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When I was a baby journo out to make a name for myself, my bread and butter was in defending my fellow millennials. This tended to manifest itself in various versions of the same general theme: Yes, we use Facebook but no, we’re not monsters. I wrote iterations of this many, many, many, many times.
You can tell this was a long time ago, because the dynamic surrounding Facebook has effectively flipped.
Young people are no longer defending their use of Facebook to baffled adults. Now that the platform has aged and grown more established, it’s older adults who dominate it.
That was driven home in a creepy way this week in the latest piece in our sexual misconduct investigation. In it, Kayla Jimenez details the ways in which social media platforms like Facebook, along with texting, have fueled inappropriate relationships between teachers and underage students.
Several educators used social media to groom students with whom they tried to pursue inappropriate contact. In doing so, they were able to access students outside the confines of the classroom, day or night.
Of course, not all adults who use Facebook are trying to lure teenagers into relationships. Most are just posting harmless if annoying political rants or photos of family members. It’s resulted in a fascinating role reversal, as Wired noted this week, in which “Rather than the classic 21st-century worry about what kids are doing online … it’s often the teens asking the parents to limit what they post, or how much time they spend on the site.”
Facebook seems to know it’s got a young-people problem, but it doesn’t yet know how to solve it.
The company recently ditched a meme-focused app called – I’m not joking – LOL, meant to lure the youngs, before it even launched. It’s “youth team” is now working on a messaging app for kids, Recode reports. Kids, though, are far more interested in Tik Tok, Instagram stories, Snapchat and others – platforms that notably erase their digital footprint instead of memorializing it forever.
I eventually moved on from writing exclusively about social media, something that was new and shiny at the time and that was gaining its footing in the world right as I was establishing a career in media. But like a parent who embarrassingly litters their speech with “lit” and “epic fail,” Facebook is still for some reason trying desperately to seem cool for the kids.
What VOSD Learned This Week
A young woman went through her entire educational career mislabeled as disabled – and denied opportunities as a result – because she was tested only in English, despite it not being her native language. And she’s far from the only one.
Elsewhere in the education world, the state quietly published a list of the worst-performing schools, including 58 in San Diego County. The list should serve as an urgent reminder to public officials – and the public – that there’s big work to be done to ensure all kids are getting a quality education.
City officials told us multiple times they simply couldn’t estimate how the massive Pure Water project might impact ratepayers’ bills. After we published our story, as Ry Rivard explained on this week’s podcast, the city now says it’s working on estimates.
Speaking of massive public projects, officials on the MTS board are gearing up for a 2020 ballot measure to fund transit projects. They’re trying to avoid the pitfalls that doomed SANDAG’s Measure A in 2016.
It’ll certainly take a major investment in transit to change the share of folks who live and also work downtown. As it stands, only about 4 percent of people who live downtown also work there.
I was, frankly, enraged when I read a police union lawyer’s quote asking the public to blindly trust that law enforcement disciplines problems officers. Years’ worth of evidence suggests that’s not true.
Related: Assemblywoman Shirley Weber has unveiled her revamped bill to change the standards guiding when police can deploy deadly force.
What I’m Reading
- This jaw-dropping investigation lays bare the extent to which the Navy was warned – over and over – that disaster could strike if it didn’t address glaring training and readiness deficiencies. Then, disaster did strike. Twice. (ProPublica)
- Wow. Wow. WHAT? Wow. (Medium)
- The Russian propaganda machine has picked its preferred 2020 candidate. (NBC News)
- Journalists and immigrant advocates who cross the border for work appear to be facing interference from their own government. (The Intercept)
- The glossy, Instagram-friendly evangelical churches that have attracted cool young people like Chris Pratt and Justin Bieber aren’t much more forward-thinking than the churches you grew up with. (Vox)
Line of the Week
“Sit in traffic for 9 hours in order to stray a few miles outside of this area and you find yourself in VUHJINNYUH. You are in the deepest South, with Fuck You pickup trucks and men who sound like Foghorn Leghorn if he owned a plantation and was drunk on Beast Light all day long. You are in REAL Virginia, I do declare.” – I’ll stick with California, thanks.