Queen of the State of Origin meme

As far as disastrous PR opportunities go, politicians pretending to be sports fans is right up the top of the list. From John Howard’s abysmal attempt to bowl a cricket ball to, well, Kevin Rudd’s equally abysmal effort, we have a long and YouTubeable history of politicians dropping the ball – literally.

But none have been quite as bizarre as the tweet offered up by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week, ahead of the State of Origin game between NSW and Queensland.

Posted a casual four hours before kick-off, the image is both baffling and brilliant. Here we see a beanie-clad Gladys frozen rigidly in what appears to be a blacked-out hotel room. At least, we assume it is her, but really that back could belong to anyone.

The Premier is clutching a can of Coke No Sugar – the drink of choice for footy fans – and staring in the direction of a tiny television that is, annoyingly, out of frame. Given the composition and breathlessness of the photo, you get the feeling someone off-camera may be holding a gun.

The tweet was posted at 4pm with the caption: “Getting ready for Game 1”, but the State of Origin didn’t kick off until 8pm. So taking Gladys at her word (and why wouldn’t we?), we are to assume she was so geed up for the big dance she shuffled into position four hours early. With just one can of Coke.

Undoubtedly this hastily prepared social media post was the work of a (presumably) ex-staffer. Fire the tweet off, and let’s move on, shall we? Unfortunately, the internet is less forgiving, and almost as soon as Gladys bungled her way onto the bandwagon, the memes did flow.

They say it’s the people closest to you who hurt you the most, which is probably how Gladys felt when Deputy Premier John Barilaro stuck the boot in early.

Gladys Watching Things looks set to become a legendary meme series in its own right, with Twitter users wasting no time inserting SportsFan Gladys into a series of different scenarios.

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‘Spring Edition’: Bernie Sanders Meme Sequel Hypes Twitter Up


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During the 20 January inauguration of Joe Biden, it was not the newly-sworn president or the performances by world-famous artists that stole the show on social media – it was instead one picture of Senator Bernie Sanders wearing mittens, looking ruffled, wintry and radiating “this could’ve been an e-mail” energy, sitting outside in a chair.

A new version of the Bernie Sanders meme, dubbed online as “spring edition”, emerged in Twitter, with netizens enjoying a new wave of jokes about the Senator’s new signature photo.

Stemming from the January picture that immediately went viral and even made it into merch shops, the new photo shows Sanders similarly sitting in a chair, arms folded, face mask on – but one detail seems to be missing as he no longer wears the mittens that particularly stole netizens’ hearts back in the winter.

“That means an early spring!”, one user explained.

​Others seemed to have their dedication secured for the initial meme version, where Sanders was seen curled up in a chair wearing the now famous mittens and looking like the inauguration of Joe Biden was definitely not the last – and certainly not the most exciting – thing he had to do that day.

​Some said they were eager for the summertime version of the meme.

​After his January mittens photo went viral and gained fame worldwide, Sanders used the increase in popularity to raise money for charity, selling T-shirts with the picture and noting that the income would go to “programs like Meals on Wheels that feed low-income senior citizens.”

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School’s out – Will Roblox’s thriving virtual economy make it the next meme stock? | Business

Investors rush to get a slice of a firm whose games children love

ONE PORTENT of a meme stock being born is when the company gets a pseudo-ticker on WallStreetBets, an online forum on Reddit. Roblox, an American video-game platform, has earned the tag $SEARS. Redditors aren’t mixing it up with a stodgy old department store. Roblox’s digital currency, Robux, sounds like Roebuck, of Sears Roebuck fame. Get it?

Roblox ticks other meme-stock boxes, too. The kids are into it, just as they were into GameStop, an ailing bricks-and-mortar gaming retailer whose share price soared earlier this year. Unlike GameStop, though, Roblox is all the rage with venture capitalists, Wall Street bankers and other supposedly hard-headed investors. The firm’s private valuation soared from $4bn at the start of last year to $29.5bn in January, when it raised $520m. It is so flush with cash that it has decided to go public via a direct listing, without drumming up fresh capital. As its shares debut on the New York Stock Exchange on March 10th its market value could rise further.

