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Lily Singh Apologizes for Turban Joke During Jessica Alba Interview

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  • Comedian Lily Singh apologized for comparing towels to turbans during a recent episode of her show A Little Late with Lily Singh.
  • During an interview segment, guest Jessica Alba explained that her daughters were trying to keep it cool when meeting Singh at their house, all while wearing towels on their heads to dry their hair.
  • Singh said, “They look like my Punjabi friends. It’s fine,” a comment that outraged many on social media.

Towel-Turban Comparison 

YouTube comedian turned late-night host Lily Singh has apologized for a joke she made comparing turbans to bath towels during an interview with Jessica Alba. 

On Thursday’s episode of NBC’s A Little Late with Lily Singh, the comedian talked about recently meeting Alba’s family at their home. Alba explained that her 8 and 11-year-old daughters, who are fans of Singh, were “trying to be cool” about meeting her.

“I was like,‘You know, Lilly’s downstairs,’ and they’re like, ‘Lilly’s downstairs?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, come say hi,’” Alba said. 

“And they wear the towels, you know– the Turbie Twists, so they like look super not cool in the Turbie Twists but it dries their hair really quickly, so it’s very practical. I think they definitely had the Turbie Twists on when they said hi,” Alba added. 

“They look like my Punjabi friends. It’s fine,” Singh responded. 

Backlash 

Following the episode, Singh was met with backlash from viewers who were upset by the joke. 

“When you see someone from your community rise to prominence, you’d expect them to represent your people, not fuel their ridicule…I can only think of the kids in school who have been called ‘towel-heads’ their entire lives,” one user wrote. Others said they were “disgusted” and “disappointed” to hear her make the comment. 

Apology

Singh, whose show has only been on the air for about two weeks, responded quickly to the criticism.

In a Twitter apology posted Friday, she wrote, “My guest was explaining how her kids were embarrassed when I saw them with towels twisted on their heads and I said “don’t worry, it’s like my Punjabi friends. In the moment, my thought process was ‘don’t be embarrassed! I think that’s dope.”

“But in hindsight I recognize that it was a disrespectful and problematic joke to make that has a lot of painful history behind it. And I’m very sorry.” 

Singh explained that she was particularly nervous during this taping since it was the very first episode she had ever filmed for her show. She also went on to thank those who had educated her on the matter and made her aware of her mistake. 

“I don’t wear a turban and I haven’t lived that experience and so I really value people giving me perspective. I’m grateful that this was a teachable moment instead of another opportunity to divide and attack.”

“Aside from these words, I’ve also taken the action to ensure my stupid joke is removed from the episode and online clips.” As of Monday morning, the joke is still included in streaming versions of the full episode, but it has not been uploaded on the show’s YouTube channel.  At this time, it is unclear if NBC will actually comply with her requests to have the joke removed.

In addition to her apology, she shared a Funny or Die video titled “Let’s Talk About Turbans (Gasp!)” in a follow-up tweet. “Also, education is love so I’d like to shine light on this great video discussing the turban. Thank you again,” she wrote in her post. 

Singh also took to Instagram to make sure more of her fans heard her apology, reiterating the same key points she included in her Twitter statement. In her video, she noted that no publicist was forcing her to make this apology, saying, “Genuinely, it’s from the bottom of my heart.”

See what others are saying: (BBC) (PEOPLE) (Vulture)

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Google Investigates Top AI Researcher Who Was Looking Into a Previous Firing

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  • Google is investigating the co-leader of its Ethical AI team, Margaret Mitchell.
  • While Mitchell has not been fired, her account has been locked because Google said she “exfiltrated thousands of files” and shared them with people outside of the company. 
  • In a tweet, Mitchell indicated that she had been “documenting current critical issues” related to the firing of another Google AI Ethicist in December.
  • Sources reportedly told Axios that Mitchell had been specifically looking for messages that showed discriminatory treatment of that fired researcher.

Google Investigates Margaret Mitchell

On Tuesday, Google stated that it is now investigating the co-leader of its Ethical Al team, Margaret Mitchell.

Mitchell has reportedly not been fired, but her company email account has been locked.

According to Google, its security systems automatically lock employee accounts “when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered.”

In this case, Google said Mitchell “exfiltrated thousands of files” and then shared them with people outside of the company. 

Why Did Mitchell Begin Looking Through Files?

Mitchell’s investigation is related to the ousting of another top AI ethicist at Google, Timnit Gebru, who was fired at the beginning of December. 

Before Gebru was fired, managers reportedly instructed her to withdraw an unpublished research paper upon her return from vacation. In an email to the internal listserv Google Brain Women and Allies, Gebru then voiced frustration at managers for allegedly making the decision without her input. 

“You are not worth having any conversations about this, since you are not someone whose humanity (let alone expertise recognized by journalists, governments, scientists, civic organizations such as the electronic frontiers foundation etc) is acknowledged or valued in this company,” Gebru said in a critique of the decision. 

Gebru’s firing led to such a massive outcry from Google employees that Google CEO Sundar Pichai pledged to investigate the situation. 

On Friday, Mitchell indicated in a tweet that she was also looking into Gebru’s firing, saying that she was “documenting current critical issues from [Gebru’s] firing, point by point, inside and outside work.”

According to Axios, sources have said that Mitchell used automated scripts to siphon through messages that potentially document discriminatory treatment against Gebru.

See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Verge) (Bloomberg)

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Says Trump Ban Was the “Right Decision” But Sets “Dangerous” Precedent

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  • While defending Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump, CEO Jack Dorsey noted the “dangerous” precedent such a move set.
  • “Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation,” Dorsey said in a lengthy Twitter thread on Wednesday. “They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning.”
  • Dorsey’s message came the same day Twitter fully reinstated Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Co.) account, hours after locking it for violating Twitter rules. A Twitter spokesperson later described the lock as an “incorrect enforcement action.”

