This is an excerpt from Incoming, BuzzFeed News’ morning newsletter dedicated to making sense of this chaotic world we live in. Join the club here.
What happens when you become viral content without your consent
When Timothy Goodman unknowingly became the subject of someone's TikTok — which racked up millions of views under the false premise that Goodman was the TikToker's disappointing date — people viciously insulted his appearance and character.
Responding in a TikTok of his own, Goodman said, "I would just say that like, maybe we don’t have to make fun of people’s appearances, complete strangers, online. Maybe we also shouldn’t be like, posting people — strangers — online without their consent.”
There are whole genres of online content in which people are being recorded or photographed without their knowledge or consent — on the subway, at a shopping center, in a car, on the sidewalk, at a restaurant, at a bar. It’s generally legal to film and photograph people in public, and thanks to apps like TikTok, the reach of social platforms is larger than ever before.
“We’re living in sort of a self-induced surveillance state, where no longer is it necessarily the government panopticon, but it’s now everyone else getting their phones out and filming and surveilling, constantly,” Jenna Drenten, an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago who studies digital consumer culture, told BuzzFeed News.
In a world where public and private entities constantly harvest our data in troubling ways, maybe becoming the main character of the day online isn’t the end of the world. But Mark Bartholomew, a law professor at the University at Buffalo who focuses on online privacy, fears that our crumbling data protections feeds the idea that “if you’re constantly under watch, it sort of is more OK, I think, to point your camera at someone else without permission and post it.”
“I think our sense of privacy is gradually declining,” he said.
A police officer who beat Tyre Nichols allegedly took photos of him and texted them to friends
- As Tyre Nichols sat on the ground handcuffed and struggled not to fall over, Demetrius Haley took out his personal cellphone and took two photos of an "obviously injured" Nichols, according to documents released by Tennessee officials. Haley later admitted that he sent the photo to five people, including two other Memphis police officers, a civilian employee, and a woman acquaintance.
- Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx employee who was an avid skater and photographer, was violently beaten by Memphis police during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. He died from his injuries three days later in a hospital.
- The decertification documents released Tuesday contain a litany of department policy violations that the five officers allegedly committed in their treatment of Nichols. They used excessive force on Nichols, who was unarmed, and showed a lack of concern for him afterward, the documents state. And in addition to officers laughing about their involvement in the beating, multiple others also allegedly omitted information and made false statements about their actions in their reports.
The El Paso Walmart mass shooting suspect pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges. The man accused of committing the deadliest Latino hate crime in recent US history may still face the death penalty in state court.
Donald Trump asked Twitter to take down a Chrissy Teigen tweet about him, Twitter executives testified. The revelation came during a congressional hearing on Twitter’s handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton said she will boycott World Surf League events because it now allows trans women to compete. Hormone testing — a key component of WSL's new policy — has long been leveraged against not only trans women but cisgender women who have naturally high levels of testosterone. But that’s not what Hamilton is talking about.
J.Lo and Ben Affleck weren't actually fighting at the Grammys, according to a seat filler from the night. The couple became a major story of the awards show as Affleck seemed bored, and it led to multiple memes about the actor looking like he’d rather be anywhere but the Grammys.
A bomb threat interrupted Alex Murdaugh's murder trial — but not before the jury heard damaging evidence
A bomb threat was called in to the South Carolina courthouse hosting Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial on Wednesday, prompting officials to evacuate the judge, jury, lawyers, and the defendant himself. The trial was paused for over two and a half hours before things resumed.
Earlier in the week, Judge Clifton Newman announced he would permit prosecutors to raise evidence about Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes in front of the jury because he agreed it could be seen as a possible motive. (Such evidence would not typically be permitted in a trial if it were being used merely to show Murdaugh had a bad character or propensity for crime.)
On Tuesday, Jeanne Seckinger, the chief financial officer at Murdaugh's old law firm, described to the jury how she’d confronted Murdaugh on the morning of the murders about $792,000 in missing fees. “I don’t think I ever really knew him,” Seckinger told the court. “I don’t think anybody knows him.”
Meanwhile, defense attorneys have raised questions about forensic evidence collected by state investigators, and repeatedly tried to cast Murdaugh as a loving husband and father who had no reason to kill his family.
IMAGE OF THE DAY
Why I've decided to delay taking testosterone as part of my transition
At almost the precise time I came out as trans, around six months ago, I started playing music again for the first time since my brother's death, Noor Noman writes. Yes, it’s too on the nose: I literally found my voice again.
Amid my newfound journey toward gender euphoria, I had come up with a plan for medically transitioning, which included taking testosterone, or T, and then having top surgery. Then I found out what T does to your vocal cords. It thickens them, which is what lowers one’s voice. But it can weaken your singing voice and reduce the range of notes you can sing.
For many trans men and transmasc people who use their voice to perform, taking T is the right choice. But I couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to sing with the voice that I have, so I decided not to take it for the time being.
The decision was initially devastating. I believed I needed to be seen as a man to be taken seriously as a man — having a deep voice was a big part of that — and that not taking T would mean resigning myself to a life of constant misgendering and denial of my identity. For so long, I thought I needed to have my gender identity seen as real by others in order to have it count, but of course the inverse was true: I needed to see myself as real first.
Still reading, eh? Seems like you might want to get this in your inbox. No pressure though. Just some food for thought.