Posts tagged with "Social media"

Shoppers snap up furniture and fashion from Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan

March 23, 2021

You might not be able to sit down with Oprah, but you can sit down like Oprah, thanks to patio furniture that resembles the set featured in her interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, NBC News reports.

While the focus of Oprah’s widely watched conversation with the couple revolved around several bombshell revelations about the royal family, the patio furniture and the outfits and accessories worn by Meghan and Oprah Winfrey also got lots of attention.

According to NBC, several news outlets already have tracked down a set of chairs that they claimed were the ones used in the interview. The set, which was available on Amazon and at several other retailers, was listed for about $600 and is sold out on multiple sites. Another nearly identical set of rattan chairs on Walmart.com retailed for over $300 and is also sold out. Lookalikes for other items, such as the outdoor rug, the low table and the succulents centerpiece, were also featured in articles and quickly sold out.

It wasn’t just the patio furniture that had people talking.

Oprah’s Götti eyeglasses spawned articles with several lookalike frames, and the designer of Meghan’s dress was quickly identified as Giorgio Armani.

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData’s retail division, attributed the fascination with clothing, accessories and even patio furniture to two things.

“First of all, a lot of famous people tend to be very put together in their outfits. Someone like Oprah will have a stylist, will think about what she’s wearing. … That does make the clothes they wear quite enviable,” Saunders told NBC News. “The other thing, when you have someone like Meghan, a lot of people admire her, [which] makes her a kind of icon as an individual, and people look to emulate that in terms of the things she’s wearing to try to get a bit of that kind of attitude or personality into their own psyche.”

There was also lots of speculation about the significance of the lotus flower featured on Meghan’s dress, which mirrors similar treatments of the sartorial and styling choices other politicians, royals, and world figures make when they appear in public. An entire industry has cropped up dedicated to analyzing the choices celebrities make with their ensembles, which can often carry significant meaning, be it positive or negative.

“Where there’s a very high-profile event, be it an inauguration or big interview like this that lots of people tune in to, inevitably the products and the outfits and garments featured really gather a lot of attention,” Saunders said. “You start having a lot of curiosity about where these products came from, and then people search them out online or find things that are similar.”

The fascination then leads to increased spending as the items are quickly sourced and sell out online. As consumers have sought out such information more readily, designers have become more vocal on social media, taking ownership of certain looks and sharing details about the process and inspiration behind them.

The designers and stylists behind outfits worn by the Obamas, Kate and Meghan have made similar posts in the past, and Ivanka Trump used social media to promote her eponymous clothing line after an appearance at the Republican National Convention.

After Biden’s inauguration, the hairstylist who worked on Michelle Obama’s hair posted on Instagram about the look. The designer who made first lady Jill Biden’s ensemble for inauguration night shared that it featured the official flowers from every state and U.S. territory.

“Social  media platforms have really democratized fashion and trends, because it becomes very, very easy for a designer to really showcase their wares to very large audiences in a way that in the past you just couldn’t do,” Saunders said. “Before the advent of social media, to amplify your brand you would have to get a placement in one of the big magazines, you’d have to get on the news or be talked about in the media, and that wasn’t always easy.”

Now, not only is it easier for the designers to promote the looks, but consumers are also so eager to emulate what they see on famous figures that other designers and brands will often launch similar styles or “knockoffs” to capitalize on the fascination and spending.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Brother Nature provides adorable wild animal encounters for all

October 29, 2020

The world is a wild place right now, whether you are in New York City or Lisbon or Abuja, Nigeria. However, while many of us have had to cancel trips and confine our movements during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there still are corners of the Internet where animal lovers can find some relaxation and happiness, People Magazine reports.

Two of those virtual places are Brother Nature’s Twitter and Instagram pages. Run by Kelvin Peña, a 22-year-old living in Los Angeles who is also the titular Brother Nature, the accounts are filled with Peña’s amazing wild animal encounters.

