Supercreator Daily: Big tech finally takes on women’s online abuse
Plus: It’s a glorious day for college athletes and my new go-to work tool for staying focused and inspired.
⇢ Big tech finally takes on women’s online abuse: Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok signed a pledge to redesign their moderation systems to better support women who experience abuse on their apps. According to Alex Hern at The Guardian, the initiative will focus on two opportunities: Offering women increased controls to who can reply, comment on and engage with their posts, and improving the systems available to women for flagging online abuse.
This includes enabling people to block individuals from replying to their posts without completely blocking them, along with other granular settings to curate your own safety. The companies also committed to enhanced tools to limit the sharing of specific posts.
They’ll also use “more simple and accessible language throughout the user experience” to proactively reduce the amount of online abuse women see on the apps and make it easier for people to track and manage reports after they’ve been made and point out language that may alter how a piece of content is interpreted.
The pledge, which was announced during a global forum for gender equality convened by UN Women in Paris, is led by the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF).
It serves as an acknowledgment from tech companies that their apps have been insufficient in creating a safe space for all women to express themselves and do their work without violence and harassment.
Online violence against girls and women is a global crisis.
In a survey conducted last year by Plan International, a development and humanitarian organization based in Spain and works in 71 countries across the world, 58 percent of worldwide respondents said they experienced internet abuse.
Of the girls and women surveyed, the most common types of online harm were abusive and insulting language, deliberate embarrassment, body shaming and threats of sexual violence.
Almost half of the girls who identified as LGBTQ+ online said they experienced harassment due to their sexual or gender identity. 60 percent of girls who identified as an ethnic minority said they had been specifically targeted because of their race or ethnicity.
It’s probably no surprise that most of these attacks occurred on Facebook and Instagram and Whatsapp, all three of which are owned by the Facebook company.
Next up were Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok. 44 percent of the girls and young women who were surveyed by Plan International said tech companies needed to do more to protect them.
And they’re right. Because the aim of violence and abuse, as Amnesty International noted in 2018, is to create a hostile online environment for girls and women with the goal of shaming, intimidating, degrading, belittling or silencing them.
This affects all of us. The internet is worse off for every girl or woman who decides against running for office, starting a business to make and sell her creative work or sharing her experiences so we feel less alone.
So this pledge is progress, never mind how long overdue. And I’ll be watching them closely so we can hold them accountable to these commitments.
⇢ SCOTUS hits democracy with a nasty one-two gut punch: The Supreme Court released its remaining opinions from the current term and — Osh Kosh B’Gosh — were they a gut punch to the future of democracy.
Let’s begin with a 6–3 decision by the conservative justices that upheld two voting restrictions in Arizona. The first required election officials to discard ballots cast in the wrong precinct. And the second criminalized campaign workers, activists and anyone else who collected ballots for delivery to polling places, a practice voter suppressors call “ballot harvesting.” If you were unfamiliar with the practice, you’d think the practice was worse than it was — and that’s the entire point. (The law does make exceptions for family members, caregivers and election officials.)
The decision effectively ravages what’s left of the Voting Rights Act, specifically Section 2, which applies to voting restrictions that have an unequal effect on minority groups. (Another Supreme Court decision in 2013 wiped out Section 5, a provision of the VRA that required jurisdictions with a history of race-based voter discrimination to “preclear” changes to their election rules with the federal government before implementing them.) In his opinion for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that courts should only strike down voting restrictions when they impose substantial barriers on minority voters that effectively block their right to vote. We’ll probably find out soon if this standard applies to the hundreds of anti-voter laws making their way through state legislatures as I type. But if this decision is any indication, we shouldn’t hold our breath.
In a statement issued by the White House, President Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” in the decision. “Our democracy depends on an election system build on integrity and independence. The attack we are seeing today makes clearer than ever that additional laws are needed to safeguard that beating heart of our democracy,” he said. “This is our life’s work and the work of all of us. Democracy is on the line. We can do this together.”
You’re likely to see Democrats and civil rights groups (and this newsletter, tbh) double down on calls for Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and expand voting protections. A few more votes in the House and Senate would invigorate this possibility, something to keep in mind as the campaigns kick into high gear ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
In the second decision — another 6–3 ruling, with the liberals in dissent, the court ruled that California may not require charities soliciting contributions in the state to report the identities of their major donors. The challengers of the requirement said subjecting donors to possible harassment violated the freedom of association protected under the First Amendment. But in her dissent, covered by Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog, Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that the court usually “requires that plaintiffs demonstrate an actual First Amendment burden before demanding that a law be narrowly tailored.” She added that the ruling “marks reporting and disclosure requirements with a bull’s-eye,” which could have an effect beyond the nonprofit and charitable organization, including campaign contributions.