Dorsey Describes Trump Ban as a Double-Edged Sword

In a lengthy Twitter thread published Wednesday, CEO Jack Dorsey defended his platform’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump, while also noting the “dangerous” precedent such a unilateral move sets.

Twitter made the decision to ban Trump on Jan. 8, two days after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol complex in an assault that left multiple dead.

“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban [Trump] from Twitter, or how we got here,” Dorsey said in the first of 13 tweets. 

Nonetheless, Dorsey described Trump’s ban as “the right decision for Twitter.”

“Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” he added.

“That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications,” Dorsey continued.

“[It] sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

Dorsey described most bans as a failure of Twitter to “promote healthy conversation,” though he noted that exceptions to such a mindset also exist. Among other failures, Dorsey said extreme actions like a ban can “fragment public conversation,” divide people, and limit “clarification, redemption, and learning.”

Dorsey: Trump Bans Were Not Coordinated

Dorsey continued his thread by addressing claims and criticism that Trump’s ban on Twitter violated free speech.

“A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same,” he said.

Indeed, multiple legal experts have stated that Trump’s ban on social media does not amount to First Amendment violations, as the First Amendment only addresses government censorship. 

“If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service,” Dorsey added. However, Dorsey noted that such a concept has been challenged over the past week. 

Trump has now been banned or suspended from a number of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. On Wednesday, Snapchat announced plans to terminate Trump’s account in the “interest of public safety.” Previously, Snapchat had only suspended his account, but as of Jan. 20, it will be permanently banned. 

Addressing criticism of the swift bans handed down by these platforms in the wake of the Capitol attack, Dorsey said he doesn’t believe Trump’s bans on social media were coordinated.

“More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others,” he said.

Twitter Reverses Course of Locking Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Account

Dorsey’s thread regarding the fragile nature of regulating users’ privileges on the platform seemed to play out earlier the same day.

On Wednesday, newly-elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) posted a screenshot to Instagram showing that her Twitter account had been locked for six days. The screenshot stated that she had violated Twitter’s rules and would be unable to tweet, retweet, or like until her account was unlocked. 

Hours later, Twitter reversed course and fully reinstated her account. 

“In this instance, our teams took the incorrect enforcement action. The Tweet in question is now labeled in accordance with our Civic Integrity Policy. The Tweet will not be required to be removed and the account will not be temporarily locked,” a spokesperson for the platform told Insider.

It is unknown what tweet caused that initial ban, as Twitter refused to say. 

The latest tweet from Boebert’s account to be tagged with a fact check warning is from Sunday. In that tweet, she baselessly and falsely accuses the DNC of rigging the 2020 Election, a claim that largely inspired the Capitol attacks. 

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (CNN) (Associated Press)

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Uber and Lyft Drivers Sue To Overturn California’s Prop 22

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  • A group of Uber and Lyft drivers filed a lawsuit Tuesday against California’s controversial Prop 22, a ballot measure that was approved by nearly 59% of state voters in the 2020 election. 
  • While Prop 22 does promise drivers wage guarantees and health insurance stipends, it also eliminated some protections as well as benefits like sick pay and workers’ compensation.
  • In their lawsuit, the drivers argue that Prop 22 “illegally” prevents them from being able to access the state’s workers’ compensation program. 

What’s in the Lawsuit?

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, a group of Uber and Lyft drivers asked California’s Supreme Court to overturn the state’s controversial Prop 22 ballot measure.

The drivers behind the lawsuit, along with Service Employees International Union, allege that Prop 22 “illegally” bars them from being able to participate in the state’s workers’ compensation program. 

Additionally, they argue that the measure violates California’s constitution by“stripping” the state legislature of its ability to protect who unionize. 

“Every day, rideshare drivers like me struggle to make ends meet because companies like Uber and Lyft prioritize corporate profits over our wellbeing,” Plaintiff Saori Okawa said in a statement. 

Conversely, Uber driver and Prop 22 activist Jim Pyatt denounced the lawsuit, saying,“Voters across the political spectrum spoke loud and clear, passing Prop 22 in a landslide. Meritless lawsuits that seek to undermine the clear democratic will of the people do not stand up to scrutiny in the courts.”

California ballot measures have been occasionally repealed in the past; however, most of the time, they’ve only been repealed following subsequent ballot measures. If this lawsuit fails, such an initiative would likely be the last option for overturning Prop 22.

What is Prop 22?

Prop 22, which was approved by 59% of state voters in the 2020 Election, exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from having to classify their drivers as employees. Rather, those drivers are listed as “independent contractors,” also known as gig workers. 

Notably, Prop 22 was supported by major industry players like DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, and Instacart, which launched a massive $200 million lobbying and advertising campaign.

While those companies did promise wage guarantees and health insurance stipends for drivers, Prop 22 also eliminated a number of protections and benefits drivers would have seen under an “employee” status, including sick pay and workers’ compensation. 

Because of that, many opponents have argued that the measure incentivizes companies to lay off their employees in favor of cheaper labor options.

Last week, it was reported that grocery stores like Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions began laying off their delivery workers in favor of switching to ”third-party logistics providers.” According to Albertson’s, unionized delivery workers were not included in the layoffs. 

In recent coverage from KPBS, one San Diego Vons delivery worker detailed a situation in which he and delivery workers were called into a meeting with management. 

“I thought they were going to give us a bonus or a raise or something like that,” he said. 

Ultimately, that employee was told he would be losing his job in late February, even though he had been with the company for two-and-a-half years. 

“I didn’t want to tell them,” the employee said of his parents, one of whom is disabled. “I’m the breadwinner for the family.”

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Washington Post) (CNN)

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