Twitter Flooded With Hilarious Memes After Nirmala Sitharaman Presented Union Budget 2020

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Today was an important day of the year as the Union Budget 2020 was presented by the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman. The major highlight of the budget is the new income tax slabs but the government has given an option to the citizens, they can either choose to continue with the old tax rates with exemption or can opt for the new tax rates in which the exemptions are not provided.

As per the Finance Minister, Union Budget 2020 is focused on three points – improving the standards of living, economic development for each section and a caring society. The Finance Minister has also called the Goods and Service Tax (GST) as a historic reform in the Indian tax regime. Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized on the need of making compliances easy to fulfill for the startups too.

Every person tries to find out what this budget has for him and after the 2.5 hours long speech of the Finance Minister, the micro-blogging site Twitter is flooded with reactions. While some expressed their happiness or annoyance, there were some who felt that the speech was unnecessarily long and compared it with Sajid Khan’s movie. Here are some of the selected reactions:

#1

Middle class people trying to understand #Budget2020 . pic.twitter.com/LVp4vOrfVf

— Hunटरर ♂ 🥳 (@nickhunterr) February 1, 2020

#2

Nirmala Sitharaman talking about government’s achievements #BudgetSession2020 pic.twitter.com/wOsKn4GPR6

— Sir Yuzvendra (parody) (@SirYuzvendra) February 1, 2020

#3

#BudgetSession2020 #Budget2020
*Rahul Gandhi trying to understand the Budget* pic.twitter.com/uIrkC4294Z

— Ashutosh Singh (@ashusarcastic) February 1, 2020

#4

1. Indians before budget speech.
2. Indians after budget speech.#Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/4G9WD2BIaQ

— Nirmala Tai Halwe wali (@Vishj05) February 1, 2020

#5

Income Tax slabs over the years#Budget2020 #BudgetSession2020 #NirmalaSitaraman pic.twitter.com/RIDt3ykkVQ

— Siddharth Patni (@aageSeLeftLelo) February 1, 2020

#6

Salaried taxpayers waiting for tax cuts be like:#BUDGET2020 pic.twitter.com/0vbG4XGMuC

— VJ (@CA_Hemwani) February 1, 2020

#7

A friend just said “budget chaahe jaisa marzi aa jaye, hum month end tak gareeb ho hi jaayenge”, and it hit me hard. #BudgetSession2020

— Pakchikpak Raja Babu (@HaramiParindey) February 1, 2020

#8

People : Is bar ka #Budget2020 Middle class wala hoga !!

Nirmala : pic.twitter.com/IUiK97hcTg

— Sourabh 🇮🇳 (@SourabhJainIET) February 1, 2020

#9

The #Budget2020 was a Sajid Khan movie 😁#BudgetSession2020

— HOLLA! (@AshokaHolla) February 1, 2020

#10

#BudgetOnZee #Budget2020 #BudgetSession2020

When tax Rates and you realise
Gets Reduced no deduction will
Be allowed as well pic.twitter.com/4XjvY05Au6

— CUagain (@RECinaction) February 1, 2020

#11

Everybody right now. #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/U0GVYbe24Z

— अंकित जैन (@indiantweeter) February 1, 2020

#12

Common Man trying to understand #Budget2020 listening to #NirmalaSitharaman’s speech. pic.twitter.com/oXLCjKHp1c

— Godman Chikna (@Madan_Chikna) February 1, 2020

#13

Middle class people checking the budget benefits #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/oJVhN90lIF

— Aishthetic ?? (@Badassgirlll) February 1, 2020

#14

New income tax regime #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/l2QmPyfjWH

— Megha Mandavia (@MeghaMandaviaET) February 1, 2020

#15

New Tax slab … #Budget2020 https://t.co/CGwLmE0coJ pic.twitter.com/uUJE77gbeS

— Mr. Dua (@koolmunddaa) February 1, 2020

The share market doesn’t seem to be happy with the budget as it closed almost 900 points down today. The experts feel that the government has not talked clearly on the matter of dealing with economic slowdown.

What is your opinion on the Union Budget 2020? Let us know your views.

The post Twitter Flooded With Hilarious Memes After Nirmala Sitharaman Presented Union Budget 2020 appeared first on RVCJ Media.

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CPAC chair: Mitt Romney ‘NOT invited’ to upcoming event after Senator votes for witnesses

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Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s decision to side with Democrats and vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial earned him much criticism and now a dis-invitation.

The Utah lawmaker was “formally not invited” to attend this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, referred to as CPAC, after his stunt in a Senate vote Friday when he voted in favor of hearing from witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial.

“The ‘extreme conservative’ and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020,” American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a mocking tweet on Friday.

The conservative conference scheduled for the end of the month will feature Trump as the keynote speaker.

