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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    With the touch of an iPad, Pope Benedict XVI officially became the first pontiff in history to tweet.

    Following a weekly address at the Vatican, the Pope, surrounded by cameras, slowly tapped out his first 140 characters.

    “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart,” he wrote. Within hours, over 37,000 users retweeted the historic tweet.

    @Pontifex you are most welcome dear Papa” user Grace Mbonyiwe Phiri replied.

    @Pontifex Thank you. Bless you too. And now please tell us you accept gays as a biological reality, a woman's right to choose, & condom use.” user Michael Thorner commented.

    The Pope’s Twitter account, @Pontifex, was created in February 2012 and verified by the Vatican on Dec. 3. Close to 800,000 Twitter users followed him, despite his first tweet not coming until Dec. 12. As his number of followers grew, so did the amount of negative tweets directed toward him, the Catholic faith, and religion in general. 

    Moments after his first tweet, another message was sent out by @Pontifex, to the tune of over 5,000 retweets.

    “How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?” it read.

    Twitter users responded with a swarm of answers, ranging from sincere to downright cynical.

    @Pontifex by maintaining god love thru our actions with other people as well as being open to new views of god faith,” user Brad Essex suggested.

    @Pontifex hookers and blow,” user binnie replied.

    Pope Benedict XVI has since sent out three additional tweets, each one receiving thousands of retweets and replies.

    So far, the Pope has yet to personally respond to the messages of any Twitter users.

    Photo via Pope Benedict XVI/Twitter


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    From tales of a congressman allegedly tickling staffers to late night parties, the life of a politician often resembles that of your everyday high schooler. Specifically high schoolers from the film Mean Girls, the 2004 teen comedy starring Lindsay Lohan as a fish-out-of-water student trying to fit in with the cool kids.

    The new Tumblr Mean Girls of Capitol Hill features photos politicians like Michelle Bachmann, President Barack Obama, and Paul “Regulation Hottie” Ryan with quotes from the film superimposed over them, with some minor edits for political commentary.

    The blog was started on Dec. 8, and It has already collected 18 posts with more than 720 notes combined.

    The jokes on Mean Girls of Capitol Hill appear to be coming from both sides of the aisle. So far, the site has given the “burn book” treatment to topics like John Boehner’s spray tan, John Kerry’s money, and the birther movement.

    On Oct. 3 Obama’s campaign got in on the Internet’s “Mean Girls” obsession when it posted a GIF on Tumblr of Lohan on the eve of the first presidential debate.

    The following are some of our favorite Mean Girls of Capitol Hill images we’ve seen so far.

    All images via Mean Girls of Capitol Hill


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    A letter to Santa Claus is getting tons of attention on Reddit—because it was supposedly written by a Muslim fourth-grader.

    On Dec. 12, redditor 9999 submitted a post titled “My mom is a 4th grade teacher. Here is one of her Muslim student’s letters to Santa.” The post linked to a photograph of the letter in question.

    “I know that I never wrote you a letter because I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I am wrighting you this one to thank you for giving everyone presents,” the letter began.

    the letter went on to ask how Santa traveled all around the world in a single night and again thanked him for spreading happiness.

    Submitted to the r/pics subreddit, the letter earned over 27,800 upvotes and temporarily reached the front page of Reddit. Some redditors praised the student’s display of religious tolerance.

    “Take notes: Rest of the fucking world. This is how you should act when it comes to other people's beliefs. (Not like a total douchebag),” TheDerpofYork commented.

    “Sadly the ones who are intolerant are 'adults'. Maybe we should let 4th graders make geopolitical decisions,” MF_Doomed commented.

    Other redditors discussed the aspect of a Muslim student taking part in the Christian-themed holiday. Some, like redditor JenniferHewitt, defended the situation, using their own school experiences as proof of the assignment’s lack of harm. Others attacked the seemingly forced participation in the non-Muslim celebration.

    “Anyone else think it's weird a 9 year old Muslim in 4th grade is writing a letter to Santa?” cool_colors asked.

    “This pisses me off. As the only Jewish kid in my 4th grade class it was very sad writing letters to Santa. Also I got sent home for telling everyone Santa doesn't exist,” thejewishmenace commented.

    Other redditors claim that the letter was fake and that 9999, a brand new redditor, had submitted it purely to gain karma.

    “Oh my god, this is such bullshit. Why do you idiots upvote this? Read the letter. It's such an obvious fake. Fuck you, reddit,” jameshues commented.

    “It is amazing how much effort some people put into getting some Karma,” vxx commented.

    shit_another_brick did not elaborate on the letter but did react to the sudden interest.

    “Oh Shit...first post front page and controversy of course. It is reddit right?” shit_another_brick commented. “To my mother’s defense I don’t think the assignment was meant to be a religious one, and the student was given other options. However, she chose to write a letter to Santa and did so adorably, so I wanted to share it with you guys.”

    Photo via shit_another_brick/imgur


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    Have monkeys replaced cats as the key to Internet fame? Bronwyn Page hopes so.

    Page was one of many shoppers interviewed on Dec. 9 after she spotted the “IKEA monkey,” a monkey that was wearing a stylish winter coat in a Toronto IKEA store. Photos and videos of the monkey spread around the Internet, earning the animal instant meme status. The monkey, whose name is “Darwin,” was eventually revealed as the illegal pet of Toronto resident Yasmin Nakhuda. He currently has his own Twitter feed and plenty of overnight Reddit notoriety.

    Now, Page herself is attempting to cash in on some of that fame as “the girl who saw the monkey.”

    Page’s Twitter profile now reads “I saw the monkey #IkeaMonkey.” She also began a Facebook fan page on Dec. 11, which features screencaptures from her TV news interview and photos of the monkey itself. Like her Twitter profile, the page’s profile section reads “I saw the monkey #IkeaMonkey.”

