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TIME Opinion

How to Reclaim the F-Word? Just Call Beyoncé

Beyonce performs onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif.
Beyonce performs onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Beyonce’s brand of empowerment isn’t perfect, but her VMA performance on Sunday accomplished what activists could not: She took feminism to the masses.

Militant. Radical. Man-hating. If you study word patterns in media over the past two decades, you’ll find that these are among the most common terms used to talk about the word “feminist.” Yes, I did this — with the help of a linguist and a tool called the Corpus of Contemporary American English, which is the world’s largest database of language.

I did a similar search on Twitter, with the help of Twitter’s data team, looking at language trends over the past 48 hours. There, the word patterns were more simple. Search “feminist,” and you’ll likely come up with just one word association: Beyoncé.

That’s a product of Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, of course, in which the 33-year-old closed out the show with an epic declaration of the F-Word, a giant “FEMINIST” sign blazing from behind her silhouette.

As far as feminist endorsements are concerned, this was the holy grail: A word with a complicated history reclaimed by the most powerful celebrity in the world. And then she projected it — along with its definition, by the Nigerian feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — into the homes of 12 million unassuming Americans. Beyoncé would become the subject of two-thirds of all tweets about feminism in the 24 hours after her appearance, according to a data analysis by Twitter, making Sunday the sixth-highest day for volume of conversation about feminism since Twitter began tracking this year (the top three were days during #YesAllWomen).

“What Bey just did for feminism, on national television, look, for better or worse, that reach is WAY more than anything we’ve seen,” the writer Roxane Gay, author of the new book, Bad Feminist, declared (on Twitter, naturally).

“HELL YES!” messaged Jennifer Pozner, a writer and media critic.

“It would have been unthinkable during my era,” said Barbara Berg, a historian and the author of Sexism in America.

Feminism may be enjoying a particular celebrity moment, but let’s just remember that this wasn’t always the case. Feminism’s definition may be simple — it is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, as Adichie put it — and yet its interpretation is anything but. “There was only about two seconds in the history of the world in which women really welcomed [feminism],” Gail Collins, The New York Times columnist and author of America’s Women once told me in 2010, for an article I was writing about young women and feminism. “There’s something about the word that just drives people nuts.”

Over the past 40 years in particular, as Berg explains it, the word has seen it all: exultation, neutrality, uncertainty, animosity. “Feminazi” has become a perennial (and favorite) insult of the religious right (and of Rush Limbaugh). In 1992, in a public letter decrying a proposal for an equal rights amendment (the horror!) television evangelist Pat Robertson hilariously proclaimed that feminism would cause women to “leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”

Even the leaders of the movement have debated whether the word should be abandoned (or rebranded). From feminist has evolved the words womanist, humanist, and a host of other options — including, at one point, the suggestion from Queen Bey herself for something a little bit more catchy, “like ‘bootylicious.'” (Thank God that didn’t stick.)

It wasn’t that the people behind these efforts (well, most of them anyway) didn’t believe in the tenets of feminism — to the contrary, they did. But there was just something about identifying with that word. For some, it was pure naiveté: We were raised post-Title IX, and there were moments here and there where we thought maybe we didn’t need it. (We could be whatever we wanted, right? That was the gift of the feminists who came before us.) But for others, it was a notion of what the word had come to represent: angry, extreme, unlikeable. As recently as last year, a poll by the Huffington Post/YouGov found that while 82 percent of Americans stated that they indeed believe women and men should be equals, only 20 percent of them were willing to identify as feminists.

Enter… Beyoncé. The new enlightened Beyoncé, that is. Universally loved, virtually unquestioned, and flawless, the 33-year-old entertainer seems to debunk every feminist stereotype you’ve ever heard. Beyoncé can’t be a man-hater – she’s got a man (right?). Her relationship – whatever you believe about the divorce rumors – has been elevated as a kind of model for egalitarian bliss: dual earners, adventurous sex life, supportive husband and an adorable child held up on stage by daddy while mommy worked. Beyoncé’s got the confidence of a superstar but the feminine touch of a mother. And, as a woman of color, she’s speaking to the masses – a powerful voice amid a movement that has a complicated history when it comes to inclusion.

