How Taylor Swift Could Use Her Internet Powers for Good – WIRED
Taylor Swift’s list of on-the-record achievements reads like a fairy tale: Her last three albums sold more than a million copies each in their first week. She’s the youngest performer to ever win a Grammy for Album of the Year—an award she’s taken home twice. She even voiced a role in The Lorax, the ninth-best Danny DeVito cartoon of all time. She’s one of the few musical supernovas of the 21st century—a figure capable of moving units, and the pop-cultural universe, with a single gesture.
Which may be why tech giants tend to follow to her whims. In 2015, she wrote an open letter on Tumblr threatening to withhold her latest album from Apple’s then-nascent streaming service if the company didn’t fairly compensate artists (Apple relented within 24 hours). And last year, after a series of web feuds led her Instagram comments to be filled with snakes—it’s a long story, maybe the second-longest snake-related story since Adam and Eve—the company launched a new kick-asp filtering system that drove the animals away for good. She didn’t force them to do so, but considering how powerful she is, it’s not surprising the company swiftly responded to her plight.
Late last week, Swift once again commanded the internet’s attention when she cleared the content of her Twitter and Instagram accounts—a move she followed up today by using both to announce a new album, Reputation. (With snakes!) With that record hitting in November—You’ve seen the cover, right? The one that looks like the ad for a new HBO miniseries cocreated by David Simon and Nas?—we got to thinking of some other ways Swift could use her immense power to clean up the internet:
Ending the Net Neutrality Debate for Good
Let’s say Swift configured her personal site taylorswift.com (not to be confused with tailorswift.com, home to a speedy linen-alteration company in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) so that you could access it only through providers that supported net neutrality. Even the biggest telecom companies would cower, and you’d never have to read another dull net-neutrality op-ed again!
This is pretty easy: All Swift has to do is write a song called “Otto, Stop Playin’” about a boy named Otto who won’t stop playin’. (Note: The events in this song would likely take place in Germany, maybe around 1912 or so.) Soon thereafter “Otto, Stop Playin’” would become such a massively inescapable sing-songy meme-phrase—kind of like “shake it off/shake it off/oh-oh”—that everyone involved in the autoplay biz would get sick of hearing it from their friends and coworkers, and eventually leave their jobs and go into social work or become docents or something, leaving all the autoplay buttons set to “off.” (Set to off/set to off/oh-oh!)
Cleaning Up Clickbait
Everyone loathes those crassly titled tiles that litter the bottom of so many culture sites (“36 Hottest Facelift Goofs,” “You Won’t Believe What the Cat from ALF Looks Like Now,” etc.)—yet we all keep clicking on them. By forcing each of these stories to be accompanied by one of several damning-expression Swift GIFs (like this one, or this one), the participant will feel so much shame they’ll immediately steer away and donate $100 to ProPublica.
Eliminating Stupid Acronyms
Twitter is now more than a decade old, yet people are STILL using TFW and AF and LMFO, making for one of the most idle idioms in modern history. Swift can end that with a decree that changes all of these acronyms to have more Swift-specific meanings: TFW will now mean “Taylor? Fun Woman!” AF will mean “Aww, ‘Fifteen’issuchagreatsong!” And LMFO will stand for “i’d Love Mostly to Feed katy perry tO the Sarlacc.” Problem solved.