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Mannequin mania stops people in their tracks

Teenagers' idea goes viral as netizens strike dramatic poses and post their videos

THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE

What do US First Lady Michelle Obama, singer-songwriter Beyonce, football star Cristiano Ronaldo and the staff at Singapore Airlines have in common?

They have all done the Mannequin Challenge.

The instructions are simple: Gather your friends, strike a dramatic pose, hold it steady and film it.

Once that's done, post it to social media with the hashtag #MannequinChallenge.

The viral video craze is typically filmed with the song Black Beatles by hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd playing in the background.

Mr Kim's alleged weight gain has been a source of amusement for Chinese Web users. North Korea has asked China to stamp out the abuse. Top and above: US basketball star Lebron James and US First Lady Michelle Obama take up the Mannequin Challenge, as
US basketball star Lebron James and US First Lady Michelle Obama (above) take up the Mannequin Challenge, as do Singapore Airlines staff. The craze was started by five students in Florida. PHOTO: NBA

A number of the videos have reached millions of views.

Other notable personalities that have done it include football teams Manchester United, the Portugal national team and tennis players Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

Several people have also used it to push their political messages, such as the #BlackLivesMatter cause, which calls for a stop to racial attacks.

Mr Kim's alleged weight gain has been a source of amusement for Chinese Web users. North Korea has asked China to stamp out the abuse. Top and above: US basketball star Lebron James and US First Lady Michelle Obama take up the Mannequin Challenge, as
Top and above: US basketball star Lebron James and US First Lady Michelle Obama take up the Mannequin Challenge, as do Singapore Airlines staff. The craze was started by five students in Florida. PHOTO: SINGAPORE AIRLINES

The mannequin madness was started by five 16-year-old students from Jacksonville, Florida, last month. In an interview with the BBC, the teenagers, who also came up with the hashtag, said it was a spur-of-the-moment initiative and they were surprised by how popular it had become.

The latest craze is reminiscent of other viral trends in the past, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, which promotes awareness of Lou Gehrig's Disease, and the Harlem Shake, where a large number of people dance wildly to the a song by American electronic musician Baauer.

KIM JONG UN AND WEIBO

The Internet has a strange fascination with the somewhat bizarre antics of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Kim's alleged weight gain has been a source of amusement for Chinese Web users. North Korea has asked China to stamp out the abuse. Top and above: US basketball star Lebron James and US First Lady Michelle Obama take up the Mannequin Challenge, as
Mr Kim’s alleged weight gain has been a source of amusement for Chinese Web users. North Korea has asked China to stamp out the abuse. PHOTO: REUTERS

The latest development centres on his apparent weight gain in recent years.

One intelligence service from South Korea claims he has gained 40kg in the past four years.

This has been attributed to his rich diet, which, if reports are to be believed, includes Kobe steaks, caviar, a variety of cheeses and alcoholic beverages like cognac and champagne.

Some of the search terms Chinese Web users use are "Kim the Fat", "Kim Fat III" and "Kim III half-moon", which is a reference to his round features.

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North Korea, as expected, did not take kindly to the jokes and has apparently asked China to stamp out the abuse. China has longstanding ties with the reclusive country.

The result? Search results on Mr Kim's weight gain have been removed from Weibo and search engine Baidu. In other words, he cannot be termed fat in China's cyberspace.

A newspaper in China has also warned netizens against ridiculing North Korea and said social media users should have "respect for the leaders of neighbouring countries".

FACEBOOK UPDATES ON METRICS

The social media giant has uncovered several "bugs" in its calculation of reach and how users have been reacting to content.

In a blog post last week, Facebook said one of the flaws was found in its Page Insights section, which gives an organisation an overview of how the content is faring among its followers.

Put simply,the organic page reach over a seven-day period will be 33 per cent lower on average, while a 28-day summary will be 55 per cent lower.

It also said it would be making changes to the definition of reach counts. Reach is an indicator of how many users have seen a particular post on their feeds.

With more stringent guidelines, it would mean that the reported reach of a particular post will be about 20 per cent lower on average going forward.

What this means is that users will likely see a dip in how well a particular post is doing.

The developments are the latest in the tweaks the company has been rolling out in response to calls from organisations for better clarity of the metrics.

Two months ago, Facebook acknowledged that it has been overestimating the average viewing time for video ads on the platform for roughly two years.

Many news outlets have reported that organisations have welcomed the changes but insist that more needs to be done to ensure their spending on sponsored posts and other paid content is as effective as Facebook says it is.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 20, 2016, with the headline 'Mannequin mania stops people in their tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe