cosmetic procedures. The platform is also removing posts that make miraculous claims about dieting.
- Actress and body positivity activist Jameela Jamil celebrated the policy change.
- Jamil has criticized celebrities like Kim Kardashian for promoting these types of products in the past, saying it has a negative impact on young followers.
Instagram Changes Policy
Instagram has changed a community guideline policy to prevent its younger users from seeing content that promotes diet and weight-loss products.
Users who are known to the platform to be under the age of 18 will no longer be allowed to view posts for dieting products or cosmetic procedures that include a listed price or incentive to purchase. The site will also remove all posts that make a “miraculous” claim about weight loss and include a coupon code or other commercial elements.
According to Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, this policy became effective when it was announced on Wednesday and will be applied on both Instagram and Facebook.
Promoting these kinds of products has become a major part of influencer culture on the social media site. Prominent celebrities like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Cardi B have all received backlash for advertising highly-criticized rapid-weight-loss remedies.
Instagram’s Public Policy Manager, Emma Collins, spoke to the Evening Standard about how this policy change will affect these big names.
“If [a Kardashian’s] Instagram post is pulled into the policy of promoting diet products or procedures for sale it will be removed,” she said. “The Kardashians are people we continue to have collaborative conversations with, they’ll be made aware of the change.”
Collins also released a statement addressing the larger reasons behind the change, saying Instagram wants their site to be a “positive place.”
“We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media,” she said.
Some Twitter users have shared that they have already been blocked from old posts by Kim Kardashian due to the new age barrier. Instagram is also encouraging users to report content they feel violates the new policy, and says they will be adding new reporting tools specifically for this matter.
Wow that was fast. This Kim Kardashian flat tummy shake post from January is now only accessible if you’re logged into Instagram and listed as over-18. pic.twitter.com/67rEv4uqpJ— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) September 18, 2019
Jameela Jamil Responds
The decision was applauded by many, including actress and body positivity activist Jameela Jamil. Jamil has led the social media charge against these weight-loss tactics by frequently calling out stars like the Kardashians for promoting them to their younger fans. Jamil has spilled the skinny tea on what some of the products might actually do to your body, including cause sicknesses like diarrhea. She started the social media campaign “I Weigh” in 2018 to promote body positivity and inclusivity on Instagram.
Jamil called Instagram’s new policy “huge news” in a post celebrating the matter.
“@i_weigh are changing the world together,” she wrote. “After a bunch of shouting, screaming, and petitioning… we have managed to get the attention of the people at the top, and they have heard us and want to protect us. And this is just the beginning of our efforts.”
The Good Place star went on to say that she had been working with people at Instagram all year to accomplish this and praised them for the passion.
//www.instagram.com/embed.jsView this post on Instagram
THIS IS HUGE NEWS. @i_weigh are changing the world together. After a bunch of shouting, screaming, and petitioning… we have managed to get the attention of the people at the top, and they have heard us and want to protect us. And this is just the beginning of our efforts. As of now, if you’re under 18, you will no longer be exposed to any diet/detox products, and for all other ages; all fad products that have bogus, unrealistic claims will be taken down and easy to report. I’ve been working with Instagram all year towards this, who were amazing to deal with, and they expressed that they passionately care about creating a safer space for us all online. This happened so much faster than I expected and I’m so proud and happy and relieved. WELL DONE to the many people who have been working towards this huge change. This is a mass effort. This is an extraordinary win that is going to make a big difference. Influencers have to be more responsible. ❤️
“This happened so much faster than I expected and I’m so proud and happy and relieved,” Jamil added. “WELL DONE to the many people who have been working towards this huge change. This is a mass effort. This is an extraordinary win that is going to make a big difference. Influencers have to be more responsible.”
On Twitter, Jamil also implied that with this victory in hand, she is going to continue fighting.
See what others are saying: (Evening Standard) (The Guardian) (The Verge)
YouTube Will No Longer Count Ad Views for 24-Hour Music Records
- YouTube said it will no longer count views from paid advertising in its calculations for YouTube Music charts and 24-hour debut records.
- The move came after YouTube did not congratulate Indian rapper Badshah for seemingly breaking the single-day viewing record.
- Badshah admitted to paying for promotional ads and several media reports found that the practice was actually commonly used in the music industry to inflate views.
- Critics argued that the strategy created financial hurdles for new artists and raised questions about real popularity.
Ad Views No Longer Count
YouTube announced a new policy Friday that changes the way the platform counts views from purchased ads in its one-day record reports, a practice that has faced massive criticism over the last few months
“In an effort to provide more transparency to the industry and align with the policies of official charting companies such as Billboard and Nielsen, we are no longer counting paid advertising views on YouTube in the YouTube Music Charts calculation,” the company said in a blog post.
“Artists will now be ranked based on view counts from organic plays,” it continued.
The change extends only to YouTube’s music charts and the reporting of 24-hour views. Advertising money can still be put towards increasing views, and the public view counter will still reflect views that were paid for.
Before the changes, many artists and record labels would pay to run songs as YouTube ads, which boosted viewership and increased the artist’s odds of topping the YouTube Music charts.
However, YouTube executives might have decided to rethink how it records single-day views after it faced backlash over its former policy earlier this year.