BREAKING: The “extreme conservative” and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020. pic.twitter.com/f35tYy73V1

— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) January 31, 2020

Romney and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine were the only Republicans who voted with Democrats on Friday in the failed attempt to allow additional witnesses to be heard in the trial. The final vote of 51-49 shot down a weeks-long Democratic effort to hear witnesses, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and others, and set the stage for a final vote to acquit the president next week.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were ultimately the swing GOP votes, sticking with the party and voting against the effort while Democrats began to discredit the process as a “sham.” Romney, who is not up for reelection until 2024, was roundly condemned for bucking the party though some, like Utah’s Republican senior Senator Mike Lee did come to his defense.

Mitt Romney is a good friend and an excellent Senator. We have disagreed about a lot in this trial. But he has my respect for the thoughtfulness, integrity, and guts he has shown throughout this process. Utah and the Senate are lucky to have him.

— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) January 31, 2020

Lee is a frequent CPAC attendee as is Romney who has spoken at the annual conservative gathering in the past, including in 2013, following his 2012 failed presidential bid. It was not clear if the former Massachusetts governor was even planning to attend this year’s event which will include Diamond and Silk, Candace Owens and California Rep. Devin Nunes as speakers as well as conservative commentator Mark Levin, and Brexit leader Nigel Farage.

CPAC and Schlapp were slammed by some Twitter users for the rebuke of Romney and display of “cancel culture” politics.

— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 31, 2020

oh what a calamity how will Mitt ever be able to carry on https://t.co/7vsYOPzEuh

— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 31, 2020

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 31, 2020

CPAC has turned into an alt right clown show. I’m sure Mitt could care less.

— Marylou Culkar (@MarylouCulkar6) February 1, 2020

But many others on Twitter were happy to see the Utah senator get called out.

I am so disappointed in Romney. What a traitor and I don’t use that loosely. Trump supported him completely in his bid for the senate. Romney has done everything to betray Trump. I never would have believed it but there it is.

— Chuck Woolery (@chuckwoolery) January 26, 2020

— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) February 1, 2020

Epic Burn. 🔥🤣

I am going to CPAC because my dreams became memes.

And I didn’t betray the president 40 times.

— Carpe Donktum🔹 (@CarpeDonktum) January 31, 2020

Good riddance… It’s about time Mitt Romney be held accountable for his actions.

Not sure why he’d want to be at #CPAC anyway, he’s no longer a conservative. https://t.co/KtXVM1tWZY

— Jason Lewis (@LewisForMN) February 1, 2020

Good! He’s NOT a Republican!

Senior Staff Writer

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.

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Sir Nigel Farage? Prospect of knighthood for Brexit Party leader provokes joy & horror on Twitter

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The prospect of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage receiving a knighthood in the UK’s New Year Honours list has been met with a mixture of delight and dismay in equal measure on social media.

According to the UK government’s website, the annual list “recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people” across the country. One lucky recipient of such an honor could be Farage, who is rumored to be in line for a knighthood, primarily for his long-running campaign to see Britain leave the European Union.

Also on rt.com

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage campaigns in Hartlepool, December 11, 2019.
Victory for Brexit, but not Brexit Party: Farage says he’s ‘comfortable’ with winning no seats in UK election

The thought of such a prestigious accolade for the 55-year-old politician has, perhaps quite predictably, caused ructions on social media. An avalanche of comical memes and gifs have been tweeted by his allies and detractors.

Many of Farage’s supporters have come out to praise his contribution to the Brexit debate with some suggesting that the UK would “still be waiting for a [EU] referendum” without him.

Yes Yes Yes, Marvelous.
Arise Sir Nigel.😉🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧👍 pic.twitter.com/ADp3K1BUam

— dave (@NorthBankDave1) December 23, 2019

Stand Up Sir Nigel Farage #NigelFarage . He has selflessly fought for British Democracy for over 25 years. #SirNigelFarage pic.twitter.com/pqeLuIwOLh

— Ken Shakesby (@ken_shakesby) December 23, 2019

A number of his critics appeared dumbfounded that such a title for the arch Brexiteer could even be contemplated. One person tweeted that if he is knighted then she’ll be having her “own Brexit and leaving the UK!!!”

pic.twitter.com/bHbqHhJpFp

— Tracy O’Shea (@TracymOshea) December 23, 2019

How is that even a question? He has achieved nothing! pic.twitter.com/cSVm54LDj9

— Lauren Rose 🌹 (@RedLeftie) December 23, 2019

The New Year Honours list consists of knights and dames, appointments to the Order of the British Empire, and gallantry awards to servicemen and women, and civilians. Individuals are nominated by UK government departments and members of the public with the Queen informally approving the list.

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Why the fight against disinformation, sham accounts and trolls won’t be any easier in 2020

2020 Election

The big tech companies have announced aggressive steps to keep trolls, bots and online fakery from marring another presidential election — from Facebook’s removal of billions of fake accounts to Twitter’s spurning of all political ads.

But it’s a never-ending game of whack-a-mole that’s only getting harder as we barrel toward the 2020 election. Disinformation peddlers are deploying new, more subversive techniques and American operatives have adopted some of the deceptive tactics Russians tapped in 2016. Now, tech companies face thorny and sometimes subjective choices about how to combat them — at times drawing flak from both Democrats and Republicans as a result.

This is our roundup of some of the evolving challenges Silicon Valley faces as it tries to counter online lies and bad actors heading into the 2020 election cycle:

1) American trolls may be a greater threat than Russians

Russia-backed trolls notoriously flooded social media with disinformation around the presidential election in 2016, in what Robert Mueller’s investigators described as a multimillion-dollar plot involving years of planning, hundreds of people and a wave of fake accounts posting news and ads on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube.

This time around — as experts have warned — a growing share of the threat is likely to originate in America.

“It’s likely that there will be a high volume of misinformation and disinformation pegged to the 2020 election, with the majority of it being generated right here in the United States, as opposed to coming from overseas,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

Barrett, the author of a recent report on 2020 disinformation, noted that lies and misleading claims about 2020 candidates originating in the U.S. have already spread across social media. Those include manufactured sex scandals involving South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and a smear campaign calling Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “not an American black” because of her multiracial heritage. (The latter claim got a boost on Twitter from Donald Trump Jr.)

Before last year’s midterm elections, Americans similarly amplified fake messages such as a “#nomenmidterms” hashtag that urged liberal men to stay home from the polls to make “a Woman’s Vote Worth more.” Twitter suspended at least one person — actor James Woods — for retweeting that message.

“A lot of the disinformation that we can identify tends to be domestic,” said Nahema Marchal, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Project. “Just regular private citizens leveraging the Russian playbook, if you will, to create … a divisive narrative, or just mixing factual reality with made-up facts.”

Tech companies say they’ve broadened their fight against disinformation as a result. Facebook, for instance, announced in October that it had expanded its policies against “coordinated inauthentic behavior” to reflect a rise in disinformation campaigns run by non-state actors, domestic groups and companies. But people tracking the spread of fakery say it remains a problem, especially inside closed groups like those popular on Facebook.

2) And policing domestic content is tricky

U.S. law forbids foreigners from taking part in American political campaigns — a fact that made it easy for members of Congress to criticize Facebook for accepting rubles as payment for political ads in 2016.

But Americans are allowed, even encouraged, to partake in their own democracy — which makes things a lot more complicated when they use social media tools to try to skew the electoral process. For one thing, the companies face a technical challenge: Domestic meddling doesn’t leave obvious markers such as ads written in broken English and traced back to Russian internet addresses.

More fundamentally, there’s often no clear line between bad-faith meddling and dirty politics. It’s not illegal to run a mud-slinging campaign or engage in unscrupulous electioneering. And the tech companies are wary of being seen as infringing on American’s right to engage in political speech — all the more so as conservatives such as President Donald Trump accuse them of silencing their voices.

Plus, the line between foreign and domestic can be blurry. Even in 2016, the Kremlin-backed troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency relied on Americans to boost their disinformation. Now, claims with hazy origins are being picked up without need for a coordinated 2016-style foreign campaign. Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic strategist who has spent recent years focused on online disinformation, points to Trump’s promotion of the theory that Ukraine significantly meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, a charge that some experts trace back to Russian security forces.

“It’s hard to know if something is foreign or domestic,” said Rosenberg, once it “gets swept up in this vast ‘Wizard of Oz’-like noise machine.”

3) Bad actors are learning

Experts agree on one thing: The election interference tactics that social media platforms encounter in 2020 will look different from those they’ve trying to fend off since 2016.

“What we’re going to see is the continued evolution and development of new approaches, new experimentation trying to see what will work and what won’t,” said Lee Foster, who leads the information operations intelligence analysis team at the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

Foster said the “underlying motivations” of undermining democratic institutions and casting doubt on election results will remain constant, but the trolls have already evolved their tactics.

For instance, they’ve gotten better at obscuring their online activity to avoid automatic detection, even as social media platforms ramp up their use of artificial intelligence software to dismantle bot networks and eradicate inauthentic accounts.

“One of the challenges for the platforms is that, on the one hand, the public understandably demands more transparency from them about how they take down or identify state-sponsored attacks or how they take down these big networks of authentic accounts, but at the same time they can’t reveal too much at the risk of playing into bad actors’ hands,” said Oxford’s Marchal.

Researchers have already observed extensive efforts to distribute disinformation through user-generated posts — known as “organic” content — rather than the ads or paid messages that were prominent in the 2016 disinformation campaigns.

