Bracing for an “Extremely Online” Election with Taylor Lorenz


This week, we are pleased to be joined by Taylor Lorenz. Taylor covers technology and social media for the Washington Post. She is the author of Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence and Power on the Internet, and she hosts a new podcast, Power User. Before our vibe check with Taylor on the TikTok legislation,  how social media shapes the vibes of politics, and all things online – we dive into Trump’s “new” statement on his position on abortion, and the RFK Jr. staffer who said the quiet part out loud.

Stick around after our chat with Taylor for an IT’S GIVING, our GROUP CHAT, and a good vibe on student debt.

Further reading:

AXIOS: New effort to “inoculate” U.S. voters against AI misinformation

NYT: China’s Advancing Efforts to Influence the U.S. Election Raise Alarms

Taylor’s column in the Washington Post: Meet the 25-year-old who TikToked his way onto RFK’s campaign team

CNBC: 25 million student loan borrowers could see their balances shrink under Biden’s new forgiveness plan

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Glennis Meagher: [00:00:00] Not a platform ban,

Brian Derrick: not shadow bands,

Glennis Meagher: the 24 election and the future of democracy hinges on vibes.

Brian Derrick: Here for a vibe check on the status of the TikTok legislation, how social media shapes the vibes and politics and all things online is Taylor Lorenz.

Glennis Meagher: Taylor is a writer at the Washington Post and the author of Extremely Online, the untold story of fame, influence and power on the internet.

Brian Derrick: RFK staffer who really said the quiet part out loud. And. Trump’s recent statement on abortion.

Glennis Meagher: Stick around after our chat with Taylor for an it’s giving our group chat and a good vibe on student debt cancellation. Okay, Brian,

Brian Derrick: big week. Are your, your boots are shaking. Are you blind?

Glennis Meagher: Well, yes, I’m shaking.

Cause we’ll get into it on the group chat. I’m still shaking from the quake, but I feel now to the audience, I feel like now every week is going to be kind of a big week leading up to November 5th.

Brian Derrick: I don’t have the energy for that. I need, I need like three a month, three big weeks a month. That’s like 80 percent of the [00:01:00] time.

Okay. Well then we can, we can work on the math. We can work on the math. Um, well, what’s driving such a big week this week was Trump’s news. And I’m using air quotes on abortion. A. K. A. completely changing his mind in a very transparent way, simply to try to dupe people into voting for him? Like, that was essentially the news?


Glennis Meagher: yeah, it was, he’s big on making an announcement about making an announcement that is like barely an announcement, just to get people to like engage with him and to kind of just be totally wishy washy on an issue.

Brian Derrick: In this case, it was that he is now saying he thinks that abortion should be a state’s rights issue and that is how the push notifications came through to me when he released a video on truth social saying that and it infuriated me because that is not at all what the content of his statement actually conveyed.

Glennis Meagher: Right, because in the statement he bragged again that he was responsible for [00:02:00] overturning Roe v Wade and he He called out the five justices by name, thanking them.

Donald Trump: I want to thank the six justices, Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch.

Incredible people. For having the courage to allow this long term, hard fought battle to finally end.

Glennis Meagher: It’s like, hello people! It’s He knows what he’s doing!

Brian Derrick: It would be like O. J. listing the jurors. Like, thanking the jurors by name kind of vibe. It’s like, what a weird way to say that you’re not behind the politics of a ban by trying to take credit for all the bans that are in place.

It’s just, it’s a bizarre move. He also went on in the same video to say really outlandish things, um, completely mischaracterizing. I mean, lying. It’s not a mischaracterization. Lying about what Democrats believe, including in child murder. He was talking [00:03:00] about execution after birth.

Donald Trump: They support abortion up to and even beyond the ninth month.

The concept of having an abortion in the later months and even execution after birth, and that’s exactly what it is. The baby is born, the baby is executed after birth. And I was like,

Brian Derrick: okay, we’ve really, like, we’ve jumped the shark.

Glennis Meagher: We’ve lost the plot of, of how, like, an abortion actually works, but okay.

Brian Derrick: So what is Trump’s actual position?

He puts out this video, everyone jumps, everyone covers it, whatever. What is his actual position? Well, what we know is that he has been saying for over a year that he supports a national ban and that in the context of this video, he’s explaining his change, not on a change of heart, not on talking to women who were impacted by abortion bans, but he’s having this change because he wants to quote win elections and that this is necessary to win elections.

So like, tell me you don’t mean it without telling me you don’t mean it. He [00:04:00] believes in a national ban. All reporting on this should include like a documented history of all the times that he has supported a 15 week ban, a 16 week ban. And then at the same time, we know that personnel is policy and he’s vowing to put people in place in DOJ, in the FDA, in all of these other federal agencies that could work very quickly and effectively to roll back access, including in states that guarantee a right to abortion.

Glennis Meagher: Right. And we, you know, he, he said this statement yesterday. And then we saw today, right before we sat down to film this, that Arizona. Repealed a law from 18 when 64 so the states are stating

Brian Derrick: yeah, not only is is the Arizona law a ban. It also makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in the state as well.

And so we’re talking about jail time for doctors. And that is if you Even if you believe Trump at face value, which you should not, even then saying [00:05:00] you’re going to leave it to the states is endorsing this kind of policy, is endorsing criminalizing it and jailing doctors. Like that is what will happen as a consequence of that.

So the idea that this is in any way moderating is a joke. That’s absurd.

Glennis Meagher: Yeah. And thinking about healthcare as a human being in these states where they’re going to go after doctors, you have to think about the, if you’re an elected official, you have to think about the people living in that state. And if they’re going to move, if you’re going to be saying to a doctor, you’re going to be charged with a felony.

If you help save someone’s life in case of like a very like emergent necessary need for an abortion, it’s like, I don’t want to move to Arizona one because I’m a woman, but also like the medical profession, it’s going to have a mass exodus.

Brian Derrick: I immediately got comments on Instagram when I posted about the Arizona ruling from people saying, Oh, I was considering going to school at like Arizona State.

And, and now I’m not like that just decided that for me, I’m not going there. I empathize, like, totally. Why would you if you have the [00:06:00] choice? I feel horrible for the people who live there and have their whole lives and families there. But if you have the choice, why would you choose to go? To a place that isn’t going to respect you in such a basic way.

Trump is not the only person who really put their foot in their mouth this week. This clip went viral. First time I saw it was from our friend, Keith Edwards, who we’ve had on the podcast of the New York state director for RFK Jr. Really saying the quiet part out loud when it comes to RFK’s role in the presidential contest.

Rita Palma: So there’s no Biden voters in the house, right? No, okay, good. The Kennedy voter and the Trump voter, the enemy, our mutual enemy is Biden. Most of the Northeast is going to go blue. Why wouldn’t we put our vote to Bobby and at least get rid of Biden and get those 28 electoral votes in New York. Thereby, Uh, reducing Biden’s [00:07:00] 270.

And we all know how that works, right? 270 wins the election. If you don’t get to 270, if nobody gets to 270, then Congress picks the President. So who are they going to pick? If it’s a Republican Congress. So we’re rid of Biden either way. Does everybody follow that? Okay.

Brian Derrick: Does that, is she okay? She’s not okay.

Does that sound like the stance of a person who’s a state director for someone who’s trying to become president? As he claims. No, it doesn’t. It sounds like the state director of someone who is a spoiler and who is intentionally drawing votes away from a candidate in order to elect a different third candidate.

And in this case being Donald Trump,

Glennis Meagher: the Kennedy campaign, they had a response. They said, Palma was speaking as a private citizen and her statements in no way reflect the strategy of the Kennedy campaign, which is to win the white house with votes from former Trump and Biden supporters alike. Babe, no, she’s your state director.

That is your [00:08:00] strategy. You have appointed her. The director of strategy for your state.

Brian Derrick: Literally the interns on campaigns have to make their social media private because they speak on behalf of the campaign. To have someone in such a public position. And she also goes on in the same clip to talk about how one of her conditions of taking the job was that she would be openly running on this strategy.

And they said, yes, this was not news to RFK jr’s campaign. Like she is openly saying that this is why they hired her was to pursue this specific strategy with voters in New York.

Glennis Meagher: And by the way, if they were not okay with it, they would say, thank you so much for your time. We’re going with a different candidate for this position,

Brian Derrick: as we’ve said many times, a third party candidate has not won a single electoral college vote.

in the last 50 years, and that’s not going to change this year. So without a path to 270 of those electoral college votes, the only role that a third party candidate, be it RFK Jr, Cornel [00:09:00] West, Jill Stein, or somebody else, the only role that they can play is as a spoiler.

Glennis Meagher: Speaking of RFK Jr, we’re gonna do a vibe check. Taylor Lorenz is coming on for a vibe check conversation. We’re going to talk about RFK Jr. and not his state strategy, but his digital media strategy and a recent hire he had and many other things, uh, that we’ve talked about before on the pod. And we’re going to talk about with Taylor.

Brian Derrick: I’m excited to talk to her about the tick tock bill in particular, because we have a difference of opinion on it, but I want to understand more about her perspective and where she’s coming from and. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind.

Glennis Meagher: Stranger things have happened.

Brian Derrick: I don’t know. No kidding. I’m kidding.

I’m kidding.

