Friendlyjordies Producer Arrested and Charged With Stalking New South Wales Deputy Premier
The arrest is the latest escalation in a feud stretching back to Nov. 2019.
Friendlyjordies Producer Arrested
Popular YouTuber friendlyjordies posted a video on Monday that shows his producer, Kristo Langker, being arrested by plainsclothes Australian officers.
The police, part of a counter-terrorism branch known as the “fixated persons unit,” were acting upon a formal complaint filed by New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who accused Langker of stalking and harrassment related to two separate incidents.
Langker’s lawyer has called his client’s bail conditions “utterly extreme” as they prohibit him from possessing images or caricatures of Barilaro. Langker is also barred from speaking on Barilaro’s “personal appearance or behaviour.”
Langker, who has been charged with stalking and intimidating Barilaro, will appear in court on June 24.
The Feud Between Friendlyjordies and Barilaro
Langker’s arrest can be traced back to an ongoing feud between Barilaro and friendlyjordies, whose real name is Jordan Shanks, that began in late 2019.
In November of that year, Shanks — a political satire YouTuber with about half a million subscribers — blasted NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for the state’s response to Australia’s devastating bushfire season. In fact, he even dubbed her a “Koala Killer” in reference to the numerous animals that died during the fires.
Later, her Deputy Premier, Barilaro, criticized the use of the phrase on Sydney radio.
On June 18, Shanks posted a video where he said he must continue to “trigger” Barilaro “for the good of the state.” During that video, Shanks, who’s known for over-the-top impressions of politicians, went on to impersonate Barilaro, adopting a heavily exaggerated Italian accent and repeatedly swearing.
Following that video, Barilaro denounced Shanks’ impression as “very offensive” and “racist.” To note, both of Barilaro’s parents are Italian immigrants to Australia. Meanwhile, Shanks has some southern European ancestry, though no known Italian ancestry.
The back and forth between Shanks and Barilaro didn’t stop there. In September, Shanks rented an Airbnb property owned by Barilaro, and while there, Shanks accused him of corruption and environmental vandalism — while continuing to do an exaggerated accent.
In May, Shanks then revealed that Barilaro had sent him a letter in Dec. 2019 threatening to sue him for defamation.
“The deputy premier of [NSW] really likes destroying [NSW’s] environment and he’s using his office to enrich himself,” Shanks said. “I make fun of him for this, so naturally his response was to call me racist for putting on an Italian accent while doing so.”
In that same video, Shanks shows a clip of him confronting Barilaro while dressed as Luigi from Nintendo’s Mario series.
“John, you silly calzone!” he says while running up to the lawmaker. “Why you threaten to sue me? Why you threaten to sue? Why you do this?”
Shanks is then guided away by guards, but his producer, Kristo Langker, stays and begins to argue with other guards and staffers while trying to speak with Barilaro.
“John, I’ve got some documents you might like to see,” Langker jokes. “I’ve got an Italian club.”
As Langker continues to try to push through to Barilaro, the situation becomes noticeably tenser. One guard can briefly be seen lunging to move Langker back. Eventually, Langker finds his way to Barilaro.
“Just go,” Barilaro says in the clip. “Why don’t you just bugger off?”
“I want to know why you are threatening to sue,” Langker says.
“I’m not threatening to sue. I am suing,” Barilaro responds. “Because you guys are liars.”
At the end of May, Barilaro launched official defamation proceedings against Shanks.
Clip of the Arrest
Langker was arrested for both his actions at the event where Shanks was dressed as Luigi and for a second incident on June 4 where he approached Barilaro as the lawmaker was returning to his car following the funeral of rugby star Bob Fulton.
“Deputy premier, why are you suing my boss?” Langker asked at the time.
Hours later, the fixated persons unit appeared at Langker’s doorstep and arrested him while his family filmed the interaction.
Shanks shared several clips of the incident in his Monday video. In those clips, Langker can be seen trying to give his cell phone to his mother before the police intervene to seize the phone. The camera then goes dark, but an officer can be heard saying, “They’re trying to give away evidence to try to run away with it. Don’t throw the evidence, okay?!”