Foster, for example, cited trolls impersonating journalists or other more reliable figures to give disinformation greater legitimacy. And Marchal noted a rise in the use of memes and doctored videos, whose origins can be difficult to track down. Jesse Littlewood, vice president at advocacy group Common Cause, said social media posts aimed at voter suppression frequently appear no different from ordinary people sharing election updates in good faith — messages such as “you can text your vote” or “the election’s a different day” that can be “quite harmful.”

Tech companies insist they are learning, too. Since the 2016 election, Google, Facebook and Twitter have devoted security experts and engineers to tackling disinformation in national elections across the globe, including the 2018 midterms in the United States. The companies say they have gotten better at detecting and removing fake accounts, particularly those engaged in coordinated campaigns.

But other tactics may have escaped detection so far. NYU’s Barrett noted that disinformation-for-hire operations sometimes employed by corporations may be ripe for use in U.S. politics, if they’re not already.

He pointed to a recent experiment conducted by the cyber threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, which said it paid two shadowy Russian “threat actors” a total of just $6,050 to generate media campaigns promoting and trashing a fictitious company. Barrett said the project was intended “to lure out of the shadows firms that are willing to do this kind of work,” and demonstrated how easy it is to generate and sow disinformation.

Real-life examples include a hyper-partisan skewed news operation started by a former Fox News executive and Facebook’s accusations that an Israeli social media company profited from creating hundreds of fake accounts. That “shows that there are firms out there that are willing and eager to engage in this kind of underhanded activity,” Barrett said.

4) Not all lies are created equal

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are largely united in trying to take down certain kinds of false information, such as targeted attempts to drive down voter turnout. But their enforcement has been more varied when it comes to material that is arguably misleading.

In some cases, the companies label the material factually dubious or use their algorithms to limit its spread. But in the lead-up to 2020, the companies’ rules are being tested by political candidates and government leaders who sometimes play fast and loose with the truth.

“A lot of the mainstream campaigns and politicians themselves tend to rely on a mix of fact and fiction,” Marchal said. “It’s often a lot of … things that contain a kernel of truth but have been distorted.”

One example is the flap over a Trump campaign ad — which appeared on Facebook, YouTube and some television networks — suggesting that former Vice President Joe Biden had pressured Ukraine into firing a prosecutor to squelch an investigation into an energy company whose board included Biden’s son Hunter. In fact, the Obama administration and multiple U.S. allies had pushed for removing the prosecutor for slow-walking corruption investigations. The ad “relies on speculation and unsupported accusations to mislead viewers,” the nonpartisan site FactCheck.org concluded.

The debate has put tech companies at the center of a tug of war in Washington. Republicans have argued for more permissive rules to safeguard constitutionally protected political speech, while Democrats have called for greater limits on politicians’ lies.

Democrats have especially lambasted Facebook for refusing to fact-check political ads, and have criticized Twitter for letting politicians lie in their tweets and Google for limiting candidates’ ability to finely tune the reach of their advertising — all examples, the Democrats say, of Silicon Valley ducking the fight against deception.

Jesse Blumenthal, who leads the tech policy arm of the Koch-backed Stand Together coalition, said expecting Silicon Valley to play truth cop places an undue burden on tech companies to litigate messy disputes over what’s factual.

“Most of the time the calls are going to be subjective, so what they end up doing is putting the platforms at the center of this rather than politicians being at the center of this,” he said.

Further complicating matters, social media sites have generally granted politicians considerably more leeway to spread lies and half-truths through their individual accounts and in certain instances through political ads. “We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an October speech at Georgetown University in which he defended his company’s policy.

But Democrats say tech companies shouldn’t profit off false political messaging.

“I am supportive of these social media companies taking a much harder line on what content they allow in terms of political ads and calling out lies that are in political ads, recognizing that that’s not always the easiest thing to draw those distinctions,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state told POLITICO.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson on surviving the trolls: ‘People were saying horrific things’

Eight years after she shot to fame on The X Factor, Nelson describes how she navigated the trauma of being relentlessly bullied on social media

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When Jesy Nelson was 19 and working behind the bar at a pub in Dagenham, Essex, she remembers watching The X Factor on TV, and thinking: I know I could win that. In 2011, she did just that, as part of the girl group Little Mix and thought: This is the worst day of my life.

Competing in Simon Cowells singing contest unleashed ceaseless criticism of her appearance and weight (although rarely her voice). All I cared about was what people were saying about me, she says now.

Winning offered no respite. When Little Mix were crowned, the first Facebook message she saw was from a stranger. It read: You are the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life. You do not deserve to be in this girl band, you deserve to die.

I should have been on cloud nine, she says. I had Leigh-Anne [Pinnock, also of Little Mix] in my room being like: This is the best! and I was like: No, this isnt.

Little Mix went on to become the biggest British girl group since the Spice Girls, but Nelson was consumed by the trolling and abuse on social media. Within two years of the finale, she had depression and an eating disorder and had attempted suicide.