No, you don’t have to like the way Beyoncé writhes around in that leotard – or the slickness with which her image is controlled – but whether you like it or not, she’s accomplished what feminists have long struggled to do: She’s reached the masses. She has, literally, brought feminism into the living rooms of 12.4 million Americans. “Sure, it’s just the VMAs,” says Pozner. “She’s not marching in Ferguson or staffing a battered woman’s shelter, but through her performance millions of mainstream music fans are being challenged to think about feminism as something powerful, important, and yes, attractive. And let’s head off at the pass any of the usual hand-wringing about her sexuality — Madonna never put the word FEMINIST in glowing lights during a national awards show performance. This is, as we say… a major moment.”

It’s what’s behind the word that matters, of course. Empty branding won’t change policy (and, yes, we need policy change). But there is power in language, too.

“Looking back on those early days of feminism, you can see that the word worked as a rallying cry,” says Deborah Tannen, aa linguist at Georgetown University and the author of You Just Don’t Understand, about men and women in conversation. “It gave women who embraced [it] a sense of identity and community — a feeling that they were part of something, and a connection to others who were a part of it too. Beyoncé’s taking back this word and identifying with it is huge.”

Bennett is a contributing columnist at TIME.com covering the intersection of gender, sexuality, business and pop culture. A former Newsweek senior writer and executive editor of Tumblr, she is a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s foundation, Lean In. You can follow her @jess7bennett.

TIME Workplace & Careers

Yes, There Is Diversity in Silicon Valley — if You Know Where to Look

Google Celebrates 15th Anniversary As Company Reaches $290 Billion Market Value
Pedestrians walk past Google Inc. signage displayed in front of the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. David Paul Morris—Bloomberg / Getty Images

Study finds many black and Latino workers toil in the tech scene's "invisible" workforce of cooks, cleaners and guards

A new report on the diversity of Silicon Valley’s workforce has found a preponderance of black and Latino workers relegated to the bottom rungs of the pay ladder.

Working Partnerships USA released a report on Tuesday that drew attention to an “invisible” legion of contracted workers who cook, clean and guard corporate campuses throughout the Valley.

While black and Latino workers comprise less than 5% of the workforce at prominent companies such as Twitter, Facebook, eBay and Google, their representation balloons to 41% among security guards and 75% among groundskeepers, according to employment data released by the companies and Santa Clara county.

Members of this contracted workforce make an average hourly wage of $11 to $14 an hour, or less than a fifth of the average software developer, the study found.

“These ‘invisible’ workers do not share in the success of the industry which they daily labor to keep running,” the study’s authors wrote. “As contracted workers, their employer of record is not Google or Apple, but a middleman, making them ineligible for most of the benefits and amenities offered on the campuses where they work.”

A growing number of tech companies have voluntarily released employment statistics as part of an effort to address gaps in diversity. “As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a statement accompanying Apple’s release. ‘We’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them.”

TIME Internet

59 Free Twitter Tools and Apps to Fit Any Need

Twitter Says 23 Million of Its Users Are Not Actually Bots
A user scrolls through a Twitter feed. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Twitter is a fascinating adventure of relationships, entertainment, education, and fun. Now imagine layering on a few dozen powerups.

That’s how it feels sometimes when you find just the right Twitter tool. And there’s a tool for practically every desire or whim.

Tools for productivity, for efficiency, for research, and so much more. With such a generous API, Twitter tools have become legion—and we social sharers are better off for it.

At Buffer, we tend to come across a fair share of social media tools. We’ve collected a great bunch to share with you! Here are all the tools we’ve found helpful and many more that we’re excited to try. If there’s a free Twitter tool out there, you’re likely to find a mention here in our list.

(If we missed any good free Twitter tools, let us know in the comments!)

The big list of 59 free Twitter tools for marketers

Navigate this list fast

Looking for something in particular? Try clicking one of these categories:

Analytics | Chats | Discovery | Follow/Unfollow | Mentions & Monitoring |Scheduling | Timing | Trending Topics | Twitter Clients | Other

Twitter Tools for Analytics

1. My Top Tweet: Your Top 10 list of tweets

Find anyone’s Top 10 tweets, ordered by engagement.

2. Wildfire: Follower growth analysis

Compare your follower growth to your competitors’s follower growth. Simple, helpful, enlightening.