Roblox provides sophisticated software tools to young, amateur developers. Those creators—Roblox has 8m of them—produce multiplayer games for other youngsters. The company makes money by issuing Robux, which players buy with real dollars and spend on extras such as avatar outfits and accessories. It keeps some of the revenue but forks as much as 70% over to the developers in the hope of incentivising more and better content.

This, it hopes, will attract more players in need of more Robux. In 2020 Roblox’s developer community collectively earned $329m; 300 individuals brought in $100,000 or more. The approach has fostered loyalty among developers. Creators like Alex Balfanz, a student who made millions and paid his college fees with “Jailbreak”, a hit game, plans to create for Roblox for a decade or more.

Use of Roblox soared after covid-19 cancelled school and real-world playdates everywhere. The site now boasts 20m gaming “experiences” that draw 37m daily active users globally. Three in four American children aged 9-12 are on the platform, as is one in two British ten-year-olds. In Roblox’s last fiscal year users bought and spent $1.9bn worth of the currency.

Once the school gates open, as Roblox has warned, its rate of growth is likely to slow. By how much is anyone’s bet. Not that this will bother investors. Professionals like its growth story. Day-traders may like the meme-ness. Neither is much bothered about the company’s net losses, which swelled to $195m in the nine months to September 2020 as it invests in expansion. As a result, Bernstein, a broker, reckons that Roblox shares could fetch anywhere between $30 and $120 apiece when they start trading.

Long-term success will depend on attracting an older audience. Roblox has already penetrated the 8-15 age range. “Ageing up” is a priority for Roblox’s co-founder and boss, David Baszucki. So is lifting the quality of games. Roblox’s exciting game play has pulled in a massive audience but even ten-year-olds can tell that visual realism of many games is not up to the standard of professional studios. Still, Mr Balfanz argues that it will take just one big hit for Roblox to get traction with 20-somethings quickly.

Roblox holds interest for techies as well as investors. They want to see if the firm really is, as Mr Baszucki describes it, a shepherd for the “metaverse”, the idea of a persistent virtual world in which people meet, experience things together, make money and more. Futurists and techies have speculated about this possibility for years. The Roblox economy and its virtual music concerts, like one with Lil Nas X, a rapper, in November, could be a start. The firm may look like child’s play, says Herman Narula, co-founder of Improbable, a virtual-worlds company, but platforms like it may soon become “the primary way that many of us earn a living”. Perhaps. For the time being, it is likely to make tidy sums for its financial backers. ■

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GameStop up for fifth day as meme stocks recover

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Shares of GameStop jumped for the fifth day running on Tuesday, as news on the video retailer’s e-commerce strategy and speculation that small investors will pour stimulus checks into markets showed signs of reheating January’s “meme” stocks boom.

GameStop shares were up 15.1% to $223.70 premarket, a day after the company tasked Chewy co-founder Ryan Cohen — a major GameStop shareholder and board member — with spearheading the company’s online sales efforts.

The latest rally follows wild gyrations in the share price since January, when it was at the heart of a social media-driven surge in a number of stocks that squeezed some hedge fund investors.

Shares in the company are still far below January peaks of more than $480 a share but the recovery may reduce losses for more of the investors who lost money on the stock’s subsequent collapse.

In Frankfurt, GameStop was trading about 24% higher and were the second-most traded stock on trading platform Lang & Swartz after Siemens AG.

As of its last close, investors in GameStop’s U.S.-listed stock have seen the value of their holdings surge more than 10 times compared to the start of the year. (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru and Danilo Masoni in Milan; editing by Patrick Graham)

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Montanna Geyer: Mark Geyer’s daughter awarded payout after suing meme page, Fouad Ghosn over sex claims

NRL legend Mark Geyer’s daughter has been awarded $125,000 in damages after a rugby league meme page wrongly named her as being the woman in Tyrone May’s infamous sex tape.