Glennis Meagher: Oh, okay. Let’s bring on Taylor.

Brian Derrick: Welcome to the pod. Thanks for having me. We have a lot of hot goss on tick tock this week. Lots of movement on the Hill. Could you start [00:10:00] by just sort of sharing your perspective on the piece of legislation that passed the The House a few weeks ago and is currently being considered by the Senate.

Taylor Lorenz: Yeah, so the House passed what is effectively a TikTok ban.

This bill would give the app technically 180 days to sell to a U. S. competitor. The terms of that sale are essentially unachievable, which is why it is an effective ban. And in case anyone was wondering too, the lawmakers that spoke about it, also refer to it as an effective ban. So that’s, you know, it’s not in my opinion, honest to say that, Oh, this is just a forced sale because there’s no way they could really sell under these terms outlined, it would also force them to sell to a U S tech conglomerate, which has a lot of concerning sort of antitrust implications and this bill.

doesn’t actually address anything that they claim that it does. So, you know, they say that, Oh, they’re worried about kind of China being able to get our data and things like that. But of course, there’s no evidence that China has ever been able to access US user data, which is stored in Texas in servers [00:11:00] controlled by an American company, Oracle, but also they could just buy our data on the open market.

Thanks to a billion data brokers. That’s. Sell our data. And then also it’s, I mean, I think it has huge free speech implications. Unlike China, our government does not control our app store. So, you know, this would be a pretty unprecedented move by the government.

Brian Derrick: Yeah. So I think that there are definitely components that we have spoken about on the pod before areas of agreement, certainly maybe some of disagreement that we can get into and learn a little bit more about your perspective on.

When it comes to the bill, I see it as a few different components. So maybe we can tease them apart. a bit for sale versus ban heard you on the challenges that there would be to move the sale in that amount of time. I’ve gotten different perspectives on the likelihood that that sale would be able to happen on the timeline laid out.

I’m curious if you would feel the same way about the legislation if the window allowed for a sale was [00:12:00] extended.

Taylor Lorenz: It’s not just the window. It’s the terms of the sale. And the reason that all of the lawmakers involved are calling it in their own press release a ban is because they’ve written the law to be a ban.

So it’s not like, you know, this is not like, Oh, we want to set a timeline for some sort of thing like this is a ban. And by the way, It’s a ridiculous premise, right? Like Facebook, for instance, if they want to operate in, you know, I’m just trying to think of another country like France, right? And France says, no, Facebook, you have to sell yourself.

You have to sell or like, no, you know, Ford Motors, you have to actually sell all of your technology to us so that we can locally produce it. No country would do that. No business would do that. It’s a ridiculous premise. And by the way, let’s not forget that we had musically right in the U. S. TikTok is a U.

S. company, by the way, TikTok is a U. S. incorporated company and ByteDance has the stake. So it would be selling sort of this portion of it, but let’s not forget that. In 2017, when Musical. ly was being driven out of business by Facebook and Viacom was an option to kind of like Viacom was interested in potentially buying Musical.

ly and couldn’t afford it and Facebook was [00:13:00] crushing this app, we allowed it to sell to ByteDance five years ago. So suddenly to kind of like now try and reverse it and over this panic and set these ridiculous terms, any sale, quote unquote, even if it were to happen and even if this were feasible, it wouldn’t be a true thing.

They would, you would just be getting sort of like the shell of an app without any of the underlying technology that makes it usable. So it will, again, it would be an effective ban. Even if that forced sale went through, it effectively bans the app that we have today.

Glennis Meagher: Right. I am a certified Tik Tok head.

I love Tik Tok. I kind of straddle both sides. I see where some of the mental health implications come into play when we see like an Andrew Tate or we see. See, you know, let’s not entertain didn’t emerge on tick tock. No, for sure. For sure. But I’m curious. What are your thoughts on the China influence of it all?

And you know, the assumption being made by many that this is just a propaganda machine for China. There’s zero evidence

Taylor Lorenz: of that zero. There’s zero evidence that Tick tock or bite dance has ever knowingly allowed China to, you know, influence its user base [00:14:00] ever. There’s zero influence. That’s we don’t have.

And by the way, they’ve been searching for any example of that is Ken Klippenstein wrote a great piece a couple weeks ago. The entire sort of intelligence community has Been searching for evidence of this for years, and they have not found a single example. Now, are all social media apps vulnerable to foreign interference?

Yes. And China and Russia, we know that they use these publicly available tools sometimes to run disinformation campaigns. They can set up an account like anybody else, right? And we don’t necessarily know. And these platforms obviously take great steps to limit that. I think it’s ironic that everything that TikTok is being accused of, we actually have evidence of Facebook doing often, but we’re not seeking to ban Facebook.

I think it’s great to encourage. All platforms again, this goes back to like effective legislation versus not right. We don’t have legislation that forces all of these companies to be held accountable for their foreign influence. I think that is something that companies should take more seriously, right?

Brian Derrick: I do want to clarify that the legislation would apply to other foreign adversaries, including Russia, Iran. North Korea,

Taylor Lorenz: theoretically. Yeah, but it’s [00:15:00] basically about China. But yes, I agree that they say that. But again, there’s no evidence, by the way, there’s just no evidence of any of TikTok ever collaborating with Russia, ever collaborating with China, ever collaborating with any of our quote unquote adversaries.

Brian Derrick: But there, but there is evidence of specific topics that would be against the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda performing poorly. No, there’s not. No, there’s not. On TikTok.

Taylor Lorenz: No, there’s not. No, there’s not. A report from 2019

Brian Derrick: from Found that content was being removed that referred to Tibet and Tiananmen Square are reported in 2020.

That, that was nonsense.

Taylor Lorenz: And by the way, there’s a great debunking of what I think you’re referring to. Cato did an excellent debunking because even the New York Times wrote up this complete nonsense study that was just ridiculous. I mean, sure, anybody can do bad math and bad science and say, Oh, well, Instagram, which has been around for 10 years, has more views of a specific hashtag.

And so therefore we think it’s being suppressed. No, there’s no actual evidence of that suppression happening in the US. There is not that would be a smoking gun that I totally [00:16:00] agree would have led to concern. But what you get is these bad studies based off sort of public, you know, one of them is from Rutgers, What’s that?

That doesn’t matter. They can do bad. They could, they do tons of people do bad studies where they take public data and mislead people into. I mean, I just did a whole thing on kids and smartphones. You see this all the time. People take public data and then they make these insinuations. Go on China.

There’s tons of discussion about Tibet. Tons of discussion about, I mean, just. Overwhelming discussion of you. None of that is being censored. Meanwhile, political content is being censored on Instagram, but there’s just simply not restrictions about that. And even if those restrictions were in place, by the way, um, there’s no evidence that they collaborated with the Chinese government to push any of that.

You know, a lot of these policies are written in America by Americans. You know what I mean? Like Facebook also has policies against certain things, right? Which, by the way, I’m against. I’m against all of that. I’m against all of those sort of types of restrictions, but there are no restrictions against speaking about Tiananmen Square.

There are no restrictions about criticizing the Chinese government on TikTok. And there’s [00:17:00] plenty of content on the app showing that.

Brian Derrick: I think the other point that I’ve heard you hit on before is that the perceived national security threat is hypothetical. And I think that also something that makes China unique is the 2017 intelligence law that requires companies based in China to share data and information with the government when they ask for it.

That is, uh, yeah,

Taylor Lorenz: yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian Derrick: And so I’m curious, like, and I totally hear the hypothetical argument. Is that enough? If it is truly hypothetical, is that enough? That in the case of a potential. invasion of Taiwan by China that like in in those in that sort of circumstance that they could even hypothetically try to suppress content or the information that was shared via this platform that we’re all like really important.

Taylor Lorenz: My argument is we shouldn’t do that based on hypotheticals. We need evidence. Now listen, if China invades to want Taiwan and tick tock starts, you know, there’s there’s there’s [00:18:00] We see evidence and there’s so much national security interest on this that we would likely find evidence. I would imagine if this happened, I am 100%.

At that point, I could understand the reasoning behind this legislation. And I would, you know, at that point, they’ve crossed the line, right? There’s that smoking gun. There’s that evidence of them doing wrong. And I get it in that national security sense, right?

Brian Derrick: And I also think to your point, there are a lot of people who are potentially supporting this legislation because they don’t want it for their teenagers, or because of the mental health, like all of these other implications.

And those are also not solved by banning one app when we know that in three years, it could all, it could be something else. It will likely be a different platform. I do want to ask about one specific thing that you mentioned a couple of times, which is that it’s unprecedented. Do you see the for sale of Grindr totally different?

Taylor Lorenz: Oh my God. Totally different ownership structure. Totally different. Completely different ownership structure. Completely different app. Grindr is not a social media app that is a mass communications tool [00:19:00] for the public. It is not. That is a completely different situation in almost every single way. And you know, you see,

Brian Derrick: You have to stop trying to mass communicate via Grindr.

It’s not going to work. Yeah,

Taylor Lorenz: you gotta pull back. I think it’s like, people want to look for these parallels. The truth is, we have not, we, there isn’t a parallel because this is the first app that has threatened America’s social media platform. Supremacy. I mean, every other major social media app is an American app.

And of course, it’s fine if Facebook goes and destroys the elections in Myanmar or, you know, causes genocide or whatever, right? We don’t, we don’t care. Those countries can never held us accountable. But now here we have this app from a foreign power that is our adversary and it’s, it’s a better product.

And by the way, we allowed it to be sold to China in the first place, five years ago, that was, maybe that was a mistake, right? And it wasn’t sold to China. It was sold to by Dan. Sorry, I just, I need to be very careful It was not, it was sold to ByteDance, which is the Chinese tech conglomerate. And I, I’m not somebody that says, look, don’t worry about China, whatever, right?

It’s, [00:20:00] it’s an adversary. I understand there’s national security concerns, but let’s first tackle data privacy, which there is a bill as well, a data privacy bill that hopefully is going to get traction and let’s also. You know, anything that we’re applying to one network, let’s, let’s have it blanket applies that it also makes sense in the future because new technologies are, you know, cropping up every day.

And a lot of these AI apps and companies are owned by Chinese conglomerates. So

Glennis Meagher: yeah, I kind of represent the layman in these conversations, right? The TikTok user who’s scrolling and for hours and just like saving all the hilarious things that bring me so much joy. So to those people, you know, They don’t view China as an adversary.

They’re not in the weeds of the geopolitics of it all of the big tech of it all. And for my POV, this, no matter who it is, Trump, Biden, it is political suicide, given that it is such a mass communication tool to ban it at this moment in time, people use it to organize, they use it to communicate. What would you tell politicians or the Biden administration or people who want to organize around this?

Like, is it. Should we organize around big tech and not tick [00:21:00] tock? Yeah, to your point.

Taylor Lorenz: Absolutely. I mean, I think big tech, there’s huge problems with the fundamental business model of a lot of these companies. I think Meta’s restrictions on political content and the way that they just blanket said, by the way, we’re restricting anybody that speaks about social issues is Hugely concerning.

And I can’t believe that there’s more, not more backlash from the government, which this hurts progressives the most, like these types of restrictions, it hurts those that are pushing to push, for instance, LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice, like these things, it meta is actively censoring that stuff. Now openly saying, by the way, we are restricting it.

Brian Derrick: Before we move on from Tik TOK, thinking about the path forward here, what do you think the odds of this bill moving in the Senate are, do you have thoughts on Senator Cantwell has. An alternative idea of what should happen next. And she also had her own piece of legislation. What do you see as coming down?

Taylor Lorenz: Unfortunately, I think because Biden has said that he wants this and Democrats seem to be on board that [00:22:00] this has a chance of passing. I don’t think that the house bill is going to pass. I think that there might be sort of an alternative bill, but I do think that You know, unfortunately, one thing that all of Congress can get behind is restricting civil liberties and kind of like, you know, um, coalescing American powers and sort of institutional power.

So I, it worries me a lot. I I’m very worried about. The climate right now around these tech companies because we’re not doing anything to meaningfully challenge their business models, but we’re just sort of squashing Facebook’s biggest competitor in an election year at the same time that Facebook is rolling out these significant political changes.

It’s worrying, but there does seem appetite to pass something which is concerning to me.

Brian Derrick: And do you, do you feel any better about the guard act, the Cantwell bill, or you feel like it’s, um,

Taylor Lorenz: my colleagues writing about that right now. And I think writing about Cantwell, I, I don’t, I mean, I haven’t gotten like fully up to speed on it, but my feeling slightly is like, and I don’t know, maybe this is what it [00:23:00] addresses.

I just think we need to start all over and just talk. I’m happy about the privacy legislation. I think we need to talk about sort of the fundamental business model that all of these tech companies rely on. And I think we need to talk about antitrust. And it’s very telling that musically could not compete against Facebook and Instagram.

And it needed. To take investment from a Chinese tech conglomerate, which infused billions of dollars, which they spent a billion dollars in app download marketing in 2019 alone. That’s the level of resources that you need to meaningfully compete with meta and Google. And so if we want to have a more competitive tech environment and we want our own social media, homegrown social media apps to flourish, look at vine, we could have had Tick Tock.

We had, we had, don’t get me started loud, but we allowed these tech conglomerates to crush the competition. And so. As long as we allow them to continue to crush the competition, we’re going to see foreign actors that don’t have the same sort of tech landscape developing the next generation of platforms.

I think that’s ultimately a bigger threat than, you know, a single app. [00:24:00]

Brian Derrick: Well, we really appreciate your expertise and perspective on the issue. Also wanted to get your thoughts about a couple other ways that tech and social media platforms are going to influence the 2024 election. AI, big topic of the year, particularly in political circles.

Have you been tracking at all? How AI is going to impact the presidential? Are there specific. Companies or threats that you’re really concerned about in the AI space?

Taylor Lorenz: Yeah, I mean, I do think that we need to worry about these AI generated sort of deepfake type videos. We already know that there’s AI voices being used to robocall people about certain candidates.

I think it’s being weaponized by these, you know, Disinformation actors, and I’m sure foreign adversaries are leveraging it too. I think it’s very concerning because we have almost zero, I would say less than zero media literacy in this country. And this is why we need to invest in public education and media literacy and these types of things.

I don’t know that this is something I [00:25:00] think the government could do a lot, but I don’t think they’re going to be able to do enough before the 2024 election comes this fall, and there’s no way they can pass meaningful legislation to, to fix any of these issues. So I think we need to educate people and say, by the way.

Be careful. Don’t just believe everything that you see online. So

Glennis Meagher: we’re going to look at one ad of a woman in Arizona picking up the phone on election day. Let’s check it out.

Future USA Ad: Hello? Hi, is this Caroline Smith? Yes. I have you at 78 Edgewood Court. Is that correct? Yes, that’s correct. Who’s calling? Hi, Caroline.

This is Bob Anderson down at the polling station at West Plaza High. Uh huh. We’re calling everyone in the West Plaza precinct to let them know we’ve received a few threats from a local militia group that the police The police are taking very seriously. What? Oh my gosh. Yeah. You know, we actually tried calling your husband Peter, but he didn’t answer.

Oh, I think he must be driving. Oh, okay, well, we’re asking voters to stay at [00:26:00] home today until we can get this situation resolved. Okay. The governor has already issued an extension on ballot submission, so you can go ahead and plan on coming in tomorrow. Okay, okay. Thank you so much for letting me know.

Taylor Lorenz: We know that these types of things are happening, they’re already happening.

So I think it’s really concerning. We need to get a handle on all of it.

Glennis Meagher: Something else I want to talk to you about, because you wrote about this yesterday and we talk about it a lot on this pod, which is RFK Jr. And as we’re talking about TikTok, we’re talking about being online and using, you know, the tool, the very effective tool that is RFK Jr.

Digital communications. He’s doing it quite well. Can you tell us a little bit more about that article? Yeah,

Taylor Lorenz: I profiled this guy link Lauren, who is a 25 year old content creator who’s started working for RFK. He was previously collaborating with Vivek. He’s also made content with Dean Phillips, the sort of outside Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson prior to that.

He’s kind of he established name for himself sort of Yeah. Covering these candidates almost [00:27:00] as a content creator or journalist and then sort of started working more closely with them with the fact he was not getting paid, but he was directly advising with RFK. He’s now a paid senior advisor. RFK is performing incredibly well online.

I mean, RFK embraced Tiktok from the beginning. He talks on there in a very native way where he’s speaking about issues like climate change and his sort of anti establishment rhetoric that really appeals to young people. Meanwhile, you have Biden who is flopping very hard on the app. So it’s

Glennis Meagher: hard. Last question, Taylor.

Rapid fire. In your opinion, what are the top three things that are going to influence the election this cycle online? Oh

Taylor Lorenz: my God. Well, I do think AI, I do think that this conflict in Israel, Gaza is like just a huge, I think that’s one of that. That’s especially when it comes to the youth vote. There’s just this disparity between where Biden Is and his policies and what is sort of the common belief among young people about the war So I think that’s number two number [00:28:00] three I mean, I think number three is this this this I I can’t stress enough this restriction on political content that meta has put I I really think that that could impact people in the polls You have these groups and activists that are completely unable to reach their audience and talk about reproductive justice, too I was just talking to a young person You know, another woman in that space today, like they’re trying to talk about like abortion and the need to preserve abortion and stuff, but you can’t say the word abortion on social media anymore.

So it’s just, it’s so hard to educate people about the stakes of the election even. So I think it’s going to, I think that’s going to have huge ripple effects that we don’t even know yet. And ironically, it’s like meta trying to be like, Oh, we’re not influencing politics by putting this change out. It’s like, no, you, that is more directly influencing politics than probably anything else you’ve done in the

Brian Derrick: past five

Taylor Lorenz: years.


Glennis Meagher: They just don’t want to be blamed again. They’re like, we don’t want it. It’s a hot potato. So we’re just going to ban all of it. And it’s a shame

Taylor Lorenz: because you see, I, again, it’s like these same politicians that talk all this big game about TikTok and da, da, da, da, like, They’re silent. And a lot of those people, by the way, own stock in Meta.

And I think [00:29:00] that’s concerning too, is that how many Congress people have financial interests in that company?

Brian Derrick: Yep. Definitely. Where’s that?

Taylor Lorenz: That’s for another pod

Glennis Meagher: episode, Inside Trading on Capitol Hill.

