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Sofia Li Crasti

Mob Influence? Italy's Mafia Is Turning To TikTok For New Recruits

Italy's highest-profile nemesis of organized crime networks, prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, discusses the mob's use of social networks, and how TikTok allows criminal organizations to advertise their lifestyle to impressionable viewers. Sound familiar?

NAPLES — "TikTok is the mob's most used social media platform. It is where the criminal world can showcase its wealth through golden watches and luxury cars, attracting ignorant young people who only want money, and are willing to put aside any ethics or morality."

These are the words of Nicola Gratteri, top anti-mafia prosecutor, now based in the southern city of Naples.

In an interview with La 7 television network, Gratteri analyzed the evolution of the mob's communication networks, which now leverage the influence of social media on the new generations to warp their perceptions of wealth and success.

Keeping up with new trends is not new for criminals. Gratteri explains: "the mafia has always behaved like a business, even a hundred years ago. For example, when mafia figures made substantial offerings to the church saint, in front of everyone, they were essentially engaging in advertising. It was a demonstration of power, similar to the acquisition, in the 1960s, of football coaches and teams, which then began climbing the competitive rankings."

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Fran Sánchez Becerril

Meet The Weather Influencers: Climate Change, Vacation Plans, Lightning Bolts!

In recent years, social interest in climatology has grown exponentially, turning meteorologists into quasi-rockstars who, thanks to technology, can interact with their audiences and provide real-time updates.

Bernard Mergen's book Weather Matters explores the notion that meteorological experiences hold a strong presence in people's imagination, sometimes even elevated to a quasi-religious category: it illuminates the paradoxes of order and disorder in everyday life and brings together forces such as scientific law, chance, and free will.

Our society lives with the constant need to know what the weather will be, tallied in the countless inquiries we make to websites or mobile apps. In the face of this and the specter of global warming, the job of climatologist and good ol' fashion weather forecaster is no longer confined to a trivial elevator conversation, but becomes a matter of public interest.

And with that, meteorologists have become true modern rock stars.

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Senior Influence: Why Some Brands Are Finally Dropping Ageism From Their Advertising

As the number of people over the age of 65 increases, some global brands are taking steps to reduce ageism in advertising, both for ethical and business motivations.

MADRID — Elderly people still rarely appear in advertising — and when they do, they are usually represented either in a stereotypical or a pejorative way.

But advertising experts say the tables are turning. Although still rather limited, initiatives that defy such ageism and age discrimination are beginning to pop out.

Marc Compte, professor of Information and Communication Sciences at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), gives as an example campaigns such as #AWorld4AllAges, launched in Nov. 2021 by the WHO with the support of the 194 member states of the organization.

The aim was to change the way people think, feel and act regarding age and aging.

“It was a turning point,” Compte says. Two other recent campaigns featured older actors: the first by L'Oréal on social media, which included a dozen influencers between 45 and 84 years old, and Zara in summer 2023, with 67-year-old actress Ángela Molina.

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Katarzyna Skiba

Poland's Influencer #MeToo: Top YouTubers Face Allegations From Underage Girls

The Polish Prime Minister has launched an investigation into Polish YouTubers suspected of grooming underage girls. Dubbed by some as the “Polish #MeToo”, the scandal (also nicknamed "Pandora Gate") has prompted new questions into the investigation, prevention, and punishment of pedophilia in the country.

Stuart Burton, a Polish YouTuber known online as “Stuu” is being investigated by the Polish government after a creator online revealed inappropriate messages he allegedly exchanged with underage fans, Warsaw-based Gazeta Wyborcza reports.

Beginning his career under the pseudonym “Polish Penguin”, Stuu started uploading videos of himself playing video games, mainly Minecraft, which brought him widespread success with a young audience. He went on to gain nearly 5 million subscribers, and garner hundreds of thousands of views per video.

Eventually, Burton expanded his brand to include lifestyle content, and became one of Poland’s most popular YouTubers. He also founded “Team X”, a group of influencers who were included in his videos.

In spite of his success, Burton suddenly stopped uploading any content onto YouTube after just one year, without any prior warning or indication that he planned to quit his career. Just before disappearing from YouTube, a former partner and fellow influencer, Justyna Suchanek, posted a tearful video, stating that an online personality she knew was harming children.

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Maria Corbi

Chiara Ferragni, The Italian Exception That Proves The Influencer Rule

For some with communication skills and charisma, likes on social media can turn into lavish earnings. But influencers face a crisis of trust, as well as algorithms that often discriminate — particularly against women.


TURIN — There may be difficult years ahead for social media influencers. Having lost some of their shine as creators of authentic, personal content, unswayed by advertising dollars, they may need to reinvent themselves to stay on top and get paid.