    Page also participated in a Reddit IAmA on Dec. 12, entitled “I am the girl who saw the monkey. AMA,” receiving several tongue-in-cheek questions from redditors.

    What did you see? (slocki)

    “I saw a small monkey wearing a shearling coat running all over the Ikea parking lot scared and screaming!”

    Do people recognize you on the street? How are you dealing with the fame? (lawlshane)

    “Not one person has recognized me on the street but i suppose it will happen eventually. i don't feel famous because my life is generally the same.”

    Are you considering writing a book about your encounter with the monkey and your new found rise to fame? I'd buy that book! (adrianarcher)

    “haha we'll have to see how long it lasts and if anything exciting comes out of it.”

    Of course, Page also had to answer a variant of Reddit’s most popular AMA question: “Would you rather fight 10 monkey-sized horses, or 1 horse-sized monkey?”

    “Great question! I think monkeys are scarier than horses and a horse-sized monkey would be really scary,” she wrote, “I'd have to say 10 monkey-sized horses.”

    She also revealed in the thread that she is not the person behind the @ikeamonkey Twitter account.

    The response to Page’s attempts at securing Internet fame has been slow. Her Twitter feed has only 494 followers while the @IKEAmonkey account has over 6,500. Similarly, while her Facebook fan page only has 57 likes, a fan page created for the monkey has over 2,400.

    Additionally, her IAmA only received 5 questions, and a paltry 22 comments in total (including Page’s responses).

    Perhaps she should think of investing in her own shearling coat. After all, it worked for the monkey.

    Photo via Bronwyn Page/Facebook


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    If you're just waking up from a 30 year nap, The Daily Dot would like to inform you that today's date is Dec. 12, 2012—12/12/12—and it's a big day for people who like making something out of nothing in an effort to get themselves through the week.

    Across the Internet, people are talking about 12/12/12, writing 12/12/12, and otherwise noting how a day like this won't come up again for another 90 years, when Jan. 1, 2101 rolls around and we can all revel in the wonders of 1/1/1—if the Mayans don't get to us first!

    On Vimeo, one organization is using the unique date to make some pretty high-concept art. The group’s called One Day on Earth, and its mission is to document snippets of individuals’ lives as they traverse through the wonders of 12/12/12. The group did the same thing last year on Nov. 11, and again before that on Oct. 10, 2010.

    Here's One Day's explanation of the project:

    "On December 12th, 12.12.12, across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and other inspired citizenswil record the human experience over a 24-hour period and contribute their voice to the third annual global day of media creation called One Day on Earth. Together, we will create a shared archive and a film."

    Sounds great. What's even better is that it's easy to get involved. Just film something before midnight—no porn or violence, basically follow Vimeo's Community Guidelines—and upload it to One Day on Earth. The full guidelines are here: Remember to state your name and state at the beginning of the video.

    Film for five seconds or 15 minutes, or however long you'd like. In a month, One Day will emerge from the cutting room with a video that looks a lot like this.

    It's already nearing 9am PT as of the time of this story's filing, so you've only got about 13 hours left. People! Grab your cameras and go!

    Correction: The Daily Dot originally reported that One Day on Earth was a YouTube project. It was founded on Vimeo in 2008. We regret the error.

    Photo via One Day on Earth/Vimeo


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    @AnonOpsSweden, one of the fastest-growing Anonymous Twitter accounts and one that almost exclusively linked to news articles, has been permanently banned from Twitter, according to an email from Twitter posted on Cyberguerilla.org.

    It’s the end of a long chapter in the life of that account, which was mysteriously suspended and reinstated several times in November and December.

    It’s impossible to fully verify who was behind the account. Twitter won’t comment on individual suspension, @AnonOpsSweden didn’t reveal personal information, and the account itself is now permanently inaccessible. But the Daily Dot, via other users who take up the Anonymous mantle, found and emailed a user who claimed to have been one of several to run the account.

    The source told us the reason for @AnonOpsSweden’s original suspension, on Nov. 24, “was ‘posting private information.’”

    That tweet, a manual retweet of @MissLulz (an account that’s also suspended), read, “Please help! National Democracy suspend 4 #Anonymous twitter accounts. Spread please HACKED !!” and included that link to private information, which is absolutely not safe for work: a page on Democrasia’s official website, which still shows two Spanish names, each accompanied by a phone number and gay pornography.

    "Our comrade feels alone and unprotected in the harassment of anonymous and needs someone to protect him and help him eat the pizzas they send you and you really like eggs," reads the translation.

    According to Twitter’s official suspension notice, which the source forwarded to the Daily Dot, the tweet’s content violated Twitter’s policy, which prohibits “post[ing] the private and confidential information of others.”

    But though @AnonOpsSweden was reinstated Nov. 28, it was re-suspended a few days later, with no explanation. Then Wednesday, Twitter sent another email notice—this one announcing a “permanent suspension.” This time, Twitter also cited "posting private information," though it didn’t cite a reason.

    The source said that those behind @AnonOpsSweden will soon create another account in its stead. 

    “AoS will live!” the source said. “We are regrouping and soon to take action.”

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons


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    A man in England died Saturday after an office party performance of "Gangnam Style" led to chest pains and an eventual failure of the heart.

    Eamonn Kilbride, 46, had just finished dancing to Korean pop star Psy's wildly popular "Gangnam Style" at his company's office party when he noticed chest pains around his heart and passed out onto the floor of Lancashire's Whitehall Country Club. 

    Paramedics tried to revive the man, but their efforts proved unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the Royal Blackburn Hospital a few minutes after 11:30pm. 

    A spokesman for Blackburn coroner's office told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that Kilbride died from acute heart failure caused by coronary artery atheroma, which can often derive from vigorous exercise.

    According to Kilbride's wife Julie, the former IT manager was a "loving husband" and avid golfer who "was always the life of the party and loved dancing."

    "We were having a fantastic time at the Christmas party and Eamonn had just finished dancing to 'Gangnam Style,'" she told the Telegraph.

    "He was up on stage and entertaining everybody. He said he had a bit of a pain and just collapsed."

    Photo via Psy/YouTube


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    Police arrested two men in Vero Beach, Fla., for posting a video of themselves beating up a disabled homeless man to Facebook.

    Authorities report that Nicholas Marr, 26, and William Gregory, 30, told the homeless man they would pay him $20 if Marr could slap him while Gregory filmed the beating. Instead, Marr beat the 33-year-old victim in the face until he was unconscious, according to WJXT-TV.

    Gregory (pictured) uploaded the video his Facebook account on Sept. 30, where a viewer identified Marr and contacted police. Police discovered the homeless man through an outreach organization, which interviewed the victim and found that the man barely remembered the incident.

    A psychological evaluation revealed that he was “low to borderline intellectual functioning,” thus meeting the requirements to be a disabled adult for battery charges.

    Gregory was arrested Thursday, Dec. 6, and Marr was arrested the following day. Both were charged with aggravated abuse of a disabled adult. Additionally, Gregory was charged with a felony battery due to a previous conviction and Matt was charged with a misdemeanor battery. 

    According to a search on the Indian River County jail database, Marr has been arrested twice before and Gregory was arrested one time prior to this incident. Both men were involved in battery-related incidents.

    “We want people to know that the Sheriff’s Office will not tolerate this type of activity. Simply because a person is homeless does not mean that we will not work just as hard to protect them from harm," said Sgt. Michael Pierce to the news station.

    Marr and Gregory posted bond and now await a court date.

    Photo via Indian River County Sheriff's Office/Facebook


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    One man made lemonade from lemons as he turned an accusation of being a bank robber into hundreds of new Twitter followers.

    After an armed robbery and shooting at a pawnshop in Moreno Valley, Calif., Marquise Fivestar (perhaps not his real name, but we’ll roll with it) claimed that he was accused of being a suspect by news media when those allegedly involved in the heist fled to Cal State Fullerton. Students and staff were placed in lockdown at the university as police hunted suspects, two of which are still at large.

    Fivestar, 18, played up the rumors for several hours Wednesday, making jokes about hiding from the police and hitting back at those critical of him. He started sharing updates of his “life on the run” shortly after 5pm PT Wednesday without ever directly saying he was involved in a crime.

    Fivestar, who’s released several songs on a hip hop site and eventually hopes to go to law school, retweeted many of his critics who believed he was a legitimate suspect, and hit back at them, often with insults.

    Others were more supportive of him.

    Shortly after midnight PT, Fivestar claimed he had nothing to do with the crime and that it was a joke which went too far.

    After he came clean about his tweets being a prank, many praised him for lighting up their evenings.

    Fivestar, who did not respond to a request for comment, said he gained around 700 followers over the evening. Towards the end of a busy night trolling Twitter, things got back to normal for Fivestar as he prepared for a job interview.

    Photo via @FivestartheG/Twitter


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    Justin Bieber is in hot water with a Filipino official over an Instagram photo she felt mocked revered boxer Manny Pacquiao.

    The Pac-man, a hero to millions of Filipinos, was laid out in a loss to Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday. Bieber, who is friends with Pacquiao’s rival Floyd Mayweather according to the Atlantic, posted two image macros to Instagram which riled many in the Philippines and brought hundreds of thousands of likes and comments.

    One depicted Michael Jackson leaning forward next to Pacquiao as the fighter fell to the mat. The other (also posted without credit; terrible Instagram etiquette there, Biebs) showed Simba from The Lion King trying to wake up Pacquiao as he lay strewn on the mat along with the caption “Dad wake up.”

    Bieber later suggested that those who abandoned him over his boxing opinions were never true fans of his.

    The image incensed Rep. Carol Jane Lopez, who called for congress to ban Bieber from the Philippines. She also called for citizens to stop listening to the Canadian pop idol’s music and boycott his concerts. Pacquiao, it must be said, is himself a member of congress in his homeland.

    Reports about the bid to ban Bieber led to the hashtag #banjustinbieber trending in the country, with some tweeters accusing him of a lack of respect. (Unsurprisingly, some Beliebers thought the hashtag was missing the letter ‘g’.)

    Bieber claimed that Mayweather had nothing to gain from fighting Pacquiao, who lost both of his fights in 2012. In a week when police uncovered a plot to murder and castrate Bieber, Pacquiao responded by saying he’d pray for the pop singer.

    Photo via Justin Bieber/Instagram


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    The Internet has radically changed almost everything, but it has changed nothing more than sex.

    Consider this: After Kinsey published his landmark sex study in the 1950s, he spent the rest of his life being prosecuted for obscenity. His misdeeds consisted of sending 31 photos by mail. In 2012, a single porn site can serve up 4.4 billion pageviews per month.

    ***

    A man in Utah met a woman on a porn site who invited him to a private Skype session. It must have seemed like a little perfectly “innocent” cybersex—at first. Immediately after the session, however, blackmailers tracked him down on Facebook to reveal that she had recorded the encounter. If the man did not do as he was told, they threatened, they would send the video to everyone he knew.

    The price of their silence? $150-worth of porn subscriptions.

    I have always thought that vice—pornography, gambling, drugs, etc.—must be the perfect business model; there’s endless demand. Yet the porn industry must be in real trouble if they have to resort to blackmail to drive subscription revenue. My first thought, of course, as the founder of a company myself, was: But can it scale?

    ***

    The problem with sexting (or any other kind of online sexual act) is that today’s Romeo is often tomorrow’s blackmailing pornographer—or a vengeful ex. Wherever business perceives a problem, however, it offers a solution.

