This is not news to those who are prominent in beauty culture. After all, they’re often famous because of social media, and when they choose to make a beauty line, it’s not just about cashing in — most of the time they feel insecure, and they use cosmetics to help themselves feel better and want to share those to make others feel better too. But this becomes a vicious cycle, and it’s hard to step back.
Michelle Phan, an early influencer and Ipsy co-founder, confused the beauty community when she stopped posting online in 2015. Two years later, she restarted her makeup line, Em Cosmetics, which she bought back from L’Oréal, and sold her stake in Ipsy. “Once, I was a girl with dreams, who eventually became a product, smiling, selling and selling,” she said in a 2017 video explaining her departure. “Who I was on camera and who I was in real life began to feel like strangers.” She added: “My insecurities got the worse of me. I became imprisoned by my own vanity and was never satisfied with how I looked. The life I led online was picture perfect. But in reality, I was carefully curating the image of a life I wanted, not had.”
Working within the system, Rae was trying to address the way that she was also torn apart by a lot of the same concern over her looks that other people had. She even built vulnerability into the branding of her makeup line. Last year, Rae and Item sold a round, orange-colored compact, and when you opened it, it had a mirror with the words “I love you say it back.” This was a riff on a popular meme, a standard-issue message of girlboss empowerment but also an acknowledgment of widespread insecurity that Rae, and the person buying the compact, might feel.
I thought that was sweet, but an intimate relationship with the idol was also what the consumer was demanding. A display of insecurity from Rae, or at least an acknowledgment that Rae might look in the same mirror and need a jolt of confidence the same way the consumer does, may be part of that. “Relatability is the No. 1 thing that makes people click ‘check out,’” Sarah Brown told me.
It was hard to tell whether Rae was truly insecure or simply using a marketing tactic to gain fans. “Everybody is insecure about their bodies, and the more our culture gets visual, the more insecure we’ll all get, and it doesn’t matter how you look objectively one bit,” Widdows, the philosopher, told me. “So it’s not implausible to think even the most beautiful celebrities might also be insecure. In fact, it’s very plausible to think they are. But to say that they suddenly stopped being insecure because they put their own lipstick on, I find much less plausible.”
Still, the psychological flytrap in this kind of rhetoric — “I want you to know your body is perfect even though you’re buying this product to look like me, and I am insecure about my looks” — was powerful, and stars other than Rae were gesturing to it as well. When I asked Camberos, the beauty executive, where he saw beauty culture today and where it was going, he said it was connected to the issue of mental health. Rae told British Glamour that she felt she was in a good place regarding her appearance lately and quoted the saying “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When asked about what she was proudest of, though, Rae said, “Just staying mentally healthy has been a really big accomplishment for me.”
It was a bit chilling to think about linking these two things, a beauty brand and mental health, especially as our era of global pandemic comes to a close and we emerge in the light, blinking, looking to create new idols. In September, Selena Gomez, who has been open about her bipolar disorder, introduced her own line, Rare Beauty. In marketing efforts, the company, which offers soft concealers, foundations and blushers, vowed that “we will use makeup to shape positive conversations around beauty, self-acceptance and mental health.” And shortly before the musician Halsey began promoting her new makeup line in early 2021, she chose to post an old photo of her emaciated body on Instagram, explaining that she suffered from an eating disorder. Kylie, too, recently put a saying from a self-help author on her Instagram — “may the dark thoughts, overthinking, and doubt exit your mind right now,” it read in part — along with a photo of a bathtub and naked legs, slightly covered in suds, against which rested a clear pink bottle from her skin-care line.
SAN FRANCISCO — Since 2013, Matt Bors has made a living as a left-leaning cartoonist on the internet. His site, The Nib, runs cartoons from him and other contributors that regularly skewer right-wing movements and conservatives with political commentary steeped in irony.
One cartoon in December took aim at the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Mr. Bors titled it “Boys Will Be Boys” and depicted a recruitment where new Proud Boys were trained to be “stabby guys” and to “yell slurs at teenagers” while playing video games.
Days later, Facebook sent Mr. Bors a message saying that it had removed “Boys Will Be Boys” from his Facebook page for “advocating violence” and that he was on probation for violating its content policies.
It wasn’t the first time that Facebook had dinged him. Last year, the company briefly took down another Nib cartoon — an ironic critique of former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, the substance of which supported wearing masks in public — for “spreading misinformation” about the coronavirus. Instagram, which Facebook owns, removed one of his sardonic antiviolence cartoons in 2019 because, the photo-sharing app said, it promoted violence.