But, People says, the popular social media accounts, which boast over 4 million followers, didn’t start with shots of penguins and rhinos. Instead, Brother Nature was born because of a deer. In 2016, after graduating from high school in Texas and moving to Pennsylvania for college, Peña spotted a deer up-close in his cousin’s backyard and then a buck in the driveway of his father’s house on the same day.

These peaceful and awe-inspiring deer sightings in Pennsylvania were some of Peña’s first interactions with wild animals, and some of the first posts on Brother Nature. After filming the deer, posting the videos to his own social media pages, and witnessing the quick and enthusiastic response to the clips, Peña was inspired to create Brother Nature so there could be a place online where engaging animal encounters would be available to all.

“I truly felt like I had a connection to the animals and that I could be the voice for wild animals for people who don’t know much about wildlife,” Peña told People about the mission behind Brother Nature. “It’s for those who have always admired wildlife from a distance. It makes animals cool, so people can really admire them and see them in a new light.”

Through Brother Nature, Peña’s feelings on animals have changed too. Before the accounts, most of his interactions with wildlife were restricted to nature documentaries, but now, thanks to the success of Brother Nature, Peña has enjoyed numerous opportunities to meet and help wild animals all over the world, including the chance to assist in the relocation of wild giraffes to safer territory in Uganda.

These experiences have allowed Peña to provide his followers with firsthand knowledge about the problems that plague the world’s wildlife and how humans can help conserve and protect these precious species.

“We need to respect nature and respect the planet that we’re on,” Peña said of what he hopes people take away from Brother Nature. “It’s obvious the world needs a bit more love.”

Research contact: @people

The meaning behind the #FilterDrop campaign you’re seeing on Instagram

September 9, 2020

While “authenticity” is highly valued these days, you wouldn’t know it by looking at social media: Just as many women wouldn’t leave the house without some form of makeup, many Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter users wouldn’t post a selfie without a filter.

In the age of image-altering apps like Facetune and seemingly flawless influencers, many would likely admit to being filter-dependent. In fact, according to a survey results posted by Bustle, fully one-third (33%) of girls and young women will not post selfies online without using a filter. 

The findings, published by the UK-based charity Girlguiding, highlighted that two out of five of the young women (40%) surveyed “feel upset” that they can’t look like the way they do online.

Between influencer culture and social media ads and posts, more than half of the girls said they have seen ads that have made them “feel pressured to look different”—and this figure is higher for girls who identify as LGBTQ.

The findings also revealed girls from Black, Asian, and minority backgrounds are “more likely” than their white peers not to use social media “because of fear of criticism of their bodies.”

As part of their 2020 survey, which spoke to more than 2,000 young women aged 11-21, Bustle reports that Girlguiding is calling out the apps, filters, and online adverts that “knock girls’ confidence.”

In reaction, a new #FilterDrop campaign has emerged online—but what is it and how is it helping?

UK-based model and make-up artist Sasha Louise Pallari launched the #FilterDrop campaign after noticing influencers “advertising a makeup brand with a beautifying filter on.” Taking to Instagram, the 28-year-old claims “false advertising” in this way is contributing to low self-esteem.

“I so strongly wish you would realize the vast scale of damage the constant use of filters are,” she wrote in the caption. “Flawless, poreless, scarless, wrinkle-less skin does not exist and it’s only because of the overuse of these [filters] we believe it does.”

In a video posted to her Instagram page, the model showcased how drastically different filters can make you look. In the clip, she’s seen heavily filtered and with her “normal skin.”

And, following the response to her filter-free images, Pallari has since devoted her Instagram page to normalizing skin blemishes on the app, as well as exposing the deceptive nature of filters.

She writes in another post: “Please think about what using filters all the time is doing to our already damaged society. A LOT of money is made from us not feeling good enough. So let this be a reminder that your pores, wrinkles and the texture on your skin are beautiful, yet still the least interesting things about you.”

The model also questioned the lasting damage filters could have on children who may base their self-worth on “how beautiful they are” and “the filter they need in order to even be beautiful.”

