The past seven days have seen a depressing lack of support for the massive humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, the complicated response to the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and a shift in the diplomatic relationship between the US and Cuba for the strangest of reasons. So basically, 2017 is continuing to be 2017. What else has been going on with the internet this week? Glad you asked.
The Miss Piggy/Betty Beef No One Saw Coming
What Happened: That Riverdale/Muppets crossover you didn’t know you wanted is here. You’re… welcome?
What Really Happened: This one is just… strange. Let us turn, first, to the public private confessions of Lili Reinhart, aka Betty Cooper on the marvelous Riverdale.
Now, this brought about its fair share of responses from fans, both pro- and anti-Piggy, and somewhere in between.
Also, some wanted to point out that Betty Cooper was one to talk.
However, there was one response in particular that stood out:
Yes, that happened.
The return of Riverdale really can’t come soon enough.
The Takeaway: The best response might have come from Archie Comics, which came up with Betty and Jughead in the first place.
Twitter Doubles the Fun. Sorta.
What Happened: In the face of criticism over presidential abuse and harassment, Twitter made an important change to its service: It increased post length by 100 percent.
What Really Happened: The week got off to a heady start when Twitter announced that message length was going to double to 280 characters in a measured roll-out to some users. The official reasoning was, as revealed via blog post, to improve communication in languages other than English, but no one on Twitter was buying that.
Beyond garden-variety complaints, there were two common threads in the response to the change. Firstly, those making “ironic” statements that proved that 140 characters wasn’t enough—
—and then those who couldn’t resist comparing 280 characters to a certain popular over-populated fantasy series.
The Takeaway: Take a minute, if you can, to consider the true victims of this new switch: those who have perfected the 140 character format.
Et Tu, Twitter?
What Happened: Whether they’re 140 characters or 280, chances are you still should be wary of tweets regardless.
What Really Happened: Of course, the increase to the character count wasn’t the only Twitter news last week. There was also this. As Mark Zuckerberg offhandedly dismissed claims of Russian interference and declared Facebook was “a platform for all ideas and force for good in democracy,” Twitter released its own review of its presence in the political sphere.
“Of the roughly 450 [Russian troll] accounts that Facebook recently shared as a part of their review, we concluded that 22 had corresponding accounts on Twitter,” the company’s official statement reported. “All of those identified accounts had already been or immediately were suspended from Twitter for breaking our rules, most for violating our prohibitions against spam. In addition, from those accounts we found an additional 179 related or linked accounts, and took action on the ones we found in violation of our rules. Neither the original accounts shared by Facebook, nor the additional related accounts we identified, were registered as advertisers on Twitter.”
The statement, shared via the company’s blog, came in advance of an appearance by staff members in front of Senate and House intelligence committees Thursday to talk about how Russian interference in the election had been shared via Twitter.
So, how serious is this issue? Well, according to one study, Twitter might be more to blame for election-deciding fake news than Facebook. “Junk news—characterized by ideological extremism, misinformation and the intention to persuade readers to respect or hate a candidate or policy based on emotional appeals, was just as, if not more, prevalent than the amount of information produced by professional news organizations [on Twitter],” explained the Oxford University study, which looked at more than 22 million tweets related to last year’s election. “Average levels of misinformation were higher in swing states than in uncontested states, even when weighted for the relative size of the user population in each state.”
Well, that’s not good. Still, that was just the election. That was last year! It’s probably all over now, and everything’s gotten better, right?
Sure enough, A New York Times report noted that this kind of thing is still going on, with independent researchers estimating there could be nearly 600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations, with 25 percent of new stories shared by those accounts having “a primary theme of anti-Americanism.” In other words: You probably shouldn’t trust anything you read on Twitter or Facebook. But, really, were you doing that anyway?
The Takeaway: Is there any light at the end of this particularly dark tunnel? Well, maybe. After all, sometimes simple human error can screw up the whole thing.
Taxes and Tolls
What Happened: Hands up everyone who wanted tax reform allowing the rich to get richer! Yeah, that’s pretty much what we expected.
What Really Happened: With the failure of the latest attempt to repeal Obamacare last week, Republicans turned to their other favorite subject, tax reform. The GOP unveiled their plan to overhaul the tax system this week, and… Well, it went over pretty much how you’d expect, really.
Of course, that’s just the biased left. If only we could hear from someone else…
It didn’t help that the Trump administration refused to rule out middle class tax increases, or that everyone seems to agree that the wealthy will benefit from the changes. With some complaining that it’s less tax reform than tax cuts, it seems that nobody seems to like the plan, apart from Republican donors. What was that about draining a swamp, again?
The Takeaway: Of course it’s possible that the Republicans still might not be able to pull it off.
Return of the Mooch
What Happened: The Mooch is back. Somehow, it happened.
What Really Happened: For those who missed Anthony Scaramucci… Everyone else is blaming you for this.
How can you have a center lane in a two-lane highway? Don’t ask. Instead, marvel at the amount of coverage the Mooch is getting for his latest project. So much so, in fact, that Scaramucci is already trying to lower expectations:
Not pretty? Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Here’s a selection of what the Scaramucci Post Twitter account has posted in the last week, which offers a glimpse of what we might expect from the site when it launches. Prepare yourself.
The future of journalism, ladies and gentlemen. Admit it: You’re excited.
The Takeaway: But the real question is, how long will the Scaramucci Post last? Here’s hoping it’s more than 11 days.