3. SocialBro: Analytics, optimization, and more

A nearly all-in-one platform for all things Twitter. The free plan comes with analytics, best time to tweet, follow/unfollow tools, and community segmentation.

4. Riffle: Data visualizations for any Twitter user

This browser plugin reveals vast insights into any Twitter user you choose. Discover statistics, popular hashtags, most shared links, connected profiles, and much more.

5. Twitonomy: Detailed analytics on users and tweets

A dashboard of analytics for whichever Twitter user you choose (even yours). Analyzes profiles, tweets, engagement, and more.

6. Klout: Twitter scores

Track your influencer score (on a scale of 1-100) and use the Klout dashboard to create and schedule new tweets.

7. SumAll: Email reports for Twitter stats

Sync your Twitter to SumAll, and start seeing daily or weekly emails on how your followers are growing, your mentions, and your engagement.

8. SocialRank: Follower analysis to find your most awesome fans

Receive a sorted list of your best followers, most influential followers, and most engaged followers. Useful to track the important people to engage with on Twitter.

9. Twtrland: A Twitter resume

Plug in your Twitter account to see a snapshot of who you follow, which demographics you fit, who’s in your close network, and more.

10. Bluenod: Community visualization

Type in a user or hashtag and see a detailed map or visualization about the community around the user or the people using the hashtag.

Twitter Tools for Chats

11. Beatstrap: Team liveblogging

Cover live news, sports, and events through Twitter, via hashtags, and collaborate with your team on the coverage. Completed “Beats” come with an embed code.

12. TweetChat: Twitter chat management

Log in to follow a specific hashtag, hang out in a room that collects the hashtagged tweets for you, and reply as you like (with the hashtag added automatically to your tweet).

13. Chat Salad: A calendar of Twitter chats

See upcoming Twitter chats and when they’re scheduled, as well as the hashtags they use (so you can follow along).

14. Twubs: Twitter chat homepages

Register a hashtag for your chat and collect/view the tweets from one location.

15. Nurph: Chat planning and organizing

Nurph channels let you plan and organize your chat, complete with follow-up stats and replays.

16. TwChat: Real-time chat rooms for Twitter chats

Submit your hashtag. Enter your chat room. Have fun!

Twitter Tools for Discovering Fresh Content and Fun Users

17. BuzzSumo: Find influencers, topic-by-topic

Type in a keyword to see which voices get the most shares on Twitter. Find influencers, sniff out headline ideas, and learn what works on Twitter and who’s working it.

18. Nuzzel: Discover what your friends are reading

As described by Twitter’s Joanna Geary, “find out what’s trending among the people the people you follow follow.” Make sense? Translation: Content discovery from friends and friend of friends.

19. Swayy: What your followers are interested in

See the content that your followers recommend plus the topics they most enjoy. View it all via the dashboard or from a daily email digest.

20. Twipho: Searchable Twitter feed of photos

Search by keyword or by location to find photos shared on Twitter.

21. Sonar Solo: Discover keyword-related content

Search any topic to see a visualization of the related topics, trends, and Twitter profiles connected to your search.

22. Topsy: A search engine for social

The most recent and most relevant tweets (and other social updates) based on a keyword search. Also shows keyword volume, sentiment score, and other analytics.

23. Digg Deeper: The best stories from your friends

An algorithmic display of the top articles and links that your Twitter followees have shared. Pair with News.me: a daily email newsletter of what your friends share on Twitter.

24. The Latest: A museum for the day’s best Twitter links

A real-time, constantly updated list of the most interesting links on Twitter, culled from the accounts of interesting people

Twitter Tools for Following & Unfollowing

25. ManageFlitter: Follow/unfollow in bulk

Segment your followers according to a number of factors: last tweet, follower count, location, language and whether or not they follow you back.

26. Tweepi: Tidy up who you follow

Cleanup inactive follows, flush those who don’t follow back, and reciprocate someone else’s follow—all done in bulk and with a few clicks of a checkbox.

27. Unfollowers: In-depth follow/unfollow

Get a complete breakdown of those you follow, and unfollow with ease.

28. DoesFollow: See who follows whom

Does A follow B? Does Bill Gates follow Skrillex? Does Guy Kawasaki follow Jay Baer?