YouTube faced intense scrutiny in July when Indian rapper Badshah racked up 75 million views in 24 hours on his music video for the song “Paagal.” The numbers seemingly broke the single-day viewing record set by K-pop superstars BTS in April, but YouTube did not acknowledge the achievement.
YouTube has a history of honoring artists for setting viewing records. It congratulated musicians like BTS, Blackpink, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande when they set records on the site, so naturally, many were confused by the company’s silence.
Badshah made no secret that his team spent heavily on promotional ads, which he admitted to on Instagram. He even suggested YouTube’s lack of praise presented a double standard between the way the site treats mainstream global superstars like Swift and Grande, and artists who aren’t as popular in the West.
As of now, it’s unclear how many paid-ad views make up the total views for Badshah’s video, which currently sits at over 161 million. YouTube’s spokesperson told Forbes that the video-sharing platform doesn’t “comment on specific view sources for videos.”
“We have always taken into account a number of factors, including the volume of paid advertising views on YouTube,” they added. “Based on our long-time criteria, Badshah did not qualify for our 24 hour debut records list.”
However, for many people, the interesting issue became the focus on the ad purchasing policy itself. The practice created doubts about the real popularity of the videos and brought new attention to industry marketing tactics. It also sparked conversations about how this tactic changes the landscape for new talent and creates a financial barrier for growth.
A report from Rolling Stone said that the practice was common in the Latin Music industry, reporting that companies like Sony Latin and Universal Latin have been known to shell out between $20,000 to $60,000 in the first 24 hours. In more extreme cases, the companies would spend as much as $100,000, which could result in more than 12 million additional views.
“There is definitely money being spent on views,” Tomas Cookman, founder and CEO of the independent Latin label Nacional told Rolling Stone. “Is it fair to pay to have all those perceived views on a video? Probably not. But any time there’s a system, there’s going to be some manipulation of that system. And whoever tells you there isn’t is probably doing it.”
The report also said the ad strategy was likely more utilized outside of the U.S. because of the cost difference. One Latin label employee estimated that $1,000 on ads might bring in 250,000 to 500,000 views from countries in Latin and South America, meanwhile, the cost per view in the U.S would be five to ten times as much. The cheapest views reportedly came from countries like Turkey, the Philippines, and India.
YouTube’s changes won’t necessarily mean fewer video ads since ads still allow for greater exposure. However, it could push the industry to think critically about how to place those ads for long-term success, rather than just spam users with them for the first 24 hours to inflate views and create a false sense of popularity.
PewDiePie Cancels 50K ADL Donation
- PewDiePie has decided not to gift $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and hate, after his fans spread conspiracy theories about his previous plans to donate.
- Fans online believed he was blackmailed into writing a check to the group, as they associate it with YouTube’s initiative to take town hate speech content.
- After seeing the online backlash, PewDiePie said he chose the organization because he was advised to, and will instead donate the money to a group he feels excited about.
PewDiePie Calls Donation a “Mistake”
One day after pledging $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to fighting against anti-Semitism and bigotry, PewDiePie is taking back the offer.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, the most popular solo YouTube creator, uploaded a video to his channel on Thursday announcing his decision. When Kjellberg first said he would be donating to the ADL in a video celebrating 100 million subscribers, he was met with mixed reactions from his fans.
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised, instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in the video. “Which is 100 percent my fault. Usually, when I pick a charity I take my time, I find a charity that I’m really excited about and actually passionate to donate to.”
The ADL’s Reputation Among Fans
The ADL’s mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Its site also says it fights threats to democracy, including cyberhate, bullying, and biases in schools and in the criminal justice system, among other issues.
Many of Kjellberg’s fans and other YouTube users, however, attribute the ADL to content removal on the platform. YouTube has worked with the group on its initiative to take down content involving hate speech and online extremism. Some of these fans see it as censorship.
The ADL also applauded Disney for ending its relationship with Kjellberg in 2017 after the YouTuber uploaded content with anti-Semitic imagery. Kjellberg apologized for his video and took the content in question down.
Still, fans did not understand why he would make a donation to them after this incident. Many spread conspiracy theories on Twitter that he was being blackmailed into making the donation.
PewDiePie Seeks to Address Situations like Christchurch
At the time, Kjellberg said he “wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on.” In a statement on Twitter, he also added he wanted to distance himself from events like the shooting in Christchurch, where the alleged gunman said his name before killing 51 people and injuring 49 more. His statement has since been deleted, but he elaborated on this idea in Thursday’s video.
“To be fair, I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to these alt-right claims that have been thrown against me. It wasn’t to try to clear my name or save grace, if it was I would have done it years ago,” Kjellberg said.
“But after the Christchurch tragedy, I felt a responsibility to do something about it because it’s no longer just about me, it affected other people in a way and I’m not okay with that.”
He added that he has struggled with learning how to address this situation, and ultimately decided this was not the answer. He later said that he saw information surface about the group that did not “fit at all.” Instead, he will donate to a different charity.
“It really doesn’t feel genuine for me to proceed with the donation at this point and I, instead, I actually wanted to take my time, keep the intent that I had, but just doing it with the right charity and doing it properly,” he said.
The ADL gave a statement to Fox News on Thursday about the incident, saying they only knew as much as the public did.
“ADL learned about the potential donation from Felix Kjellberg when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel earlier this week,” the statement read. “We have not received any communication from him beyond his public posts.”