This is why women’s panties are trending on social media

A women-led protest that began in Ireland has gone global. After a rape trial ended last week in a controversial acquittal, women took to the streets in a protest that’s now going viral with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent, and images of women’s underwear.

Trigger warning: please be advised the following article contains frank discussion of rape and has embedded media with imagery and terminology that discusses rape and consent.

An Irish man was acquitted of rape charges last week during a trial that centered on whether his 17-year-old accuser consented to their sexual encounter. The accused alleged the girl was a willing participant and that he wasn’t even sure intercourse actually took place due to his erectile dysfunction.

Over the course of the trial, jurors heard evidence that, immediately after the encounter, the 17-year-old said to the accused “You just raped me.” His reply, reportedly, was “No, we just had sex.”

During her closing remarks, the attorney for the accused, Elizabeth O’Connell, implored jurors to consider the way the child was dressed as evidence of her consent:

Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.

Outraged by the implication that wearing a certain type of underwear indicates a person has given their consent to a sexual act, women around the world are posting pictures of their panties in protest.

Irish politician Ruth Coppinger took to the floor of the Dail – parliament, for the rest of us – on Tuesday to bring the issue up before the assembly.

A government review of rape trial procedures is reportedly underway in Ireland but, as social media has shown, the issue isn’t just a local one.

In fact, fifteen years ago in Scotland, 17-year-old Lindsay Armstrong took her life after she was forced to hold up her own panties during her rapist’s trial. Her mother, Linda Armstrong, told BBC News Scotland earlier this year:

It’s quite sad that there is still plenty of chance for people to go through what Lindsay went through. I feel like they are not taking it seriously enough.

The conversation about consent is no longer avoidable by citing a case-by-case basis and ignoring uncomfortable questions, thanks, at least in part, to the endless reach of social media. And the idea that some people are “asking for it,” likely won’t survive intelligent discourse.

As Irish Prime Minister Leo Vradkar put it:

Nobody asks to be raped. And it’s never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what you wear, it doesn’t matter where you went, who you went with, or what you took — whether it was drugs or alcohol.

Counsel for man acquitted of rape suggested jurors should reflect on underwear worn by teen complainant
on The Irish Examiner

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This girl realizing we don't 'live inside the earth' is better than most reality TV

Before we begin, we’d like to clarify that we do not live “inside the earth.” We live on the surface of the earth. Should we have to spell this out? Probably not, but better safe than sorry.

On Wednesday, Twitter user @LoveMahalHappy tweeted a video of her sister realizing that, in fact, we do not live inside the earth. She is very surprised to learn this information.

“I thought we were living inside! I thought this whole time we were living inside the earth. They [science teachers] never told me we were living on top,” she says. Turns out, she thought we were in the bottom half of the Earth (like… the Southern Hemisphere?) and the sky was in the top half.

Luckily, she had her sister and dad around to explain things to her, even if things got a little dicey regarding the sky. The main takeaway here is that this is among the best family banter we have ever seen, and these three should have a TV show.

It can be called Inside the Earth.

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Twitter's Explore tab starts sorting stories into sections

PA Wire/PA Images

Twitter has updated its Explore tab for iOS, sorting entries into separate sections depending on their topics. The platform says it implemented the change to make Explore easier to, well, explore and to give you a quick way to find stories you’d actually like to read. Twitter launched Explore early last year to put the trending topics and the biggest news on the platform, as well as search, in one location. The company started serving ads within the tab back in July in an effort to make some cash from the feature.

Now, when you visit the tab from an iPhone or an iPad, you’ll see sections such as News, Sports, Fun and Entertainment at the top. Tapping on one loads the trending topics for that particular section. Perhaps Twitter’s goal is to get you to actually use the Explore tab now that you don’t have to sift through stories you don’t care about to find ones that you do. The tab’s sections are now available in the US and will likely take time to make their way to other locations.

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Throw some cheese on your dog because the internet said so

Most internet challenges are bad, but Dog Cheese is good.

Dog Cheese, since you asked, is a fun game where you throw a piece onto your dog and see what happens. There are very few rules: the cheese must land on the dog, certainly, but we understand that what occurs next is outside your control.

Dog Cheese appears to have begun with the following tweet from Matthew Elias, which reads: “Fuck beer pong, we playin dog cheese.” Agreed!

Now, lots of people — and dogs, and the occasional cat — are playing Dog Cheese. Soon it will be more popular than beer pong. Just kidding, but what if it was? Would be cool.

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Please do not blame any weird dog poops on us.

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The Twitter bots that make the internet a little bit nicer

This post is part of Hard Refresh, a soothing weekly column where we try to cleanse your brain of whatever terrible thing you just witnessed on Twitter.

While “bot” may be a dirty word on Twitter in the year 2018, there’s a subset of bot accounts that have nothing to do with subverting democracy and everything to do with bringing a tiny slice of surreal joy to your life. 