Twitter Tools for Hashtags

29. Hashtagify.me: Complete analytics into any hashtag

Enter a hashtag to discover related tags, recent conversations, usage patterns, and influencers.

30. Rite tag: Hashtag recommender

Plug in a hashtag and see feedback on the tag’s reach and popularity as well as suggestions for some alternatives to try. Complete with pretty colors to see at-a-glance which hashtags are best.

31. Seen: Hashtag-based curation

Collect the media that was shared with a certain hashtag, then rank the results. Share your curation with friends and followers.

Twitter Tools for Mentions & Monitoring

32. Keyhole: LIke Google Alerts for Twitter

Ask Keyhole to notify you whenever a particular keyword, hashtag, or URL is mentioned. Helpful to track mentions of your own name or your company’s blog or campaign.

33. The One Million Tweetmap: Geolocated, real-time tweet monitoring

Track and follow keywords as they’re tweeted in real-time and at real places. Zoom in to a geotargeted area for super fine results.

34. Twilert: Real-time email alerts for keywords

Track keywords on Twitter and receive an email notification every time they’re mentioned. Great for keeping an eye on company names, new products, and branded hashtags.

35. Mention: Monitor your mentions

A listening tool for keeping up with all your mentions on Twitter. Tracks, analyzes, and displays any number of keywords via the Mention dashboard or via email digests.

36. MentionMapp: The web of you and those you mention

Get a visualization map of you and all the people you mention (and they people they mention).

37. Twazzup: Real-time keyword monitoring

Search and track any keyword, username, or hashtag. See a results page full of relevant tweets, user accounts, and influencers.

Twitter Tools for Scheduling Tweets

38. Buffer: Schedule your tweets (plus a whole lot more)

Simple social media management. Fill a queue of tweets, analyze their performance, and find new, hand-picked stories to share.

39. Tweet4me: Scheduled tweets via DM

Send a direct message to the Tweet4me account, use shorthand and prefixes to denote when to share, and let Tweet4me schedule and send the tweet for you.

Twitter Tools for Timing

40. Followerwonk: Search Twitter bios and analyze your followers

Every analysis imaginable for your Twitter feed, your profile, your followers, and your competitors.

41. Tweriod: Find the best times to tweet

Tweriod analyzes the tweets you send and your followers’s tweets to find the optimal time for engagement.

Twitter Tools for Trending Topics

42. Trends24: Detailed breakdowns of trending terms

See trending terms from the last—you guessed it—24 hours, broken out hour-by-hour and country-by-country. Enlightening for social media campaigns and geographic/timing research.

43. Trendsmap: Monitoring for local Twitter trends

A zoomable map that shows popular hashtags and terms from anywhere in the world with easy-click buttons to hone in on My City, My Region, and more.

44. iTrended: Did it trend?

Search the past 15 days to find whether certain keywords trended or not.

Top Twitter Clients

45. Tweetdeck: The king of Twitter clients

Via the app or the web, stay on top of your Twitter stream with Tweetdeck’s organization and tracking tools. Split your stream into segmented columns to stay engaged with what’s important.

46. YoruFukurou – Twitter client

A native Twitter client for Mac OS X. Dashboard views of incoming tweets, lists, and searches, split across multiple tabs. Comes highly recommended from Kottke.org.

47. Happy Friends: Mailbox-type reader

Pick the friends you want to hear from. Never miss their tweets. View all their activity via an inbox-style layout with nested updates.

Miscellaneous Twitter Tools

48. TW Birthday: Dig up the date someone joined Twitter (even if they won’t say)

For those who omit the “date joined” on their profile, there’s still a way to discover it. See how long your new favorite follow has been tweeting or when a new profile officially landed.

49. Bio is Changed: be alerted when someone changes their Twitter bio (good for job moves)

Rather self-descriptive, this tool updates you when someone changes their Twitter bio. Useful if you’d like to track job moves and major news or even to learn from how people craft unique Twitter bios.

50. Like Explorer: See shares per article

Type in a URL. See the share numbers. Simple.

51. Tweet Beat: List management

A powerful tool for managing your Twitter lists—adding, removing, discovering, and sharing.

52. and 53. IFTTT & Zapier: Automate your tweeting

Connect multiple apps in unique ways to your Twitter account. For example, post your Instagram pictures as native Twitter photos.

