The Civic Beat Sundae: Oct 5 Edition


Ahhh… fall is in the air. And so is autumn love, and pastas falling in love online. We recently wrote about the #BoycottBarilla/#BoicottBarilla meme that blew up on Twitter and Facebook in response to homophobic remarks from the chairman of the  Barilla pasta group. Mr. Barilla in turn issued a response four days later. We also put together a write-up of the busy busy few months from The Civic Beat team, from Ben Valentine leading a panel at #ArtsTechSF to An Xiao Mina featured as a “Talk to Watch” on Creative Mornings.

And without further ado…

World Scoop
  •  [Iraq] The most narcissistic man on Facebook posts beautiful photos of himself. And that’s it.  We can’t tell if he’s joking or not, but it’s certainly a commentary on the old trope that social media breeds narcissism!
  • [USA] The federal government shutdown causes staffers to flood craiglist looking for love and missed connections. Stay tuned for a report this coming week on #pickuplines memes that emerged after the shutdown.
  •  [USA] What’s it like to get your photo circulated and mocked all over the web: “We all know the awful humiliation of a person laughing at you. But that feeling increases tenfold when it seems like everyone is laughing at you. Scrolling through the comments, the world imploded — and took my heart with it.” It reminds us of another piece in The Awl: “I woke up one day not long after I started “Roving Typist” to a flurry of emails, Facebook posts, text messages and missed calls. A picture of me typewriting had made it to the front page of Reddit.”
  • [Spain] “My name is Benjamin Serra, I have two bachelors and a masters degrees and I clean toilets” – this tweet & FB post made its rounds on the Spanish internet, garnering 29k+ retweets and landing Benjamin in mainstream press in La Vanguardia and The Telegraph: “His story has struck a chord in Spain where unemployment among the under-25s soared to a record 56 per cent in August and the number of Spaniards seeking work abroad has more than doubled since the start of the economic crisis five years ago.”
  • [Russia] Greenpeace uses the power of the meme to demand the release of 30 activists at sea who’ve been arrested as pirates for standing up to Russia’s Gazprom. They relied on Picbadges, a simple tool to change your profile picture with pre-determined content.
  • [Romania] 1,100 people were bitten by stray dogs in the first quarter of 2013 in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. A law is passed to euthanize stray dogs if no one adopts them after 14 days at a shelter. People from the greater EU region gather in protest by posting a “Red Card for Romania” image on their profile pictures.
  • [USA] As the healthcare exchange opens in the US, celebrities call for citizens to sign up and #getcovered.
Culture Swirl
  • [USA] Jacqui Cheng finds that teens deliberately reveal themselves to adults on social media as a cry for help – not because they don’t understand privacy settings.
  • [USA] Announcing the 5th Annual (LOLWHUT) HallowMEME Costume Party! Brooklyn will be celebrating “Five Years, A Million Memes”. Will anyone represent the Llamachicken?
  • [India] Our friend Adrianna Tan launches a crowdfunding campaign for Traveling Solo: A Modern Woman’s Guide to India: “I have been traveling alone in India for the past 8 years, clocking in over 55 trips. I’ve criss-crossed the subcontinent alone by bus, train, car, even by auto-rickshaw. My experiences won’t always be yours, but I want to share what I know and love about India with the world, especially with women.”
  • [Journalism] The Breaking News Consumer Handbook has been making the rounds on Twitter lately. Rule Number One: “In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong.”
  • [Brazil/USA] Brazilian writer Vanessa Barbara uses humor to address news of NSA surveillance of Brazilian citizens: “It has become something of a joke among my friends in Brazil to, whenever you write a personal e-mail, include a few polite lines addressed to the agents of the N.S.A., wishing them a good day or a Happy Thanksgiving. Sometimes I’ll add a few extra explanations and footnotes about the contents of the message, summarizing it and clarifying some of the Portuguese words that could be difficult to translate.” Meanwhile, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef has called for an international system of governance over the internet.
  • [Global] When’s the best time to tweet or post a Facebook message? According to some studies, tweeting on weekends is best, but Facebooking on Thursdays and Fridays is more effective.
  • [MENA] Facebook reports that 28 million people daily are logging onto their site from the Middle East and North Africa.
  • [USA] Journalism analyst Josh Stearns calls for a civic layer on top of the social web: “Offline, the civic layer of our society is city and town governments, municipalities, non-profit organizations and ad-hoc groups. Their work is visible in and around the community, from maintaining roads and public parks to food drives and charity runs. There are clear ways to get involved, from attending town meetings to contributing your time or money. However, while you may follow your favorite nonprofit on Facebook or Twitter, those and other social platforms lack deep and sustained opportunities for civic engagement.”
  • [USA] How to respond to hateful tweets about the new Miss America? The New Yorker looks at the complexities: “Were Twitter to depart from its laissez-faire policy and intervene with respect to speech, on whose behalf should it do so? If the site tried to block harassment, it might wind up muting not the racists and the misogynists who express closed-minded thoughts but those so angered by the tweets that they respond with force. These responders, in effect, are attempting to police speech. Whether they fancy themselves enlightened or not, as they stoop to accusations of bigotry, stupidity, and ugliness—sometimes uttering their slurs in the deformed name of political correctness—they become the harassers.”
ConeOfCensorship Sprinkles! (just for fun)


  • A baby elephant tries to keep up with the family. You’re welcome.