Facebook barred Mr. Trump from posting on its site altogether after he incited a crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol.
At the same time, misinformation researchers said, Facebook has had trouble identifying the slipperiest and subtlest of political content: satire. While satire and irony are common in everyday speech, the company’s artificial intelligence systems — and even its human moderators — can have difficulty distinguishing them. That’s because such discourse relies on nuance, implication, exaggeration and parody to make a point.
That means Facebook has sometimes misunderstood the intent of political cartoons, leading to takedowns. The company has acknowledged that some of the cartoons it expunged — including those from Mr. Bors — were removed by mistake and later reinstated them.
“If social media companies are going to take on the responsibility of finally regulating incitement, conspiracies and hate speech, then they are going to have to develop some literacy around satire,” Mr. Bors, 37, said in an interview.
accused Facebook and other internet platforms of suppressing only right-wing views.
In a statement, Facebook did not address whether it has trouble spotting satire. Instead, the company said it made room for satirical content — but only up to a point. Posts about hate groups and extremist content, it said, are allowed only if the posts clearly condemn or neutrally discuss them, because the risk for real-world harm is otherwise too great.
Facebook’s struggles to moderate content across its core social network, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp have been well documented. After Russians manipulated the platform before the 2016 presidential election by spreading inflammatory posts, the company recruited thousands of third-party moderators to prevent a recurrence. It also developed sophisticated algorithms to sift through content.
Facebook also created a process so that only verified buyers could purchase political ads, and instituted policies against hate speech to limit posts that contained anti-Semitic or white supremacist content.
Last year, Facebook said it had stopped more than 2.2 million political ad submissions that had not yet been verified and that targeted U.S. users. It also cracked down on the conspiracy group QAnon and the Proud Boys, removed vaccine misinformation, and displayed warnings on more than 150 million pieces of content viewed in the United States that third-party fact checkers debunked.
But satire kept popping up as a blind spot. In 2019 and 2020, Facebook often dealt with far-right misinformation sites that used “satire” claims to protect their presence on the platform, Mr. Brooking said. For example, The Babylon Bee, a right-leaning site, frequently trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire.
whose independent work regularly appears in North American and European newspapers.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2019 that he would bar two congresswomen — critics of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians — from visiting the country, Mr. Hall drew a cartoon showing a sign affixed to barbed wire that read, in German, “Jews are not welcome here.” He added a line of text addressing Mr. Netanyahu: “Hey Bibi, did you forget something?”
Mr. Hall said his intent was to draw an analogy between how Mr. Netanyahu was treating the U.S. representatives and Nazi Germany. Facebook took the cartoon down shortly after it was posted, saying it violated its standards on hate speech.
“If algorithms are making these decisions based solely upon words that pop up on a feed, then that is not a catalyst for fair or measured decisions when it comes to free speech,” Mr. Hall said.
Adam Zyglis, a nationally syndicated political cartoonist for The Buffalo News, was also caught in Facebook’s cross hairs.
paid memberships to The Nib and book sales on his personal site, he gets most of his traffic and new readership through Facebook and Instagram.
The takedowns, which have resulted in “strikes” against his Facebook page, could upend that. If he accumulates more strikes, his page could be erased, something that Mr. Bors said would cut 60 percent of his readership.
“Removing someone from social media can end their career these days, so you need a process that distinguishes incitement of violence from a satire of these very groups doing the incitement,” he said.
Mr. Bors said he had also heard from the Proud Boys. A group of them recently organized on the messaging chat app Telegram to mass-report his critical cartoons to Facebook for violating the site’s community standards, he said.
“You just wake up and find you’re in danger of being shut down because white nationalists were triggered by your comic,” he said
Facebook has sometimes recognized its errors and corrected them after he has made appeals, Mr. Bors said. But the back-and-forth and the potential for expulsion from the site have been frustrating and made him question his work, he said.
“Sometimes I do think about if a joke is worth it, or if it’s going to get us banned,” he said. “The problem with that is, where is the line on that kind of thinking? How will it affect my work in the long run?”
This week was the first anniversary of the official declaration that the coronavirus was a global pandemic. But a number of Canada Letter readers have recently emailed about a very different issue: the correct layer proportions of Nanaimo bars.
Instagram post from The Times’s Cooking account of an example of Canada’s favorite no-bake squares. “Canadians, this one’s for you,” it read.