54. Be Present: Track how fast you respond on Twitter

Real-time reports on your response time, response rate, and performance based on industry benchmarks. Also, really pretty to look at.

55. SavePublishing: Tweetable snippets on any website

Install the bookmarklet, and you can reveal any tweetable sentences (140 characters or fewer) from any article.

56. Tweekly: Once-a-week email of tweets you care about

Tell Tweekly which Twitter account you want to hear from, Tweekly pulls all their tweets and emails you weekly.

57. GroupTweet: Collaborate with teammates on one account

Let your teammates and coworkers share to the same account automatically with zero password-sharing. GroupTweet can even append usernames on to the end of individual tweets.

58. Storify: Beautiful Twitter storytelling

Grab any number of tweets and media elements, and place them all into a Storify collection that you can embed and share anywhere.

59. Tweet Topic Explorer: A word cloud per user

Discover the most-used words of any user you choose (even you).

Additional resources:

What are your go-to Twitter tools?

Which tools are must-haves for you with your Twitter experience?

Which Twitter tools have you already used today?

My mornings always start with a read of News.me (the email version of Digg Deeper) and a dip into Buffer to check some stats. I spend most of my Twitter time replying to others directly from the native web app. In the evenings, I’ll grab some content suggestions from Buffer, Swayy, BuzzSumo, and a couple others and fill the Twitter queue for the next day.

I’d love to hear about your favorite Twitter tools in the comments!

 

This post originally appeared on Buffer

TIME Ukraine

Rice Slams Moscow’s Intervention in Ukraine as ‘Dangerous and Inflammatory’

Susan Rice
National Security Adviser Susan Rice listens to reporters questions during a briefing on March 21, 2014 Manuel Balce Ceneta —AP

The National Security Adviser's condemnation comes ahead of a meeting between Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice has berated Russia for continuing to pump heavy weaponry and military personnel into Ukraine’s eastern provinces, where a pro-Moscow insurgency has been taking place since April.

“Repeated Russian incursions into Ukraine unacceptable. Dangerous and inflammatory,” said Rice on her Twitter account. “Russia has no right to send vehicles or cargo into Ukraine without Govt of Ukraine’s permission,” she said in a separate tweet.

She added that the Kremlin’s incursions into Ukraine represented a “significant escalation” of the crisis.

Rice’s strong words came hours ahead of a scheduled round of talks between Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Belarus on Tuesday. They also followed confirmation from NATO commanders last week that artillery units, manned by Russian troops, were operating both outside and within Ukraine and were bombarding Ukrainian forces.

Relations between Kiev and Moscow have been in a precipitous downward spiral since the ousting of Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych by mass demonstrations earlier this year. That was followed in March by the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula — a move that inspired a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine the following month.

Under the leadership of Poroshenko, Ukraine has incrementally beaten back the insurgency, despite the aid that the rebels are receiving.

“What we’ve seen in recent weeks is a steady advance by the Ukrainian forces and Russia trying to pull various expedients out of the hat to help their proxies over the border,” John Besemeres, professor and adjunct fellow at Australian National University’s Center for European Studies, tells TIME. “So far, at least, it doesn’t appear that any of these are working.”

On Monday, Kiev claimed to have captured a number of Russian paratroopers inside its borders.

The news came as President Poroshenko dissolved the country’s parliament and called for a new round of elections in October.

“Many deputies who are in the [Parliament] are direct sponsors or accomplices, that is to say allies of the militant separatists,” said Poroshenko, according to the Associated Press.

Approximately 2,249 people have been killed and more than 6,000 injured in Ukraine since hostilities erupted, according to an assessment by the U.N.

Despite the heavy losses, which include more than 700 Ukrainian servicemen, Poroshenko appears to be committed to eradicating the insurgents.

“We will manage to defend the independence, life and security of everyone, our right to live freely on our Ukrainian land at the cost of colossal efforts of the entire nation,” the President told the country during a national address on Aug. 24, the country’s Independence Day.

TIME viral

The British Embassy Apologized For Tweeting About Burning Down the White House

Umm… jk?

Two hundred years ago Sunday, August, 24, when America and the United Kingdom were enmeshed in the War of 1812, some Brits burned the White House to the ground.

