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High Schoolers Support Teachers By Using TikTok to Organize Strike Over Pay

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  • Teachers in Clark County, Nevada threatened to walk off the job next month after the district refused to give raises to staff members who had furthered their education, despite previously promising to do so. 
  • One student explained the situation in a TikTok post and urged students to hold their own strike in support of their teachers. 
  • The post went viral and prompted other students to speak out on similar issues in their schools.
  • The strikes were suspended after the district and teachers union struck a deal Wednesday night, which included raises and more funding for health insurance. 

Teachers Organize Strike 

Teens used the popular short-form video app TikTok to support high school teachers in Nevada this week after a teachers strike was threatened by a local school district. 

Teachers in Clark County planned a walkout on Sept. 10 to protests against the school district for failing to honor a promise it had made regarding their salaries. Educators were previously told they would earn raises so long as they furthered their education by completing professional development courses. But the district later refused to follow through on that agreement, saying it lacked the funds to do so. 

The consequences of the strike would have been devastating for the school district, which is the fifth-largest in the nation. In response to the news of picketing, the district filed an emergency court motion to block the strike and have a judge issue an order against it. If the order was imposed, the union could have faced fines of up to $50,000 a day.

Still, Clark County teachers felt they had no choice but to take a stand.

TikTok Post Goes Viral 

Many local students were also outraged by the situation, including 16-year-old Gillian Sullivan who took her frustration over to TikTok.

Sullivan, whose mom has worked for the district for more than 20 years, uploaded a video on the app where she explained the situation, saying the district would not pay teachers who had “spent the past three years earning enough credits out of their own pockets, spending extra hours outside of school to earn credits to get a raise.” 

“Personally, I don’t think this is fair and I’m kind of sick of our district thinking its okay to walk all over students and teachers all of the time,” she added. “If you’re sick of this too, and you want respect for yourself as a student but also for your teachers, please strike Sept. 5 because I’m done, and you should be too. Teachers deserve more respect than that. And it’s disgusting.”

Within days Sullivan’s video spread throughout the app and was viewed by users from all over the globe. Many commented about similar issues in their own school districts and promised to help raise awareness in whatever ways they could.

“I’m not even in ccsd but [I] still shared trying to do something to help,” one user commented. ”Solidarity,” others wrote.

Comments on Sullivan’s TikTok post

Others shared the post in typical TikTok fashion, using the app’s duet function. 

In another post, Sullivan responded to users who said their school districts were just as bad if not worse. She argued that the entire school system in the U.S. is flawed and encouraged all students to skip school on Sept. 5. “Everyone is saying their school district is bad. Nationally, the school system is broken and we can fix it by not going to school and the government realizing that we all see a problem as teenagers.” 

Her posts also made their way onto Twitter, where they picked up more praise and support. They also inspired others to upload similar TikToks, including another student in her district, 17-year-old Leonardo Bueno. 

In a three-part TikTok post, he talked about a lack of funds for school programs and rules that stop clubs or sports teams from raising their own funds. He also encouraged the student strike saying, “We should also be speaking up about teachers being underpaid and not getting their salary.” 

“Teachers put their life and dedication in teaching us, because they are teaching the future of this country.”

While many seemed prepared to participate in the student and teacher strikes, those plans have since been called off.

Union and District Reach Deal 

Late Wednesday, the Clark County School District and the Clark County Education Association said they had reached a tentative agreement to resolve the issue. The agreement includes a salary increase for the educators who completed their professional development programs, as well as a 3% raise and more funding for health insurance.

The deal still needs to be ratified by union executives and district trustees, according to the Associated Press. However, it seems that both sides expect no issues with approving the move. 

It’s unclear how much of a role, if any, the TikToks played in the decision, but Sullivan and others felt the spread of the news surely had an impact. 

Sullivan took to TikTok once more to share the news saying, “Through social media and people actively speaking out, we got what we wanted.

“I’m really happy, I’m really grateful for everybody who liked, commented and shared my post because it allowed for a lot more people to be informed about the issue within the school district including students.” 

“Thank you to our teachers,” she added. “I’m so happy they’re getting their raise … we did it, guys. Give yourselves a pat on the back. Give yourselves a high five. We won.”

See what others are saying: (Buzzfeed News) (Huffington Post) (US News)

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YouTuber Agrees to Pay Families After One Girl Dies and Another Suffers Major Burns in “Copycat” Experiment

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  • 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. 

Source: The Sun
Source: Mothership
Source: Mothership

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. 

Source: BBC

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. 

Online Response

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)

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Instagram Restricts Posts Promoting Diet and Cosmetic Surgery Products

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  • 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. 

Screenshot via Instagram @KimKardashian

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. 

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.

View 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. ❤️

A post shared by Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamilofficial) on

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

“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)

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YouTube Will No Longer Count Ad Views for 24-Hour Music Records

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  • 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.

Why? 

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.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Bloomberg) (The Verge)


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