A Whole New Meaning to Sugar Rush, DeSantis Comes Through, and the Looksmaxxing Trend

Words by
Jackie Baucom

MAR 28, 2024

A Whole New Meaning to Sugar Rush, DeSantis Comes Through, and the Looksmaxxing Trend

Welcome to this week’s roundup, where we bring you a mix of good news, emerging trends, must-know apps, and a sprinkle of controversy. Dive in and stay up-to-date on the latest online buzz.

Psychedelic Candy Seized Thanks to DARE Officer

A tip from a DARE officer led Jeffersontown, Kentucky police to seize THC products, cash, and a stolen gun from three suspects accused of selling drugs to middle school students.

The seized items included psychedelic chocolate bars and gummies with Pokémon packaging. 

Sgt. Richard Burns said the transactions occurred via social media, and emphasized the importance of monitoring children’s online activities. 

WDRB | Jeffersontown police warn parents to monitor kids’ phones after psychedelic gummies were sold to children

Teens Turning to Chinese App for Advice

Young Americans dissatisfied with the insincerity on U.S. social media are turning to Xiaohongshu, a Chinese app, for straightforward yet courteous feedback for improving one’s appearance and style. 

Pronounced shau-hong-shoo, the app has over 300 million users and is like a mix of Instagram and Reddit.

Despite a language barrier and concerns over Chinese app usage, many non-Chinese users find the app’s honesty refreshing and helpful in contrast to Western social media’s tendency towards excessive compliments..

The Wall Street Journal | Bad Haircut? A Hot Chinese App Is Giving Americans Blunt Advice

Looksmaxxing and the Male Beauty Culture

The rise of online communities promoting male beauty ideals is exemplified by the growing popularity of looksmaxxing, which focuses on maximizing one’s appearance — particularly on the jawline, skin, and muscularity.

Looksmaxxing has gained traction on platforms like TikTok, attracting teenage boys predisposed to the “manosphere” subculture.

Despite claims of promoting self-improvement, looksmaxxing has drawn criticism for perpetuating unrealistic physical expectations and potentially leading to disordered eating habits among young men. 

BBC | Inside looksmaxxing, the extreme cosmetic social media trend

DeSantis Finally Signs Social Media Bill 

After weeks of back-and-forth, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill prohibiting kids under 14 from having social media accounts. 

The law forbids social networks from allowing children under 14 to access their services, and demands that any current accounts belonging to underage users be deleted. The statute also mandates age verification for online pornography services. 

For teens ages 14 and 15, social media platforms are required to obtain a parent’s permission before allowing teens to create accounts.

The New York Times | DeSantis Signs Social Media Bill Barring Accounts for Children Under 14

Ensuring Ethical AI for Children

A paper published in Nature Machine Intelligence by Oxford researchers, highlights the neglect of children’s needs and guardian roles in AI tools. 

Researchers have recommendations for AI ethics, including involving stakeholders in decisions, supporting the industry, establishing legal mechanisms, and promoting collaboration.

The paper emphasizes ethical AI principles for children, ensuring fair access, transparency, privacy, safety, and age-appropriate systems, along with active involvement of children during the development process.

Tech Xplore | AI ethics are ignoring children, say researchers

iPhone Monopoly

The U.S. government, District of Columbia, and 16 states are suing Apple — alleging an iPhone monopoly and antitrust violations.

The lawsuit claims Apple’s practices stifle competition and harm consumers, including limiting app offerings and digital wallet alternatives. 

Apple defends its actions, citing security and privacy concerns.

The New York Times | U.S. Sues Apples, Accounting It of Maintaining an iPhone Monopoly

Apple Default Setting Sparks Concern

Apple’s latest iPhone software update includes a default setting called, “Discoverable by Others.” 

Despite concern, Apple clarified that it doesn’t share names or locations with others. The setting enhances the Journal app’s functionality, offering personalized suggestions based on nearby contacts without revealing specific identities.

While the default setting aims to provide users with enhanced features, it can be disabled for those prioritizing privacy.

The Wall Street Journal | Apple Turned On a Buried iPhone Setting. You Might Want It Off.

Instagram Limiting Political Content

Instagram has introduced a feature limiting political content on its platform.

This new feature is turned on by default, and aligns with Instagram’s earlier decision to stop proactively recommending political content, aiming to enhance user experience. 

Users can navigate to settings and disable the setting to view political content from accounts they don’t follow.

Meta emphasizes that the change only affects recommended posts, and not those accounts users choose to follow.

The Hill | Instagram moves to limit political content

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