Montanna Geyer had sued Fouad Ghosn, the man accused of publishing the posts on NRL Memes and NRL Quality Memes on March 4, 2019, claiming she was the “bird in the Tyrone May video”.

Judge Judith Gibson awarded the substantial sum to Ms Geyer on Wednesday after a week-long trial in November, saying the post’s claims were not only hurtful but a “figment of the defendant’s imagination”.

Ms Geyer’s payout could increase when the matter returns to court on December 18 for a costs hearing.

NRL legend Mark Geyer (left) said his daughter Montana Geyer (centre) was devastated by the posts. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel CarrettSource: News Corp Australia

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Meme page sex claim defamed NRL great’s daughter, jury finds

A jury has ruled NRL great Mark Geyer’s daughter was defamed by a Facebook meme that wrongly identified her at the centre of a rugby league sex scandal.

Montanna Geyer had sued the man she claimed published two memes – posted on NRL Memes and NRL Quality Memes respectively – on March 4, 2019, that named her as the woman shown in Panthers star Tyrone May’s infamous sex tape.

“The bird in the Tyrone May video is Mark Geyer’s daughter. Happy days at Penrith,” one of the memes read. “This is getting spicy,” said the caption, complete with a flame emoji and photo of Ms Geyer above a screenshot from the sex tape.

Fouad Ghosn, the western Sydney man accused of owning the offending pages, denied posting the material and claimed in court he had never used social media in his life.

After a week-long defamation trial before the District Court, a four-man jury found against him in the case of NRL Memes.

However, it ruled in his favour in regards to the almost identical NRL Quality Memes post.

Ms Geyer told the court on Tuesday the posts left her feeling “completely broken” and paranoid about leaving the house.

The jury ruled she was defamed on six grounds, including that she was intimately involved in Mr May’s sex scandal, that she was the woman in the video and that she was an “indecent and lewd person” who allowed Mr May to film her during sex for the purpose of sharing with others.

Ms Geyer is seeking damages over the saga.

In his closing address, Mr Ghosn’s barrister Jonathan Cohen told the jury there was a “concerted campaign” to make it appear his client was behind the posts for reasons he could not explain.

“We don’t really know why … somebody would want to link the defendant to these particular memes,” he said.

Mr Cohen said it was a “mystery” how a photo of Ms Geyer’s statement of claim came to be posted by NRL Memes after it was hand-delivered to Mr Ghosn’s house on May 23, 2019. “Clearly someone got their hands on it,” he said.

He said Ms Geyer’s lawyers had not proven his client had anything to do with the meme pages and went as far as to call screenshots of NRL Memes posts tendered as evidence in court “highly suspicious”.

That drew a rebuke from Judge Judith Gibson who told the jury that the documents should be presumed as genuine, as the court had robust tests in place and their authenticity was not challenged during the trial.

Roger Rasmussen, Ms Geyer’s barrister, said Mr Cohen’s claim was “deliberately intended to hide the defendant’s involvement in this case because he knows he published a statement of claim on that website … and he cannot explain it.”

Mr Ghosn was also unable to explain under cross-examination why a photo of 2GB’s Ray Hadley – complete with a disparaging caption – appeared on the page soon after Mr Hadley had “outed” him as the NRL Memes page owner on the radio.

On Thursday Mr Rasmussen repeatedly asked Mr Ghosn, 24, if he was “lying” in his evidence about never having used social media.

The journalism graduate denied that accusation and told the court he didn’t use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram because he did not “believe in it”.

Mr Rasmussen said in his closing address that claim was “beggaring belief”, and Mr Ghosn’s assertion a since-deleted Facebook profile bearing his name and photo was not his should not be trusted.

“It is more than the balance of probabilities that Mr Ghosn published both of those memes,” he said.

“As you heard from every single witness, everybody at that time was talking about the Tyrone May sex scandal and the videos.”

Everyone also knew his client was Mr Geyer’s daughter, Mr Rasmussen told the jury.

The matter will return to court next Friday, November 20, for a damages hearing.

