Things That Matter

One San Francisco Man Used The New Snapchat Filters To Nag A Police Officer For Attempting To Sleep With A Minor

Snapchat’s recently found another hit on its hands with a trio of filters that allow users to virtually morph their appearance, either into a stereotypical man, woman, or baby. They’re a fun diversion, but one college student is also using them as a tool for justice.

Most college students use their free time studying or checking out their campus’s social scene, but 20-year-old Ethan wanted to bust online predators. 

News out of San Francisco showed a college student using the gender-swap filter to catch a police officer looking for sex with underage girls.

Credit: @intelligencer / Twitter

Earlier this month, San Mateo police officer Robert Davies was arrested on suspicion of “communicating with a minor with the intention of engaging in sexual activity,” according to the local San Francisco CBS affiliate. The police received a tip from someone claiming to be a 19-year-old woman posing as a 16-year-old on Tinder.

A 20-year-old boy posed as a 16-year-old girl named Esther.

Credit: @CBS6 / Twitter

It turns out the informant was actually a 20-year-old male college student named Ethan, who spoke to the Bay Area’s local NBC affiliate. He says that he was motivated to try to expose pedophiles after a friend revealed their own history of sexual assault to him.

After creating an account on Tinder and chatting with the police officer on SnapChat, the student shared the screenshots with authorities.

Credit: @NBCian / Twitter

Ethan posed as a woman named Esther on Tinder, and told Davies that he was 16, a fact that didn’t seem to bother him. The pair then exchanged many messages over the course of about 12 hours so that Ethan could eventually identify who he was talking to (“It got a lot more explicit,” he recalled). Then Ethan screenshotted the conversation and sent it to the authorities.

Oddly enough, the conversation also took place on Snapchat, making the app a one-stop shop for vigilante catfishing. “Snapchat, when you screenshot something, it notifies the other person that they’ve screenshotted the chats, right?” he told NBC. “So I had to screenshot all these on airplane mode in case he blocked me.”

Many on Twitter were totally unaware of the airplane mode loophole.

Like, we were totally unaware either. This is groundbreaking news for those deep spy days.

Many are upset the officer is only on paid administrative leave.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

Davies has been placed on paid administrative leave in the meantime. At the time of his arrested, San Mateo police chief Susan Manheimer said, “This alleged conduct, if true, is in no way a reflection of all that we stand for as a Department, and is an affront to the tenets of our department and our profession as a whole.”

Ethan told NBC that he does not plan to repeat the stunt. In the meantime, the filters remain a big hit, and Snapchat’s install rates have doubled since the filters were released.

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Snapchat Tragically Thought Making Users Smile To Break ‘Chains Of Slavery’ Was A Fun Idea

Things That Matter

Snapchat Tragically Thought Making Users Smile To Break ‘Chains Of Slavery’ Was A Fun Idea

@KevOnStage

Companies and brands need Black people.

Case in point: recently, an executive from Snapchat’s parent company was forced to apologize for a disrespectful filter that encouraged users to “break the chains of slavery with a smile.”

Snapchat’s latest filter was set against a Pan-African flag and encouraged users to smile to make chains appear and ultimately break them.

The filter was featured as part of Snapchat’s Juneteenth support effort which rose in popularity amid protests over the death of Georg Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people across the United States.

Users on Twitter were quick to condemn the filter as “tone-deaf” and being superficial in attempts to address systematic racism. In response to the backlash, former Snapchat employees have tweeted out about the company’s lack of diversity. “This is what happens when you don’t have any black people on the product design team,” one Twitter user wrote.

In response to complaints, Oona King, the vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Snap, slammed assertions that the company launched the filter without consulting Black staffers.

“The mischaracterization on social media — that White executives at a tech company failed, yet again, to include Black perspectives — is completely untrue,” King, a Black woman told employees in a Saturday letter. “What is true is that regardless of our diverse backgrounds, we are all human, and humans make mistakes.”

King asserted that Black employees had been “fully involved” in creating and approving the filter. In response to complaints, Snapchat pulled the filter and apologized.

“This mistake has taught us a valuable lesson, and I am sincerely sorry that it came at the expense of what we meant to be a respectful commemoration of this important day,” King said in the letter published by The Verge. “We feel it is perfectly acceptable as black people to celebrate the end of slavery — as we do with picnics, BBQs, street parties, and other forms of celebration across America — and say ‘Smile! Happy Juneteenth; we’re no longer enslaved! But we’re not yet really free either! However for a White person to tell a Black person: ‘Smile! You’re no longer slaves’ is offensive in the extreme.”

Unlike other Silicon Valley giants, Snap has yet to share a report on the diversity of its workforce. Recently they announced plans to publicly release diversity data, “along with additional context and our plans for meaningful change.”

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Victim In The R. Kelly Documentary Sequel Says He Made Her Commit To A Suicide Pact

Things That Matter

Victim In The R. Kelly Documentary Sequel Says He Made Her Commit To A Suicide Pact

rkelly / Instagram

Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement, people all over the country have found the courage to speak up about their experiences with sexual assault. This sense of empowerment has taken various forms, even resulting in the release of several shocking docuseries, like HBO’s Leaving Neverland and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly. While Leaving Neverland consisted of just two harrowing episodes, Surviving R. Kelly offers a broad glimpse into the singer’s criminal past, spanning three separate installments of six troubling episodes.

The second season, Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning, is set to premiere on January 2, 2020, and the trailer is full of deeply disturbing details.

Credit: Lifetime / Youtube

The trailer for the new season not only introduces new victims, but follows up with victims from Part I. Many of the women and their family members describe death threats they received after the release of Part I, as well as how they’ve managed to cope with the backlash. The four-minute video features victim Jerhonda Pace, who alleges that she was a part of a forced suicide pact of women who pledged to kill themselves if R. Kelly were to ever end up in prison. And the trailer ends with Dominique Gardner, R. Kelly’s live-in girlfriend who was rescued in Part I, who is ready to share her story.

During its debut in February of this year, Surviving R. Kelly had more than 26 million viewers and was the #1 trending topic on Twitter. Allegations against him have circulated since 1991, so talk about R. Kelly’s predatory behavior is nothing new—the difference now is that the world is finally taking his victims seriously. The Lifetime documentary has much to do with this paradigm shift: featuring accounts from 48 different women who were victimized by R. Kelly over the course of several decades, the documentary offers undeniable evidence that R. Kelly has been a dangerous force in the industry for far too long.

One of the most notable red flags of R. Kelly’s career appeared when he married the late singer Aaliyah. At the time, she was just 15 years old, and the world had to wonder: how did that happen? In the US, it is illegal to marry anyone under the age of 18 without a parent’s consent, and even then, 15 years old is still legally considered too young—plus, Aaliyah’s family absolutely did not consent to the marriage. It took until last month, 25 years later, for R. Kelly to be prosecuted for bribing an Illinois government employee on August 30, 1994, to obtain a fake ID that claimed Aaliyah was 18.

Although their marriage was later annulled at the request of Aaliyah’s family, Kelly’s behavior signaled a pattern of sexually exploiting underage girls that would persist over the next 20 years.

Credit: The Source

And the entertainment industry would turn a blind eye to Kelly’s influence for just as long. Until the release of Surviving R. Kelly, his behavior was often the subject of jokes and pop culture references, rather than being seen as a serious threat to the safety of several dozen women and girls. In 2002, when that famous video of him sexually engaging with (and urinating on) an underage girl came to light, he was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography—yet none of these charges resulted in convictions. Really, R. Kelly’s misconduct has never been a secret, but Surviving R. Kelly has led to justice for his victims, with a long list of criminal charges finally culminating in his arrest.

Yet R. Kelly has vehemently denied these allegations of abuse and manipulation. In case you missed it, he became emotionally unhinged during an interview with Gayle King of “CBS This Morning,” raising his voice, pounding his chest and crying when King challenges his claims. When asked why he chose to participate in the interview, he said, “I’m very tired of all the lies,” and insisted that he had “absolutely not” broken any laws when it “came to relationships with girls.” He claimed that everyone in the documentary “was describing Lucifer,” and that he “is not Lucifer,” before unleashing an explosive rant about what a good heart he has and insisting on his innocence.

“I have been assassinated,” he told King. “I’ve been buried alive.”

A conversation about R. Kelly’s attempt to convince viewers of his innocence emerged shortly after the interview aired, with Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham telling CBS News that in the interview, R. Kelly “came off as someone trying to manipulate the audience the way he has allegedly manipulated these women.” The second season of Surviving R. Kelly will focus more on this perspective, not only featuring new women with new allegations, but also psychologists, cultural experts and legal experts who might be able to offer insight on R. Kelly’s skewed perspective and the criminal consequences that await him.

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