So, what happened last week? Not much; it was just another seven days in which everyone got excited about a movie with sad superheroes, President Trump got lauded for not ruining a former president's funeral, and everyone else awaited the latest from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. That's all pretty standard, right? Toss in the fact that yet another celebrity's old, unpleasant tweets came back to haunt them and it sounds just like any other week on the internet, give or take. But what else were people talking about online? Come with us and we'll uncover it all together.
(Not) Tumbling Towards Ecstasy
What Happened: Tumblr announced a new policy limiting adult content, to which the internet responded, "Wait, isn't that why most people are on Tumblr?"
What Really Happened: If there's one social media platform that rarely gets a mention here, it's Tumblr. This week, it did its best to change that by announcing a ban on adult content on the platform effective December 17. "Adult content primarily includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts," Tumblr explained in its post announcing the change. On an entirely different platform, everyone seemed to be convinced that this was not the smartest move Tumblr could make.
The story was widely written about in the media . (You know that, having already read WIRED's take, of course.) Why? Probably because this change in policy is far more important than whether or not people have easy access to fan art or free porn.
In the period until adult content is deleted, blogs that "have been either self-flagged or flagged by us as 'explicit' per our old policy ... before December 17, 2018 will still be overlaid with a content filter when viewing these blogs directly," Tumblr explained. Wonder how that went?
If nothing else, the move was depressingly in tune with the rest of 2018. Perhaps the most appropriate response was this one.
The Takeaway: There's something to be said for the end of Tumblr being adequately described in a very familiar meme , let's be honest.
Et tu, Facebook?
What Happened: Meanwhile, Facebook had its own user blowback issues to deal with.
What Really Happened: You know what? All this Tumblr news has us wondering what kind of a week Facebook had. Let's just see, shall we?
Unsurprisingly, people noticed this happening . It was something that definitely didn't look good, and came at a time when the company was already facing criticism for requesting opposition research on George Soros after he was suspected of shorting FB stock .
The Takeaway: All told, it was far from the best week for Facebook. Maybe Tumblr could breathe a sigh of relief for a second, in the brief periods where it's not wondering if it's the new MySpace. Still, it's not like people will really just abandon Facebook, will they?
Roger Stone Pleads the Fifth
What Happened: Roger Stone's name came to prominence in the ever-growing list of players in the investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election.
What Really Happened: Is it the pressure of the end of the year that is causing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to heat up? Hard to tell, but the mounting tension seems to be getting to President Trump, who took to Twitter early last week to share his thoughts on recent events.
Of course, there were other upsides to the president's posts, as it turned out.
You just need to know the angles, obviously. Still if Trump's tweet was intended to send an especially unsubtle message to Roger Stone, we can at least enjoy the fact that the mission was apparently successful.
Roger Stone refused to cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee ? Whatever could have brought that on? Well, as some were willing to argue, perhaps it wasn't as cut-and-dry as it may otherwise have seemed.
For many of us who don't necessarily understand legal matters too well, there were experts to break down just what was happening on Twitter.
Whether or not Stone would take such an offer of immunity aside, there was still the question of the irony in Stone's decision, considering earlier comments from the president.
At this point, many folks might realize just how high the stakes are and keep their head down while things blew over. Stone did not. Instead, he gave a speech at a conservative event on Thursday afternoon while everything else was going on.
Yes, this is all definitely going to end well.
The Takeaway: It's worth wondering, amongst all this back-and-forth, just how much good pleading the Fifth Amendment will actually do for Stone in the end, considering how much good it did for Michael Flynn.
Speaking of Michael Flynn...
What Happened: Elsewhere in the Mueller investigation, a sentencing filing for Michael Flynn—who plead guilty to lying to the FBI a year ago—revealed that the special counsel knows a lot of stuff, but he's not quite ready to share just yet.
What Really Happened: So, uh … what is Trump's former national security advisor up to these days, anyway?
Oh, that's something. Yes, the special counsel recommended that Flynn should serve little prison time in a court filing last week, because he had provided "substantial" assistance to the investigation. So, what, exactly, had Flynn offered that resulted in the surprisingly lenient sentencing suggestion? That's what a lot of people wanted to know…
Knowing what had actually been given up was a task made all the more difficult by the fact that the filing (and supplemental document) was heavily redacted. And when we say heavily, we mean heavily .
Some just took it as an opportunity for humor too good to pass up, however.
And just when everyone thought that they'd gotten every last molecule of potential juice out of the story, a report midweek suggested a lot more might be on the way.
The Takeaway: Look, someone had to make the joke…
:Thinking Face Emoji:
What Happened: You know what the problem with America today is? According to one op-ed writer for the New York Times , the answer is that there aren't enough white Christians in charge anymore. No, really. Someone actually tried to make that argument.
What Really Happened: For all the abuse that the New York Times opinion pages have received over the years, at least they'd never published a piece that basically argued that white Christian people were inherently superior to everyone else … until this week.
Yes, in the wake of the death of George H.W. Bush, conservative commentator Ross Douthat wrote an essay that argued, in his words, that the country misses WASPs "because we feel, at some level, that their more meritocratic and diverse and secular successors rule us neither as wisely nor as well." It was certainly a viewpoint.
Meanwhile, at least a couple of people decided that wasps deserved more appreciation than WASPs , and who can blame them?
The punchline to this whole thing might be the discovery that Douthat was calling for the revival of something the Times had decried some years earlier.
The Takeaway: In the end, what was this really about? If only someone could decode the whole thing.
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