    A new phone app, Snapchat, does just that. It allows you to send racy pictures of yourself, each set with a time limit. The photo will self-destruct in whatever time period you set, Mission Impossible style.

    I haven’t tried the app myself, so I can’t comment on whether it offers vintage film filters.

    It sounds good, but unfortunately it is not a foolproof system. All the receiver has to do is snap a screenshot and voila, we’re back to revenge porn and blackmail.

    The app does let you know if someone has taken a screenshot, so you can get a head start liquidating assets.

    Nevertheless, the Internet is the mother of invention. The man who gave us Champagne facials has created a site where users can submit their pictures themselves for mass consumption, despite the fact that apps like Snapchat were created so that people could keep their nude pics private.

    Kirill Bichutsky, that self-same creator, said he was bored and just wanted to see how many girls would “show me their tits.” It’s ultimately the same reason he created Champagne facials: He wanted to see how many people would let him pour Champagne all over them. He’s building a cottage industry out of “how many people will let me....”

    ***

    Speaking of the major figures in “how many people will let me,” one of the Internet’s greatest porn tycoons has been arrested. Fabian Thylmann, the German born proprietor of Brazzers, YouPorn, and Spankwire, is currently in police custody in Belgium.

    Like Capone, he’s been caught for tax evasion.

    ***

    As a journalist, you lead a kind of nomadic life. I’ve moved basically every two years. It’s often a drag, but the good part is while looking at houses or apartments you get see how other people live. Let me tell you, other people are crazy.

    I feel a similar fascination with dating sites. A new site in the OKCupid chain of dating sites has launched, this one in Russia. Their profiles open your eyes to what the average Russian thinks is a good way to meet girls. One brown-eyed man smiles through the grasses of the windswept steppe, where he seems to have just tumbled after a thorough frolicking. Another gives us the naughty Santa, in full (but shirtless) costume.

    In all seriousness, guys, good luck.

    ***

    The freedom of the Web, its anonymity, the way it brings people together without regard to time, space, power, social standing, etc. creates an opportunity to discuss our taboos and insecurities.

    Penis size, for example, is a regular topic on Reddit. Most recently, a mammoth thread erupted when one man, who is apparently otherwise quite fit and attractive, posted that he has a very small penis. He was able to do so because of his anonymity, and he hoped he would get honest answers because of everyone else’s anonymity. He got everything from personal anecdotes and math equations to dirty jokes and attacks on his ex-girlfriend. I’m not sure any real clarity was reached, but Ohalidavid seems to have reached some new level of comfort with himself.

    Meanwhile, on Twitter, the Pope has started tweeting. It took 10 months from the appearance of the @pontifex account to the first papal tweet, which just shows how much Vatican time has sped up in the Internet Age. (It was almost a century between Vatican I and Vatican II.) In any case, the Pope’s appearance in the Twitterverse was met with a big response. He got tweets of every stripe, including this one: “@Pontifex Thank you. Bless you too. And now please tell us you accept gays as a biological reality, a woman’s right to choose, & condom use.”

    I imagine that being the Pont. Max., you have trouble hearing opinions other than your own. Fortunately, the Internet is here to solve that particular problem. Note to Pope: If you survive Twitter, try Reddit.

    ***

    Google has tweaked its search algorithms again. Now, it will put the cleanest spin on what you type. Type in “boobies,” and you’re probably going to get pictures of birds. So, if you want porn, you’re going to have to be more … ahem … explicit about it.

    Google is presumably doing this to better serve its users through some combination of giving people what it thinks they want faster as well as not embarrassing ornithologists in their public presentations.

    This tweak in our primary experience of the Internet is indicative of the nature of the Internet and the people on it. The Internet is less “for porn” than you might think. According to the most thorough research on the subject, only about 4 percent of the top million sites are pornographic. About 13 percent of searches are erotic in nature. But still, pretty much everyone looks at porn online.

    (OK, all men. Women have fanfic, which is not all porn by any means, but it’s plenty porny.)

    So porn is less of the Web experience than we thought, but a universal one.

    In fact, pornography online maybe the most universal experience of our times. Whether you approve of it or not, it is, in a way, heartening to think that there is something that everyone has in common. 

    Photo by Murph4513/Flickr


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    Reddit owned the Internet this year, for all the right and wrong reasons. There were the memes—Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, Overly Attached Girlfriend, I Should Buy a Boat Cat—and there were the cultural controversies that changed the social news site’s power dynamics and spoke to Reddit’s growing importance to the world at large.

    In the midst of his presidential campaign, President Obama touched down for a brief “ask me anything” interview session, bringing glowing attention from major, mainstream media (and a traffic surge that pushed Reddit’s servers to the brink).

    Seven years after it was created, Reddit had finally arrived.

    Yet just a month later the site broiled with upheaval. Controversy surrounding the r/creepshots subreddit and notorious moderator violentacrez forced the community to come to terms with its new prominence in the public eye—and reconcile its cultural norms with those of the broader public. Is pseudonymity on Reddit a right? Do your activities on Reddit, which sees 40 million unique visitors a month, make you a public figure? And how can victims of subreddits like r/creepshots fight back against the people exploiting them?

    Battles raged across the site. Redditors on both sides were doxed, meaning their identities were exposed without permission. (The month was dubbed “doxtober.”) And when it was all over, Reddit was a changed place—one where actions, pseudonymous or not, now had very real consequences.

    Here's our list of the most influential people on Reddit this year—through contributions, ideas, and moderator activity. Agree? Disagree? Weigh in below, tell me what you think on Twitter, or join the discussion on Reddit itself.

    1) ArchangelleDworkin Queen SRSter

    A maelstrom of cultural and political upheaval embroiled Reddit over the past year, and at its center, laughing maniacally, was ArchangelleDworkin. Smart and viciously witty, she’s the most influential moderator of r/ShitRedditSays, a controversial subreddit that battles the site’s undercurrent of racism, misogyny, and homophobia with a potent mix of biting sarcasm, trolling, and savvy media campaigns. In September, Dworkin launched the Reddit bomb—a media blitz that exposed the now notorious (and banned) r/creepshots subreddit, among others, and which culminated in the Gawker expose of notorious Reddit troll Michael Brutsch, a.k.a. violentacrez.

    2) violentacrez Fallen Troll

    In October everything was quiet for violentacrez. Sure, the power user/troll/top moderator was still dropping the kind of horrifying content he'd built his reputation on, but the man whom the Daily Dot named Reddit’s most influential person in 2011 had somehow avoided major controversy. Then all hell broke loose.

    After joining the mod list at r/creepshots, he deleted his account when he learned Gawker intended to reveal his identity. As that article’s publication drew near, Reddit mods retaliated by banning links to Gawker. Major media outlets briefly targeted their well-oiled outrage machines on Reddit, sniffing for sexual controversies. It was a public relations debacle that would make even the most staid of PR pros run weeping for their panic room. There was massive internal strife, leaks and more leaks, doxing everywhere. When it was all over, violentacrez was gone from Reddit. And newly unemployed.

    3) Deimorz and his AutoModerator Bot Leader of the robot revolution

    Moderation is a largely thankless task. Swarms of easy-to-outrage redditors hover around your every move, just waiting for you to make a mistake. Even worse, most of your (volunteer) job is janitorial. You just make sure the spam filter is working: Some posts go through that shouldn’t, and others don’t go through that should. But then redditor Deimorz, working long hours in his top-secret coding laboratory, created the AutoModerator. The bot takes over most mind-numbing tasks entirely, freeing up mods to focus on more rewarding tasks. It’s the single most important feature added to the site this year. A statistical witch doctor, Deimorz also runs Stattit.com, the most essential site for Reddit data hounds.

    4)karmanaut King of r/IAmA

    Dropping karmanaut’s name in a random thread is like poking a beehive with a stick. The infamous moderator, who holds the top spot on Reddit’s most famous property, r/IAmA, found himself in the middle of two major controversies this year, attracting the long-burning ire of a huge portion of the site’s userbase. First, leaks of private chat logs revealed him to be the owner of three influential accounts on the site, under which he’d controlled major subreddits (and occasionally held conversations with himself). But it was the ban of Reddit’s first bona-fide celebrity, Shitty_Watercolour, from r/IAmA that caused a tumultuous Reddit riot. Karmanaut has since largely retreated from public comments, but he still holds a lot of power, including right there at the top of r/IAmA.

    5) Shitty_Watercolour Artist in Residence

    What started out as a gag has turned into a one-of-a-kind Reddit phenomenon. With features in CNN, The Atlantic, Wired, and multiple celebrity shout outs at r/IAmA, Shitty_Watercolour single-handedly changed the significance of “Reddit celebrity”—being famous on Reddit can mean real world fame, too.

    6) honestbleeps The Enhancer

    A lot of the people on our list have had a big cultural impact on Reddit. But Steve Sobel, a.k.a. honestbleeps, maintains a vast influence over the site by changing how it worksdrastically. Sobel’s independent browser add-on, Reddit Enhancement Suite, is like a super-powered Reddit exoskeleton, transforming Reddit into something else entirely. It’s influence is so pervasive, and its features so ingenious, that many believe it actually alters sitewide behavior patterns.

    7) dhamster, GodOfAtheism, and other r/circlebroke mods The Counterculture

    Are you tired of image macros, Facebook screengrabs, liberal circle jerks, pun threads, blatant sexism, and every other obnoxious cultural undercurrent on Reddit? You finally have a place to commiserate. While r/ShitRedditSays is engaged in a kind of perpetual cultural war on Reddit, r/circlebroke, with a broader focus that includes the more mundanely obnoxious, has quickly risen as the other voice of the Reddit counterculture. Why does everyone at the subreddit seem so pissed off? As the sidebar explains: “Maybe they've spent too much time on reddit.”

    8) BritishEnglishPolice Top Mod

    BritishEnglishPolice is Reddit’s quiet leader. Only one person—Reddit part-timer qgyh2—moderates more subreddits than BEP (as he’s known). Even more impressive: He has somehow avoided scandals in a year of scandals and drama. He even seems to inspire a fair bit of admiration from your average Reddit user. Why does BEP spend so much time on the site? As he told the Daily Dot in September: “I'm stubborn. I can't let places decay; I hate natural entropy (being a science student, it's hard).”

    9) POTATO_IN_MY_ANUS Lead creep

    Who will weep for POTATO_IN_MY_ANUS? The redditor spent the year climbing Reddit’s karma ladder, dropping popular comments in seemingly every r/AskReddit thread. He also occasionally led high-profile attacks against moderators, including karmanaut. Meanwhile, he established himself as a smut peddler par excellence, moderating many of Reddit’s biggest porn subsections. As a moderator of r/creepshots, he helped foster one of the most controversial subreddits in Reddit history. And by adding violentacrez to the modrolls, he pushed the key domino that ultimately led to “doxtober.” Shortly thereafter, Reddit staff banned him for reasons that remain mysterious.

    10) zeroshift Chief Popcorn Muncher

    When we talk of cultural and political maelstroms on Reddit, we’re also talking about interpersonal drama. Drama so hot that, during October, every bag of Orville Redenbacher’s microwavable popcorn within a 30 mile radius of Reddit’s server farm exploded all at once. OK not really, but damn was it a year for over-the-top conflict. And all along, r/SubredditDrama was there chronicling and, occasionally, goading it along. Zeroshift actually created the forum last year, but 2012 was the year r/SubredditDrama became the hub for all things meta-Reddit.