So how did the British Embassy in America decide to celebrate this bicentennial — which some historians attribute as the turning point of the war? By joking about burning it down again, of course.

Shortly after realizing that putting sparklers on a White House cake was perhaps in poor taste, The Embassy’s Twitter account apologized for its tone deaf tweet:

TIME twitter

Your Twitter Favorite Button Just Got a Lot More Powerful

Social Media Site Twitter Debuts On The New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images

This is why mysterious tweets are showing up in your Twitter timeline

If you’ve noticed tweets from people you don’t follow popping up on your Twitter timeline, you’re not going crazy.

Twitter has updated its help document with information explaining why new tweets, in addition to sponsored tweets and ads, now show up in your timeline, in addition to the regular digest of tweets from Twitter accounts that you follow.

“When we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting,” says the updated document.

Importantly, favoriting something is not the sole decider in whether the new tweet shows up on your timeline.

TIME could not immediately confirm with Twitter what, exactly, qualifies a tweet as “popular or relevant,” but it seems to involve how many retweets and favorites something gets–meaning that the once relatively impotent little star next to a tweet has just been given new–if rather ambiguous–life.

TIME Internet

Think Tank Says It’s Sorry for Telling Amnesty International to “Suck It” on Twitter

An intern wrote it

In response to the ongoing chaos in Ferguson, Mo., Amnesty International posted on Twitter that the United States “can’t tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won’t clean up its own human rights record.”

Well, in response to that tweet, the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Amnesty, and we quote, to “suck it.”

Behold:

CSIS’s original tweet was deleted shortly thereafter, but not before some screenshots were snapped. Turns out it was a classic case of somebody thinking they’re logged into their personal account and really being logged in as their brand. (If you’ve ever handled social media for anyone other than yourself, this is probably your worst nightmare.)

“It was sent by a CSIS intern who had access to our account for monitoring purposes,” Andrew Schwartz, senior vice president for external relations at CSIS, told Talking Points Memo. “Apparently he meant to send something reflecting his personal views from his personal Twitter account.”

Soon, the think tank sent out an apology tweet:

Well, technically it’s this intern’s human right to tell people to suck it, so maybe we should cut him some slack.

TIME Executives

Rupert Murdoch Is getting Hammered for This Tweet

Business Leaders Gather For B20 Summit In Sydney
Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman News Corporation looks on during a panel discussion at the B20 meeting of company CEO's on July 17, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Pool—Getty Images

Media mogul says Google is worse than the NSA when it comes to privacy

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Tom Huddleston, Jr.

Twitter users have spent the past day or so letting Rupert Murdoch know that a billionaire media mogul who has been forced to shutter a newspaper over a phone-hacking scandal might not be an appropriate moral authority when it comes to privacy issues.

Murdoch’s Twitter feed is often full of one-off pieces of commentary on people and events in the news, but the CEO of News Corp and 21st Century Fox lighted upon a fairly touchy subject on Sunday when he fired off the following tweet:

Twitter users quickly took to the social media platform to accuse Murdoch of hypocrisy in criticizing another company’s policies regarding privacy after his former newspaper, the News of the World, endured a phone-hacking scandal that landed more than one editor in prison over the past decade. Several of the replies to Murdoch’s tweet yesterday included some variation on the words “irony” and “hypocrite,” along with references to the News of the World scandal.

Several other users replied by pointing out the trouble with Murdoch’s comparison of the NSA and Google, namely that Google has publicly admitted that it scans users emails to be used in targeted ads, while the NSA has denied charges of domestic spying. Not every Internet user may be thrilled with Google’s practices, but they are still able to choose whether or not to use the company’s products.

TIME

The Difference Between ALS and Ferguson Is That One Ill Can Be Cured

Tampa Bay Rays' David DeJesus gets a bucket of ice dumped on his head from video coordinator Chris Fernandez as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge before a baseball game against the New York Yankees on Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tampa Bay Rays' David DeJesus gets a bucket of ice dumped on his head from video coordinator Chris Fernandez as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge before a baseball game against the New York Yankees on Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Chris O'Meara—AP

The road that led America to Michael Brown's killing could be fixed--if only we acknowledged its miserable logic

Over the last week and a half, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Ferguson, Missouri protests have spread over social media almost simultaneously, yet entirely discretely: twinned channels of wildfire blazing through quadrants of your attention that barely touch. The Ice Bucket videos took off around July 29; Michael Brown was shot on August 9.

