- People have been flocking to a bright blue lake in Siberia to snap Instagram photos, but the area is actually a dump for chemical waste.
- A Siberian power company said the color comes from calcium salts and oxides of various metals that are dissolved in the water.
- Though the company says the water has been independently tested by two labs and is not poisonous, it also warns that skin contact with the water can cause an allergic reaction.
“Maldives of Novosibirsk“
A Siberian energy company is warning tourists to avoid swimming in a breathtaking blue lake that has become a popular backdrop for Instagram photos.
Social media users have been flocking to the site to snap pictures in the bright blue water. The little piece of paradise just outside of the industrial city of Novosibirsk has even been nicknamed the “Maldives of Novosibirsk,” named after the tropical destination in the Indian Ocean.
The area even has its own Instagram page with over 200 posts showing visitors in the water.
But the lake is not actually a natural wonder. It’s a man-made chemical waste site, and that beautiful blue color is the result of a huge dump of ash from a nearby coal plant. Now the company that runs the plant is warning visitors to stay out of the water.
Company Issues Warning
The waste comes from a nearby power plant, operated by the Siberian Generating Company.
The company took to the Russian social media site VK last month to warn visitors about the water, writing: “In the last week, our ash dump of the Novosibirsk TEZ-5 has become the star of social networks.”
“It is not poisonous,” the company said of the water. “The radiation level is normal,” it added, saying that tests were conducted by two independent labs.
“But you can not swim in the ash dump. The water in it has a high alkaline environment,” the statement continued. “This is due to the fact that calcium salts and other metal oxides are dissolved in it. Skin contact with such water may cause an allergic reaction!”
The post goes on to say that the bottom of the pond is muddy, which makes getting out of the reservoir alone “almost impossible.”⠀
“THEREFORE, WE ASK YOU VERY MUCH THAT IN YOUR QUEST FOR A SELFIE YOU DON’T FALL DOWN INTO THE ASH DUMP! THIS IS THE BIGGEST RISK,” the company said.
Quests for the Perfect Photo Continue
Still, the warning hasn’t deterred people from the area. Dozens of social media users have continued to visit on their quests for the perfect Instagram picture, with some getting into the water in swimsuits and paddleboards.
One couple even took their wedding photos in the area. In an Instagram post, the photographer said the photos were a “creative idea and no one really organized a picnic on the ash dump and did not splash in the water.” However, she added that she thought the danger was “slightly exaggerated.”
“Naturally, you should not swim there, but because of a photoshoot lasting an hour you will not grow a third hand.”
But others have ignored the warnings. According to a translation from BBC, one user wrote: “The next morning, my legs turned slightly red and itched for two days, but then everything went. But what wouldn’t you do for the sake of such pictures?”
The chemical dumping ground is now the latest example of the lengths some people go to take the perfect Instagram pictures. In March, Lake Elsinore, California was swarmed with tourists rushing to take photos in the fields of poppies. Officials in the area were even forced to briefly close access to the fields and declare a “public safety crisis.”
Some have even been harmed while trying to snap a selfie. A 2018 study found that over a six-year period, more than 250 people worldwide died while taking a photo of themselves. Several of the deaths stemmed from transportation accidents, animal attacks, falling from heights, or incidents related to firearms and electrocution.
YouTuber Agrees to Pay Families After One Girl Dies and Another Suffers Major Burns in “Copycat” Experiment
- One Chinese teen died and another Chinese girl suffered severe burns after they tried to replicate a DIY popcorn making experiment that resulted in the explosion of a two-pound bottle of condensed industrial alcohol.
- Because she posted a similar video in March 2017, Chinese YouTuber Ms Yeah was then accused of inspiring the girls to replicate the experiment.
- Ms Yeah denied inspiring the girls, saying they used different videos than her own, but she agreed to compensate both families involved, saying she would help the families “regardless of who was right and who was wrong.”
Ms Yeah’s Popcorn Experiment
Chinese YouTuber Zhou Xiaohui, better known as Ms Yeah, has agreed to compensate two families after they claimed their daughters attempted to copy her viral video, resulting in one dying and the other surviving with severe burns.
Ms Yeah, who boasts nearly 7.5 million followers on YouTube, uses everyday items found in the workplace to cook traditional Chinese dishes and other foods.
The video in question—a feature on making popcorn—was originally posted in March 2017 and has since been deleted, but copies have circulated on YouTube. In addition to that video, Ms Yeah said she will delete any videos she thinks might potentially be dangerous.
In the video, Ms Yeah can be seen cutting a Pepsi can and placing it onto a hot plate, which rests over what appears to be an alcohol burner. She then fills the can with popcorn kernels, salt, and butter and lights the burner with a match.
An Experiment Gone Wrong
While the end result for Ms Yeah was a bowl of popcorn, the families of the two girls say things ended much differently, with several photos of burnt or destroyed cans showing part of the aftermath.
On Aug. 22, the girls were reportedly playing in at a home in the eastern Chinese city of Zaozhuang while their parents were at work. Around 3:30 p.m., the girls discovered the experiment on the Chinese version of TikTok and decided to replicate it.
Their initial attempt reportedly failed, prompting on the girls to pour alcohol directly onto an open flame housed in a tin can, which then exploded.
The spark then reportedly caused a two-pound bucket of nearby condensed industrial alcohol to also explode, leading to the severe injuries.
The survivor—a 12-year-old girl identified as Xiaoyu—will need cosmetic surgery, according to her family. Also according to her father, she has accumulated high hospital bills and refuses to leave her home because of her burns. A picture that circulated on the Chinese social media site Weibo reportedly shows the girl in the hospital with severe burns and casts on her arms and legs.
Her friend—identified as 14-year-old Zhezhe—reportedly suffered burns to 96% of her body, later dying on Sep. 5.
Ms Yeah Compensates Families
Ms Yeah has denied the girls were attempting to replicate her video, in spite of paying compensation and the families’ claims. She claims the girls were using a different method than what was depicted in her video. Other videos showcasing alternative methods for DIY popcorn—similar to accounts given about the girls’ own experiment—do exist on YouTube, some with millions of views.
“I used only one tin can and an alcohol lamp, which is safer,” Ms Yeah said in a Sept. 10 Weibo post. “In [their video] we could clearly see that they used two cans and not a lamp.”
Ms Yeah also said her videos are not to be interpreted as instructional, and according to the BBC, she said she has included “Do not attempt” warnings on her videos since March 2017; however, more recent content of Ms Yeah using alcohol lamps to cook crab and make an espresso notably do not contain any such warnings in their videos.
Ms Yeah’s cousin and representative said the creator would help the families “regardless of who was right and who was wrong.”
It is unknown to what extent Ms Yeah will compensate the families.
Ms Yeah has described learning of the events as “the darkest day of my life” and said she’s felt “immense pain” from the girls’ injuries, further apologizing to her followers and saying she “let everyone down.”
Despite this, she has had to respond to multiple accusations on social media that she is a “murderer.” In her apology post, Ms Yeah asked her followers not to accuse people of murder.
Ms Yeah’s cousin later told media she has been under “immense stress” in recent days and suspects she may be “sinking into depression.”
See what others are saying: (Sixth Tone) (South China Morning Post) (INSIDER)
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.