But for now, they're holding on with audiences who may trust them less, but still follow along, as if watching a soap opera.

There are many kings in this ranking of social superstars, but there is only one undisputed queen: Chiara Ferragni, with not only her own followers (29.5 million) but also those of her relatives, from her husband Fedez (14.7 million), to her sisters Francesca and Valentina, her mother Marina Di Guardo and her children, the little stars, Leone and Vittoria.

It's a real family business, which can be seen in the series about their lives, "Ferragnez." Alone, her fortune is estimated at $40 million.

Some argue that the rise of influencer marketing stems from the crisis of elites, who feel less and less relevant to many people, and to the rise of populism. But the fact is that, credible or not, social media stars continue to be passionate, and reflect the opportunity we all want and could have in life, like so many Cinderellas, graced with communication skills and charisma.

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Joseph Holmes

Should Christians Be Scared Of Horror Movies?

Horror films have a complicated and rich history with christian themes and influences, but how healthy is it for audiences watching?

“The Nun II” has little to show for itself except for its repetitive jump scares — but could it also be a danger to your soul?

Christians have a complicated relationship with the horror genre. On the one hand, horror movies are one of the few types of Hollywood films that unapologetically treat Christianity (particularly Catholicism) as good.

“The Exorcist” remains one of the most successful and acclaimed movies of all time. More recently, “The Conjuring” franchise — about a wholesome husband and wife duo who fight demons for the Catholic Church in the 1970s and related spinoffs about the monsters they’ve fought — has more reverent references to Jesus than almost any movie I can think of in recent memory (even more than many faith-based films).

The Catholic film critic Deacon Steven Greydanus once mentioned that one of the few places where you can find substantial positive Catholic representation was in horror films.

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Simonetta Sciandivasci

Dolce Vita, Where Are You? An Italian Takedown Of The Cult Of Working Out

With the social value of sports having recently been officially acknowledged in the Italian constitution, writer Simonetta Sciandivasci reflects on the cult of excessive health, and rants about the impossibility of keeping up beauty trends masked as self-care.


Gyms open before coffee bars. Some never close. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Years ago, unions rose up in vain against the continuous, eternal openings of supermarkets, accusing the "Save Italy" decree of blurring, even nullifying, the distinction between weekdays and holidays, day and night, overtime and regular time. Many spoke of deregulation, oppressive liberalism, a "capitalist assault on sleep."

None of those voices ever even whispered a complaint against the non-stop hours of gyms. And now you are here, at 6 a.m., living through the consequences. As badly as you wish you could buy a cappuccino and a croissant, the only light you can see lit from the street is that of the hall of a fitness center. It looks like it was tastefully decorated by a minimalist sadist who is passionate about the Ming dynasty and Nazism.

Coffee bars closed and gyms open. The market has chosen: physical maintenance above all else.

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Cristina de la Torre

Will The Pope's Reforms Trigger A Historic Schism In The Catholic Church?

Pope Francis has convoked a momentous synod gathering in Rome to debate changes to Catholic doctrines and practices. It is a frontal reformist push that reflects the current pope's ideals — and it has conservatives seething.


The Catholic Church has begun a synod of reforms in Rome that may be as traumatic as the Reformation or its break with the Eastern Church, 1,000 years ago.

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Carolina Drüten

How The West Is Leaning On The Gulf States For A Way Out In The Middle East

Can Europe play a role in the current conflict in the Middle East? During the recent visit to the region by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, it appeared clear that Gulf States are in a much better position to negotiate a possible solution.


BERLIN — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's recent flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel hit a patch of modest turbulence. The seatbelt signs light up. The Arab peninsula, whose countries have only just moved closer to the Jewish state, is literally shaking.

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Pierre Haski

First Niger, Now Gabon: What's Triggering The Coups d'État In Francophone Africa?

Is it a Russian conspiracy or anti-Paris bias? Or a sign that democracy has never really taken root in post-colonial realities?


PARIS — It's a spectacular phenomenon, and not easily explained. Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and yesterday, Gabon: five African countries which have all seen military coups in the last two years. This raises many questions.

A simplistic explanations might label this a wave of coups, a Russian conspiracy or a rejection of France — and without a doubt these factors may be at play here, to some extent. But we need to dig deeper.

Something else these countries have in common is the failure of post-colonial states, which have been shaped under strong French influence. They have experienced two phases: one authoritarian, the other democratic – or, to be more accurate, pseudo-democratic.

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Emanuela Minucci

The Vacant Era Of 'Homo Viden' — A Philosopher's Takedown Of Selfie Culture

Italian philosopher Umberto Galimberti says it is a tragedy to photograph a life into existence rather than living it.


"The selfie is indecent," proclaims Italian philosopher Umberto Galimberti.

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