📵 Teachers want a word with TikTok
The Hustle

📵 Teachers want a word with TikTok

Young girl listening to music and texting on her phone can’t hear a parent or teacher trying to talk to her. Motion in her hair from being yelled at.

How’s this for vertical integration? CrossFit recently launched CrossFit Precision Care, a primary care service for its athletes, who can now get treated for injuries without worrying about their doctor telling them to cut back on CrossFit.

Today’s rundown:

  • Teachers vs. TikTok: The platform is the source of wild problems at school.
  • Chart: Is tech changing baby names?
  • Creator Economy: Who’s actually benefiting from the boom?

Let’s do it.

The big idea

Source: njgphoto/Getty

TikTok is causing problems for teachers, and it’s bigger than just a classroom distraction

Remember that shameful, uneasy feeling on the way to the principal’s office while awaiting punishment for acting up?

TikTok is probably feeling some of that right about now.

The largest teachers union in the US requested that TikTok, along with Facebook and Twitter, do more to stop the spread of viral challenges and misinformation that have put the safety of educators at risk, per The Wall Street Journal.

The teachers aren’t mad, just disappointed

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, penned a letter in true teacher fashion — as a compliment sandwich that opens and closes with praise for the promise of social media, but calls out a number of recent incidents in between, including:

  • TikTok challenges: Like the “devious licks” challenge, which involves students vandalizing and stealing school property, and the “slap a teacher” challenge, which is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Violence fueled by misinformation: Including radical groups attacking teachers for enforcing mask mandates, and another group attempting to use zip ties to abduct a principal in Arizona for enforcing quarantine policies.

For its part, TikTok removed content associated with the “devious licks” challenge and promised the same with the “slap a teacher” challenge, but not before both had already gained steam.

The homework assignment…

… is for each platform to make a pledge to “fix [their] algorithms to put public safety over profits.” None of the 3 companies have issued a formal response, but Twitter did acknowledge the letter and plans to respond.

As for the students that end up in detention for participating in viral challenges — well, they’ll probably find a way to spend that time on TikTok, anyway.

SNIPPETS

Netflix is now selling merchandise for its top shows at Walmart, including toys, apparel, and a “Nailed It!” baking kit. #ecommerce-retail

Researchers in China say solar power has reached price parity with coal and could account for ~50% of the country’s energy by midcentury. #clean-energy

COVID research: The World Health Organization has proposed 26 experts (out of 700+ applicants) to study the origin of COVID-19. #emerging-tech

Phew: A vulnerability that potentially allowed hackers to steal crypto from OpenSea users by sending them gift NFTs has been fixed. #privacy

Sing for your bitcoin: Music distributor UnitedMasters will allow musicians to be paid in cryptocurrency thanks to a partnership with Coinbase. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Gym buddies: Mindbody, an app for scheduling fitness and wellness services, has acquired ClassPass, a fitness subscription app valued at $1B. #big-tech

The more you know: The Hustle’s Steph Smith wants to know what topics would help bridge the technical literacy gap. Chime in here. #hustle-picks

Chart

Visual: Singdhi Sokpo

How tech is changing baby names

According to Social Security Administration data, the name Alexa dropped ~79% in popularity since Amazon announced its virtual assistant in late 2014.

In the UK, Alexa was the 167th most popular baby name in 2016, and 920th in 2019. (Keep in mind, correlation ≠ causation.)

But it’s not just Alexa:

  • Polling found 37% of parents are naming kids with website domains in mind.
  • In 2018, “Fortnite”-related names surged, including Ramirez (+57%), Leviathan (+46%), and Bunny (+30%).

One name that hasn’t exploded? That of Elon Musk’s son: X Æ A-Xii.

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Power Laws

Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Who’s actually benefiting from the creator economy boom?

Like the green sweatsuit from “Squid Game,” the so-called creator economy exploded in 2021.

Powered by a suite of tools — from broadcasting (YouTube) to publishing (Substack) to payments (OnlyFans) — the trend was supposed to empower digital media creators of all types to earn a livable wage.

But actual riches across media verticals…

… are accruing to only the top creator, per AxiosSara Fischer:

  • Video: The top 1% of streamers on Twitch earn 50%+ of revenue (most earn $120 or less)
  • Podcasts: Top 1% of podcasters earn the “vast majority” of ad revenue
  • Newsletters: The top 10 Substack publications make $20m+ a year collectively (vs. the majority of less popular accounts making 5 figures)

This type of distribution is common entertainment

Superstars like Taylor Swift (music), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (film), and Lionel Messi (soccer) make many multiples of the average person in their field.

Investor Li Jin has offered recommendations on how platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok can help make a “creator middle class”:

  • Allow creators to capitalize on superfans
  • Offer a form of Universal Creative Income (UCI)
  • Provide capital investment to up-and-coming creators
  • Recommend content algorithmically with an element of randomness
  • Create passive (or almost-passive) income opportunities for creators

While these Big Tech platforms offer hundreds of millions in creator funds, more work needs to be done.

AROUND THE WEB

🕵️ On this day: In 1892, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of short mysteries starring the observant detective.

🌲 How to: Hiking can be a great way to connect with nature, but not if the trails are packed with people. Popular Science offers tips for avoiding crowds.

🔥 Wait, what: Someone made a “Burning Man” out of… drones?

💻 Useful: If you need a break from Zoom, Sprout offers a playful interface for virtual meetings where you can drag and resize images and videos on the canvas.

🌞 That’s cool: Use this site to see how close you are to various events — from Halloween to the death of the Sun — via progress bars. (It’s cool, you’ve got 5B years before that last one.)

🐟 Haha: And now, Big Mouth Billy Bass and friends perform “The Monster Mash.”

Meme of the day

Source: FailGags

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