It’s a strange corner of the internet to be obsessed with given how much bots are derided for everything from simply clogging your feed with spam to promoting propaganda for the Russians in a bid to undermine our electoral process. 

But they’re out there: automated Twitter accounts that regularly tweet strange and wonderful content. I’ve even started collecting a few of these into a Twitter list so I can see them all in one place, a one-stop Twitter oasis of weirdness. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Simpsons Screens

The one is super simple: a screencap from a random episode of The Simpsons from the show’s early era. Whether it’s a one-liner or just a visual gag from the show’s Golden Era, it’s hard not to smile when they pop up on my feed.

If you’re into this sort of thing, check out a very similar account for another classic animated show, King of the Hill.

Obama Plus Kids

President Donald Trump has had some awkward interactions with children during his time in the White House, but both President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama were known for their ease and comfort with kids. This account tweets out a memorable Obama-kid interaction every two hours and is an instant soul-soother.

Magic Realism Bot

Fans of magical realism writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez will revel in this bot which turns 280 characters or less into the surreal and fantastical, little bites of prose that are sometimes magical, sometimes nonsensical, but always entertaining.

Ro Bot Dylan

As a big Dylan fan, I thoroughly enjoy the account that tweets his lyrics every day. If you’re one of those folks who could never get into Dylan because of his voice, this is a good way to at least enjoy his words.

These are just a few examples of the genre and there are plenty more out there. But it’s worth stashing these accounts away for when Twitter gets to be a bit too much. 

They’re a nice, consistent break from reality with a twist of weird that’s somehow appropriate for life in 2018.

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Snap is being probed over its IPO because some investors are salty about losing money

Here’s something I didn’t expect to read today. The U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Snap for details on its IPO apparently in connection with a lawsuit from disgruntled shareholders who claim the company played down its rivalry with Instagram.

Reuters first reported on the subpoenas which Snap has confirmed. Precise details aren’t clear at this point but Snap told Reuters that the probe is likely “related to the previously disclosed allegations asserted in the class action about our IPO disclosures.”

Snap went public last March with sharing popping over 40 percent on its debut to give it a valuation of $30 billion. It’s market cap today is a more modest $8.9 billion due to numerous factors including, most prominently, the efforts of rival Facebook to compete with Instagram, which has rolled out a series of features that mimic Snap’s core user experience.

That cloning has taken its toll on Snap’s business.

Today, Instagram’s Stories — the feature that closely resembles Snap’s app — has some 400 million users, that’s more than double the users of Snap. But it is far-fetched to claim that Snap played down that threat when it went public, which is what the class action case claims.

The writing had been on the wall for some time as Snap noted in its S-1 filing ahead of the IPO:

We face significant competition in almost every aspect of our business both domestically and internationally. This includes larger, more established companies such as Apple, Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp), Google (including YouTube), Twitter, Kakao, LINE, Naver (including Snow), and Tencent, which provide their users with a variety of products, services, content, and online advertising offerings, and smaller companies that offer products and services that may compete with specific Snapchat features. For example, Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, recently introduced a “stories” feature that largely mimics our Stories feature and may be directly competitive. We may also lose users to small companies that offer products and services that compete with specific Snapchat features because of the low cost for our users to switch to a different product or service. Moreover, in emerging international markets, where mobile devices often lack large storage capabilities, we may compete with other applications for the limited space available on a user’s mobile device. We also face competition from traditional and online media businesses for advertising budgets. We compete broadly with the social media offerings of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and with other, largely regional, social media platforms that have strong positions in particular countries.

But even if an investor something didn’t read that document or reports of it (not advised) there was ample press coverage of the growth of Instagram Stories, and Facebook’s general Snap cloning efforts, since its launch in August 2016.

In particular, TechCrunch covered the rivalry and cloning closely ahead of Snap’s IPO with reports that showed Instagram was “stealing” Snap users, that it was responsible for slowing user growth and more.

In short, it was fairly clear that Instagram was cloning Snap, which in turn was a key factor for Snap’s growth struggles.

Don’t get me wrong there’s certainly a lot to worry about over at Snap — those poor user numbers, a string of executive exits and a strange u-turn on a recent hire — but this lawsuit looks to be little more than sour grapes from investors who either didn’t fully understand the space they invested in, or simply made a poor decision to back Snap at whatever price they did.

On that note: anyone who invested at Snap’s peak valuation might have lost more money than betting on Bitcoin during this year’s January hype — that’s saying something — but ultimately they have no-one to blame but themselves.

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Twitter: We Might Have Some Time for a Vague Discussion on the President's Voter Fraud Lies Next Year

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Twitter is never, ever going to ban or otherwise take direct action against the president, who besides being the site’s number one power user has in the past skirted uncomfortably close to using it as ground zero for nuclear war. The logic goes that as the president, Trump’s tweets are inherently newsworthy—a sensible…

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JUUL restricts flavors and asks social media companies to crack down on vape posts

Juul wants social media companies to police underage Juuling images on their platforms.
Juul wants social media companies to police underage Juuling images on their platforms.
Image: EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images

Is this the end of JUUL memes?