The ALS challenge seeks to raise awareness and money for Lou Gehrig’s disease, a death sentence for the approximately 30,000 Americans who are at any given time afflicted. News of the Ferguson protests spreads in the interest of highlighting the brutal, unjust degree to which the state may still protect a white man who kills an unarmed black man.

In both instances, social media serves as an essential channel. It is the way we talk to each other now.

This is purely anecdotal, but try it on for size: the ALS challenge is almost entirely confined to Facebook, the Ferguson protests to Twitter. Furthermore, there appears to be an extraordinarily small overlap in terms of people who are seriously interested in both.

I don’t believe in zero-sum games and I don’t write this to imply that neurodegenerative disease and human rights abuse have been put in direct conflict. Rather, I’m fascinated with what appears to be the opposite. The contemporaneity of these waves in social communication have revealed these ills — as well as the advocates for their solutions — to not just be non-conflicting but also emblematic of two separate paths of identifying and addressing unfairness, two roads that are inherently miles and miles apart.

Ferguson, unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge, is an opt-in situation, and the demographic division between those who have chosen to get involved in one or the other cause is startling. Tibetan monks on the one hand, Mark Zuckerberg on the other; Amnesty International in Missouri, the Kennedys in Hyannis Port. Maybe for your own social networks the divide is starkly blue and red; it is, very much, for me.

The world is flooded with injustice in two rough forms: random and systematic. The less privileged experience both kinds as a matter of breathing, but the privileged experience mostly one.

Conversely, those who have experienced significant structural gaps in their advantage understand that our country reserves its right to deliver justice. Michael Brown was shot six times from a distance, once through the top of his skull; by any accident of birth and looks and circumstance, he could have been me or you.

There is a Mary Oliver poem called “The Summer Day”: I don’t know exactly what a prayer is/ I do know how to pay attention.

Ice Bucket videos have raised more than $13 million for the ALS Association in just the last month. The presuppositions behind this good work are clear and palatable and apolitical: here is an ill that comes at random; here are 30,000 people suffering who didn’t do anything wrong; here is a death that could be prevented; here is my face and my dollar trying earnestly to help.

No matter the cause or the victim, it seems an excellent use of social media to draw people’s attention to the bone-grinding hideousness of having someone’s life taken away right in front of you, and there being nothing you can do to stop it except to show people, over and over — this happens, this keeps happening, let’s make it stop.

And yet the capricious visitation of deadly disease exists side by side with an entire American history of killing black people and stealing from them and getting away with it — a terror that, unlike disease, is miserably logical in terms of its victims and could be fixed by a path that is right in front of us: having people in power, from patrol cop to supervisor to governor to president, advocate for systematic justice or racial reparation or even honest admission of the homegrown genocide we’ve been stuck with for centuries.

For both social media movements, sharing implies responsibility. We are complicit, by our inaction, in the lack of a working cure. But the tacit acknowledgment that there is blame to be shared and apportioned in Ferguson cuts much deeper and stops right at a telling, crucial boundary. We can’t call our friends to action on a target that remains simultaneously the plainest and most disputed evil in America, a target that many people refuse to believe exists. We’re not tagging three friends in each picture we see of a black woman whose “looter” friends broke into McDonalds to pour milk on her tear-gassed face. We’re not indicting our aunts and nephews and forcing them to acknowledge the millions of lives lost to racist policing.

It would be gauche to “challenge” our friends to deal with police-sanctioned murder, particularly when so many of our “friends” may believe what many cops have believed before us: that black bodies insinuate a crime.

And all of this makes sense. There are different devils behind these two ways a man can die in America. ALS is the devil that leaves us blameless, and Ferguson is the devil that is us, the one we dance with every day. In both cases we bow down and get shot in the skull regardless, but one road to deliverance has been open for 150 years.

Still, to which challenge did President Obama respond more quickly? The sickness in Ferguson is curable, will last.

Jia Tolentino is a former editor of the Hairpin whose work has also appeared in The New York Times.

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