Brian Derrick: For sure. Well,

Glennis Meagher: that should keep people up at night, but

Brian Derrick: Taylor, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate your really insightful perspective on a lot of these issues and hope to have you back on as the election nears.

Taylor Lorenz: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I love ranting about these things. That was really fun.

Brian Derrick: That was fun. That was fun. I love to disagree with people. I

Glennis Meagher: think, yeah, I think also it’s a very, um, there’s so much to know in this world, right? Like what Congress has and hasn’t done, if you consider China an adversary or not, which is a huge millennial perspective. So there’s a lot to unpack. I think we could definitely have Taylor back and even go even deeper into the weeds and go line by line on some stuff.

But Taylor’s like. She’s a huge [00:30:00] person in this world. So it was so exciting to have her on. For sure.

Brian Derrick: I let’s, let’s put it this way. I would still probably vote for the bill tomorrow if I could cast a vote in Congress, but I also think that she had some really interesting perspectives. There were some things I wanted to point out.

Pushback moron, but you know, like we probably see the world a little bit differently. And a lot of it, as you’re saying, comes down to your priorities. I will admit, I don’t spend that much time on TikTok. So it probably feels like it’s less of a, of a cost to me. But I appreciate her sharing her perspective and, and chatting with us.

Glennis Meagher: Yeah. Like I said, I feel like I’m Switzerland in this moment, a little bit. Like I’m a TikTok head. I love TikTok. I love the videos that I get. My algorithm is so good. I’ve worked so hard for it. I also do think it’s like a little bit of political suicide for anyone to come for it in this moment in time.

And, you know, based on like our RFK Jr conversation, how his Team is really good at digital. You gotta [00:31:00] be good at digital and we gotta get more Dems on there to communicate about the wins that Dems have had in the last three and a half years. So listen, more to come follow Taylor online if you don’t and all of her backup accounts, which are like just essentially main dump accounts.

Which I love. They are good. They’re so good.

Brian Derrick: The meme accounts are good. And we are expecting to see like some movement in the next couple of days on this bill. So definitely we’ll be talking about it more in the coming weeks.

Glennis Meagher: Yeah. But until then, follow me on TikTok. Oh no, follow me on Instagram for my TikTok dumps!

Which are, for those who don’t know, a dump is I just Do all the work for you. And I put all of my, my highlight reels. Curating

Brian Derrick: the most unhinged content on TikTok through the Instagram.

Glennis Meagher: Listen, I’m hat tipping the algo gods for that one.

Brian Derrick: Last week we dove into some of the wild bridge conspiracies and this week we have a whole new batch to dive into. Let’s see what they’re saying. [00:32:00]

Dana Perino: A Fox News alert. A rare celestial event collides with a policy failure on the ground. The southern border will be directly in the path of totality today when the moon covers the sun for nearly four minutes.

Bill Hemmer: We are told that officials are bracing for higher traffic than usual and that means a real opportunity for smugglers and cartels and migrants to come right in.

Brian Derrick: Or they could just wait till nighttime. They really It’s giving laugh track. Fox News should always be consumed with laughter in the background. That’s how it’s made to be consumed.

Glennis Meagher: Honestly, yes. It’s just also giving very orchestrated messaging machine. Can we blame this on DEI? Can we blame this on immigration?

Yes, we can. A celestial event where it just turns dark nighttime for three minutes? We’re gonna blame it on immigration.

Brian Derrick: It’s kind of giving Christopher Nolan. Like, the plot of this movie is that we have four minutes to smuggle people across the border [00:33:00] during the eclipse. Like, what are you talking about?

That’s not happening.

Glennis Meagher: Brian, the group chat has been a buzzin Because there was a couple of things that have happened in the great city of New York in the last The number one I want to talk about, where were you for the earthquake?

Brian Derrick: For the earthquake, I was alone in my office, which is essentially a big glass cube. And it freaked me out!

Dana Perino: Yeah.

Brian Derrick: At first I was like,

Dana Perino: is

Brian Derrick: that a truck? Or is that a plane? Or is that a something? And then it kind of kept going. And yeah, I looked around and then I got immediately got on slack, got on text, got on instagram and people were like, I just felt it in Brooklyn. I just felt it in Albany and I was like, that’s an earthquake baby.

That was my first one. Have you experienced an earthquake before?

Glennis Meagher: A small one in D. C. That was my first one. But I thought of you because me being who I am. I grabbed my [00:34:00] passport. I grabbed my keys. I grabbed my wallet. I grabbed my jacket, a Luna bar, and I bolted. I forgot the Luna bar. And then I realized, you know what, I need, I actually need to put the go bag together.