It’s a legitimate concern.

People seem to be watching. The #FilterDrop campaign page on Instagram now shows hundreds of photos of people ditching the filter and sharing what they really look like. Here’s hoping for a more unfiltered reality.

Research contact: @bustle

Judge orders Michael Cohen to be released from prison, returned to home confinement

July 24, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday ordered that President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer,  Michael Cohen be returned to home confinement, after the he was sent back to prison earlier this month over a dispute with federal corrections officials, The Hill reports.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, accused the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) of trying to violate Cohen’s First Amendment rights by imposing a gag order as a condition of his home confinement.

“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail as retaliatory, and it’s retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish the book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media” and elsewhere, Hellerstein said during a court hearing on July 23.

Cohen had been writing a book about his time working for Trump and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit this week alleging that he was sent back to prison in retaliation for the tell-all. Cohen is serving a three-year sentence for various charges, including fraud and lying to Congress.

“This order is a victory for the First Amendment,” Cohen’s attorney Danya Perry said in a statement after the hearing. “The First Amendment does not allow the government to block Cohen from publishing a book critical of the president as a condition of his release to home confinement. This principle transcends politics. We are gratified that the rule of law prevails.”

Cohen had been released to home confinement in May amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the prison population, The Hill said..

Earlier this month, Cohen and his attorney met with corrections officials to finalize the terms of the home confinement agreement and objected to a number of the conditions, including a prohibition against speaking with the media or publishing any sort of writing.

According to the report by The Hill, Justice Department officials detained Cohen during the meeting over his objections and sent him back to prison.

The DOJ denied that the gag order was aimed at stopping Cohen from proceeding with his book or that his being returned to prison was retaliation over the planned publication.

During Thursday’s hearing, Hellerstein, who was appointed to the court by former President Clinton, appeared disturbed by the manner in which BOP officials decided to reincarcerate Cohen and the gag order that they tried to impose upon him.

“I’ve never seen such a clause,” Hellerstein said. “In 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at the conditions of supervised release, I’ve never seen such a clause.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which defended the BOP’s move in court, did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Research contact: @thehill

Is the face familiar? Plastic surgeon Stephen Greenberg ‘unpacks’ Kellyanne Conway’s new look

June 25, 2020

Never mind the alternative facts she spouts in her position as White House spokesperson. What about her alternative face?

Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway looked noticeably different during an appearance on the Fox News early morning talker Fox & Friends on Monday, June 22—causing speculation on social media that she may have had some work done.

Indeed, Page Six of The New York Post reported that some viewers “ … said it looked like the 53-year-old mom of four had been run through Zoom’s “Touch Up My Appearance” filter.

“In Hollywood, I believe we call that ‘refreshed,’” snipped actress Kristen Johnston, implying that Conway had gotten cosmetic work done.

Manhattan-based plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Greenberg told Page Six that the White House counselor’s smoothed-out appearance could be the result of procedures—including “injections like Botox, and either fat transfer to the face or fillers, an upper and lower eyelid lift, face-lift and a nose job.”

Greenberg notes that her “cheekbones seem lifted and she doesn’t seem to have extra skin around her eyes” and that her “nose tip is more shapely and smaller.”

Research contact: @nypost

Oh, you’re such a ‘Karen,’ whatever that means

May 15, 2020

It is the eye-rolling rejoinder that makes Karens everywhere—but especially on social media—grind their teeth: “Okay, KAREN.”

Indeed, while it may be familiar and frequently used first name, on the Internet, “Karen” has come to stand for so much more, according to a report by The Guardian.

Judging by the popular meme, Karen is a middle-aged white woman with an asymmetrical bob who happens to be as entitled as she is ignorant—and she’s asking to speak to the store manager.

However, The Guardian notes,  “As the meme has become more prominent in online discourse, its meaning has become confused, and criticism has been voiced that it is sexist—catching real-life Karens in the crosshairs.”

