A group of young techies is behind '👁👄👁,' a mysterious meme that succeeded in getting Tech Twitter to donate to Black Lives Matter charities and clamor for invites to an app
A mysterious invite-only app captured the attention of the tech industry on Twitter after a combination of three emoji — 👁👄👁 — flooded their feeds starting Thursday. The purpose of It Is What It Is — and whether it's even real — is unclear. Purported users have posted screenshots on Twitter, and more than 40 young tech employees have added the app's Twitter handle to their profiles. Nonetheless, the It Is What It Is team has succeeded in getting interested users to donate to racial justice fundraisers and introducing the tech industry to 👁👄👁, an emoji combination used on the internet to express shock or disgust. A similar emphasis on secrecy and exclusivity is what has attracted Silicon Valley in droves to pay-for-email service Hey and audio-chat app Clubhouse, making them hyped hits.
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UPDATE: The It Is What It Is team issued a statement late Friday night revealing how the project started as a "meme in our small group chat" and capitalized on Twitter's "hype cycle" to drive donations to causes fighting systemic racism and racial injustice. You can read the full statement on Twitter. This story has been updated. Ever feel like you're looking in on an inside joke that everyone online understands besides you? Welcome to itiswhatitis.fm. On Thursday night, the tech industry was introduced via Twitter, en masse, to this emoji combination: 👁👄👁. Word spread about a mysterious app called "It Is What It Is," as Silicon Valley clamored to figure out what the hype was all about and how the elite could secure their own access to the invite-only platform. Many have struggled figure out what was really going on and whether this is a real app — or something else — or merely an elaborate satire of tech marketing. The website doesn't help explain any further: The only clickable thing on it is a box directing you to "give us ur info," where you can enter your email to, presumably, get on the app's waitlist. Nonetheless, the team behind IIWII has successfully captured the tech industry's attention ahead of a teased announcement for Friday night at 7pm PT. On Twitter, the @itiseyemoutheye team issued a statement later that night to reveal IIWII started out as an elaborate meme that took on a life of its own, which the team took to amplify the issues of racial injustice and encourage people to donate to Black Lives Matter fundraisers. Both the name and the emoji (👁👄👁) associated with the app are, expectedly, based in meme culture, as Josh Constine first pointed out. The emoji can be traced back to this YouTube video from last year, and is now freely used across social platforms for "expressing surprise, shock, anger, or disgust," according to Urban Dictionary. The name — It Is What It Is — goes beyond a commonly used idiom. The audio from this video of a group of teens echoing these words has, since then, become a popular soundtrack for short videos on the viral app TikTok. More than 40 young software engineers and recent college graduates in the tech industry are displaying the app's Twitter handle — @itiseyemoutheye — in their profiles, with job titles like "cheerleader," "head of fun," "chief gay," and "chief optometrist." These faux titles are reminiscent of the trend on TikTok where users put "CEO of" in their account descriptions. While the majority of tweets regarding the app have thus far been forms of trolling, and rows of 👁👄👁, users associated with the project also have successfully gotten the attention excitable techies to try scoring an invite. It Is What It Is has shared links to charities supporting the Black community and trans people of color, including the Okra Project, the Lovaland Therapy Fund, and Solutions Not Punishment. The people behind It Is What It Is seem to be onto something. The dramatic pull of exclusivity and secrecy in Silicon Valley was demonstrated earlier this year, after an invite-only audio-chat app called Clubhouse launched in beta. Although the app has just 5,000 users, it's already valued at $100 million. Business Insider tried to reach out on Twitter to some of the users who seem to be associated with the app. The only response we got: "It Is What It Is." You can read the statement from It Is What It Is in full below:
this is what it is https://t.co/iSO3AGe507 pic.twitter.com/ZHWN8byXcj — it is what it is (@itiseyemoutheye) June 27, 2020
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