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Montanna Geyer: Meme page sex claim defamed NRL great’s daughter, jury finds

A jury has ruled NRL great Mark Geyer’s daughter was defamed by Facebook memes that wrongly identified her at the centre of a rugby league sex scandal.

Montanna Geyer had sued the man she claimed published two memes – posted on NRL Memes and NRL Quality Memes respectively – on March 4, 2019, which named her as the woman shown in Panthers star Tyrone May’s infamous sex tape.

“The bird in the Tyrone May video is Mark Geyer’s daughter. Happy days at Penrith,” one of the memes read. “This is getting spicy,” said the caption, complete with a flame emoji.

Fouad Ghosn, the western Sydney man accused of owning the offending pages, denied posting the material and claimed in court he had never used social media in his life.

After a week-long defamation trial before the District Court, a four-man jury found against him in the case of NRL Memes.

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Content Moderation Case Study: Using Fact Checkers To Create A Misogynist Meme (2019)

from the content-moderation-inception dept

Summary: Many social media sites include fact checkers in order to either block or at least highlight information that is determined to be false or misleading. However, in some ways, that alone can create a content moderation challenge.

Alan Kyle, a privacy and policy analyst, noticed this in late 2019 when he came across a meme picture on Instagram from a meme account called “memealpyro” showing what appeared to be a great white shark leaping majestically out of the ocean. When he spotted the image, it had been blurred, with a notice that it had been deemed to be “false information” after being “reviewed by independent fact checkers.” When he clicked through to unblur the image, next to the image there was a small line of text saying “women are funny.” And beneath that the fact checking flag: “See why fact checkers say this is false.”

The implication of someone coming across this image with this fact check is that the fact check is on the statement, leading to the ridiculous/misogynistic conclusion that women are not funny and that an independent fact checking organization had to flag a meme image suggesting otherwise.

As Kyle discusses, however, this seemed to be an attempt to rely on fact checkers checking one part of the content, in order to create the misogynistic meme. Others had been using the same image — which was computer generated and not an actual photo — and claiming that it was National Geographic’s “Picture of the Year.” This belief was so widespread that National Geographic had to debunk the claim (though it did so by releasing other, quite real, images of sharks to appease those looking for cool shark images).

The issue, then, was that fact checkers had been trained to debunk the use of the photo, on the assumption it was being posted with the false claim that it was National Geographic’s “Photo of the Year,” and Instagram’s system didn’t seem to expect that other, different claims might be appended to the same image. When Kyle clicked through to see the explanation, it was only about the “Picture of the Year” claim (which was not made on this image), and (obviously) not on the statement about women.

Kyle’s hypothesis is that Instagram’s algorithms were trained to flag the picture as false, and then possibly send the flagged image to a human reviewer — who may have just missed that the text associated with this image was unrelated to the text for the fact check.

Decisions to be made by Instagram:

  • If the caption and a picture need to be combined to be designated as false information, how should Instagram fact checkers handle cases where that information is separated?
  • How should fact checkers handle mixed media content, in which text and graphics or video may be deliberately unrelated?
  • Should automated tools be used to flag viral false information in a way that might be gamed?
  • How much human review should be used for algorithmically flagged “false” information?

Questions and policy implications to consider:

  • When there is an automated fact checking flagging algorithm, how will users with malicious intent try to game the system, as in the above example?
  • Is fact checking the right approach to “meme’d” information that is misleading, but not in a meaningful way?
  • Would requiring fact checking across social media lead to more “gaming” of the system as in the case above?

Resolution: As Kyle himself concludes, situations like this are somewhat inevitable, as the setup of content moderation works against those trying to accurately deal with content such as the piece described above:

There are many factors working against the moderator making the right decision. Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) outsources several thousand workers to sift through flagged content, much of it horrific. Workers, who moderate hundreds of posts per day, have little time to decide a post’s fate in light of frequently changing internal policies. On top of that, much of these outsourced workers are based in places like the Philippines and India, where they are less aware of the cultural context of what they are moderating.