You need a go bag. Because that was my instinct, even though the the actual like recommendation is to stay in your place during an earthquake. I just don’t feel like that applies to New York City. Like, All of us live in these like rumbled temple buildings. I’m like, also Manhattan is like has a river running underneath it.

I’m like, how secure is all of this? So I, I hauled ass. To where? I actually went to the coffee shop because I was so amped up. I was like, what can, what can make this go higher? A double espresso.

Brian Derrick: Yeah, I was told that I was being dramatic and people sent me, the group chat was sending memes of like, Did you survive the earthquake?

Wendy Williams. And it was like a, a, a chair tipped over.

Glennis Meagher: Yeah. And I’m like, come on. I was, no, I’m with you and I’m with all listeners in [00:35:00] the earthquake zone who were, who were rattled by it. It was scary. It was scary. And like, we live in a major city. So many things run through your mind when buildings start shaking, the least of which is an earthquake.

You’re like, okay.

Brian Derrick: Totally. Let me, let me put it this way. If you’re not afraid of an earthquake while it’s happening, then maybe I’m worried about you. Because it is truly, like, the most powerful force that you can experience. on planet earth, like the entire ground for hundreds of miles around is moving.

Like that should probably scare you. I don’t walk around afraid of earthquakes every day, but like in the moment, I feel like that’s a very natural thing is like, Oh, we actually have no idea if this is going to get worse in two seconds or. Yeah. Stop.

Glennis Meagher: Exactly. That’s a very good point. So if you felt it, we feel you.

But we did survive and we were

Brian Derrick: treated for it. We were rewarded on Monday here in New York for having survived.

Glennis Meagher: No, we weren’t rewarded. I disagree with that because [00:36:00] I because you really had to be in the path of totality.

Brian Derrick: No, wrong. wrong. Oh, my gosh. I need everyone to write into Glenis on Instagram and tell her how much you enjoyed the partial eclipse that you saw.

Send all the

Glennis Meagher: New York City in community. Everyone like out on their roofs. Like I love those moments in New York because everyone is just like so rough and tough here. So I did enjoy that. But my dear friend Matt is an eclipse chaser now. And he totality or bust like track and adjust or what’s there’s some saying like for the cloud coverage anyway apparently it’s life changing to see a total eclipse so i’m spain 2026 baby

Brian Derrick: yeah if i’m gonna go somewhere sorry sorry to someone’s gonna be offended by this If I’m going to go somewhere to be in the totality, I’m not going to, like, random, I’m not going to Buffalo.

Sorry. I’m not going to Buffalo, New York. I’m going to Spain. Like, if I’m going to go, I’m going to go. Sure.

Glennis Meagher: Make a vacation out of it. Yes. Yeah. Yes. Absolutely. Okay.[00:37:00]

Vibe goodbye. We

Brian Derrick: got to get them out of here. Hit them with it.

Glennis Meagher: This is a, this is a good thing. So the Biden administration, they sent a new update on student debt cancellation. They’ve been doing this now because the original policy proposal was struck down by the Supreme court. So they have started looking at new statutory rules by which they can get things passed.

The most recent I’m going to kind of go through. Who is included in this, but if you are a vibes only listener or you are anyone who is wondering about any of your student loan cancellation or your status, just log into your portal or go to student aid dot gov slash debt relief. So here’s some new things.

People who now owe more money on their loans than they originally borrowed. Thank God, by the way, people experiencing financial hardships. That is a large umbrella. They advise you go to student aid. gov slash debt relief to kind of sort that out. People who would [00:38:00] qualify for a preexisting loan forgiveness program that aren’t enrolled in one right now, people who took out loans for enroll in low value academic programs and people who have owed 20 years.

So the Biden administration is doing what they can with this new student loan debt announcement. It’s about 30 million Americans now who have had their student loan erased or adjusted. It’s good. It’s objectively good.

Brian Derrick: I’m excited to see them pushing forward, even though they have gotten some of their previous plans snuffed, their torches snuffed, by the Supreme Court.

They said, no, no, no, Redemption Island. We’re sticking it out

Glennis Meagher: and that vibes only listeners is how Brian Derrick squeezed in survivor

Brian Derrick: every time.

And those are the vibes this week. What did you think of this episode? What is your take on the tick tock legislation? I want to get yelled at. Send us a message at vibes at courier newsroom. com or you can always DM us on Instagram. Thanks for listening.

Glennis Meagher: Vibes Only is a [00:39:00] production of Courier, a civic media company that protects and strengthens our democracy through credible, fact based journalism and seeks to create a more informed, engaged, and representative America.

Vibes Only is produced by Devin Maroney with support from Courier’s Kyle Tharp, R. C. DiMezzo, and Daniel Strasburger. Tara McGowan is founder and publisher of Courier.

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