⇢ The US’s top public health spokesperson: you’re “in trouble” if you’re unvaccinated: Over a quarter of the new COVID-19 cases in the US are made up of the Delta variant, which means it could be the dominant strain here at home. That’s bad news for those who haven’t been vaccinated, according to Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. “The good news is that if you’re fully vaccinated, then there is good evidence that you have a high degree of protection against the virus,” Murthy said. “But if you’re not vaccinated then you are in trouble. [Delta] is a serious threat and we’re seeing it spread among unvaccinated people.”
In related news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people are “safe” from the current variants and can skip wearing masks. This fully vaccinated person will continue to wear his mask though.
New data on the vaccination gap: Around two-thirds of workers say their employer encourages staff to get vaccinated, but only half of those employers offer their workforce paid time off for the shots and to recover from the dreadful side effects. (Read the survey.) But PTO seems to be a meaningful incentive. Nearly three in four workers whose employers either encouraged vaccination or offered paid time off said they had gotten at least one shot.
Congress explores solutions to vaccine hesitancy: Earlier today a House subcommittee on the coronavirus held a hearing on combating the hesitancy towards the shots. Witnesses were invited to share perspectives, insights and recommendations on addressing vaccine hesitancy in diverse audiences. (Watch the hearing.)
Meanwhile at the White House: The Biden administration is discussing how to apply the lessons they’ve learned from the pandemic to prepare for the next one, including making sure existing COVID-19 tests are capable of diagnosing emerging strains and that we have enough capacity to detect and quash any outbreaks.
⇢ Big day for college athletes: The NCAA will no longer punish athletes for earning money based on their name, image and likeness, as laws in several states across the country now allow athletes to earn money through sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances. They can also hire agents to broker these deals too. Let’s sprinkle some of this worker-focused energy across other exploitative industries while we’re it, right?
From NCAA President Mark Emmert: “[This marks an important day for student-athletes to] take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities. With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level. The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”
From Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut: “The Supreme Court’s decision last week, the panoply of state laws about to take effect, and the powerful grassroots coalition of athletes are all pointing in one direction: it’s time for Congress to act. We need a bill that includes the provisions previously laid out in the College Athletes Bill of Rights. Athletes deserve enforceable health and safety standards, robust educational opportunities, and yes, fair compensation and full rights to their Name, Image, and Likeness.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your go-to guide to the latest at the intersection of politics and creativity so you can take action and make real change. I’m Michael, writing to you from New York City. Thank you for spending part of your evening with me. Reach out with news, tips and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bymichaeljones. If someone forwarded you this email, sign up to get Supercreator Daily sent straight to your inbox.
It’s Thursday, July 1. I’m Michael, writing to you from New York City. Quick programming note: Supercreator Daily will not publish on Monday, July 5 due to Independence Day observed. I’ll return to your inbox on Tuesday, July 6. Here’s everything else you need to know this evening.
⇢ The prospect of police reform anytime soon looks bleak: There’s a rift between the police unions that are closely involved in the negotiations. And Sen. Booker, one of the lead negotiators on a bipartisan proposal said “time is running out.”
Booker added: “This Congress is moving very quickly,” he said. “There's a crowded agenda on the Senate floor and if we don't do something soon, we will lose a historic moment where we really should rise (to) the moment and make the reforms necessary.”
That would be a shame if that’s the case.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, House Majority Whip and third-ranking Democrat, has stepped in to save the negotiations, according to this excellent scoop by The Grio’s April Ryan.
⇢ Lots of news on the social apps:
Pinterest will no longer accept ads that promote weight loss, including any language and imagery that encourages weight loss, promotes weight loss products, idealizes certain body types, or references the BMI
⇢ Remember Miya Ponsetto? I called her the “worst kind of person of color” in January after she wrongly accused a Black teen of taking her phone before assaulting him at a New York City hotel late last year. Well, Miss Thing is being charged with a hate crime for her (allegedly) criminal shenanigans.
⇢ In case you missed it:
President and First Lady Biden traveled to Florida today to thank the search and rescue teams and comfort the families affected by the Surfside condominium collapse last week. [@POTUSSchedBot / Twitter]
The president also signed a proclamation to mark 50 years since the 26th Amendment was passed, which lowered the legal voting age from 21 to 18. [The White House]
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the eight members of the select committee — including Republican Rep. Liz Cheney — appointed to investigate the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. [Newsroom / Speaker of the House]
The National Hurricane Center issued a warning to several Caribbean islands for Tropical Storm Elsa, the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. [Daniel Victor / The New York Times]
Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was finally offered tenure from the University of North Carolina, weeks after a white UNC graduate and donor attempted to block the move due to his discomfort with the 1619 Project. [Kate Murphy and Martha Quillin / News Observer]
Britney Spears’ judge denied the removal of her father from her conservatorship. :( [Elizabeth Wagmeister / Variety]
The State Department announced that Americans will be allowed to assert their self-identified gender on their US passports without providing medical documentation. [Lara Jakes / NYT]
Meghan McCain is leaving The View at the end of the month after four seasons. [@TheView / Twitter]
⇢ Read All About It
Michelle Ruiz at Vogue on Serena Williams:
Williams is exceptional. In so many ways, she is unlike me or any mere normie, but her quest makes her feel—in my perhaps delusional, projecting mind—like she is all of us: Every mother striving to come back to work, to not lose her place in the industry, to be as great at her job as she ever was before her brain and body began momming. Returning from maternity leave is universally difficult, but so many common struggles have been magnified in Williams’s case. First, she recovered from a C-section delivery and blood clots on her lungs—a complication that she had to press doctors into discovering, a potent reminder of the Black maternal-health crisis. Then she had surgery to repair the opening of her C-section scar, which revealed a hematoma in her abdomen. Later, she was advised that breastfeeding was keeping her from losing weight deemed crucial to regain her speed and on-court prowess. As soon as she was able, Williams launched into grueling daily training sessions to return to form, but like many moms, she grappled with leaving her baby. When it comes to winning Grand Slams, “training has to be her number one priority,” her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, say in the Being Serena trailer, just as baby Olympia crawls across the camera shot.
