- Some TikTok users have posted videos of themselves performing a dance that mocks people with disabilities in a trend known as the “Autism Challenge.”
- But others have been quick to slam the behavior, including parents of special needs children.
- Most of the videos are now starting to disappear from the app, though it’s unclear if TikTok itself has removed them, if users took them down themselves after a flood of backlash, or if it’s a combination of the two.
New Trend Emerges
Yet another offensive TikTok trend has appeared on the app and it’s being referred to as the “Autism Challenge,” but this time around it seems like the majority of users agree that these posts are totally unacceptable.
As part of this challenge, users make hand gestures and facial expressions that mock people with disabilities while dancing along to a “parody” song called “Let’s Get Retarded.” The good news is that most of the videos have received instant backlash, prompting many to get deleted.
Angry Users Take Over the Audio
It’s unclear if posts were removed by TikTok or the creators themselves, but the hashtag #AutismChallenge has also disappeared from the app. Now, when you click on the audio used for the challenge, you’ll see that is been taken over by a flood of people slamming the trend.
A lot of posts are from people pretending they’re going to do the dance, then actually lecturing people about how disgusting it is.
Other posts are from parents of children with special needs trying to show people who exactly they’re mocking when they do this.
Calls for Take Downs
Another video criticizing the trend that has picked up a lot of attention was posted to Facebook Tuesday by a parent named Kate Swenson. Swenson is the blogger behind “Finding Cooper’s Voice”, a site where she shares her journey about raising a son with severe, non-verbal autism.
In her video, she takes a second to speak directly to one of the people who participated in the trend saying, “Do you need help? Do you need a hug? Do you need love? Do you need support? Are you not getting what you need from your parents? What is it? Because anyone that would do that is so low and so messed up I am flabbergasted.”
She also specifically expressed frustration about the fact that parents have been filming these videos with their kids.
“What are you teaching your children?” she asked. “And I bet, you know, when you’re making that video, you’re thinking momma… ‘Thank God I don’t have a child with a disability.’ You know what? I am the luckiest mom in the world compared to you because I would never ever teach my children to hate, to discriminate, to embarrass, to tease.”
“You know what I’m doing? I’m raising my children and the children in my neighborhood and the advocating that I am doing to stand up to people like you. You’re sick,” she added.
Swenson called for TikTok to take down any of these existing posts, and many Twitter users have been doing the same.
The organization Autism Speaks also issued a statement Wednesday saying it was “shocked and disturbed” by the trend. It added, “In a world where we could all use a little more kindness, we’re committed to doing our part. We urge @tiktok_us to do the same by removing this offensive content, which we’ve reported on the platform.”
As of now, TikTok hasn’t made a statement about the trend. As mentioned before, most of the original videos are now starting to disappear, but it’s not clear if TikTok had anything to do with that or if all the outrage pushed users to remove their own posts. It could be a combination of the two, but regardless, it’s pretty powerful to see TikTok users coming together to take a strong stand against this type of behavior on the app.
See what others are saying: (Daily Dot) (HITC) (Distractify)
Influencers Exposed for Posting Fake Private Jet Photos
- A viral tweet showed a studio set in Los Angeles, California that is staged to look like the inside of a private jet.
- Some influencers were called out for using that very same studio to take social media photos and videos.
- While some slammed them for faking their lifestyles online, others poked fun at the behavior and noted that this is something stars like Bow Wow have been caught doing before.
- Others have even gone so far as to buy and pose with empty designer shopping bags to pretend they went on a massive spending spree.
A tweet went viral over the weekend exposing the secret behind some influencer travel photos.
“Nahhhhh I just found out LA ig girlies are using studio sets that look like private jets for their Instagram pics,” Twitter user @maisonmelissa wrote Thursday.
“It’s crazy that anything you’re looking at could be fake. The setting, the clothes, the body… idk it just kinda of shakes my reality a bit lol,” she continued in a tweet that quickly garnered over 100,000 likes.
The post included photos of a private jet setup that’s actually a studio in California, which you can rent for $64 an hour on the site Peerspace.
As the tweet picked up attention, many began calling out influencers who they noticed have posted photos or videos in that very same studio.
Did she just caption the photo “ catching flights…”😭🤦🏽♀️ pic.twitter.com/VIjT8MJ6Qn— Tumi💦 (@mothapotumelo17) September 25, 2020
Perhaps the most notable influencers to be called out were the Mian Twins, who eventually edited their Instagram captions to admit they were on a set.
Yooo she just edited it 2 mins ago 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/rxdy8PP8xt— Lady M (@babymamadrama65) September 25, 2020
The fact that the sister edited the caption after they got exposed lmao pic.twitter.com/H9MA3UMdBe— Jasmine. (@realjazzyyy) September 25, 2020
While a ton of people were upset about this, others pointed out that it’s not exactly that new of an idea. Even Bow Wow was once famously called out in 2017 for posting a private plane photo on social media before being spotted on a commercial flight.