“I spend a lot of time on Twitter, so I find it rather annoying,” Karen Geier, a writer and podcaster from Toronto told the news outlet. “Anything you say, people can be like, ‘Okay, well, whatever, KAREN’ —but that’s not even how the meme is supposed to be used. It’s supposed to be about people who want to speak to the manager.”

Know Your Meme, a Wiki-style site that defines Internet culture, added “Karen” last year as an extension of the “‘Can I speak to the manager’ haircut” meme, born of Black Twitter back in 2014. “Whenever you want to signal that that character’s a Karen, you’ll just toss that haircut on,” says the editor-in-chief, Don Caldwell.

The choice of moniker has been linked to the 2004 film, Mean Girls, in which a character says, outraged: “Oh my God, Karen, you can’t just ask someone why they’re white”—a meme in and of itself.

But more likely, The Guardian says, the name was chosen for its association with whiteness. “Growing up as a kid in the 1990s, I remember people—particularly, other black—being like, ‘You don’t look like a Karen,’” recalls Karen Attiah, an editor at The Washington Post. “It was an unspoken thing, but Karen was a white, older lady’s name.”

When Attiah was born in 1986, she told The Guardian, “[the use of the name] Karen” was already in decline, having peaked in the United States in 1965. In 2018 there were just 468 baby Karens born. “We’re kind of a rare breed,” she says.

Her mother, who had immigrated from Nigeria, chose the name so that Attiah could “easily move around in a white-dominated world”. “It has afforded me, I think, a certain privilege,” says Attiah.

It is that privilege that the meme sets out to skewer. In 2018, it was among a handful of female names to become attached to a spate of viral videos showing white women racially targeting people of color. The antagonist of one such clip, of a woman calling the police over a group of African American men having a barbecue in a park in Oakland, California, came to be known as BBQ Becky (another name applied to white women online).

The meme is therefore rooted in black American Internet culture, says Attiah—an attempt to find humor in real-world racism and oppression. To call someone a Karen is to target a particular behavior: “It’s a very specific definition and, if you’re not acting that way, it shouldn’t bother you,” says Attiah, implying that “to try to hijack the meaning of the meme is “a pretty Karen thing to do.”

The meme has new resonance in the time of coronavirus, increasingly being applied to those who are protesting against social distancing measures or treating the pandemic as permission to unfairly police others.

Karen Sandler, an attorney and software freedom advocate, tells the Guardian that, at first she was “a little sad” to see her name being applied so negatively – “but it’s just so funny, and also clearly, a little bit true”.

It has in some ways been a wake-up call, says Sandler. “I never want to be ‘a Karen’ in the way the meme suggests and, since it’s my name, I think about this often. It has helped me really appreciate the advantages that I have in life, and emboldened me to speak out when I see people being ignored or disadvantaged.”

The Karen character serves as a reminder to support people who are being ignored or overlooked, says Sandler, and to use her Karen powers for good. She included it in a recent talk she gave as an example of how everyone—not just Karens—can learn to be more mindful of others.

“The only way we’ll help our societies to become fully equal is if we each are willing to speak out for other people who have more to lose by speaking up. And Karens are known for their voices!”

Research contact: @GuardianUS

Rude awakening: Find out the story behind this amazingly grumpy baby photo

February 27, 2020

They are calling it “the scowl seen ‘round the world.” A photo from Brazil has gone viral for catching the expression of a newborn baby girl who appears to angrily stare down the doctor who delivered her by C-section.

Photographer Rodrigo Kunstmann, who snapped the now-famous picture of Isabela Pereira de Jesus, said her family burst out laughing when he showed them the image.

“They were like, ‘This could be an internet meme!’” Kunstmann, 32, told TODAY Parents on NBC-TV in the United States through a translator. “Everybody thought it was funny.”

But don’t be fooled by Isabela’s expression. Kunstmann has been in touch with her parents and they insist she has an easy, gentle disposition.