But many Canadians were quick to point out that it had way too thick of a base layer — a mixture of butter, cocoa powder, nuts, shredded coconut, graham cracker crumbs and lots of butter. The yellow middle layer — lots more butter, more sugar, Bird’s custard powder and heavy cream — was mingy, the critics said. And instead of being as smooth as an ice rink, the melted top layer sported a ripple pattern.
told the CBC “If you’re going to do something different, you can call it a Nanaimo-esque bar, or in the style of a Nanaimo bar.”
The Instagram post linked to the account of Sara Bonisteel, an editor in Cooking, and a photo of a more generally accepted style of Nanaimo bar. (For the record: She did not make the squares of contention.)
Almost two years ago, Sara wrote a terrific article about the pride of British Columbia’s kitchens, and she also posted a recipe, a process that involved having a caterer in British Columbia ship sample bars to New York for analysis and inspection.
A Bite-Size Square of Canada’s History, Culture and Craving]
She told me that she was a bit surprised about the online heat the Instagram post generated in Canada and that she agreed with the critics.
“This particular photo brought drama but didn’t do the Nanaimo bar justice,” she said. “They’re a delicious treat. And I am glad that such a topic can be the centerpiece of such a lively debate, especially after the last few years where debate seemed to be very heavy. To be able to have a national debate about a treat, it’s kind of refreshing.”
While Sara did not create the bar of scorn, she said that its out-of-whack portions might have been a result of its coming from the edge of a pan. “When you press down that bottom layer, it does sort of pop up the sides if you’re not a Nanaimo-bar-making expert,” she said.
She too rejects the swirling pattern on the top layer of the bar shown in the post, although her experience has been that it’s tricky to get the melted chocolate to set “completely smooth, like freshly Zambonied ice.” She finds that banging the pan on a counter several times after layering the top on helps, however.
Cooking’s Instagram bar isn’t the only one to come under criticism. In 2019, Canada Post released an unusually shaped stamp featuring a Nanaimo bar with the opposite condition: Critics found its yellow middle layer way too thick.
“We understand there are some strong views on the layer proportions, but we also understand there are many views of these beloved treats across the country,” Sylvie Lapointe, a spokeswoman for Canada Post, told me. “That factored into our image decisions.”
how the city successfully shielded its Indigenous elders from the coronavirus pandemic.
Catherine Porter reports that vaccination has not loosened the restrictions that have made life severely constrained for residents of long-term care homes over the past year. “You always hear people say, ‘Oh, they lived a long life,’” the daughter of one resident told her. “Right now, they aren’t living. They are existing.”
Shawna Richer, who recently joined The Times as an editor in Sports from The Globe and Mail, wrote about Justin Bieber’s new video, a “love letter” to the Toronto Maple Leafs: “This is not the rapper Lil Wayne, who is from New Orleans but front-running for the Green Bay Packers in song. Bieber has been obsessed with the Leafs since he was a kid, with the twin-size bedsheets and wallpaper to prove it.”
Also from the Northwest Territories comes the story of how the Łutsël K’é’ Dene worked with the federal government to block diamond mining by establishing Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, an area that still allows them to exercise their traditional hunting and fishing rights. It’s part of an article by Somini Sengupta, Catrin Einhorn and Manuela Andreoni on how Indigenous people in many countries are now leading the way on conserving nature.
Since leaving Microsoft, Nathan P. Myhrvold, the company’s former chief technology officer, has started coming to Canada to photograph snowflakes. But he’s not using the phone on his camera, Kenneth Chang found. It took Dr. Myhrvold 18 months to design and build a special snowflake camera roughly the size of a bar fridge that can make super-high-resolution images while minimizing melting. A Canadian photographer who uses a store-bought camera and photographs snowflakes on a black mitten said of Mr. Myhrvold’s system, “I think it’s a little over-engineered.”
In Opinion, Charlie Warzel writes about Aron Rosenberg, a former teacher in Montreal who went cold turkey and completely cut himself off from the internet as part of his research for an education Ph.D. at McGill University.
Five former elite swimmers have accused Canada Artistic Swimming of failing to provide a safe environment and of neglecting abusive behavior by coaches. Their allegations of being bullied, harassed and psychologically abused are being made by other athletes in the sport around the world, Jeré Longman and Gillian R. Brassil found.
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.
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MOSCOW — The Russian government said on Wednesday that it was slowing access to Twitter, accusing the social network of failing to remove illegal content and signaling that the Kremlin is escalating its offensive against American internet companies that have long provided a haven for freedom of expression.
Russia’s telecommunications regulator said it was reducing the speed at which Twitter loaded for internet users in Russia, though it was not immediately clear how noticeable the move would be. The regulator, Roskomnadzor, accused Twitter of failing for years to remove posts about illegal drug use or child pornography or messages “pushing minors toward suicide.”