Twitter users even noted other ridiculous things some people do for the gram, like buying out empty shopping bags to pretend they’ve gone on a shopping spree.
People also buy empty shopping bags online for like $20-$50 to pretend they’ve done a shopping spree.— jamila (@SrirachaMami) September 25, 2020
All for show they work hard for aesthetics pic.twitter.com/Lz8GJid5yg— 𝓜𝓲𝓵𝓴🕊🏹 (@angelmillk) September 25, 2020
Meanwhile, others poked fun at the topic, like Lil Nas X, who is never one to miss out on a viral internet moment. He photoshopped himself into the fake private jet, sarcastically writing, “thankful for it all,” in his caption.
So ultimately, it seems like the moral of this story is: don’t believe everything you see on social media.
See what others are saying: (LADBible) (Dazed Digital) (Metro UK)
South Korea’s Supreme Court Upholds Rape Case Sentences for Korean Stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon
- On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court in Seoul upheld the sentences of Jung Joon Young and Choi Jong Hoon for aggravated rape and related charges.
- Jung will serve five years in prison, while Choi will go to prison for two-and-a-half.
- Videos of Jung, Choi, and others raping women were found in group chats that stemmed from investigations into Seungri, of the k-pop group BigBang, as part of the Burning Sun Scandal.
- The two stars tried to claim that some of the sex was consensual, but the courts ultimately found testimony from survivors trustworthy. Courts did, however, have trouble finding victims who were willing to come forward over fears of social stigma.
Burning Sun Scandal Fall Out
South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld the rape verdicts against stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon on Thursday after multiple appeals by the stars and their co-defendants.
Both Jung and Choi were involved in an ever-growing scandal involving the rapes and sexual assaults of multiple women. Those crimes were filmed and distributed to chatrooms without their consent.
The entire scandal came to light in March of 2019 when Seungri from the k-pop group BigBang was embroiled in what’s now known as the Burning Sun Scandal. As part of an investigation into the scandal, police found a chatroom that featured some stars engaging in what seemed to be non-consensual sex with various women. Police found that many of the message in the Kakaotalk chatroom (the major messaging app in South Korea) from between 2015 and 2016 were sent by Jung and Choi.
A Year of Court Proceedings
Jung, Choi, and five other defendants found themselves in court in November 2019 facing charges related to filming and distributing their acts without the consent of the victims, as well as aggravated rape charges. In South Korea, this means a rape involving two or more perpetrators.
The court found them all guilty of the rape charge. Jung was sentenced to six years behind bars, while Choi and the others were sentenced to five years. Jung was given a harsher sentence because he was also found guilty of filming and distributing the videos of their acts without the victim’s consent.
During proceedings, the court had trouble getting victims to tell their stories. Many feared being shamed or judged because of the incidents and didn’t want the possibility of that information going public. Compounding the court’s problems was the fact that other victims were hard to find.
To that end, the defendants argued that the sexual acts with some of the victims were consensual, albeit this didn’t leave out the possibility that there were still victims of their crimes. However, the court found that the testimony of survivors was trustworthy and contradicted the defendant’s claims.
Jung and Choi appealed the decision, which led to more court proceedings. In May 2020, the Seoul High Court upheld their convictions but reduced their sentences to five years for Jung and two and a half years for Choi.
Choi’s sentence was reduced because the court found that he had reached a settlement with a victim.
The decision was appealed a final time to the Supreme Court. This time they argued that most of the evidence against them, notably the Kakaotalk chatroom messages and videos, were illegally obtained by police.
On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court ultimately disagreed with Jung and Choi and said their revised sentences would stand.
Jung, Choi, and the other defendants will also still have to do 80 hours of sexual violence treatment courses and are banned from working with children for five years.
See What Others Are Saying: (ABC) (Yonhap News) (Soompi)
YouTube Says It Will Use AI to Age-Restrict Content
- YouTube announced Tuesday that it would be expanding its machine learning to handle age-restricting content.
- The decision has been controversial, especially after news that other AI systems employed by the company took down videos at nearly double the rate.
- The decision likely stems from both legal responsibilities in some parts of the world, as well as practical reasons regarding the amount of content loaded to the site.
- It might also help with moderator burn out since the platform is currently understaffed and struggles with extremely high turn over.
- In fact, the platform still faces a lawsuit from a moderator claiming the job gave them Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They also claim the company offered little resources to cope with the content they are required to watch.
YouTube announced Tuesday that it will use AI and machine learning to automatically apply age restriction to videos.
In a recent blog post, the platform wrote, “our Trust & Safety team applies age-restrictions when, in the course of reviewing content, they encounter a video that isn’t appropriate for viewers under 18.”
“Going forward, we will build on our approach of using machine learning to detect content for review, by developing and adapting our technology to help us automatically apply age-restrictions.”
Flagged videos would effectively be blocked from being viewed by anyone who isn’t signed into an account or who has an account indicating they are below the age of 18. YouTube stated these changes were a continuation of their efforts to make YouTube a safer place for families. Initially, it rolled out YouTube Kids as a dedicated platform for those under 13, and now it wants to try and sterilize the platform site-wide. Although notably, it doesn’t plan to make the entire platform a new YouTube Kids.
It’s also not a coincidence that this move helps YouTube to better fall in line with regulations across the world. In Europe, users may face other steps if YouTube can’t confirm their age in addition to rolling out AI-age restrictions. This can include measures such as providing a government ID or credit card to prove one is over 18.
If a video is age-restricted by YouTube, the company did say it will have an appeals process that will get the video in front of an actual person to check it.
On that note, just days before announcing that it would implement AI to age-restrict, YouTube also said it would be expanding its moderation team after it had largely been on hiatus because of the pandemic.
It’s hard to say how much these changes will actually affect creators or how much money that can make from the platform. The only assurances YouTube gave were to creators who are part of the YouTube Partner Program.
“For creators in the YouTube Partner Program, we expect these automated age-restrictions to have little to no impact on revenue as most of these videos also violate our advertiser-friendly guidelines and therefore have limited or no ads.”
This means that most creators with the YouTube Partner Program don’t make much, or anything, from ads already and that’s unlikely to change.
Every time YouTube makes a big change there are a lot of reactions, especially if it involves AI to automatically handle processes. Tuesday’s announcement was no different.
On YouTube’s tweet announcing the changes, common responses included complaints like, “what’s the point in an age restriction on a NON kids app. That’s why we have YouTube kids. really young kids shouldn’t be on normal youtube. So we don’t realistically need an age restriction.”
“Please don’t implement this until you’ve worked out all the kinks,” one user pleaded. “I feel like this might actually hurt a lot of creators, who aren’t making stuff for kids, but get flagged as kids channels because of bright colors and stuff like that”
Hiccups relating to the rollout of this new system were common among users. Although it’s possible that YouTube’s Sept 20. announcement saying it would bring back human moderators to the platform was made to help balance out how much damage a new AI could do.
In a late-August transparency report, YouTube found that AI-moderation was far more restrictive. When the moderators were first down-sized between April and June, YouTube’s AI largely took over and it removed around 11 million videos. That’s double the normal rate.
YouTube did allow creators to appeal those decisions, and about 300,000 videos were appealed; about half of which were reinstated. In a similar move, Facebook also had a similar problem, and will also bring back moderators to handle both restrictive content and the upcoming election.
Other Reasons for the Changes
YouTube’s decision to expand its use of AI not only falls in line with various laws regarding the verification of a user’s age and what content is widely available to the public but also likely for practical reasons.
The site gets over 400 hours of content uploaded every minute. Notwithstanding different time zones or having people work staggered schedules, YouTube would need to employ over 70,000 people to just check what’s uploaded to the site.
Outlets like The Verge have done a series about how YouTube, Google, and Facebook moderators are dealing with depression, anger, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of their job. These issues were particularly prevalent among people working in what YouTube calls the “terror” or “violent extremism” queue.
One moderator told The Verge, “Every day you watch someone beheading someone, or someone shooting his girlfriend. After that, you feel like wow, this world is really crazy. This makes you feel ill. You’re feeling there is nothing worth living for. Why are we doing this to each other?”
That same individual noted that since working there, he began to gain weight, lose hair, have a short temper, and experience general signs of anxiety.
On top of these claims, YouTube is also facing a lawsuit filed in a California court Monday by a former content moderator at YouTube.
The complaint states that Jane Doe, “has trouble sleeping and when she does sleep, she has horrific nightmares. She often lays awake at night trying to go to sleep, replaying videos that she has seen in her mind.“
“She cannot be in crowded places, including concerts and events, because she fears mass shootings. She has severe and debilitating panic attacks,” it continued. “She has lost many friends because of her anxiety around people. She has trouble interacting and being around kids and is now scared to have children.”
These issues weren’t just for people working on the “terror” queue, but anyone training to become a moderator.
“For example, during training, Plaintiff witnessed a video of a smashed open skull with people eating from it; a woman who was kidnapped and beheaded by a cartel; a person’s head being run over by a tank; beastiality; suicides; self-harm; children being rapped [sic]; births and abortions,” the complaint alleges.
“As the example was being presented, Content Moderators were told that they could step out of the room. But Content Moderators were concerned that leaving the room would mean they might lose their job because at the end of the training new Content Moderators were required to pass a test applying the Community Guidelines to the content.”
During their three-week training, moderators allegedly don’t receive much resilience training or wellness resources.
These kinds of lawsuits aren’t unheard of. Facebook faced a similar suit in 2018, where a woman claimed that during her time as a moderator she developed PTSD as a result of “constant and unmitigated exposure to highly toxic and extremely disturbing images at the workplace.”
That case hasn’t yet been decided in court. Currently, Facebook and the plaintiff agreed to settle for $52 million, pending approval from the court.
The settlement would only apply to U.S. moderators