The Instagram moderator may not have understood that it’s the image of the shark in connection to the claim that it won a NatGeo award that deserves the false information label.

The challenges of content moderation at scale are well documented, and this shark tale joins countless others in a sea of content moderation mishaps. Indeed, this case study reflects Instagram’s own challenged content moderation model: to move fast and moderate things. Even if it means moderating the wrong things.

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Filed Under: content moderation, fact checking, memes
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LeBron James, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, More Than a Vote, NBA news, meme, savage response

LeBron James may actually want to visit the White House now.

Having previously rejected any notion of going while Donald Trump was in office, the basketball champion will be far more likely to accept an invitation once Joe Biden is officially sworn in as America’s new commander in chief, following his recent victory in the US election.

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A visit to the White House has been standard practice for championship-winning NBA teams for decades, but with Trump in charge of the country, players and teams often refused to go.

James and his LA Lakers teammates beat Miami in this year’s NBA Finals and it’s safe to say Biden would be a much bigger fan of the 35-year-old than his predecessor, given how often James spoke out against Trump.

Biden may also want to thank James for his activism off the court, which some believe played a crucial part in the recent election.

Unlike Australia, voting isn’t compulsory in the States. Sometimes the battle isn’t convincing people which way to vote, but just getting them to the polls in the first place.

Many can’t afford to take time off work to spend potentially hours waiting in line to cast their vote, so are discouraged from having their say.

But as reported by Yahoo Sports columnist Shalise Manza Young, athletes have gone above and beyond in spurring the Black community to vote this year, which she says “may have swung the election to President-elect Joe Biden”.

James has used his platform to advocate for social justice, and partnered with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to form the More Than A Vote campaign, which aimed to “combat systemic, racist voter suppression”.

And the campaign’s influence was undeniably noticeable in last week’s election. It has been reported the Black vote played a role in the results from some key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia — which paved the way for a Biden victory.

In Detroit, Black voter turnout was the highest it’s been in 20 years, according to the Detroit Free Press.

One Michigan local told MSNBC: “The Black vote in Detroit is higher than it’s ever been and we will determine the outcome. We’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents.”

Three-time Super Bowl champion Shannon Sharpe praised James and Georgia politician Stacey Adams for contributing to Biden’s victory.

“(LeBron James) and Stacey Abrams registered so many people to vote,” Sharpe told TMZ.

“It was him that said, ‘You know what? Open up these arenas and make them polling stations’.

“Look at what happened in Detroit, you look at what happened in Philadelphia, look at what happened in Atlanta, you look at what happened in Milwaukee … I’m sure (LeBron) had something to do with it.”

Over 40 professional sports teams made their respective arenas available as voting locations, and the impact was particularly seen in Georgia.

ESPN journalist Ramona Shelburne tweeted: “The Atlanta Hawks told me 40,000 people voted at State Farm Arena. When you look at the slim margins in Georgia and other battleground states, easy to see how much voting at NBA arenas, spurred by LeBron’s More Than A Vote mattered.

“Also, the Georgia Senate race in which WNBA players publicly endorsed Reverend Raphael Warnock over Atlanta Dream owner, Senator Kelly Loeffler and 20 other candidates, is headed to a runoff that could determine control of the Senate.”

Several WNBA players have donned “VOTE WARNOCK” shirts in the Bradenton bubble.

James was never shy about where his allegiances sat in the US presidential race. The NBA megastar wasn’t on board with Trump and on Sunday he perfectly summed up his feelings after Biden was confirmed as the 46th president of the United States.

James used one of the most famous moments in NBA Finals history to celebrate the historic moment.

— with James McKern

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Donald Trump Shares ‘Biden for Resident’ Meme

President Donald Trump shared on Twitter Tuesday a meme mocking Biden’s advanced age and apparent declining mental capacity.

The meme photo shows wheelchair-bound seniors in a nursing home, photoshopping Biden’s head on one of them.

Instead of Biden’s slogan “Biden for President,” the “P” is crossed out, reading “Biden for Resident.”

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