My Internet: Katie Notopoulos

The BuzzFeed tech reporter passionately endorses tweeting and Facebook groups but not Vine.

Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, from Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci.🧩

Every Friday, we quiz a very cool “very online” person to get their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.

Today we welcome Katie Notopoulos, a senior tech reporter at BuzzFeed News. Katie loves Facebook, maintains a Potemkin personal brand on Instagram, and rejects the hype that "real life" is better than the internet. —Nick

PS: Tomorrow’s post for paying subscribers will be an interview with Instgram executive Dayna Geldwert on how the app is working to become “the internet that we want to see in the world.” If you’re not “fully Embedded,” upgrade now!

What's a recent meme or other post that cracked you up?

This TikTok by Frankie LaPenna

Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?

My Instagram sucks, it’s a wasteland, a potemkin personal brand. The problem is that as an anti-harassment measure, I avoid posting any personal information on social media. So I won’t ever post photos of my family or where I live, and I limit photos of myself as much as possible, which doesn’t leave a lot left to post about. The problem is I use Instagram as a reporting tool a lot. I'm often cold-messaging someone and trying to seem legit, so I need a non-private account with my real name. My account is verified not because it’s any good but because I mentioned to an Instagram PR person that it would be more likely for me to get responses from strangers when I messaged them (it works!). So in order to make my Instagram seem like it’s still an active legit account, I still have to post occasionally, so it’s mostly photos of vanity license plates or garbage on the street.

What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?

Movie trailers.

Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?

I do and it's by far my favorite entertainment. My For You Page has a lot of farming stuff, which I think is because I keep texting the farming videos to a friend who's into farming, and so TikTok tracks that as a signal that I'm super into farming.

Do you ever tweet? Why?

Of course I tweet! Tweeting rules! The implication that tweeting is bad I think comes from a few bad apples who just tweet... everything. It's great to tweet but sometimes you can just.... not tweet. I love to chop it up on the ol' blue bird, but I also know I don't need to chime in on the discourse of the day.

Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?

The worst experience of this was back in the 2017 heyday of question-prompt-Twitter, when I asked some question about "what was 'the incident' at your high school?" It went viral via quote-tweet, which is especially annoying because after it's like that TikTok sound of "that's enough slices"

Who's the coolest person who follows you?

The former bassist from Don Caballero follows me on Instagram.

Who's someone more people should follow?

Ben Smith, he's this new guy on the media beat at The New York Times, show him some love and throw a follow his way, he's just getting started.

Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?

Larsa Pippen's Instagram, her captions are just... enchanting?

A post shared by @larsapippen

Do you ever comment on or reply to posts?

God, no.

Where do you tend to get your news?

Apple News

What's your favorite non-social media app?

The Audubon app, the best free bird identification app. Used it today for a ruddy turnstone!

What are you willing to pay for online?

Photo storage

Are you a fan of any NFT art or artists? Do you have strong feelings about blockchain tech or cryptocurrencies?

My main feeling is that I wrote an article about NFTs once and now my inbox is 80% NFT pr pitches and I basically can't use my work email anymore. Based on that I'd say that this is a very good time to do PR for NFTs!

Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?

I love Embedded! Great newsletter!! I also always read Garbage Day from Ryan Broderick. Ryan and I worked together for a very long time and did a podcast called Internet Explorer together, and I can't go a week of my life without hearing his awful opinions, no matter how I get them.

Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?

I'm devoted to Who? Weekly, which ironically comes out biweekly.

Do you have an opinion on Clubhouse or its clones, like Twitter Spaces?

I think it's going to be a sad relic of mid-pandemic.

Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Around what age?

The Snap Map is still really fun to look at, I enjoy that even at age [REDACTED]

When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?

I have used it to save photos but I couldn't tell you when I last "browsed" it.

Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?

I was never into Vine, really. The whole Logan Paul/Vine star/comedy skit vibe was such a turnoff to me and although I enjoyed some Vines I wasn't like "let me fire up the Vine app and enjoy some stuff!" TikTok is so much more enjoyable to consume in terms of discovery.

Do you consider yourself part of any specific online communities?

I feel this question has a menacing aura.

Are you regularly in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook? What are they about?

I'm in tons and tons of Facebook Groups, and I'm very active in many. Facebook what I read most of the day, way more than Twitter or other stuff. I mainly use a few specific groups, but I'll join anything. I'm in a lot of genealogy groups, which are mostly older people and they get quote spicy. I love Facebook (the user experience, not the company)!

Are you playing any games right now? Do you watch any gamers live stream on Twitch or another platform?

Oh god no.

How excited—or apprehensive—are you about the metaverse?

Look, I love the idea, but so far Facebook has released its big ambitions and it's just VR work meetings, so like... wet fart.

Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?

I rarely do and I HATE getting them because I'm rarely in a situation I can listen to it.

Do any of your group chats have a name that you're willing to share? What's something that recently inspired debate in the chat?

"[intense music playing]" where some friends and I just talk about middlebrow action movies we've watched recently. The most recent drama is the same old drama we constantly have about whether The Dark Knight merely rules or rules mega hard.

What's your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?

The teeth-gritting, which.... I guess means teeth-gritting to me.

What's a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve streamed a lot lately?

I've listened to "Eat It" by Weird Al a lot, per request by a young relative.

If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?

HBO, because it has the Sesame Street catalog for kids

What's the most basic thing that you love online?


Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?

The 1980s Gary U.S. Bonds albums that Bruce Springsteen produced [Dedication and On the Line] aren't anywhere on streaming or even iTunes. Release the Bonds!

Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?

I use Facebook Marketplace all the time, as well as local Buy Nothing groups. I recently bought a chair on Marketplace.

What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?

Don't believe the hype that your "real life" is better than the internet.

What's the worst thing about the internet in 2021? How about the best thing?

Worst thing: Green Knight stans. Best thing: people using the word "seggs" instead of "sex" on TikTok closed captioning to avoid content bans.

Thanks Katie! Read her reporting and follow her on Twitter. 😬

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