MassLive: Pat Quinn, co-founder of viral social media ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, dies at 37. “A co-founder of the social media ALS ice bucket challenge, which has raised more than $200 million worldwide for Lou Gehrig’s disease research, died Sunday at the age of 37, according to the ALS Association. Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013, a month after his 30th birthday, the organization said in a statement announcing his death.”
Oregon Historical Society: Beached Whale Blow-Up: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Florence Exploding Whale. “On the morning of November 12, 1970, KATU news directors asked reporter Paul Linnman and cameraman Doug Brazil to cover an unusual story taking place on the Oregon coast. A 45-foot sperm whale had washed up on the beach near Florence, Oregon, a few days prior, and the Oregon Highway Division was left to come up with a plan on how best to deal with 8 tons of rotting whale flesh. What caught the attention of the news room in Portland, however, was not the whale itself but the plan of how to best dispose of the carcass: dynamite.” The subsequent video is one of the early viral videos of Internet culture and is why I’m including it here.
Fast Company: Researchers can’t even begin to assess the damage from viral suicide videos. “For platforms with hundreds of millions of users, negatively impacting even a small percentage amounts to a large number of people. Without a clear understanding of the human impact of seeing a suicide online, platforms don’t have enough incentive to eliminate any possibility of this kind of content making its way onto our feeds.”
ABC 13: FDA warns about ‘Benadryl Challenge’ after reports of teens ending up in ER. “The craze on TikTok reportedly encourages viewers to take large doses of the antihistamine to induce hallucinations. But the FDA warns that taking higher than recommended doses of the common over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death.” Apparently this has already killed somebody.
NBC News: Dark money and PAC’s coordinated ‘reopen’ push are behind doctors’ viral hydroxychloroquine video. “A dozen doctors delivered speeches in front of the U.S. Capitol on Monday to a small crowd, claiming without evidence that the coronavirus could be cured and that widely accepted efforts to slow its spread were unnecessary and dangerous. It was the latest video to go viral from apparent experts, quietly backed by dark money political organizations, evangelizing treatments for or opinions about the coronavirus that most doctors, public health officials and epidemiologists have roundly decried as dangerous misinformation.”
PSFK: The Pandemic Inside the Pandemic: Leveraging Social Media to Fight Disinformation. “Misinformation is commonplace in today’s digital- and social-first media landscape. Here’s how consumers and creators alike are putting existing platforms to new uses to creatively halt the spread.”
National Geographic: Fake animal news abounds on social media as coronavirus upends life. “People are compelled to share posts that make them emotional. When we’re feeling stressed, joyous animal footage can be an irresistible salve. The spread of social phenomena is so powerful, 2016 research shows, that it can follow same models that trace the contagion of epidemics.”
Ars Technica: ’90s nostalgia: Dancing Baby does the cha-cha once more in new HD rendering. “Internet denizens of a certain age will recall with fondness the 3D animated Dancing Baby (aka “Baby Cha-Cha” and “the Oogachacka Baby”) that went viral in 1996. Sure, the rendering was crude by today’s standards and—it must be said—a little creepy, but in many ways, the Dancing Baby was a proto-meme. Now, almost 25 years after it was first created, an enterprising college student has re-rendered the original model and animation in a suitable HD format for modern displays.” When that baby first came out, my mother tried to email the video of him from her corporate network to my little lame desktop computer. Gave it — the computer, not the baby — a severe case of indigestion.
New York Times: What Happens When You Get Famous Off One Song?. “Last summer, a teenager named Tom Austin decided on a whim to record a rap song. He’d never made music before. But even as he was writing down lyrics — picking out references from an iPhone note of random stuff he’d been keeping — he was strangely sure of himself.”
The Guardian: Viral social media moments that deserve the Hollywood treatment. “The breakout hit at this year’s Sundance festival was Zola (pictured, above), a comic thriller about a stripper who travels to Florida for a weekend of sex and violence. Zola earned rave reviews from attendees, but the most interesting thing about it is that it was based on a Twitter thread.”
First Monday: Fear and loathing on Facebook? Tracking the rise of populism and platformization in viral political Facebook posts. “Adopting a longitudinal ‘demand’ perspective to the study of online political campaigning, the present study details developments in supporter engagement on party Facebook Pages during three Swedish elections — 2010, 2014 and 2018. Specifically, the work presented here uncovers the roles of populism and platformization as ways of constructing political messages.”
USA Today: Doctor’s pro-vaccine TikTok went viral. Then came hate and threats from around the world . “Nicole Baldwin, a pediatrician working in suburban Cincinnati, posted a TikTok video encouraging vaccination on Twitter Saturday evening. It took less than 24 hours for the video to go viral on both TikTok, a video sharing app, and Twitter – and just another 48 hours before Baldwin was facing backlash from hundreds of thousands of people associated with the anti-vaccine movement.”
New York Post: Why I quit Twitter — and you should, too. “That’s the thing about Twitter; the (I still can’t quite believe this) 50 tweets a day don’t really matter. It’s the 3,401st tweet, the one that goes viral, that comes to define you — and its virality is usually not something that makes you proud.”
BBC: The secrets of ‘food porn’ viral videos. “I’ve just watched a fresh turkey being covered in fragments of cheese-flavoured crisps and then stuffed with what looks like three kilos of cheddar. The video has more than four million views on YouTube. Call it a stunt, call it a travesty, whatever you make of it this is food – but not as you know it.” Unless you’ve ever been to a State Fair in America. And I have seen the video mentioned in the lede — well, I saw the Kalen Reacts video, and I agree with every exclamation of horror Kalen uttered.
CNN: A Facebook rumor about white vans is spreading fear across America . “Terrifying rumors initially propelled by Facebook’s algorithms have sparked fears that men driving white vans are kidnapping women all across the United States for sex trafficking and to sell their body parts. While there is no evidence to suggest this is happening, much less on a national, coordinated scale, a series of viral Facebook (FB) posts created a domino effect that led to the mayor of a major American city issuing a warning based on the unsubstantiated claims.”