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Social media stardom spins into Hollywood career for Canadian YouTuber Inanna Sarkis – CBC.ca

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Inanna Sarkis’s trajectory has taken her from goofing around with friends in silly Internet videos to having 10 million followers, a name on dressing room doors, a home under the Los Angeles sun and her name in mainstream movie credits.

It’s also taken her back to her Canadian roots.

The 26-year-old, who was born and raised in Hamilton, has been in Winnipeg since mid-November, filming a horror-thriller called Seance.

Having been living in L.A. for a few years, it took an adjustment to get used to winter once again.

“The weather has been a little chilly but for the most part it’s been a great experience,” she said.

Seance, which will eventually be shopped to international buyers, is about an all-girls boarding school haunted by a vengeful spirit. Sarkis is also in two other movies currently in post-production, as well as one that is soon to be released and a TV movie that has just been completed.

Despite the cold weather, Inanna Sarkis said she is taking warm memories of Winnipeg back to California. “It just made me feel like home, everyone’s been super nice.” (Gary Solilak/CBC)

But don’t think she’s outgrown those silly videos with friends. That’s what launched her career and Sarkis is someone loyal to her roots.

“I do have this [social media] platform and I want to use it to inspire and influence people,” she said, adding her primary audience ranges in age from 18-24.

She graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto with a major in criminal justice but Sarkis said her passion was always performing. So she packed up and chased that dream to L.A.

She got into an acting school and was taking classes when she was introduced to someone considered a star on the now-defunct Vine app, which allowed users to share six-second-long, looping video clips.

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Sarkis had never heard of Vine and had no social media presence at all but was intrigued. She starred in one of the person’s Vine comedy sketches and then decided to start making her own.

That led to launching a YouTube channel that she hoped would give her some exposure that she could use to leverage her acting career. She created short films and better quality content than Vine would allow.

And it worked.

She realized that when she started to get recognized on the street, and not just in the United States but overseas in Europe.

“It was just a weird, crazy feeling,” she said. “I wasn’t even in any movies then, I was just creating these fun videos with my friends. But people were noticing the content I was creating.”

She now has more than three million Youtube subscribers and 10 million followers on Instagram.

‘Helped me survive’

It wasn’t instant, though. At first, she wasn’t making any income as she worked to built up her platform.

Sarkis said she would write, direct, produce, edit and post YouTube videos every day. She would also collaborate on, and appear in, videos for friends with bigger followings, to piggyback on their popularity and raise her own.

At the same time, she was bartending and working other jobs to pay bills.

She can’t recall when her first brand deal came through, but as Sarkis’ YouTube subscription list grew the companies came calling.

She became an influencer — someone with access to a large audience and viewed by brands as being able to persuade others. Brands offer products, vacations, and other opportunities in exchange for some exposure.

What was once “a fun thing I did on the side with friends” became a solid income source.

Inanna Sarkis stands outside one of the trailers on the movie set in Winnipeg. (Submitted by Inanna Sarkis)

“I don’t want to put a number on it but it’s like any other job, if you put in the effort and the time and energy it starts becoming lucrative,” Sarkis said.

“It was my main source of income for some time. It helped me survive living in L.A. and having my own place and I went there with nothing, really, so I can tell you that much.”

She is now putting more work into transitioning into full-time acting and those paycheques are the primary income. But Sarkis doesn’t plan on cutting ties with the platforms that helped mold her.

She still writes, produces, directs and acts in her own videos, as well as casts others for parts, but now she has a crew that helps edit and do other production work.

These days she’s only publishing one or two videos a month on YouTube but posts short Instagram videos multiple times a day. Most recently, Winnipeg and its snowy scenes have made an appearance.

Inanna Sarkis posted this photo on her first day of filming in Winnipeg. (Submitted by Inanna Sarkis)

Sarkis has longer-term goals for fame but none involve straying too far from the content-creator blueprint.

She wants to produce her own TV series — “There’s a bunch of things that I’ve written over the years” — and write a book, then movie script, that delves into the story behind her namesake. 

Sarkis, who comes from middle-eastern DNA — an Assyrian father and Bulgarian mother — is named after the Sumerian goddess of beauty and love.

Sarkis says that middle-eastern heritage is not as well known as the stories of Greek mythology and wants to change that.

In the short term, however, she is heading back to L.A. on the weekend as filming on Seance wraps in the city.

Despite the cold, she is taking warm memories of Winnipeg back to California.

“It just made me feel like home, everyone’s been super nice.”

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Facebook’s safety head tells UK lawmakers it does not amplify hate

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Facebook Inc‘s https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebooks-zuckerberg-kicks-off-its-virtual-reality-event-with-metaverse-vision-2021-10-28 algorithms demote rather than promote polarising content, its global head of safety told British lawmakers on Thursday, adding that the U.S. company would welcome effective government regulation.

Governments in Europe and the United States are grappling with regulating social media platforms to reduce the spread of harmful content, particularly for young users.

Britain is leading the charge by bringing forward laws that could fine social media companies up to 10% of their turnover if they fail to remove or limit the spread of illegal content.

Secondary legislation that would make company directors liable could be proposed if the measures do not work.

Facebook https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-asks-employees-preserve-internal-documents-legal-inquiries-2021-10-27 whistleblower Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 told the same committee of lawmakers on Monday that Facebook’s algorithms pushed extreme and divisive content to users.

Facebook’s Antigone Davis denied the charge.

“I don’t agree that we are amplifying hate,” Davis told the committee on Thursday, adding: “I think we try to take in signals to ensure that we demote content that is divisive for example, or polarising.”

She said she could not guarantee a user would not be recommended hateful content, but Facebook was using AI to reduce its prevalence to 0.05%.

“We have zero interest in amplifying hate on our platform and creating a bad experience for people, they won’t come back,” she said. “Our advertisers won’t let it happen either.”

Davis said Facebook, which announced on Thursday it would rebrand as Meta, wanted regulators to contribute to making social media platforms safer, for example in research into eating disorders or body image.

“Many of these are societal issues and we would like a regulator to play a role,” she said, adding Facebook would welcome a regulator with “proportionate and effective enforcement powers”.

“I think criminal liability for directors is a pretty serious step and I’m not sure we need it to take action.”

 

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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Facebook to be called Meta in nod to its ‘metaverse’ vision

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Facebook Inc is now called Meta, the company said on Thursday, in a rebrand that focuses on its ambitions building the “metaverse,” a shared virtual environment that it bets will be the next big computing platform.

The rebrand comes as the world’s largest social media company battles criticisms from lawmakers and regulators over its market power, algorithmic decisions and the policing of abuses on its platforms.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company’s live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference, said the new name reflected its ambitions to build the metaverse, rather than its namesake social media service.

The metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley, refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.

“Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future,” said Zuckerberg.

The company, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, said the change would bring together its different apps and technologies under one new brand. It said it would not change its corporate structure.

The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.

In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”

The company said in a blog post that it intends to start trading under the new stock ticker it has reserved, MVRS, on Dec. 1. On Thursday, it unveiled a new sign at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, replacing its thumbs-up “Like” logo with a blue infinity shape.

Facebook said this week that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion. The unit will now be called Reality Labs, its head Andrew “Boz” Bosworth tweeted on Thursday.

Zuckerberg said the new name also reflects that over time, users will not need to use Facebook to use the company’s other services.

This year, the company created a product team focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.

Facebook shares were up 3.7% at $323.81 on Thursday afternoon.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Ken Li and Matthew Lewis)

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg lays out ‘metaverse’ vision at developers event

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Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg said privacy and safety would need to be built into the metaverse, as he opened the company’s annual conference on virtual and augmented reality on Thursday.

Facebook continues to battle criticism over its market power, its content moderation practices and harms linked to its social media platforms. The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.

In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”

The metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley, refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.

Zuckerberg has increasingly been promoting the idea of Facebook, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, as a “metaverse” company https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sets-up-new-team-work-metaverse-2021-07-26 rather than a social media one.

The CEO, speaking during the live-streamed Facebook Connect event, gave examples of privacy and safety controls that would be needed in the metaverse, such as the ability to block someone from appearing in your space. Zuckerberg is betting that the metaverse will be the next big computing platform, calling it “the successor to the mobile internet.”

The whistleblower documents, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, show internal research and employee discussions on Instagram’s effects on the mental health of teens and whether Facebook stokes divisions, as well as its handling of activity around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and inconsistencies in content moderation for users around the globe.

The company gave a slew of updates for its VR and AR products. It said it would this year launch a way for people using its Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger and for people to invite others to a social version of their home, dubbed “Horizon Home,” to talk and play games as avatars.

Facebook also said it would introduce a way for Oculus Quest users to use different 2D apps like Slack, Dropbox and Facebook while in this “Horizon Home” VR space.

The company, which began a beta test of its virtual meeting spaces “Horizon Workrooms” earlier this year, said it was working on ways of customizing these with company logos and designs and said it would be bringing more work capabilities into consumer Quest devices. It also announced new fitness offerings for Oculus Quest users.

Facebook said this week that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion.

This year, Facebook created a product team focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.

Facebook also said it would run a $150 million education program aimed at helping AR and VR creators and developers.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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