What in the World—Week of February 28

TikTok expands into longer-form video content
Known originally for its bite-sized video content, TikTok continues moving into the longer-form content space occupied by rivals such as YouTube. The platform announced Monday it is expanding the maximum length for video uploads to 10 minutes. This follows the July introduction of three-minute videos. “We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experiences,” said the company in a statement provided to The Verge. TikTok hopes that the expanded format can “unleash even more creative possibilities for our creators around the world.” The move, which enables TikTok to increase its appeal with slightly older users and boost engagement, comes as rivals like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are experimenting with short form content to compete with TikTok.

Estée Lauder terminates exec over racist meme
Cosmetics giant Estée Lauder has fired executive group president John Demsey after he posted a meme containing a racial slur and a joke about Covid to his personal Instagram account. Demsey, who had been with the company for 31 years, and oversaw brands including MAC and Clinique, wrote in a post Friday that he was “terribly sorry and deeply ashamed” for his actions, and said he did not read the meme before posting. Estée Lauder originally suspended Demsey, but announced on Monday that he had been terminated. “The decision is a result of his recent Instagram posts, which do not reflect the values of the Estée Lauder Companies, have caused widespread offense, are damaging to our efforts to drive inclusivity both inside and outside our walls, and do not reflect the judgement we expect of our leaders,” said an internal memo reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Spider-Man actors recreate famous meme
Hollywood, Hollywood, does whatever a meme creator can… Three different Spider-Man actors—Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland—recreated the famous Spider-Man meme that has been a social media fixture for more than a decade. Sony shared the image, which features the three actors pointing an accusatory finger at the others, last week, accompanied by the message: “And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for.” The tweet was to announce that the blockbuster hit Spider-Man: No Way Home will be available for digital streaming in March. Taken from a 1967 episode of the Spider-Man cartoon series entitled “Double Identity,” in which a bad guy impersonates the comic book hero, the earliest known use of the pointing meme came in 2011 according to the website Know Your Meme.

Sponsors breaking up with Mickelson
Big name sponsors continue to distance themselves from Phil Mickelson after his comments about working with a Saudi-backed Super Golf League. KPMG, Heineken, Callaway and Workday have all ended or paused partnerships with Mickelson, according to Golf Digest. In an interview last month, Mickelson, generally regarded as one of the best players of all time, said he would work with the Saudi Wealth Fund to launch the league in the hopes of gaining leverage to affect change at the PGA. He’d do so even though he knew the Saudi government has a “horrible record on human rights,” that “they execute people over there for being gay,” and killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.” In an apology on Twitter last week, Mickelson said the comments were off the record and taken out of context, but also said he understood if his sponsors wanted to pause their support.

LinkedIn gets into podcasts
LinkedIn has launched its own podcast network, which will host a range of shows created by staff and external experts. The podcasts will be available on LinkedIn, as well as through major players like Apple and Spotify. The shows will be ad-supported and launch with Verizon as the initial sponsor. “The shows, unsurprisingly, are geared toward a professional audience. They focus on areas including understanding tech, managing mental health and explaining the hiring process,” reported Engadget. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman will host a show about entrepreneurship, for example. LinkedIn also sees advantages in both hosting the podcasts and subsequent interactions between hosts and listeners. “The podcast network ties into LinkedIn’s other products—such as newsletters, live events, videos and posts—with the idea that hosts and audiences will be able to keep conversations going outside of the shows,” said Engadget.

David Brown