Following that scuffle, Langker’s mother accused an officer of assaulting her, saying, “You hurt a 51-year-old woman! You knocked me over!”
The officer then repeatedly says he tripped over her as she tried to pass the phone off to another, unidentified female.
“You pushed me down in my own home!” Langker’s mother continues to allege.
At one point, she even accuses the police of killing the family dog. Though that dog wasn’t actually dead, the family is still accusing the police of nearly killing it.
Shanks has also condemned the arrest and referred to the fixated persons unit as an “extra-legal mafia.” This isn’t the first time the unit has faced criticism. Independent Australia has described it as Orwellian and as looming in the shadow of Big Brother.
Barilaro has declined to comment on the arrest.
See what others are saying: (ABC Australia) (The Sydney Herald) (The Guardian)
Swifties Rally Outside Los Angeles Courthouse Amid Ticketmaster Lawsuit Hearing
Over 300 fans are suing Ticketmaster over the “disaster” they experienced while attempting to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift’s latest tour.
Taylor Swift fans rallied outside of a Los Angeles courthouse on Monday as the first hearing for a lawsuit they filed against Ticketmaster took place.
Swift’s fans, dubbed “Swifties,” sued the ticket giant late last year after the presale for the singer’s Eras Tour left many fans empty-handed. Swift herself called the ordeal “excruciating” after her fans were kicked out of the virtual queue, lost tickets they thought they had purchased, and experienced technical difficulties for hours on end.
Dozens of fans, including virtual attendees, spoke at Monday’s hearing, which largely centered around the status of the suit. There are over 300 plaintiffs represented in the case, though attorney Jennifer Anne Kinder, the self-proclaimed Swiftie leading the case, said she does not plan on pursuing class-action status.
Fans are seeking at least $2,500 each in damages, though as one fan told CNN: “It has nothing to do with the money.” Swifties really want to take aim at the alleged monopoly Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, hold over the entertainment and live event industries. Live Nation is currently the subject of a Department of Justice investigation over potential abuse of power.
Swifties traveled from across the country to attend the hearing and rally. Roughly a dozen stood outside the courthouse carrying signs using Swift’s lyrics to take aim at Ticketmaster. One sign featured a broken heart with “Ticketmaster” and “Live Nation” written on either side. “Are you ready for it?” the sign asked.
Others used lines like “my pennies made your crown” and “can’t shake it off.”
What’s In The Lawsuit?
Kinder’s firm made a website called “Take Down Ticketmaster” to lay out issues fans had with the Swift presale and with the company as a whole.
“We monitored the Taylor Swift sale in real time of what was happening to fans across the U.S.,” the website says. “Collectively, fans’ experiences with Ticketmaster indicated a potential pattern of fraudulent behavior and antitrust violations by the company.”
The site also encouraged music fans across genres and artists to fight back against Ticketmaster and take “back our power in the live entertainment ecosystem.”
In their lawsuit, Swifties accused Ticketmaster of “anticompetitive conduct” by imposing higher prices on the sale, resale, and presale markets. It also claims the company gave out more presale codes than demand allowed, and “intentionally and purposefully mislead ticket purchasers by allowing scalpers and bots access” to the presale.
According to Ticketmaster, the incredibly high demand, coupled with an onslaught of bot attacks, forced the platform to slow sales down. The company delayed sales in certain cities and canceled the general sale altogether before it started slowly releasing pairs of tickets to fans with presale codes who did not have tickets in their accounts.
The Eras Tour kicked off in Arizona earlier this month. Swifties are not the only fandom Ticketmaster has to worry about though, as just last week, Drake fans slapped the company with a price-gouging suit.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Los Angeles Times) (Rolling Stone)
Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said in a blog post.
New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”
Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.
“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises.
Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.
While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense.
Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement.
In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI.
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said closing its blog post.
Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes
Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues.
Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities.
On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”
While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.
The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)
Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”
Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.
Pascal’s Heartthrob Status
Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so.
Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac.
“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview.
Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”
Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined.
“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.
“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.
“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview.
Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews
In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.
“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”
“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added.
Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.
“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued.