- On Thursday, Twitch deleted and apologized for a Black Lives Matter compilation video that showcased a number of white streamers supporting the movement but featured very few Black creators.
- In fact, the nearly one-minute video only had one line from a Black creator known as Zombaekillz, and Twitch overlaid audio of DrLupo—a white creator—on top of a clip of footage from another Black streamer, BlissKai.
- A number of the streamers featured in the video have now spoken out about the criticism, with some agreeing and others disagreeing.
- This video follows backslash Twitch faced earlier in the week for an LGBTQIA+ tweet that said the G “also stands for gamer.”
Twitch’s Mostly White “Black Lives Matter” Video
Twitch has deleted a controversial complication video it posted on Thursday that was meant to display solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement; however, the video was quickly criticized as tone-deaf for featuring mostly-white creators.
The video was originally posted to Twitter with the caption “Working together to make an impact for Black lives,” according to the gaming outlet Polygon.
While that video showcases a number of white creators advocating for racial justice— including DrLupo, Jacksepticeye, CrankGameplays, AshleyRoboto, and Charalanahzard—it only features one line from a Black streamer, Zombaekillz.
“Black people don’t have the same right, and we don’t have the same power that people around us have here,” Zombaekillz said in the video, a quite ironic statement given Twitch’s inclusion of it around only white voices.
Other Black creators such as BlissKai were featured but had no lines. In fact, in the video, a clip of her is even overlaid with audio from DrLupo. In all, Black streamers only accounted for 11-seconds of the nearly minute-long video.
While the video also opens with a clip of a Black man speaking at a protest, he is not a known streamer on the platform.
Reaction and Apology
Much of the video includes streamers raising money for various Black Lives Matter-related charities. Shortly after Twitch posted it, the video was met with swift condemnation from Black streamers and BLM allies.
One Black creator, Tanya DePass, blasted the platform and accused it of silencing Black voices.
“This is a whole bucket of fail,” DePass said. “There’s a WHOLE LOT of Black Creators on here who not only speak out on this ALL THE TIME, but don’t get any credit for it. Y’all are speaking over us. Highlight Black folks doing the work already.”
Notably, some also pointed out that DePass would have been a prime candidate for the video, as she raised over $140,000 during a 10-hour Animal Crossing live stream on the platform last month. Her original goal had been $500.
On Thursday, the same day the initial video was posted, Twitch removed it and issued an apology.
“We hear you,” the platform said. “Our goal was to demonstrate the importance of allyship—a message we didn’t make clear. Only by working together can we create a positive change.”
Creators in the Video Speak Out
A number of creators featured in the video have spoken out since Twitch deleted that video and apologized, including BlissKai and Zombaekillz.
“It sucks that Twitch deleted the tweet but it had to happen,” BlissKai said. “I want to see black gamers succeed & make a difference as well. My first ever huge thing from Twitch & I’m glad I even got a opportunity to see myself up there. Disappointed but Twitch just delivered the wrong it the way.”
Meanwhile, Zombaekillz commended the video for using lesser-known Black streamers, adding, “it also celebrated the actual and very real allyship of some creators during this time. AND AND… white people listen to white people.“
While she noted that the video could have featured more Black voices, she said, “this is about incremental changes. Dismantling supremacy doesn’t happen immediately.”
“The reality is this video was about working together to uplift voices and showcasing people who are,” she continued. “People have missed the point.”
“Also, while you’re here and SO outraged over the lack of diverse voices.. make sure to go to my channel and support this very diverse voice. Put some of these words to ACTION…”
Also on Twitter, Charalanahzard said she had no knowledge of Twitch even using a clip from one of her streams until after Twitch posted its video.
“Well, I had no idea this happened until just now, but want to be clear: I had absolutely no idea @Twitch was going to use a clip of me in the #BLM video they took down and am not cool with it at all,” she said. “I guess they own all content on their platform, but I’m shocked I wasn’t asked.”
Twitch Had to Revise a LGBTQIA+ Tweet, Too
Thursday’s video is not the first social media controversy of the week for Twitch. In fact, on Sunday, it posted a video that was meant to show support for queer rights that was partially captioned, “When the G in LGBTQIA+ also stands for Gamer.”
“I don’t in any way shape or form want to take away from the amazing humans in this video, the clips are wonderful,” creator Spofie said. “But can we remove this part?”
Wow! It’s already hard enough to teach people what it stands for. Twitch come on, do better. Are there no LGBTQIA+ on their Social team? How is that possible?— ✨ Charice Gomez (@ChariceArzellG) July 5, 2020
While the platform deleted the original video and quickly posted another without the controversial slogan, it did not publicly address its misstep.
Black Mirror or Reality? Microsoft Granted Patent for Tech That Lets It Create Chatbots of Dead People
- Microsoft has been granted a patent that would allow it to create artificial intelligence chatbots of dead people using “voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, written letters, etc.”
