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The tweets that sank the Oscar host

Kevin Hart is a popular comedian and actor who, until Friday morning, was scheduled to be the host of
December 7 · Issue #261 · View online
The Interface
Kevin Hart is a popular comedian and actor who, until Friday morning, was scheduled to be the host of the 2019 Academy Awards. And he still would be the host of the 2019 Academy Awards, had he not violated one of the sacrosanct rules of life online: never tweet.
“Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay,’” read a 2011 tweet that Hart deleted sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.
Benjamin Lee, an editor at the Guardian, was one of the first to point out Hart’s old tweets following the Oscars announcement. “I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets,” Lee tweeted, adding screenshots from some of Hart’s since-deleted tweets in which he said someone looked like “a gay bill board for AIDS” and called another person a “FAT FAG.”
Hart’s anti-gay ideology wasn’t exactly a secret before now. As Lee noted in a piece for the Guardian, Hart devoted part of a 2010 stand-up special to describing his terror that his son would turn out to be gay — and his intention to prevent it however he could. (“I’m not homophobic,” he added.)
And after the year that Hollywood has had, you might think the academy might have done a Twitter search before naming its host. It was barely three months ago that James Gunn, the high-profile director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, was fired amid a spurious campaign to link him to pedophilia over 2010-era Twitter jokes.
Given a choice of apologizing or doubling down on being an anti-gay idiot, Hart chose the latter, Brian Raftery reported in Wired:
In an Instagram post from that morning, Hart appeared bratty, defensive, and completely dismissive of the growing pushback (he also seemed kind of drowsy, possibly because he filmed it from a bed). “Our world is becoming beyond crazy,” Hart complained, “and I’m not gonna let the craziness frustrate me … if you don’t believe people change, grow, evolve as they get older, [then] I don’t know what to tell you.” In the accompanying caption, he wrote, “If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man I am becoming.”
Apparently, in Hart’s world, it’s OK for a man to love a man — as long as that man is yourself.
Obviously Hart’s brief tenure as Oscar host-to-be is a dumb story that we all will have forgotten about by happy hour tonight. But it reminded me of a good essay about Twitter behavior that I saw recently on Motherboard: “The internet doesn’t need civility, it needs ethics,” by communications professors Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner.
In the piece, the professors encourage us to think about Twitter as an ecosystem in which users have varying degrees of “biomass” (followers).
In biology, biomass pyramids chart the relative number or weight of one class of organism compared to another organism within the same ecosystem. For a habitat to support one lion, the biomass pyramid shows, it needs a whole lot of insects. When applied to questions of online toxicity, biomass pyramids speak to the fact that there are far more everyday, relatively low-level cases of harmful behavior than there are apex predator cases—the kinds of actions that are explicitly and wilfully harmful, from coordinated hate and harassment campaigns to media manipulation tactics designed to sow chaos and confusion.
Phillips and Milner argue that the collective bad behavior of the insects is at least as important to the overall health of Twitter as that of the lions;
This bottom strata includes posting snarky jokes about an unfolding news story, tragedy, or controversy; retweeting hoaxes and other misleading narratives ironically, to condemn them, make fun of the people involved, or otherwise assert superiority over those who take the narratives seriously; making ambivalent inside jokes because your friends will know what you mean (and for white people in particular, that your friends will know you’re not a real racist); @mentioning the butts of jokes, critiques, or collective mocking, thus looping the target of the conversation into the discussion; and easiest of all, jumping into conversations mid-thread without knowing what the issues are. Regarding visual media, impactive everyday behaviors include responding to a thread with a GIF or reaction image featuring random everyday strangers, or posting (and/or remixing) the latest meme to comment on the news of the day.
Unfortunately, the authors’ proposed solution basically boils down to “be nicer” — great advice, but unlikely to be heeded at scale. Still, it’s worth thinking about — especially for someone like me, who enjoys both posting snarky jokes about unfolding news stories and making ambivalent inside jokes because my friends will know what I mean.
Anyway, I thought of the piece in relation to Hart because his tweets showed him to be a lion eating insects — using his enormous platform to go after a large and harmless group of people who are just trying to live! Talk about punching down.
I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Twitter had been monitoring the accounts of lions like his for ugly anti-gay slurs eight years ago. Perhaps he could have learned his lesson then, and hosted the Oscars in 2019.
As it is, the show is much better off without him.

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And finally ...
Tumblr’s announcement that it will ban adult content beginning later this month has set up a new an exciting game in which bloggers attempt to determine exactly where the Verizon-owned network will draw the line. Today’s finding, via Chappell Ellison on Twitter, is that a hot naked man chest is acceptable only if accompanied by an owl wearing a hat.
Please add that to your content moderation guidelines and update your blogging strategy accordingly.
Chappell Ellison ٩( ᐛ )و✎
So here's something. Users are testing the limits of Tumblr's new algorithm that flags adult content (aka "censorbot"). This one found that a man's chest was flagged, but a man's chest next a 50% scale owl went unnoticed.

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9:48 AM - 7 Dec 2018
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