    Honorable mentions: IllustratingReddit, drunkeneconomist, raerth, Kylde, scopolamina, Artrw, TheWalruss, syncretic


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    Five dollars can buy a lot of things. Certain Subway foot-long sandwiches. Top-shelf merchandise at the retail chain Five Below. Now you can add a copy of Fallout 3, autographed by Matthew Perry, to that list.

    On Dec. 13, redditor rkalajian posted a thread to the subreddit r/gaming, asking the question “Bought this for $5 today. Anyone know who's [sic] signature this is?” Accompanying the post was a photo of his copy of Fallout 3.

    The question received over 4,000 upvotes. Almost instantly, redditors replied with the near-unanimous answer of “Matthew Perry.” As redditor TectonicImprov eloquently summarized it, paraphrasing the Lonely Island

    Reddit answered so fast it was scary. Everybody stared in awe when they screamed "MATTHEW PERRY!"

    With the identity of the autograph revealed, the next question was obvious: Why was there a $5 copy of Fallout 3 signed by the Friends star? Perry’s involvement in the Fallout franchise didn’t begin until the following game in the series, Fallout: New Vegas, in which he voiced the character of Benny.

    The r/gaming community did a little detective work and came up with a possible answer: the game was signed by Perry for charity during an April 24, 2009, appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

    As proof of this, redditor MilkSweat posted a link to the episode in question, which shows Perry autographing the game.

    Redditors also deduced that Perry’s enthusiasm for the game was what led to his casting in Fallout: New Vegas.

    rkalajian was elated at the game’s unique backstory and shared the progress of an email conversation he had with the woman who sold him the game.

    “I actually sent her a message asking if she knew who signed it about the same time I posted here. Still nothing back from her. I'm going to have to send her the details. Wonder if she's the one who won the auction, or if her or one of her kids got the game from someone else who did, etc...” he said.

    Hours later, he posted an update:

    I got a response!

    Me: "Just curious if you know who the game is signed by?"

    Her: "No...my husband bought on ebay a while back. He said he thinks it's a famous athlete...maybe a hockey player?! But he does remember it was someone random...not affiliated with the actual video game in any way."

    So I sent her a message explaining everything that's happened since I posted the pic here :) Still awaiting a response!

    So redditors, if you have a copy of, for example, Grand Theft Auto IV that's emblazoned with what could be the signature of Courteney Cox, take your case to r/gaming. They may be able to help you out. Or troll you by telling you it's Matthew Perry again.

    Photo via rkalajian/imgur


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    Officers at the Norfolk Constabulary in England have resorted to scare tactics in the police force's fight against the city's rave culture, posting a video onto its YouTube page that showed two cops breaking DJ equipment with their sledgehammers.

    The equipment, which included a Crown amplifier and 24-inch Peavey speaker, was seized from a March rave in the east England county's Feltwell Woods neighborhood as part of a massive effort to cut down on raves in the area.

    In the video, which lasts 25 seconds, the two policemen are shown smashing the exteriors of both pieces of equipment until they're presumably rendered unusable.

    "This shows once again that we will not tolerate raves in Norfolk, superintendent Dave Marshall wrote on the police force's website. "They can have a real impact on people living in rural communities and we will continue to crack down on those who commit these crimes."

    The individual responsible for throwing this particular rave was fined 100 euros ($130 US), in addition to the fact that he had to watch his cherished DJ equipment get mangled to pieces by two policemen wielding sledgehammers.

    A police spokesperson reiterated that the equipment was court-ordered for destruction but offered no explanation as to why the police had to turn that order into a weird musical snuff film.

    Photo via Norfolk Police/YouTube


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    We love the Internet. Except when we hate it. Every week, Jordan Valinsky bottles the angst of his Millennial generation and finds something to despise about the Web.

    Poking, liking, and fingertagging are now regular activities in our lives, so of course the next step to capitalize on those remedial actions is to create a college major revolving around them.

    At Newberry College, which sounds like one of those generic preparatory schools on Law and Order: SVU, they’re offering a major and minor in social media. At first glance, it sounds appropriate, since it takes a college major to figure out Facebook’s privacy options (am I right, moms of the world?) but apparently that’s not the point.

    Beginning next year, the South Carolina college will let students major in an activity they already know how to do (similar to completing a major in English). The press release states that the aim is to “develop marketing and branding strategies for projects including corporate, non-profit, entertainment, sports, news, and politics.”

    So, for $120,000 you’re learning how to “manage” the Home Depot’s Twitter account and spread terrible falsehoods that “connecting” with fans is something important in people’s lives. On the bright side, spending all day on the Internet gives Newberry students a distraction from realizing they went to college in South Carolina.

    Newberry states that graduates of this glorified “How to Create a Page on Facebook” major will land students jobs in various fields, like news and politics. So when a congressman posts a shirtless picture on Craigslist or Nancy Grace needs her Pinterest quote board updated, that all falls on you. Or worse, you could write for us.

    How excited to tell your high school friends on that Wednesday before Thanksgiving that you’re the one dealing with pissed off Southwest passengers on Twitter? I’m pumped for you!

    To further instill how pointless this major is, the Huffington Post notes that you’ll also learn how to create QR codes as part of “mobile marketing strategies.” I can teach you in a minute: Just move your “cursor” over to this hyperlink, click (only once), and look at all those people using those blocky, drunk looking QR codes. I’d suggest you skip that day’s class, but a student on College Prowler notes that Newberry has “absolutely nothing for students to go to,” so class is your only option for entertainment.

    So, yeah, this whole major is just the worst, unless Newberry’s real purpose to major in some high-class trolling (which judging by the tuition and telling people they too can work for Fortune 500 companies... they might be?). Don’t waste your money. I’ll teach you what to know.

