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Rachel Maddow’s Best New Thing In The World Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Knowledge of Tumblr: VIDEO

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On her show last night, Rachel Maddow brought some attention to comments made by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month at the University of Minnesota that seemed to telegraph the Supreme Court's decision Monday not to take up any of the 7 petitions it was reviewing on the question of same-sex marriage bans. At the time, Ginsburg remarked that the Court would likely only step in if lower courts started contradicting each other. Otherwise, there would be "no need to rush."

In case that wasn't remarkable or notable enough, at that same Q&A at the University of Minnesota, Ginsburg also addressed her popularity on social media and, in particular, her moniker as The Notorious RBG (which gained popularity after her eviscerating dissent in the Hobby Lobby case). However, it was RBG was quick to correct her moderator who referred to the site dedicated in her honor as a "blog" when in actuality it is a Tumblr. Said Maddow, "So yes, there is a blog out there that is praising Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Notorious RBG, but if you don't know the difference between a blog and a Tumblr that's because you are not as hip and with it as 81-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

Watch Ginsburg's priceless correction, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Sex and Queer Culture: Can Ello Succeed Where Facebook Won't Go?

WellEllo

The Interplay is a special bi-weekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.

BY CHARLES PULLIAM-MOORE

Last week everyone seemed to suddenly begin pushing Ello, artist Paul Budnitz’s style-centric social media platform. Ello’s major selling points--a clean design, pseudo-exclusivity, and a lack of advertisements--made it an obvious alternative to services like Facebook or Twitter. Most of the coverage about Ello, including our own, highlighted the contrast between the service’s “come as you are” ideology and Facebook’s recent doubling down on its “real name policy.”

A vocal contingent of the drag community is protesting Facebook’s naming policies and adding some credence to the idea that Facebook just isn’t as “cool” as it used to be. That being said, one-fifth of the world’s population logs onto Facebook every month, and the site is projected to control almost 20% of U.S. mobile ad market by the end of the year. As tone-deaf as Zuckerberg and co. may have been in their policing of online identities, Facebook, contrary to popular belief, is doing just fine.

Tumblr_mvrapdFibC1qz8q0ho1_500For all of the grand proclamations of user-empowerment made in its manifesto, Ello looks a lot like the social networks that came before it, when looked at objectively. Profiles are styled in a similar fashion to Twitter’s, and Ello’s endless scrolling bears a striking resemblance to Tumblr’s primary dashboard interface.

Despite thriving on the idea of being edgy and anti-ad, a number of high-profile brands (like Sonos and Netflix) have staked out spots in Ello. Even more interesting are the questions being raised about Ello’s early venture capital funding, something seemingly at odds with it anti-establishment ethos.

And yet in spite of all that Ello is growing.

Ello doesn’t seem to have a means of determining a user’s sexual orientation, but Budnitz has said that his team has seen a particular spike in new LGBT users. According to Budnitz, Ello’s LGBT userbase is playing a “particularly helpful [role] in shaping their development going forward,” which could mean a number of different things.

In the past non-dating social networks designed with gay men in mind have tried--and generally failed--to carve out a unique space for themselves. Fab.com, the one-time wunderkind of daily deals, began in 2010 as Fabulis, a gay Facebook clone without an obvious business model. Fabulis’s decision to reinvent itself as an e-commerce hub says a lot about the viability of a “gay social network.”

So what is it, then, that Ello is doing to solidify itself as the queer-friendly anti-Facebook? Well for starters, it’s pro-porn.

Sex-positive tech journalist Violet Blue recently took to Twitter to warn her followers that an early version of Ello’s terms of service prohibited posting work-unfriendly content. Justin Gitlin, one of Ello’s lead developers quickly responded to Blue, asserting that Ello’s position on racier content was quickly evolving.

Screenshot 2014-09-29 09.14.32“We don’t have a problem with porn at all,” Ello creator Paul Budnitz clarified to BetaBeat “But we would have a problem with (adult content) that encourages people to hurt each other, or anything that has to do with children.”

As timely as comparisons to Facebook may be, Ello would have a much better shot at becoming the social for edgy, artistic gays by borrowing from Tumblr. Though Tumblr has made a name for itself for being a lightweight, customizable blogging tool for the masses, the service owes a large part of its success to its highly active community of pornography curators.

Tumblr hosts a wide variety of mature content ranging from hardcore, animated gifsets to erotic prose and poetry. Diving into Tumblr’s depths proves not only that Rule 34 is very real, but also that vibrant, engaged non-sexually explicit communities can exist on the same platform as the raunchiest of skin flicks. Straddling that gap could be the key to Ello’s future success.

Queer Young Cowboys, a St. Louis-based micropress, specializes in smart, stylish literary raunch. QYC creator Johnny Murdoc explained that his interest in Ello went beyond seeing an opportunity to grow his brand.

Screenshot 2014-09-29 16.40.35“I know I'm getting a more authentic report from the writers and artists I follow, and not just the narratives or work that fit within guidelines,” he said. “Guidelines have never been friendly to queer creators, especially when it comes to sexual content.”

Artists working in adult spaces, Murdoc says, have worked around the limitations imposed by platforms like Facebook and Instagram, by tailoring their content to fit within acceptable parameters. But that ingenuity comes, at least in part, with a degree of creative censorship.

