The strange case of Marina Joyce and internet hysteria

Fans became concerned when they perceived Marina Joyce’s persona to have altered
Excerpt from this article (and if you’d like a podcast version, check out this episode of Reply All; and UPDATE, also check out “How It Feels to be at the Centre of an Internet Kidnapping Conspiracy”):

For weeks, fans had been worrying about Marina Joyce. The 19-year-old beauty-YouTuber didn’t seem herself. Her once upbeat and quirky personality had shifted dramatically: her videos were filled with silent stares and shifty off-camera glances. On 8 July, viewers noticed a gun in the background of her latest make-up tutorial. They began talking about how she appeared frightened and distressed.

…It took four days for the wider internet to fall into a frenzy. After a fan compiled a list of their concerns on justpaste.it – a site dedicated to sharing blocks of text easily – the hashtag #SaveMarinaJoyce became the number one trending topic worldwide. When Marina then tried to arrange a 6:30am meet up with her fans, some speculated she was involved in a trap set by Isis. Thousands of teenagers revealed that they couldn’t sleep and were shaking from their belief that Marina had been kidnapped or was being held hostage. More than 60 people tweeted that it had caused them to have an anxiety or panic attack. The mood was one of hysteria.

…But the problem is, there was no scary figure. There was no kidnapping. No abuse. The fears were all baseless. After “numerous” calls, the Enfield police department visited Marina in the early hours of 27 July and tweeted at 4:34AM that she was safe. Marina herself also tweeted that she was “TOTALLY fine”.

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Forget conspiracy theories – here’s why Google’s ‘Conservatives are’ blacklist is worrying

Google Conserative

Excerpt from this article:

This week, people noticed that entering “Conservatives are” to Google doesn’t result in any suggested searches popping up – in contrast to searches for “Labour are”, which offers up “… finished”, “… a joke”, and “… scum”, or “Libdems are”, which offers “… finished”, “… pointless” and “… traitors” as search suggestions.

It’s not the first time seemingly arbitrary Google search suggestions have hit the news. The service generally allows suggestions to be produced purely algorithmically, based on common searches. But sometimes it steps in, either to remove specific suggestions, or, more typically, to override the system and prevent a specific term returning any searches at all.

It’s that lack of explanation that leads some to leap to conspiracy. There’s no evidence to suggest when the term “Conservatives” was added to the blacklist, and Google won’t tell me, but the mere timing of its discovery has drawn people to ask whether it’s part of some shady deal regarding the company’s £130m sweetheart deal with HMRC over back taxes.