    For a $50 gift card to Chili’s and a voucher for one year of LinkedIn Premium, I’ll teach you the ins-and-outs of social media-ing. How to improve that Klout score by tweeting at Lindsay Lohan so other people favorite it? Done. Passively-aggressively faving tweets of people you want to follow you back? I’ll show you. Trolling the hell out of Facebook by liking and unliking your friends’ photos during their fat stages so they pops up on the top of your mutual friends’ News Feeds? Let’s start now.

    We could meet in Google+, but I’m still trying to figure out what that is.

    Photo via lindsaymccutchen/YouTube


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    Following the online-bullying-related suicides of Jessica Laney, Ciara Pugsley, and Erin and Shannon Gallagher, supporters of the girls are calling for the shutdown of Ask.fm.

    On Sunday, 16-year-old Jessica Laney was found dead in her Hudson, Fla., home after she was called things like a “fuckin ugly ass hoe” on the question-and-answer network.

    On Ask.fm, Laney answered anonymous questions about her sex life, relationships, and weight. 

    "Can you kill yourself already?" asked a commenter. Another wrote, "Nobody even cares about you."

    Supporters started a Facebook remembrance page less than 24 hours after Laney’s death. Many commenters shared kind words for the teenager; others decried Ask.fm and signed a Change.org petition calling for it to be shut down.

    “Signed......Rest In Peace little angel. Kids watch what you say to each other please. Words can hurt deeply!!! Treat other how you want to be treated,” Tamara Cooper wrote on Facebook.

    Ask.fm cofounder Mark Terebin responded publicly on his own page, deflecting responsibility and blaming the media for "encouraging"  and "promoting" suicide:

    Mass media is knocking on wrong door. It is necessary to go deeper and to find a root of a problem. Its not about the site, the problem is about education, about moral values that were devaluated lately. Ask.fm is just a tool which helps people to communicate with each other, same as any other social network, same as phone, same as piece of paper and pen. Don't blame a tool, but try to make changes… start with yourself... be more polite, more kind, more tolerant of others… cultivate these values in families, in schools.

    Suicide is not something to encourage via mass media. The more you promote suicide, the more it happen. Do you think mass media cares? They want scandals, they want sensations and finally they want money. Sorry, but we do not want to participate in it.

    What happened is a true tragedy and we give our deepest condolences to the victim's family and relatives.

    On Sept. 19, 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley committed suicide in woods near her home. For two months before her death, the Irish Timesreported, Ask.fm users called her a “slut” and “ugly.”

    “Ciara did not want to die. She enjoyed living and had so much more living to do. She was driven to it,” a family member of Pugsley said at her funeral, according to the Irish Times. “I appeal to those involved in this dreadful activity to see the devastating consequences of their malicious comments here today.”

    In late October, 13-year-old Erin Gallagher committed suicide after encountering “vicious online bullying,” the Independent reported. A day earlier, she had told her tormenters she would kill herself.

    “In a post on Friday, the day before she died, she responded to a comment [on Ask.fm] which appears to refer to her being the victim of a physical attack in which she'd had her hair pulled,” the Independent reported. “She wrote back to her anonymous tormentors: ‘Do u think ur funny bulling me over ask.fm yeah u prob think it was funny when a f**in put a rope round my neck cause of yous, yous are that sad!’”

    Tragically, just two months after Erin's death, her older sister, Shannon, 15, was found dead in her Ballybofey, Ireland, home Thursday.

    The mother of Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old who committed suicide on Oct. 10 after a man distributed nude images of her around the Internet, expressed support for the grieving families on Twitter.

    The Daily Dot has reached out to Ask.fm for a comment and has not heard back at time of publication.

    Laney's and Pugsley’s Ask.fm pages are still up. Many of the hateful messages still remain, as well as this haunting, hopeful note from Laney, posted on Thanksgiving after someone asked her about suicide: 

    “If you ever feel this low i just wanna [say it’s] not your fault. People are mean. I know you feel useless broken not wanted and alone. i was there. But i promise you it will get better,” Laney responded. “Nothing is worth it; it will all get better<3”

    Photo via RIP Jessica Laney/Facebook


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    Before there was the Internet, newspaper classifieds, fliers on lamp posts, and messages pinned to bulletin boards were just some of the “old school” ways people tried to connect with that special stranger, otherwise known as a missed connection.

    Today, those methods have been eclipsed by websites like Craigslist and Facebook, where a missed connection page for Dublin University Library is bringing people together in a hilariously creepy way.

    The page “Spotted: TCD Library” was started anonymously Sunday and has already collected more than 4,000 likes and three dozen posts worth of cheesy pickup lines and late night invitations.

    “To the couple in the Usher basement - Are you filming a scene for Redtube?” an anonymous user wrote on Facebook Thursday.

    Trinity College Dublin has more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The school was established in 1854 and is the largest in Ireland.

    The following are some of the funniest posts on the Facebook page thus far:

    To the tall,dark, handsome guy in the lecky, whos stuck in his books, rarely taking any time to look up and let me get a glimps of his oh-so-gorgeous face,,, get stuck into me instead? #suchadistraction ;)

    To the guy with the grey hat and maroon shoes that just walked into 1st floor Ussher library...you're prettier than most the girls I know...

    Spotted Hamilton Library. Babe in blue. Sat down and got up and walked out.

    to the boy that looks like jesus christ superstar in the corner of the lit soc lib, you look ike jesus christ superstar.

    'To the girl sitting beside me in the 24hr squeezing out a few sneaky farts, I CAN hear you!..... In fairness though yer a little piece, so you can come back to mine and fart on my face all night long. xoxo'

    To the girl in the green jumper eating lunch in the Mac lab.. gimme a bite smells good.

    Photo by Muffet/Flickr


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    Babies are kind of like the cats of the human race. They're moody, they're cute only sometimes, and they're generally a big hit on the Internet.