- As Microsoft noted in its patent proposal, chatbots could also be created to imitate living people — opening the door for users to train a digital version of themselves to be used after they die.
- In the patent filing, Microsoft also suggested creating 2D or 3D models of chatbot subjects by studying images and videos of them.
- Online, many noted the similarities between Microsoft’s patent and a 2013 episode of Black Mirror in which a woman creates an AI version of her deceased boyfriend.
Microsoft Granted Controversial Patent
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted Microsoft a patent for technology that would allow it digitally revive dead people.
If implemented, Microsoft would use information like “voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, written letters, etc.,” to create artificial intelligence chatbots meant to replicate the person.
In its filing, Microsoft noted that the person could be “a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, a random entity, etc.”
Microsoft also noted, “the specific person may also correspond to oneself (e.g., the user creating/training the chat bot), or a version of oneself (e.g., oneself at a particular age or stage of life).”
As The Independent pointed out, that opens up the door for living users to be able to “train a digital replacement in the event of their death.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Microsoft has also suggested creating 2D or even 3D models of the person by studying images and videos of them.
Has Life Finally Become an Episode of Black Mirror?
Online, many noted the similarities between Microsoft’s patent and a 2013 episode of Black Mirror in which a character, played by Hayley Atwell, revives her recently-deceased boyfriend through an AI chatbot. As the episode progresses, that AI — played by Domhnall Gleeson — eventually becomes an exact replica android of her boyfriend.
“More people that need to remember Black Mirror is a warning sign, not a product manual,” said Tama Leaver, an internet studies professor at Curtin University in Australia.
Indeed, many critics have interpreted the episode, which focuses on the grief felt by Atwell’s character because of her loss, as an examination of “our own mortality and our desire to play God.”
“It shines a spotlight on our desperate need to reverse a natural and necessary part of life without considering the consequences on our emotional well-being,” Roxanne Sancto said in a review for Paste Magazine.
In fact, series creator Charlie Brooker said part of his direct inspiration for writing the episode was based on Twitter and the question: “What if these people were dead and it was software emulating their thoughts?”
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (IGN) (Indie Wire)
JoJo Siwa Fans Caution Against Labeling the Star’s Sexuality
- JoJo Siwa was featured in two TikTok videos Wednesday that many felt signaled her as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
- One showed her dancing and lip-syncing to Paramore’s “Aint It Fun,” along with members of the TikTok group Pride House LA. Siwa specifically mouthed the lyric “Now you’re one of us,” which is also the caption of the post.
- The second video showed her lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” a song that has long been heralded as an LGBTQ+ anthem.
- The 17-year-old entertainer has not directly addressed speculations about her sexuality, prompting many to caution against labeling her.
JoJo Siwa TikToks Trigger Sexuality Speculations
JoJo Siwa fans are urging the public not to label the 17-year-old entertainer’s sexuality, especially when she has not explicitly done so herself.
The request came after Siwa became a trending topic Wednesday when many speculated that she had come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
The speculations stem from two TikTok videos she was featured in. The first was posted on choreographer Kent Boyd’s account. It features him and other members of the TikTok group Pride House LA, which includes several stars from Disney Channel’s “Teen Beach Movie.”
It showed them all lip-syncing and dancing along to Paramore’s hit song “Ain’t It Fun.” Siaw specifically mouthed the lyric “Now you’re one of us.” That lyric was also the caption of the post.
Later in the day, Siwa posted a video on her personal TikTok account that featured her lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” a song that has long been heralded as an LGBTQ+ anthem.
Part of the lyrics she sang along to were: “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian transgender life / I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.”
These posts really started all the rumors online, and things picked up when influencers like James Charles, Bretman Rock, and others expressed their support.
Many fans also left comments on the videos saying they were proud of her, and journalist Yashar Ali tweeted, “This feels like a big deal if it is what I think it is…JoJo Siwa is hugely popular with kids.”
“And as someone just pointed out, if it is what I think it is, she’s doing it at the height of her fame when she’s selling out arenas,” he continued.
Despite the wave of praise, other fans feel that it’s inappropriate and harmful to make speculations about anyone’s sexuality.
Many have even shared their own experiences coming out, reminding people not to label Siwa as anything until she explicitly chooses to share that information herself.
While Siwa hasn’t directly addressed any of the responses as of yet, she has retweeted a post that features her video, the pride flag emoji, and the caption, “@itsjojosiwa is on the right track, she was born this way.”
Still, others also noted that she has publicly asked Lady Gaga to collaborate with her in the past, so perhaps this is a signal about that happening soon.
Others believe it could also be Siwa’s way of signaling that she is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Metro) (Teen Vogue)
Google Investigates Top AI Researcher Who Was Looking Into a Previous Firing
- 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.