- 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.
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.