Laura Weiss at The New Republic on who gets left behind as we “return to normal”:
I’m a Covid long-hauler. Though my presumed Covid case in March 2020 was mild, I’ve had postviral symptoms for 15 months now, including Covid toes, leg cramps, tingling skin, and fatigue, which has required juggling multiple medications and their side effects and doctor’s appointments with a spate of specialists who can’t explain what’s wrong.
There are many of us: Up to 30 percent of Americans who have contracted Covid-19 still suffer from symptoms months later.“There is very concretely a group of patients whose lives are dramatically changed,” said David Lee, an E.R. doctor and researcher at NYU Langone Health medical center studying acute and long Covid.
All this talk of “normal” also makes me nervous. Now that I’m vaccinated, I feel safe taking public transportation, but subway stairs make my legs hurt, so I take the bus more often. Though my stamina is slowly improving, I can’t walk more than about a mile. On laundry day, my three-floor walk-up becomes harrowing. As our social lives ramp up again, I fear having to leave events early or say no altogether.
Adam Mahoney at Mother Jones on how the worsening racial segregation is killing Americans:
Picture this: two babies born on the same day, maybe even within the same hour, at the Harlem Hospital Center in New York City. One baby, born to a Black mother, goes home to her family down the street in East Harlem. The second is taken home just a few blocks south to the Upper East Side by her white mother.
Fast forward to these babies’ adulthoods, and they’ve stayed close to the people and places they’ve grown to love—but their ability to access things like fresh food, quality pharmacies, well-resourced schools, clean water, and even something as simple as the trees that shade their blocks are drastically different. The way their communities are policed and incarcerated is substantially different, too. As a result, the two people are expected to die roughly 19 years apart, despite living just a few blocks from one another.
Takenya Nixon Brail at Teen Vogue on why rising crime in cities like Chicago should not lead to more policing:
As a public defender, a tax-paying Chicagoan, as a Black woman who is a survivor of crime and of police violence, who lives in an over-policed neighborhood afflicted by violence, I care deeply about public health and safety and making the right kind of investments to achieve those goals. Here is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: Policing makes communities less safe and less healthy. Policing makes my community less safe and less healthy. Not only does policing fail to prevent violent crime, it creates conditions that allow for even more violence.
Carlos Aguilar at Vox on who gets to be a critic:
The internet has democratized the sharing of opinions on any given cultural work. Virtually anyone can express their perspectives on art via Twitter, Letterboxd, Medium, Substack, their own website, or any number of other forums. The question now isn’t so much who gets to be a critic, but rather which critics among a roaring choir of ideas will have an impact on the larger cultural conversation.
Vanessa Friedman, Elizabeth Paton and Jessica Testa at The New York Times on the new guard of fashion editors:
The changes in leadership of the world’s most famous fashion magazines were prompted by a consolidation of content in titles across the globe, spurring the departure (voluntary or forced) of a swath of their most celebrated editors. And though it seemed like a case of the night — or season — of the long knives at Vogue’s owner, Condé Nast, it was in fact more like the final paroxysm of a transformation that has been taking place for a long time and that permeates the entire glossy universe.
The mold of the imperial editor, established in the early part of the 20th century when Edna Woolman Chase of American Vogue and Carmel Snow of Harper’s Bazaar first claimed their fiefs, has been broken, probably irrevocably. It has disappeared with the Town Cars and, perhaps, the dodo. The last example standing is also the most famous of them all: Anna Wintour, now as global chief content officer of Condé Nast, ironically presiding over the decimation of the job she defines.
The new guard of editors (many chosen by Ms. Wintour) is younger and less familiar, but significantly more diverse, possessed of a very different aura and set of priorities.
⇢ Michael’s Pick: Momentum Dash ($0)
This is my new go-to work tool for daily inspo, focusing my work, tracking my to-do list and bookmarking my top news sources. Highly recommended.