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Newsletter: Post SXSW COVID doomscrolling

In today's 'Internet Insider' newsletter, we also look at a Daily Dot facial recognition scoop.


Andrew Wyrich


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 25, 2022   Updated on Apr 11, 2022, 11:02 am CDT

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Hello fellow citizens of the internet, Andrew here. Welcome to today’s edition of Internet Insider. 

It’s Friday, which means our Culture Editor Tiffany Kelly will be breaking down the COVID/SXSW tweets you’ve probably seen dominating your timeline in her “This Week On The Internet” column. Plus, she share’s with you her favorite meme of the week

Besides that, we’ve also got some key reports including a scoop from our FOIA intern Louise and a viral flub made by the internet’s favorite senator to dunk on: Ted Cruz.

Let’s dive into the news. 

— A.W. 


SURVEILLANCE: Emails obtained by the Daily Dot show how the University of Illinois used a free version of the controversial facial recognition technology from Clearview AI to conduct investigations before deciding to purchase the software. You can read the scoop here

CRUZING THE ‘NET: Sen. Ted Cruz apparently couldn’t wait to see how social media was reacting to his performance at the Supreme Court nomination hearings this week.  The Texas senator was caught checking his Twitter mentions during a hearing, and was subsequently mocked incessantly

‘NONE OF THIS IS FUNNY’: TikTok users are calling out a trend where creators fantasize about dates that turn violent. Our IRL Reporter Tricia breaks down how critics feel the trend promotes domestic violence against women. You can read the story here

In Body Image
Positive SARS‑CoV‑2, Covid-19 antigen test kit, one step coronavirus antigen rapid test, saliva swab, 1 test box with imagine of lungs, close up

Who got COVID at SXSW? Just check Twitter

Many people who attended South by Southwest (SXSW) started off this week feeling energized (or tired) from seeing colleagues and friends in-person during the 10-day-long festival. Others fell ill with COVID-19.

And as attendees began to wonder how many people contracted COVID at a SXSW event, the internet offered them some anecdotal evidence. As writer Jill Krajewski put it “‘sxsw + covid’ scrolling is the new doomscrolling.” 

I attended events for nine days in a row during SXSW, but I was lucky. I didn’t end up sick. Other people I know, however, tested positive for COVID. And since there doesn’t appear to be any contact tracing in place with attendees, I also typed in “sxsw covid” in several search bars on my social apps, anxiously scrolling through the results.

As you can probably guess, the results were not great. I’ve seen musicians, speakers, and other attendees announce their COVID results on Twitter and Instagram. Musician Trace Mountains tweeted: “main takeaways from #sxsw this year – everyone got #covid – no one got #paid.” 

Canadian singer Charlotte Cornfield revealed that her “entire band got Covid, as did many others.”

It seemed inevitable that a large gathering of people for a week and a half would result in more cases of COVID. As I pointed out last week, most of the people at the events that I attended, besides film premieres, were not wearing masks.

That included packed venues for popular musicians and conference panels. SXSW did require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result to receive credentials, but as we know since the Omicron variant ripped through the world in December, breakthrough cases for those who are vaccinated are still very possible. 

Although we don’t currently know how many people contracted COVID at a SXSW event (especially since those who traveled from another city likely didn’t test until they got home), the story being told on social media is a warning. Yes, we can have in-person events, but we’re not “back to normal.” The pandemic is ongoing

Tiffany Kelly


In Body Image

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A woman was filmed screaming at a Panda Express worker over a $3 drink in a viral TikTok. Viewers in the comments called out bystanders who did nothing to help the employee. 

“My cousin owes Target $76,000 and is under contract with them now,” they said in a viral video.

Not a fan of the Amazon Firestick? We’ve got options.*

Every day, people put their feelings, passwords, money, and more on the internet, giving life to a digital self. In “Death on the Internet,” the Daily Dot explores how this digital self can live on in the internet’s memory—even after the actual self has abandoned it. 

*The Daily Dot may receive a commission in connection with purchases of products or services featured here.


A woman doing standup before a movie screening in L.A. was recorded by multiple people—and naturally, memed

Now Playing: 🎶Andromeda” by Weyes Blood🎶

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*First Published: Mar 25, 2022, 12:00 pm CDT