“With the aim of protecting Russian citizens and forcing the internet service to follow the law on the territory of the Russian Federation, centralized reactive measures have been taken against Twitter starting March 10, 2021 — specifically, the initial throttling of the service’s speeds, in accordance with the regulations,” the regulator said in a statement.
“If the internet service Twitter continues to ignore the demands of the law, measures against it will continue in accordance with the regulations, up to and including blocking it,” it added.
he has allowed the internet to remain essentially free.
Twitter — and to a much greater extent, Facebook’s Instagram and Google’s YouTube — have given Russians ways to speak, report and organize openly even though the Kremlin controls the television airwaves.
Those social networks, along with Chinese-owned TikTok, played a pivotal role in the anti-Kremlin protests that accompanied the return and imprisonment of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny this year. Mr. Navalny has some 2.5 million Twitter followers, and his investigation published in January into a purported secret palace of Mr. Putin was viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube.
Russian officials claim that Silicon Valley companies discriminate against Russians by blocking some pro-Kremlin accounts while handing a megaphone to the Kremlin’s critics. They have also said that social networks have refused to remove content drawing children into the unauthorized protests in support of Mr. Navalny.
In recent weeks, the Kremlin has led an intensifying drumbeat criticizing American internet companies, painting them as corrupting foreign forces.
Mr. Putin said this month.
The internet, Mr. Putin said, must respect “the moral laws of the society in which we live — otherwise, this society will be destroyed from the inside.”
Twitter has a small user base in Russia, though it is popular among journalists, politicians and opposition activists. A report last year estimated the service had 690,000 active users in Russia, meaning that any public backlash over the move is likely to be far smaller than if the Kremlin imposed similar limits for Instagram or YouTube.
The Drunken Canal is one of a handful of downtown media projects that have been sprouting in reaction to the dominance of giant online media, the homogenization of big social media platforms that make community feel global, not local (though they’d like it if you’d follow them on Instagram), and the overwhelming sense that nobody in media was having fun in the grim year of 2020. The Dimes Square local media include a pirate radio station, Montez Press Radio, that won’t let you listen on demand, and a “natural style” fashion email newsletter, Opulent Tips, written by a GQ staff writer, with no fancy formatting. Many of the most interesting new products are in print “because digital spaces are becoming increasingly more policed,” said Richard Turley, 44, the former creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek who founded another downtown newspaper, Civilization, in 2018.
The Dimes Square scene caught my eye because its privileged denizens embody a broader shift toward spaces safe from social media. The new Silicon Valley social audio app Clubhouse shares some of those values. And the choice of print has a political edge. The Canal’s first issue featured a “Sorry to hear you’ve been canceled” column composed of a list of names, with no explanation, “to keep you from looking foolish at a woke gathering.” (The second issue included an apology to the actor Terry Crews, whose name had been spelled wrong in the first issue and who had, in fact, not been canceled, in the publishers’ view.) A third recent newsprint project called The New Now, created by a co-founder of the magazine Paper, announces atop its front page that it is “Free of Charge” “Free of Advertising” and “Free of the internet.”
The downtown media rebellion often looks back to the 1990s, when the model and actress Chloë Sevigny embodied an edgy new scene in a New Yorker profile, just before her star turn in the explicit 1995 movie “Kids.” Ms. Sevigny, now 46, is a running preoccupation — The Drunken Canal has featured her stylist, Haley Wollens. Ms. Sevigny told me she’s “flattered and hoping the kids rally for all of us.”But the more recent seeds of the current scene are in the podcasts that helped put a strain of left-wing populist politics that’s as hostile to Hillary Clinton as it is to Donald Trump on the political map — in particular, one called Red Scare, whose co-host, Dasha Nekrasova, lives near Dimes Square. Ms. Nekrasova, 30, said she admired the spirit of The Drunken Canal although, like many of its admirers, she hasn’t actually been able to get her hands on a copy. She plays a crisis P.R. person in the upcoming season of “Succession” and has directed a new feature film rooted in theories about Jeffrey Epstein’s death. The new Drunken Canal includes the prediction that “DASHA will become the new and better Chloë Sevigny.”
The unsafe sex of “Kids” scandalized 1990s New York, but the best way to get a reaction from the 2020 New York media was by bragging about having indoor parties. The writer and publicist Kaitlin Phillips, 30, who occupies a spot close to the center of a map of downtown personalities, became mildly notorious on Twitter for advertising a blasé attitude through the worst of the pandemic last spring.