The downward spiral and her eventual, slow recovery are the focus of an intensely personal BBC One documentary, Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out. Before shooting it, she says, she had never spoken publicly about her struggles in the spotlight.

When we meet in a corner of BBC Broadcasting House in central London, Nelson, now 28, is friendly and glamorous, dressed in a double-breasted tangerine suit. It is the eighth anniversary of her X Factor debut and #8YearsofLittleMix has been trending on Twitter all morning, thanks to their fans, the Mixers.

On
On The X Factor in 2011: (from left) Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jesy Nelson. Photograph: Ken McKay/Talkback Thames/Rex/Shutterstock

Within minutes of sitting down, she says that, had she known the consequences of appearing on The X Factor, she wouldnt have done it: I dont think anything is worth your happiness, and it was a lot of my life that I wont get back.

As a child growing up in Romford, Essex, Nelson was intent on becoming a performer, be it singing, dancing or acting. I didnt really have any reason to not be confident, she says.

In mid-2011, she auditioned for The X Factor as a solo entrant, and was eventually placed in a group with three others: Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall, all aged between 18 and 20.

Back then, social media was not as inextricably linked with reality TV as it is now. In fact, that eighth series was the first where applicants could upload their audition videos to YouTube; Nelson didnt even know what YouTube was. She remembers being wowed when all the contestants were given new Samsung phones and told to get on Twitter to build their fanbase.

On the first live show 12 weeks in, Little Mix (then Rhythmix the name was changed later) performed Nicki Minajs Super Bass to gushing praise from judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and their mentor Tulisa Contostavlos. It was the best feeling in the world, said Nelson through happy tears on stage.

That night, off-camera, the contestants gathered to watch themselves on YouTube. Someone pointed out the comment section. I was very naive, says Nelson. I thought it would be people giving their opinion on our performance. But nearly every comment was about the way I looked: Shes a fat ugly rat; How has she got in this girl group?; How is the fat one in this? She remembers the air being thick with tension because no one knew what to do or how to react.

I felt a rush of anxiety, because Id never experienced anything like that in my life. People were saying my face was deformed just the most horrific things. I felt like I was heartbroken. I remember ringing my mum and saying: Mum, I want to go home, I dont want to do it.

Jesy
Jesy Nelson with Liz Richie in the forthcoming BBC documentary Odd One Out. Photograph: Rahul Bhatt/BBC/October Films

At about 1am, a member of The X Factor team found Nelson crying alone and asked why she was so upset. A couple of days later, she was asked to explain again on camera. She didnt want to do it. They told me it wasnt recorded, and it was.

A few weeks later, the clip of Nelson in tears over a few nasty comments was broadcast before Little Mixs performance, the reality TV playbook of sad piano switching to upbeat pop music when Thirlwall comforts her: an uplifting moment of girl power. From then on, that was Nelsons public narrative.

She does not hold that clip, or the producers, responsible: I think it would have always happened that just added fuel to the fire. From the start, relatability had been billed as a central tenet of Little Mixs appeal. Contostavlos introduced them as the girl group to represent ladies in this country; she framed Nelsons tears as evidence of Little Mix having the same insecurities as every other girl.

Nelson, however, was the only member even remotely close to the average UK woman at size 16. Although the four bandmates have always been friends thats why were still together she felt singled out. I was with three other girls to be compared to. I dont think it would have been as bad if Id been on my own.

After the clip presented her as Little Mixs weakest link, the abuse snowballed. It was like as soon as people knew that it was really affecting me, they wanted to do it more. Nelson had been bullied at school, to the point of stress-induced alopecia but this wasnt playground stuff.

She was shocked by the cruelty from adults some clearly parents. Obviously everyone sits in their living room and will see someone on TV and make a comment. But to actually pick up your phone and go: Im going to make sure this girl sees it even if they didnt think I was going to see it you have no idea the effect that one comment will have.

Nelson became obsessed with reading criticism. The praise didnt register. It only got worse when I got Twitter. And that led to the Daily Mail, and reading the [below the line] comments the worst you can read about yourself. It was like I purposely wanted to hurt myself.

I had a routine of waking up, going on Twitter, searching for the worst things I could about myself. Id type in the search bar: Jesy fat, or Jesy ugly, and see what would come up. Sometimes I didnt even need to do that, Id just write Jesy and then Id see all the horrible things. Everyone told me to ignore it but it was like an addiction.

At one event, Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud who had seen the clip of her crying took Nelson aside. She said: Can I just give you one bit of advice? Please dont read stuff about you. Its the worst thing you could do.

Little
Little Mix in Sydney, Australia, in 2013: (from left) Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson. Photograph: Newspix/Rex

Nelson rolls her eyes self-mockingly. But did I listen? No.

Contestants had been told help was available if they were struggling, but Nelson had learned that talking only made the problem worse. I dont think any of the team really knew how upset it was making me its just go-go-go, from the car into hair and makeup, then rehearsals.