“There may be a post about some new thing, but they're never showing the new thing, especially with visual artists.” he described. “I know some creators who are dogged by people who report any risqué content, and that leads them to talk about their work in other venues rather than risk being shut down.”

Projects like QYC aren’t uncommon, but all too often their signal gets lost in the social media noise as a result of having to contort their messages to fit within narrowly defined standards of acceptability. How many more independent films like Travis Matthews’s I Want Your Love and In Their Room might have a chance to flourish if only their creators were given a central, social hub in which to share and spread their ideas?

Whether Ello intends to become that hub remains to be seen, but being known as the digital epicenter of risqué, avant-garde content creation certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.


Cards Against Humanity Creator Regrets Transphobic Card

Cah

Cards Against Humanity creator Max Temkin has apologized for a transphobic card previously included in earlier editions of the popular game. Cards, a game Temkin and his co-creators designed while in college, makes a point of being as politically incorrect as possible, often taking potshots at racial minorities, disabled individuals, and notable public figures

Social-3f4a4c57"We were writing jokes for ourselves and we weren't really thinking about how it would affect other people," Temkin told Fusion in an interview. "But when you have something that starts to be part of pop culture, you can't help but see how it makes people feel and feel some sense of responsibility for that."

Temkin came under fire after Tumblr user horriblewarning, a teenager who identifies as transgender, drew the transphobic card, decided to burn it, and post photos the photos to his blog.

“Somebody played that card, and somebody else was like, ‘That’s not OK.’ I decided I didn’t want it in my deck,” He said.

Tumblr, known for the ways in which content spreads through it virally and its active queer communities, has since seen the initial photoset reblogged well over 50,000 times. horriblewarning, whose first name is Jonah, has since expressed deeper thought over the photos, admitting that his initial reaction was an implicit endorsement of Cards Against Humanity’s other examples of comedic bigotry:

I was only looking at the issues which affected me personally, and I was allowing myself to find everything else funny because I wasn’t the person to whom it’s directed. I truly regret making this post, not because I’ve gotten a bit of shit for it but because I am appalled at myself that I didn’t see what I was doing.

 (top image via tumblr)


Tumblr Of The Day: 'Boyfriend Twin' — Men Who Wanted Someone Just Like Them

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"What's sexier than dating yourself?" asks the Tumblr Boyfriend Twin, a photo blog dedicated to pics of boyfriends who look alike. What we're wondering is whether dating yourself is vanity or just self-love.

It's also reminding us of the Urban Dictionary word "dopplebanger" which means "someone you want to have sex with purely because they look similar to another person you want to do," in this instance yourself.

See more boyfriend twin couples AFTER THE JUMP...

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Tumblr Apps Ban #Gay, #Lesbian, And #Bisexual Searches

Tumblr banned terms

In the latest misguided effort by a tech company to keep always-connected-to-everything-on-the-internet-mobile-supercomputers-with-built-in-camcorders from becoming "porn machines", Tumblr has banned the search terms #gay, #lesbian, and #bisexual from their mobile app. To be fair to Tumblr and their parent company Yahoo!, this is most likely done to meet the overly-strict requirements set in place by app stores, with Apple's being the most notoriously heavy-handed. But on the other hand, the Tumblr app has been live for a while and this ban is brand new, suggesting that Tumblr's new owners are seemingly unable to recognize that not everything related to sex and sexuality is porn or "adult content." Slate has the report.


Yahoo! Buys Tumblr, Promises 'Not to Screw It Up'

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Yahoo! officially announced its $1.1 billion cash acquisition of Tumblr this morning, with the above gif and a blog post from Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer.

TIME writes:

Tumblr users have good reason to be apprehensive, because Yahoo’s track record with acquisitions has been decidedly mixed. Remember GeoCities or del.icio.us? Even Flickr, the photo-sharing site Yahoo purchased in 2005, has languished in the shadow of upstarts like Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook last year for $1 billion in cash and stock.

Wrote Mayer: Mayer

We promise not to screw it up.  Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going.  We will operate Tumblr independently.  David Karp will remain CEO.  The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve.  Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster...

...In terms of working together, Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!’s personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they’ll love.  In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!’s media network and search experiences.  The two companies will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance user experience.

Tumblr CEO David Karp says "f**k yeah" to the deal in a post on his blog:

Before touching on how awesome this is, let me try to allay any concerns: We’re not turning purple. Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing.

So what’s new? Simply, Tumblr gets better faster. The work ahead of us remains the same – and we still have a long way to go! – but with more resources to draw from.

Yahoo is the original Internet company, and Marissa and her team share our dream to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas. I couldn’t be more excited to have her help. We also share a vision for Tumblr’s business that doesn’t compromise the community and product we love. Plus both our logos end with punctuation!

As always, everything that Tumblr is, we owe to this unbelievable community. We won’t let you down.

Karp, who owns 25%, is set to pocket $275 million.

UPDATE: From a live blog of Yahoo's press conference this morning:

Mayer says that Yahoo released "Yahoo Stream Ads" in May, which take text ads and put them in the news stream on Yahoo.com. She says you can expect more of that on Tumblr. On Tumblr, there is the dashboard, which is like Facebook's News Feed or inbox. Today, Tumblr does some advertising there. Yahoo would like to "introduce a very light ad load" there.  Yahoo also might work with some bloggers who want ads on their blogs. That would only be done with permission.


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