You can have a little discourse, as a treat
Facebook, a massive Republican lobbying operation funded by a fraudulent advertising marketplace that monetizes short video skits by a small network of magicians, has certainly come a long way from its origin as a website for its creepy founder to rank his Harvard classmates by hotness. But in The Washington Post today Taylor Lorenz and Drew Harwell report that the recent local-news-driven panic about the questionable “devious licks” trend and the completely made-up “slap a teacher challenge” on TikTok were planted PR stories created by right wing political consultants Targeted Victory and paid for by Facebook. It’s tempting to just dismiss this as more shady Facebook nonsense, but look:
A… letter to the editor, drafted by Targeted Victory, ran that same day in the Des Moines Register. The piece linked to negative stories about TikTok that Targeted Victory had previously sought to amplify. The letter was signed by Mary McAdams, chair of the Ankeny Area Democrats. Targeted Victory touted McAdams’ credentials in an email on March 7.
“[McAdams’s] name on this [letter to the editor] will carry a lot of weight with legislators and stakeholders,” a Targeted Victory director wrote. The email then encouraged partners across other states to look for opportunities to add to the campaign, “especially if your state AG suddenly joins on.”
This is foul even by Zuckerberg standards, and perhaps the darkest part is that Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone didn’t even feel like he needed to deny planting paid disinformation in local news across the country:
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone defended the campaign by saying, “We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success.”
Platformer is gonna be lit today. Elsewhere in Meta: Instagram is now an app that forces creators to make videos they don’t want to make so that users can be forced to watch videos they don’t want to watch, reports Rebecca Jennings. We can only assume they are also lying to advertisers about how many viewers those videos reach. Stay tuned for the proof of that to leak presently.
The White House just launched “COVID.gov, a website meant to be a one-stop shop for everything from free high quality masks to antiviral pills,” reports NPR’s Tamara Keith. The secret to comedy is: timing.
Today in Drugs
Have a macrodose of Luke Winkie on drugs. First: “How the pandemic created a new generation of stoners” in The Guardian:
“I was cooking and doing dishes, I was sitting and waiting for time to pass. Weed is enjoyable when you’re doing those activities.”
Grim, but relatable. And in Vox, Luke looked into the culture (such as it is) and science (likewise) of microdosing hallucinogens. Does it work? Maybe, if by “work” you mean “produce an unusually strong placebo effect.” More importantly, does it do any harm? I don’t know, probably not, but it hardly seems worth worrying about at this point. If you’re stoned right now, here’s some lofi hilda chill beats for your studys and hilda (via Dirt):
Today in Media Nerds:
Dan Stone dug through Commentary’s 990s and found some extremely interesting numbers for media nerds. The topline is that Commentary’s bank account is rapidly being converted into John Podhoretz’s bank account, while Jacobin is surprisingly solvent and fiscally responsible.
NPR’s Jaclyn Diaz: “A nearly decade-long scheme to steal millions of dollars of computers and iPads…” wow that sounds bad! “…from Yale University.” Ah, well, no harm done I guess. The first attempt to pull Ever Forward backward failed, just like it says on the tin. Insider’s Waiyee Yip profiled labor icon Jorts the cat who has managed to go nearly four months without being problematic even once. Meaghan Garvey wrote about Hipster Runoff, ‘indie sleaze’ and why it all feels so remote and alien now:
The culture we consume no longer tells us where we fall on the spectrum of ‘mainstream’ to ‘alt’; it tells us whether or not we’re a good person, whether we deserve good or bad things to come our way.
What About The Discourse?
The Slap™ Discourse has mostly ended already. Niela Orr’s second-day BuzzFeed post “Will Smith Carefully Edited His Image For Years. It Has All Come Undone Now” has been making the rounds. I thought it meandered a bit but you might like the way it orbits around the event and well out into the larger cultural galaxy before returning. Wesley Morris never meanders, so if you’re looking for just one thing to read about it, this is probably the one:
Had anyone told me that the person who might follow an altercation between the Fresh Prince and the star and co-writer of the rap parody “CB4” with an offer of conflict resolution was the founder of Bad Boy Records, that this offer would be extended at the Academy Awards, and that this person had been invited to pay tribute to “The Godfather” for its 50th anniversary, I would’ve asked whether [Sean] Combs was the last star alive. He knows from beef. And in the matter of skirmishes, he appears to be a vegetarian now.
Today’s Song: Ellevator, “Sacred Heart”
~ I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or tabs to anyone, but they've always worked for me. ~
It’s a light Tabs today—we all need a break. Have a gummy and enjoy some chill lofi hildas. Puns that are too bad for the newsletter appear @fka_tabs. It would make my day if you subscribed, but if you don’t want to, Edith Zimmerman made some nice greeting cards. Which are… uh, sold out already I guess. Maybe she’ll print more?