JUUL announced a number of new measures to try to prevent teens from using its products on Tuesday.

Notably, it will stop allowing retailers to sell flavored pods until they install advanced age verification software from JUUL. The company is also discontinuing its own Facebook and Instagram accounts, and has asked social media companies to help remove youth-oriented JUUL content from its platforms — including the prohibition of posts depicting JUULing and vaping by underage users. 

The new initiatives come days after it was reported that the FDA would prohibit convenience stores and gas stations from selling flavored pods. Rather than wait for FDA enforcement, JUUL has apparently taken proactive measures that go further than the FDA’s new policy. The FDA would have allowed tobacco and specialty vape shops to continue selling flavored pods, while JUUL’s new retailer policy will only allow this if the shops use JUUL’s Social Security number-matching age verification software.

“Our intent was never to have youth use JUUL products,” JUUL CEO Kevin Burns wrote in the statement. “But intent is not enough, the numbers are what matter, and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarette products is a problem. We must solve it.”

Flavors are on the front line in the fight against youth vaping. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids says that flavors make it easier for young people to start vaping. So now, the Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber JUULpod flavors are only available through JUUL’s website.

To buy anything on JUUL’s site, users already have to verify their age and identity with their Social Security numbers. JUUL said that that process is about to get even stricter: by the end of the year, JUUL will also require two-factor authentication to create an account, and it will even use “a real-time photo requirement to match a user’s face against an uploaded I.D.”

JUUL said it’s also continuing its fight against counterfeiters and unauthorized sellers in its attempt to ensure its own site (with age verification) is the only place people can buy the product. 

Another big part of JUUL’s attempt to curb teen use is social media. In July, JUUL discontinued using models on social media in order to stop glamorizing the product. But JUUL images and memes have spread on social media outside of JUUL’s own social presence; the #DoIt4Juul hashtag on Instagram has over 7,200 posts, many conspicuously by teenagers, about how they love their JUULs.

JUUL notes that while it never had a Snapchat, even removing its Facebook and Instagram presence is a small part of the larger social media battle.

“User-generated social media posts involving JUUL products or our brand are proliferating across platforms and must be swiftly addressed,” Burns wrote. “There is no question that this user-generated social media content is linked to the appeal of vaping to underage users.”

JUUL says that it has already worked with social media companies to remove “thousands” of pieces of JUUL content that encourage teen vaping. But it also says that it has reached out to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter for additional help curbing this content on their platforms. 

“We have asked Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat for their assistance in policing unauthorized, youth-oriented content on their platforms,” Burns wrote. “We asked that each platform prohibit the posting of any content that promotes the use of cigarettes or e-cigarettes by underage users.”

Snap told Mashable that it already prohibits all posts marketing tobacco products to people of all ages, not just teens. The company did not say whether it would work to prevent the actual posting of JUUL content by underage users, or offer any further comment on JUUL’s request. Twitter and Instagram declined to comment. Mashable did not hear back from Facebook or JUUL before this article was published. 

Social media companies are already grappling with how to police content on their platforms, and may not be eager to add another thorny item to their to-do lists. Then again, fighting teen vaping may be much more straightforward than, say, hate speech, so this is an initiative where social media companies could have a positive impact.

The FDA is still investigating whether JUUL may have marketed products to teens. It has also undertaken a $60 million ad campaign to educate teens about the risks of vaping, which include addiction to nicotine and other health risks. 

After months of negative headlines, JUUL has gone above and beyond the FDA’s requests, and seems eager to be seen as a partner, not an adversary, in the fight against teen vaping. 

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Tide's new 'Eco-Box' looks a whole lot like boxed wine

The forbidden Franzia.
The forbidden Franzia.
Image: Procter & Gamble

The great Tide Pod panic was nearly a year ago, but Tide is still at it. This week, they announced yet another forbidden treat: Tide Pod boxed wine.

Obviously, don’t drink it. It is laundry detergent. And its real name is the Eco-Box, which Procter & Gamble unveiled last Friday in an attempt to make its product cheaper and easier to ship — and thus more e-commerce-friendly. It’s also made up of 60 percent less plastic than Tide’s standard bottle of the same size.

But it’s hard to get past that Franzia look, especially considering Tide’s leadership in the “things that look delicious but will poison you” product category. 

Is Tide aware that its new Amazon play looks like something one could presumably play Slap the Bag with? If they weren’t before (they probably were, though), they are now. In a statement sent to BuzzFeed on Tuesday, a spokesperson seemed particularly meme-weary:

“We all know laundry detergent is for cleaning clothes. To be sure people know this is detergent, we put a large picture of our Tide bottle on the side of the box. Whether your Tide comes in a box or a bottle, it should be stored up and away, out of the reach of children.”

As with most strange brand decisions, though, at least we got some good tweets out of it.

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