    Take this little clowder of nine people-kittens, for example. They're all having an incredibly hard time staying awake, because they're babies, and life is hard when you're a baby: You just spent 14 months napping and now you're expected to smile and eat and exude emotions, and it's just stupid and hard. So it's time to go back to sleep—by any means necessary.

    Thanks to the compilation comptrollers at CompilarizTV, we can now take in the wonders and cuteness of these 14 bored-by-life babies in one four-minute supercut. It starts at the dinner table and ends in the high chair, and there's a whole load of lethargy in between.

    We're kind of on board with the top comment left by BestMusic2012: "Why are most of them eating something Maybe we should take a look at what is being put into baby foods."

    Somebody get Michelle Obama on the phone.

    Photo via CompilarzTV/YouTube


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    The professor-student relationship is all about sharing information. But there is such a thing as oversharing.

    One professor has learned that lesson the hard way, thanks to a new photo making the rounds online. A redditor posted a photo of her professor’s email account, taken while the professor had his laptop hooked up to a projector screen in the front of the lecture hall, apparently unaware of the Pornhub.com account notification email sitting at the top of his inbox.

    It’s embarrassing for sure, but should it be? According to Alexa.com, and online information website, Pornhub ranks as the 45th most trafficked website in the United States and is the 70th most popular website worldwide. And the popularity of online pornography is so pervasive, a recent change to Google’s image search algorithm stirred a great deal of online discussion. A casual search of the word “porn” on Twitter, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, and many other social sites reveals no shortage of users willing to admit their usage.

    “I always think if no one watches porn how do all those porn bosses make all that kind of money?” asked Yahoo user Crocoduck.

    Numerous studies have found that porn viewing is much more common than people are willing to admit in casual conversation, including a study from the U.K. where researchers struggled to even find any subjects who never watched porn. Other researchers have found people more reticent to admit to engaging in online gaming than porn viewing. Although Pornhub users commenting on Alexa.com had strong opinions on the site’s content, navigatibility and prices, none seemed to have an issue with privacy safeguards.

    Still, cultural bugaboos exist when it comes to pornography. The Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity refused a donation from Pornhub earlier this year, objecting to the obscene nature of the site.

    Efforts by the Daily Dot to contact Pornhub for information on privacy and security policies were not immediately returned Friday. However, one commenter who re-posted the unfortunate photo of the professor’s inbox had some simple advice: “Maybe next he’ll learn that only suckers pay for internet porn.”

    Photo via Reddit


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    While the U.S. continues to grapple with the tragedy at a Connecticut elementary school where 27 people , including 20 children, were gunned down Friday, conservative author and pundit Ann Coulter has taken the opportunity to stir up controversy on Twitter once again.

    Before an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio program, Coulter tweeted the following message to her 306,000 followers:

    “I'M ON HANNITY RADIO RIGHT NOW! more guns, less mass shootings ..”

    The message was retweeted more than 170 times,  and helped make Coulter one of the only national trending topics on Twitter not directly related to details from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And as Twitter user Stanley Blackmon accurately pointed out, almost all of the tweets about Coulter criticized her position and called her out.

    “I'm becoming more and more convinced that Ann Coulter is in the running for Antichrist,” @jaraevstheworld tweeted.

    “So we can agree Ann Coulter's won at trolling. Let's give her the trophy or baby heart or whatever so she'll just stop,” @thecharleswebb added.

    Coulter has been an outspoken supporter of armed citizens and “wrote in 2007 defending the laws after the deadly mass shooting at Virginia Tech, the country's worst school shooting,” thewrap reported. That article, which she linked to in a tweet this afternoon, has since been taken down.

    Over the past year, Coulter has become a master Twitter troll. In just the last two months, her controversial tweets have helped her collect 76,000 followers. The following list is just some of the holidays, political scandals, and issues she has criticized on Twitter.

    Nov. 4, 2011: Last November, businessman Herman Cain became the Republican frontrunner for president after a slew of debates swung in his favor. But almost as soon as Cain became America’s sweetheart, a handful of women accused the former Godfather Pizza chief executive of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. Coulter weighed on the controversy with the following message, which was retweeted 777 times:

    “Several women now claim Herman Cain exposed himself, raped them and had oral sex with an intern ... oh, sorry, that's Bill Clinton.”

    Oct. 16, 2012: For more than 20 years, National Coming Out Day has been a time for people from around the world to promote public awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. For Coulter, this year’s event was a time for her to do the exact opposite.

    “Last Thursday was national ‘coming out’ day. This Monday is national "disown your son" day,” Coulter tweeted.

    The tweet was greeted angrily by gay rights supporters on Twitter who called Coulter “evil” and wondered what type of drug cocktail she was on.

    Oct. 23, 2012: With two weeks left until the election, Coulter stirred the political pot when after the second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Coulter tweeted the following message:

    “I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

    The tweet sent off shockwaves around Twitter, where it has been retweeted more than 2,800 times, favorited 1,150 times, and mentioned in more than 25,000 messages over the past 15 hours.

    One of the people she insulted with her tweet was John Franklin Stephens, a 30-year-old blogger and Special Olympian with Down Syndrome from Fairfax, Va. In an open letter to Coulter posted on the Special Olympics blog, Stephens questions Coulter’s remark. Unlike a majority of those upset, however, he did not address her with hateful vocabulary or death threats.

    “Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow.  So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?” Stephens asked.

    Nov. 22, 2012: Of all the historical tragedies to make fun of, the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed, is considered one of the worst. That fact was lost on Coulter on eve of Thanksgiving when she tweeted the following message:

    “HAPPY HOLOCAUST ON YOUR PLATE DAY AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!”

    The message was retweeted 92 times.

    Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.

    Photo by david_shankbone/Flickr


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