It was also a popularity contest. We just wanted to make everyone happy, and we wanted everyone to like us.

In December 2011, Little Mix became the first group to win The X Factor. Their debut single entered the charts at No 1 seven months later; DNA, their first album, was released in November 2012. Scrutiny of Nelson only increased amid the pressure to maintain momentum.

Although she tried not to discuss it, she feels the abuse came to define her public image. Id become a bit of a joke. People would make memes, chopping my head off in a group photo and putting a monster or ET on there. Id be in live Q&As and these things would pop up and Id have to just sit there.

Interviewers asked her how she dealt with it; fans said they looked up to her. She was depressed and in denial: she refused antidepressants, and therapy didnt help. Our schedule was so gruelling. I was going to see a therapist at six oclock in the morning, crying, and then going to a photoshoot.

Meanwhile, in public, she was giving speeches about being confident. Little Mix, as the guardians of girl power, were not only supposed to represent every woman, but defend every woman.

I felt I had to be this person who was like Nelson juts her jaw, sashays from side to side, a facsimile of her sassy music-video persona: I dont care what people are saying about me, Im this strong woman. That was the role I had to take on in the group, when really I was an absolute mess.

In the lead-up to TV performances or video shoots: Id starve myself Id drink Diet Coke for a solid four days and then, when I felt a bit dizzy, Id eat a pack of ham because I knew it had no calories. Then Id binge eat, then hate myself.

Yet she did not see herself as having an eating disorder. I could see that I was losing weight and sometimes Id see a few good comments and that spiralled me to be like: This is how I need to stay. No one cares whether your performance was good, or if you sounded great.

Nelson
Nelson in Odd One Out. Photograph: Jamie Simonds/BBC/October Films

Nelson started skipping events where she knew she would be photographed. On one magazine shoot, the wrong size clothes were provided. I had a meltdown. I cried so much, I had to wear sunglasses. I did one photo, then left. She hid her misery well, she says now. I think people just thought I was a miserable bitch.

Her lowest point was in the lead-up to Little Mixs second album, Salute, in 2013. Her mum, Janice, increasingly desperate, told her she had to quit the band. Yet Nelson worried that leaving or even taking a break would draw more attention to herself. Everyones going to ask why.

In November 2013, Little Mix returned to The X Factor to perform their new single, Nelson notably slimmed down. Coverage centred on one tweet from Katie Hopkins: Packet Mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix. More Pick n Mix.

Increasingly, Nelson felt trapped. I felt that I physically couldnt tolerate the pain any more. She attempted suicide.

Nelsons family, her management and the rest of the group knew but once it was spoken about, it wasnt ever spoken about again, she says. She was offered time off, but once more was too frightened of drawing attention to herself to take it.

The turning point came in February 2014, when Little Mix spent six weeks travelling across North America, opening for Demi Lovato. One day, on the bus, the dancers pulled her aside and told her she had to quit Twitter, likening it to a book filled with loads of nasty things that Nelson always had her nose in. She finally deleted her account.

It was a long, hard process, because I didnt want to help myself. But it wasnt until I deleted Twitter that everything changed for me and I slowly started to feel normal again. Through more regular therapy and talking to friends and family, eventually she was able to stop reading articles about herself, and distance herself from her public image even as Little Mixs star continued to climb. In 2016, Glory Days became their first No 1 album in the UK.

Since February, Nelson has been dating the 2017 Love Island contestant Chris Hughes, who has defended her publicly from online trolling and who she says is a positive influence on her feelings about fame: Its nice to be around someone who doesnt give a shit about all that stuff.

Making the documentary also contributed; she lights up while talking about meeting a body-image specialist, Liz Ritchie, to help her understand her relationship with social media and the mask that she had developed to withstand the spotlight. Part of this involved going over footage from The X Factor, which was a difficult experience, but ultimately empowering.

Dont get me wrong, I still have days when I feel shit in myself but instead of beating myself up about it and being miserable, I think: OK, Im going to have my moment of being sad, and Ill be over it. Before, I didnt let myself be sad.

Talking to other young people who have experienced online abuse made her feel less alone. A lot of people think stop moaning, but until youve experienced it, its hard to understand and it doesnt just happen to people in the limelight. Theres so many people struggling with social media and online trolling. People need to know about the effects it has.

The turnaround in five years, she agrees, is remarkable: now, as Little Mix work on their sixth album, Nelson is less conscious of her weight, her appearance, what shes eating even what is being said about her. To shoot the documentary, she returned to Twitter, and discovered some new slurs. I didnt even know some people said that about me, but its because I dont look for it and also, I. Dont. Care, she says, leaning forward in her chair.

Now Im mentally a lot happier, I just think people are always going to have an opinion. But I only care about mine. She flashes a smile from beneath all her hair, happy but defiant and for a moment she looks exactly like the girl in the music videos.

Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out is on BBC One at 9pm on 12 September, and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and the domestic violence helpline is on 0808 2000 247. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the US, the suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and the domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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Jia Tolentino: I like to write about instincts that are in some way good and in some way dangerous’

Hailed as the Joan Didion of our times informed, funny and fearless the New Yorkers Jia Tolentino is making sense of the world one essay at a time

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Until recently, one of New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentinos best-kept secrets was that she spent the summer of her 16th year filming a reality show called Girls v Boys: Puerto Rico. A cheerleader then, she got permission from her school, which was situated in the middle of a Texan megachurch so large they called it the Repentagon, by telling them shed be a light for Jesus, but on television. An essayist who explores what its like to live right now, no now, remains, at 30, rebellious and contradictory in ticklish ways.

For example, a person of the old world might not expect, when meeting the best young essayist in the world, to find her in denim cut-offs scrolling Instagram behind a Brooklyn caf. They might not expect a woman who grew up an evangelical Christian to write a piece that links the weightless grace of coming up on ecstasy to that of kneeling in church, in words like epiphany and glory. They might not expect a piece about the challenging year she spent in Kyrgyzstan to be headlined: I Joined the Peace Corps to Keep From Becoming an Asshole. She treats all her subjects (recent essays include anti-abortion propaganda and the internet trend of fans begging celebrities to kill them) with equal care and precision, and such academic tenderness that the reader barely notices their mind being changed after reading her interview with a woman whod had a late-term abortion, she received emails from pro-lifers rethinking their stance; hers are essays that talk to young women about old problems and old men about young memes. And they might not expect, in our interview of an hour-and-a-half, for the Joan Didion of our time (New York Magazine) to use the word like 1,035 times.

She has left her dog at home, which is sad. Luna is the size of eight dogs and appears often in her stories as comic relief. Usually, Tolentino works with Luna at her feet and talks to her as she picks her way through the rubble of an idea. She knows what she wants to write about when, I feel some sort of chemistry with the subject. The bar for me is when its interesting enough that I would talk about it on my own time. One example is womens optimisation, the project of getting better at being a woman which, in her new book Trick Mirror she investigates through chopped salad, her previous job at feminist website Jezebel, very expensive leggings, and Virgils Aeneid.

To read it as a person like me, brought up on girl power and the slogans of mainstream feminism, is to be stimulated and awakened to the small domestic truths of life. I like to write about modern instincts that are in some way good. And also in some way dangerous. She explores millennial issues with two hands, because, Maybe this things totally ridiculous, but also, secretly important. I enjoy those extremes.

Its easy to write about things as you wish they were, wrote Zadie Smith of Trick Mirror. Its much harder to think for yourself, with the minimum of self-delusion. Its even harder to achieve at a moment like this, when our thoughts are subject to unprecedented manipulation, monetisation and surveillance. One way Tolentino manages this is by offering one idea, then cracking it open to reveal a series of alternative ideas, Russian doll-like within. Her work, Smith added, filled me with hope.

Yep. And not just because of the kindness with which she approaches ideas, especially ideas we are used to seeing framed in black and white, but because the subjects she writes about today are the same subjects she once blogged about at Jezebel. What were once niche, womens magazine themes pop stars, beauty products, sex and rage are now, in the New Yorker, mainstream, and recognised as valid topics for study. This is not the old world any more.

Jia
Ive had the same personality since I was three years old. Really independent. Really social. But, also, really combative: Jia Tolentino. Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein/The Observer

A lot of the book is about the thing versus the representation of the thing, she explains. For instance, love versus the representation of it in a wedding. In the essay I Thee Dread, she writes that despite having been invited, with her long-term boyfriend, to 46 weddings in nine years, her apathy towards them has grown. How much harder, she asks, would it be for straight women to accept the reality of marriage if they were not first presented with the fantasy of the wedding?

She remains fixated on the thing versus its representation, which means promoting (representing) her book (the thing) has become increasingly difficult. A hardback book feels awkward to her she likes to describe herself as just a blogger. Shes been blogging since she was 10 (Im going insane! I literally am addicted to the web! she wrote on her Angelfire site in 1999), but the just is sly her education in journalism at Jezebel was invaluable: a unique chance to learn how to fuck up on the internet. We would see these great waves of disapproval and anger and morality. With an uncommon amount of freedom to negotiate it. She thrives on such tensions.

It wasnt just to keep from becoming an asshole that she joined the Peace Corps in 2010, it was to test her limits. I wanted to be in the middle of nowhere and go nuts and see what its like. Tolentino arrived inKyrgyzstan just as the government was overthrown. She was evacuated. She got active tuberculosis. Kyrgyzstan is a place where bride kidnapping still happens; she was sexually harassed by her host father she was sexually harassed a lot, in part, she thinks, because with her Filipino parentage she happens to look Kyrgyz. Every day I was seesawing between extremes of transcendent lonely happiness and crushing despair.

