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This article was published on July 24, 2016

When social goes wrong: My Vine feed is shockingly racist, and there’s no way to fix it

When social goes wrong: My Vine feed is shockingly racist, and there’s no way to fix it
Nate Swanner
Story by

Nate Swanner

Former Reporter, TNW

TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If you need to get in touch, Twitter is your best bet.

I’m a Vine addict — or was until recently. Somehow, my Vine ‘For You’ feed has one totally racist on me, and there’s not much I can do about it.

Vine is (supposed to be) hilarious

So here’s a bit of info about me: I think most things are funny. My feeling is that if you can’t laugh at yourself, then there’s not much you’ll find funny in life. So, there’s a lot of weird and wonderful things I find pretty funny; I’m liberal like that.

And part of that humor involves race, or gender. Even stereotypes are funny to me, at least when presented as a joke. Malice has no place in my life, and I definitely don’t think it’s funny on any level.

But when we make fun of ourselves, it’s awesome. If Asians on Twitter want to make fun of stereotypical Asian parents, it’s worth a laugh. Are you laughing at your kid for being a kid (read: pretty dumb in most settings adults breeze through)? I’m probably laughing, too. Is some redneck showing off his sweet nunchaku skills in the back of his lifted truck? Instant revine for me.


’For You’ isn’t for me anymore

Much of my Vine homepage is full of stupid ads for getting free ‘hoverboards’ or iPhones. It’s garbage, and I can’t get it to go away, no matter how many users I block.

For You is a safe haven — or it should be. While Vine doesn’t say how it arrives at populating your feed, the assumption is that it’s based on your like and revine history.

Which makes the fact that my ‘For You’ feed is really racist much more confusing.

I should clarify that in calling my feed ‘racist,’ I’m not saying it’s full of racially charged humor (which I often find hilarious anyway, especially when it’s subdued and clever). I’m saying it’s straight up racist.

If we’re right about Vine picking content for its ‘For You’ feed based on your likes and revines, then I’m even more lost. At no point did I like or revine anything remotely close to what I see now. Some of the posts are from accounts with terrible names, but that has nothing to do with the Vine itself.

Does my intense love of ‘if young metro don’t trust you..’ music overlays cause some sort of algorithmic change? Is the lady that screams ‘pow!’ while trying out for a movie role? Goats in pajamas? Weird 80’s videos?

I don’t know what caused it, but ‘For You’ is now full of people (mainly children, and mostly pre-teen white girls, sadly) randomly inserting the dreaded n-word into Vines and making weird correlations between things and Hitler or Nazi Germany (I’m not including them in this post for obvious reasons).

It wasn’t me

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve liked and revined lately, all ahead of the racism:

I don’t get it. I’ve tried the ‘block and report’ feature for the offending Vines, too. It seemed to have meant nothing; my feed is still very racist.

It’s also not limited to me. I reached out to a few friends about their Vine feeds, and a few had the same issue. One told me her Vine ‘For You’ feed hadn’t changed in nearly a month, so she simply stopped trying.

There are plenty of issues here, though. Vine can filter text but not video content, and there are indications Vine is no longer something Twitter is worrying much about. It’s new longer vines are a neat feature, but definitely reeks of a sinking ship looking for users.

And if that’s accurate, Vine needs to be better. I’ve got a fairly thick skin, so six seconds of idiocy doesn’t bother me much. But if I were watching a longer Vine that went off the rails and into the deep end of vicious racism, that would be a huge problem.

There’s hope that my feed will change so long as I ignore the racism, but that’s no way to solve a problem. Resolving racism to its tiny corner of Vine doesn’t prevent it from popping up again, and it doesn’t help whoever may think the n-word is ever funny learn a lesson.

Vine is supposed to be fun, and it’s not anymore. I can’t say I’ll stop using it, but it’s on a short leash. It’s best when people laugh at themselves and invite me to join in the joke, but randomly spreading hateful rhetoric is just not acceptable.

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