“She’s very sweet,” Kunstmann revealed. “The picture was just a moment.”

Still, it’s fun to imagine what was going through Isabela’s mind when she made her entrance into the world.

“Do NOT disturb my sleep for this! Lol,” wrote one person on Kunstmann’s Facebook page.

Added another, “She’s mad at the Dr. for taking her from her warm and dark and peaceful world into a bright room with a lot of people awing over her.”

“I remember when I first laid eyes on her after her birth, that was the face she was making,” Musa’s mom, Justine Tuhy, previously told TODAY Parents. “She was born via C-section at 41 weeks, so we assume she is annoyed she was evicted.”

Research contact: @TODAYshow

Neuroscientist calls ‘Blue Monday’ idea ‘rubbish’

January 21, 2020

If you’ve heard that the third Monday in January—January 20 this year and known as “Blue Monday”—is the saddest day of the year, or that through some dark magic the date has power over your life or mood; don’t believe it, Canoe reports.

The idea of Blue Monday first surfaced in 2005, when a UK-based company called Sky Travel identified the date using an equation relied on variables such as weather, debt, time since Christmas, and time since failure of new year’s resolutions. Since then, the notion has become a popular hook for publicists promoting everything from retail to vacation therapies.

But it’s not a real thing, experts say.

In fact, neuroscientist Dr, Dean Burnett of Wales told Canoe that he was forced to become a reluctant, but tireless, warrior fighting what he calls the “ludicrous” concept of Blue Monday after being quoted without context in an article about the day some years ago.

Burnett calls the equation, and the whole concept, “rubbish.”

“It’s not a thing,” said Burnett. “This nonsensical equation was made up by a travel company to encourage people to take more holidays this time of year, and they found an academic to put his name to it.”

Burnett, who has spent years working in psychiatry and has an extensive background in mental health, told the Toronto-based news outlet,  “There is no such thing as a 24-hour depression, like a flu. Mental health just doesn’t work that way and the idea that it does is actually quite harmful.”

Nonetheless, the idea gets a lot of traction through social media.

“It’s a work of genius: Mid-January everyone is a bit bleak. If you are led to believe it’s the most depressing day of the year, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Any other day you might not give any attention to the little negative things that happen, but, ‘Oh, it’s Blue Monday’ legitimizes focusing on it,” Burnett said.

He hopes to turn the day around and use it to promote mental health by encouraging people to support mental-health charities, as he is doing through a gofundme page entitled “Rethink Blue Monday.

“If we can associate it with a more genuinely positive thing, then we can help redirect it to something more positive. Mental health is an ongoing problem, not something that happens one day a year,” Burnett told Canoe.

Research contact: @canoe

National Lampoon returns with ‘Radio Hour’ podcast, but no Trump jokes

December 18, 2019

The relaunch of National Lampoon—the famed comedy studio for live performances, films, TV, social media, and audio productions—begins in earnest this week with the December 19 debut of National Lampoon Radio Hour, a sketch comedy podcast written and performed by Cole Escola, Jo Firestone, and clutch of rising-star comedians, Variety reports.

On the latest episode of Variety‘s Strictly Business podcast, National Lampoon President Evan Shapiro—hired last May to revive the brand—discusses the guiding principles behind the comeback of a phenomenon that was a primal force in the careers of Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, John Hughes, Christopher Guest, Harold Ramis, Michael O’Donoghue and other heavyweights.

The company founded in 1970 as a humor magazine by Harvard Lampoon alumni—and later, expanded into a radio sketch comedy series, albums, and live stage shows.

As industry legend goes, the founders of National Lampoon turned down the offer from Lorne Michaels to develop the original “Radio Hour” into a TV series. That prompted Michaels to hire away many from the Lampoon stable to kickstart Saturday Night Live for NBC in 1975.

Given National Lampoon’s history with the Radio Hour, a podcast made sense to start a new era for the company. During the interview recorded in the comedy performance space at Brooklyn’s famed Union Hall, Shapiro also shared a clip from the new-model  Radio Hour—featuring a spoof of ABC’s enduring reality series The Bachelorette.

