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Zoe Sugg Responds to Being Dropped from GCSE Curriculum



  • The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, one of the UK’s biggest exam boards, dropped YouTuber and creator Zoe Sugg from their curriculum for the GCSE media studies exam because of the “adult” content she posts. 
  • Many assumed they did this because her lifestyle website, Zoella, recently posted about vibrators and sex toys. 
  • Sugg said that while she was unaware she was part of the curriculum, she was upset to be dropped because she thinks teen girls should learn about this type of sexual education, even though her website’s core audience is women 25 to 35-years-old.
  • AQA put out a statement Monday explaining that they made their decision because all of her content is for her adults, not just because of one article. While they believe in the importance of sexual education, they do not think GCSE materials are the right place for it. 

Zoella Removed From GCSE Materials

YouTuber Zoe Sugg wrote about the importance of sex education after the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, one of the biggest exam boards in the United Kingdom, removed her from the GCSE curriculum for posting “adult” content.

The GCSEs are academic qualification tests that high school-age students take on a number of subjects. Sugg and her lifestyle website, Zoella, are featured in a Close Studies Products booklet used by students taking the GCSE Media Studies course; however, she was removed from upcoming materials after parents expressed worries over her content.

Business Insider obtained a letter that AQA sent to teachers, which claimed that parents were concerned that “some of Zoella’s recent content is aimed specifically at an adult audience and not suitable for GCSE students.”

Sugg has been active on YouTube and other social media platforms for over a decade. She started posting beauty videos and her website now hosts articles on a variety of topics ranging from fashion and food, to chronic illnesses and menstruation, to what to do if you are a revenge porn victim. On Jan. 13, an article titled titled “The Best Sex Toys to Spice Up Your Life in 2021” went live on the site. Many believed this story in particular led to her being removed from GCSE materials. 

Zoe Sugg Responds

Sugg responded Saturday, saying she was unaware that her content was even studied by students taking the media studies GCSE but was still frustrated to learn why it was being removed. She says her team has worked hard to write about all kinds of issues that impact women and believes they are worthy of discussion and attention.

“We’ve worked hard to include more women’s health, conversational articles, & basically just more grown up content as our main demographic is 25-35 year old females,” she said of the women that work on her website. “NOT 16 year olds.”

Sugg also said that had AQA looked at her website, it would have known this kind of content was popular there. Still, she thinks that this content should not be considered taboo for teens to see. 

“I actually disagree that teens shouldn’t be learning about this stuff,” she wrote. “Maybe not in their bloody curriculum exam but how else are teenage girls going to find out more about being a woman? I WISH I had a website like @Zoella when I was growing up.”

She said that the article about sex toys, which she did not write herself and which was the effort of her team as a whole looking at popular products among women, is actually the most viewed piece on Zoella right now. On Sunday, she made another post discussing the controversy.

“Naturally as I have got older, my audience has grown up too & the things I want to share or shine a light on have naturally aged up to suit my lifestyle,” she wrote. 

It worries me that they think 16 year olds aren’t exploring their own bodies, doing this with someone else or know what a sex toy is,” Sugg continued. “Although we don’t aim our content at teens, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it’s there for them to read at all.”

She then called out the numerous media outlets whose headlines attempted to turn the situation into a scandal. Sugg said those articles were “just perpetuating the fact that female pleasure is something that we should feel ashamed of.”

AQA Clarifies Decision

On Monday morning, AQA released an updated statement clarifying their choice to take Sugg and her website out of the curriculum. The organization first added her in 2017 and said that her content “has evolved and now includes a range of articles of a sexual nature — alongside many other topics — aimed at adults aged over 25.”

It said it was not one article in particular, but the overall themes and content on her website that led them to making this decision. AQA said that students 14-years-old and even younger might be using these materials, meaning mature content may not be appropriate. 

“None of this is a judgement on Zoe Sugg, her work, or the suitability of her material for her target audience,” AQA continued. “As she’s pointed out herself, she wasn’t aware that children were studying her work for our course and we’ve never had any kind of relationship with her.” 

“Effective relationships and sex education in schools is vitally important and we completely support it. All we’re saying is that we don’t think studying adult-focused lifestyle websites in GCSE Media Studies is the best way to do it.”

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Cosmopolitan) (The Independent)


Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat



Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.

School Cancelled

Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.

Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere. 

“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon. 

Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday. 

“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”

In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.

According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.

Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?

As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”

For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.

 “I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???”  one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People. 

“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”

According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”

Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media. 

“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Associated Press) (People)

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Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer



The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.

The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul

YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker. 

While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career. 

“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.

“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”

Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content. 

“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”

Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury

The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December. 

“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”

Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”

See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)

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Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos



The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.

Bezos Prank

Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws. 

For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform. 

The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.

It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end. 

The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions. 

First Twitch Hack 

Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.

That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019. 

It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.

Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Forbes) (CNET)

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