- Snapchat has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through an in-app feature.
- According to the company, about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters, and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24.
- On top of that, Snapchat also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
- Massive stars like Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik also caught attention this week for encouraging voter registration.
- Jenner did so with bikini photos that directed fans to vote.org, meanwhile, Dobrik did so by launching a Tesla giveaway that requires participants to check their voter registration status.
Snapchat Helps Register Over 1 Million Voters
Snapchat said Thursday that is has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through its in-app tool. The move aligns with several recent pushes encouraging voter registration from both companies and notable public figures.
More than half of the 1 million who registered through the social media platform did so in less than a month, the company added.
While the numbers are less than the 2.5 million who have signed up through Facebook, they’re still incredibly important and impressive.
Experts also find them particularly interesting because Snapchat reaches much younger audiences, which could play a huge role in affecting the outcomes in certain areas.
Snapchat said about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24, a Snapchat spokesperson estimated.
On top of that, the company also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states.
The company says it saw more signups to register in Texas than in any other state, with some of the largest additions coming from Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Aside from the in-app registration tool, Snapchat had already been working to helping inform its users about voting with public service announcements from lawmakers in both parties, as well as celebrities and influencers.
In the weeks leading up to the election, Snapchat says it will continue sending reminders to users about early voting deadlines in their states and will ensure that information and news in the app is accurate.
Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik Boost Voter Registration
However, it’s not just social media platforms working to boost voter registration ahead of the election. A ton of big-name celebrities and influencers have been their platforms to do the same.
One unique approach came from none other than Kylie Jenner. She took to Instagram on Monday to post some bikini pics for her 196 million followers, captioning the post: “but are you registered to vote? click the link in my bio.. let’s make a plan to vote together.”
That link directs users to Vote.org, where users can check their voter registration status. According to a TMZ report Wednesday, the thirst trap resulted in “nearly 50,000 potential new registered voters.”
The article went on to say that Vote.org saw a 1500% boost from traffic driven via Instagram, and got over an 80% increase in total users of its voter registration and verification tool from the prior day.
TMZ says all translates to more than 48,000 users going to the site through Kylie’s post.
Those numbers, of course, are likely still rising.
Another massive star encouraging voter registration this week was YouTube’s own David Dobrik.
He’s partnered with HeadCount, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes voter registration, and together they’re giving away five brand new Tesla Model 3s.
View this post on Instagram
Hi!! HeadCount and I are giving away 5 Teslas to you guys!! All you have to do is share this to your story, tag a friend in the comments and make sure you’re good to vote at my link in bio!! Winners will be announced Monday. Good luck!! @headcountorg No purchase or reg necessary. Exclusions apply. Terms and conditions here:http://bit.ly/345p93f #join2020vote #GoodToVote
In order to win, participants must check to see that they are registered to vote on the HeadCount website.
Voter registration is not necessary, but participants will have the opportunity to register if they haven’t yet. The contest started midday Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, HeadCount has said the campaign has been a record-shattering success.
It generated 10,000 new voter registrations within the first hour of launch and allowed 23,000 people to verify that they had already registered within that same time frame.
On Wednesday morning, HeadCount also said the numbers for registrations and verifications had reached 82,000 and 212,000, respectively, which makes this the organization’s largest campaign to date.
By Thursday, the numbers hit 100,000 new registrations and 250,000 verifications, with the HeadCount saying on Instagram, “This is unprecedented in the entire history of celebrity-led voter engagement campaigns.“
“It’s extra inspiring to know that David is a “Dreamer” (DACA recipient) who can’t vote in the U.S, but has used his platform to help others make their voice heard. A true act of patriotism if there ever was one.“
Of course, that number too is expected to get even higher in the coming days. The contest closes at 11:59 p.m ET on Sunday, October 4th. The winners will be randomly selected and announced Monday.
Like in Snapchat’s case, this campaign will no doubt have an impact on younger audiences because Dobrik’s fanbase consists of Gen Z and Millenials. HeadCount says those groups make up 37% of all eligible voters, though they are drastically under-registered.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (TMZ) (Tubefilter)
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.