Video of the podcast performers in action on each episode will be uploaded to National Lampoon’s YouTube channel — a precursor to what Shapiro hopes will be a TV development pact for the property, Variety reports. Shapiro sees the podcast and YouTube offshoot as a handy way to “monetize the development process.”

The industry news outlet says the podcast also takes a cue from the Lampoon’s past by offering promising young comedians “a safe haven and format where they can really do anything,” Shapiro says. “It’s a platform to critique and satirize mainstream culture.”

The company now aims to integrate itself back into the cutting-edge comedy world with the podcast, live shows around the country and at a dedicated performance space in New York, and a host of film and TV projects in development.

“We want to be the brand that people want to wear on their chest,” Shapiro said. The live component of the comedy business gives them an opening to become part of what Shapiro sees as “the comedy lifestyle” for hard-core fans of standup, improve, and sketch troupes. “Media brands that have engaged communities, ones that are sustained over time — those are going to be the truly successful media enterprises” of the future, he said.

One thing listeners won’t hear on “Radio Hour,” which is set for an 11-episode initial run as weekly installments, is an avalanche of Trump-related humor. True to the spirit of the company that generated such box office smashes in 1978’s Animal House and the Chevy Chase-led Vacation movie franchise, National Lampoon aims to offer a “twisted mainstream” skewering of contemporary culture. But it will not be overtly political — an edgy choice, given the environment.

“We are going to take on culture, not politics,” Shapiro said. “We’re holding up a mirror to the culture that needs to know that those jeans do make your ass look fat.”

Research contact: @Variety

Why Facebook may know when you last had sex

September 11, 2019

Did you think that you and your partner or spouse were the only ones who knew (maybe, aside from your next-door neighbors) when you two last had sex? Wrong. Facebook may know, too, according to a September 9 report in The New York Times. And they also may know when it’s “that time of the month.”

How is that possible?

According to the UK-based privacy watchdog, Privacy International, at least two menstruation- and ovulation-tracking apps, Maya and MIA Fem, have shared intimate details of users’ sexual health with Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, as well as other entities.

In some cases, the data shared with external social media (which are self-recorded by users in the app) included:

  • When a user last had sex,
  • The type of contraception used,
  • Her mood, and
  • Whether she was ovulating.

The Times notes, “The findings raise questions about the security of our most private information in an age where employers, insurers, and advertisers can use data to discriminate or target certain categories of people.”

The information was shared with the social media giant via the Facebook Software Development Kit, a product that allows developers to create apps for specific operating systems, track analytics, and monetize their apps through Facebook’s advertising network. Privacy International found that Maya and MIA began sharing data with Facebook as soon as a user installed the app on her phone and opened it, even before a privacy policy was signed.

Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne told the new outlet that advertisers did not have access to the sensitive health information shared by these apps. In a statement, he said Facebook’s ad system “does not leverage information gleaned from people’s activity across other apps or websites” when advertisers choose target users by interestBuzzFeed first reported the news.

However, the fact is that today, many apps still are not subject to the same rules as most health data.

Some of the apps even have come under scrutiny as powerful monitoring tools for employers and health insurers, which have aggressively pushed to gather more data about their workers’ lives than ever before under the banner of corporate wellness. Plus, it appears the data could be shared more broadly than many users recognize, as flagged by the Privacy International study.

Several period- and pregnancy-tracking apps have been called out for sharing health data with women’s employers and insurance companies, as well as for security flaws that reveal intimate information, the Times reports.

Deborah C. Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of the nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights, based in Austin, Texas,  told the Times that people expect their health data to be protected by the same laws that protect their health information in a doctors office, but that many apps aren’t subject to the same rules.

“Most people would want to make their own decisions about what’s known about their sex life, about whether it’s shared or not,” said Peel. “Right now we have no ability to do that.”

Research contact: @nytimes