Kyrgyzstan borders China, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. And the feel is very strange. Like, I had no running water in my village, but they sold cookies shaped like iPhones. Nothing made sense, you know? The cookies feel like some kind of metaphor for her work, the meeting of fast and slow, a mind that has been brought up online turning its lens inward, to analyse the internet itself she is particularly fascinating when writing about the online performance of identity, analysing the ways she has benefited from, for instance, the internets sticky focus on opinion. But my brain moves slower and shes already run ahead. I think thats one thing that growing up in the church did to me I love being uncomfortable. It is so… interesting.

In 2016 she wrote an essay called How Empowerment Became Something for Women to Buy. I hated that word, she shudders, yet at the same time, I knew my entire career was possible because feminism was marketable now.

How does she feel about becoming part of the feminism industry? I think about it a lot. If something is more fun to represent than to experience, then you should avoid it. Its the same way with the feminism marketplace: if something is more commodified than it is true, you should avoid it. Some amount of bullshit is endemic and inevitable, and I participate in it, and I benefit from it. The way I resolve it is to make myself uncomfortable enough to be aware of what is only bullshit.

You know what annoys her? Books about badass women in history. She groans very loudly. The whole girlboss realm, actually. Anything that is treating the magnification of a personal brand, or the acquisition of wealth as the ultimate prize, is just fully out the window. The way those books treat little girls as if theyre generic? I get sent so many self-help books that are about like, perfectly imperfect, badass feminists that dont give a fuck, but then the fuck is bleeped out? You know what I mean?

The thing is, we have more freedom available to us than ever before, and yet theres a cartoon-like image of what that looks like as if all women want to do is to be on stage wearing a bold matching suit and a strong lip shouting AM I RIGHT? She screeches this at a high pitch and a stranger jumps. Shouting: A guy called me baby on the street, but Im not a baby! and everyones like, YASSSS

What I havent mentioned, among earlier descriptions of Tolentinos essays, is that they are extremely funny, partly because she characterises herself affectionately as a sort of dummy stoner, leading with fizzy enthusiasm, rather than her Yale-earned learnedness. It seems like were shrinking towards a lowest common denominator of what the ideal feminist is. And the things that I like, maybe, are the things that dont have this feeling of sameness and oneness.

The idea of the problem with oneness is something she elaborates on when discussing #MeToo. The thing that bothered me about it, was how this totally accidental hashtag design has shaped our understanding of an incredibly important moment. The problem with the metoo hashtag was that it said, to express solidarity with someone, you need to meet them at the point of maximum shared vulnerability. The internet flattened it, and erased the important differences in these womens lives. Which seemed to be both well intentioned, and also, a misuse of our new freedoms.

One of which is the right to be heard. People are like, Womens voices are silenced. Which might be true. And at the same time, is less true. For example, Christine Blasey Ford she was absolutely listened to and still dismissed. I want the discussion to meet the exact situation, which is changing so quickly. Its not simply, Women are silenced it is something possibly much worse. I take a drink of water. We both do.

The work of explaining complicated problems in a tumultuous time is wearying. Last week, I was really down. I forgot that I get stressed out when I write about sexual assault. She had written about the latest rape accusations against Trump. Its like when you wake up after getting drunk, and youre like, Wow, Im not hungover. And then at 5pm youre like, Im dead. It comes around the back and shakes you. In a recent interview, she was asked, Do you feel defeated? She was shocked. The reporter was like, Well, you dont propose any solutions to things. But I often feel that knowledge is useless. I dont write with the hope of making an impact, because the world is too confusing right now. But that actually makes me feel free in writing you just try your best. And I think that needs to be the philosophy I adopt about life in general. To that reporter she wanted to explain that its possible to write an argument without neatly tying it up with a simple conclusion. She smiles her cheerleader smile again, twinkling with contradiction. I hate the obligatory epilogue.

Recently, Tolentino watched Girls v Boys: Puerto Rico for the first time. I found it agonising. But also comforting, because I was the same. Having stumbled upon the audition at a local mall, she writes of the chance encounter: I like this story better than the alternative, and equally accurate one, which is that Ive always felt that I was special and acted accordingly. Its true that I ended up on reality TV by chance. Its also true that I signed up enthusiastically, felt almost fated to do it.

Watching the show, she realised, she tells me, that to be on reality TV, you must have a fixity. Ive had the same personality since I was three. Really independent. Really social. But, also, really combative. Like all iconic reality contestants, shes not here to make friends. When she got back in touch with fellow contestants, one remembers her as contradictory, even under the blaze of the cameras. You were like, he told her, I dont want to get famous for this bullshit. I want to get famous for writing a book.

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (4th Estate, 14.99) is out now. Buy it for 13.19 at guardianbookshop.com

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