“The Blue Lagoon Does Not Damage Hair,” Spokesperson Says

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

Responding to an inquiry from Vísir, a spokesperson for the Blue Lagoon has stated that a soak in the lagoon has “a positive and beneficial effect” on both skin and hair – contrary to the online discussion; the inquiry follows recent chatter on social media regarding the damaging effects of the Blue Lagoon’s water on hair.

“My hair is ruined”

In a recent video that has garnered more than 20 million views on TikTok, internet personality Kat Wellington told viewers that her hair was “ruined” after an extended soak in the Blue Lagoon:

“Me and my family,” Kat began, “were lying on the slope, […] sleeping with our hair soaking in the water for an extended period of time. Anyway, [I] just wanted to report that my hair is absolutely ruined.”

As noted by Vísir, Wellington is not the only person to have made such a remark on social media; other TikTok users have also posted videos recounting similar experiences. And some have cautioned potential visitors to the Lagoon against putting their hair in the water.

A misinformed discussion

In a response to an inquiry from Vísir, Helga Árnadóttir – manager of the sales, marketing, and product development department of the Blue Lagoon – stated that the discussion was misinformed:

“The Blue Lagoon’s unique ingredients, such as silicon and minerals, actually have a positive and beneficial effect on both skin and hair. The lagoon does not damage hair. Certainly, the texture of the hair changes in the short term if guests do not use the conditioner that is offered to them when they visit the lagoon.”

Helga observed that visitors were informed about the water’s properties upon arrival and were given instructions on how to manage its effects. She added that an “uninformed discussion” was never ideal and emphasised that the Blue Lagoon had remained the same for the past thirty years. Visitors, in general, were content with their stay and appreciate the lagoon’s impact, she maintained.

Helga concluded by saying that the company continually monitors the online discourse and responds to misinformation whenever it deems it necessary.

Parents, Community Appalled by Brutal Bullying Case

Ísabella Von

Sædís Hrönn Samúelsdóttir and her twelve-year-old daughter Ísabella Von Sædísardóttir opened up to local media yesterday about the brutal campaign of bullying that the latter has suffered at the hands of classmates. Abusers encouraged Ísabella to “try again,” following a failed suicide attempt. Parents must shoulder greater responsibility, the Chair of Hafnarfjörður’s City Council has stated.

Hateful messages and physical abuse

As reported by RÚV yesterday, Ísabella Von is an eighth-grader at the Hraunvallaskóli primary school in Hafnarfjörður. Having long been bullied by her classmates, she recently attempted suicide by overdosing on her mother’s prescription drugs. Ísabella notified her mother, who drove her to the Children’s Hospital for treatment. She returned home yesterday.

“I felt like everyone would be happy if I went through with it. That’s what everyone has told me,” Ísabella told RÚV.

Sædís Hrönn Samúelsdóttir, Ísabella’s mother, maintains that she can name at least 35 children who have sent her daughter hateful messages; although the ones sent anonymously are worse. Ísabella has also been attacked physically twice, once at the Smáralind shopping mall, which was recorded and shared on social media. After the beating, she received the following message:

“She probably began fucking bawling. If there hadn’t been people around, she probably would have been fucking dead (…) You should have been fucking dead, Ísabella.”

Sædís says that psychologists with the National Agency for Children and Family have tried to offer assistance; that they’ve applied for so-called MST intervention, which is a cross-institutional treatment geared towards aiding parents in helping their children cope. “The school has also tried to help, but she just doesn’t show up,” Sædís remarked.

Parents’ Association, Mayor Respond

After news of the bullying broke, the Parents’ Association of Hraunvallaskóli released a public statement on Facebook. The association was “shocked by revelations” in the media yesterday and has called a meeting with school administrators.

“It’s important to tackle such matters with determination and to activate protocols. Also, we, as parents, administrators, and school employees must work together toward constructive solutions that put our children’s welfare first. The Parents’ Association will try its utmost, circumstances allowing.”

Mayor of Hafnarfjörður Rósa Guðbjartsdóttir also weighed in on the matter on Facebook yesterday, encouraging a show of empathy, responsibility, and love.

“It’s been heartrending, hearing of the violence that our young girl in Hafnarfjörður has suffered. All of the world’s specialists […] will never replace us as custodians and parents. Let us talk to our children, monitor their activities more closely, explain to them the seriousness of their actions and the consequences of treating other people poorly. The simple message: ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ It is so important and true.”

Chair of Hafnarfjörður City Council weighs in

Speaking to RÚV yesterday, Valdimar Víðisson, Chair of Hafnarfjörður’s City Council, stated that bullying was not endemic to Hafnarfjörður. “Bullying in primary school is, unfortunately, our current reality. We must find ways to respond.”

Valdimar says that social media is playing an increasingly larger role. “It’s a reality with which we’ve been unable to adequately deal,” Valdimar observed, adding that some of the options available are helpful, although uprooting bullying always necessitates the involvement of parents.

“It’s often the case that schools are left screaming into the void because there isn’t a lot of participation. But parents must take part, as well as society at large.”

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out to Red Cross Iceland (Phone No. 1717) or the Píeta Association (Phone No. 552-2218)

Bónus Lengthens Opening Hours, Gives Mascot Controversial Makeover

As of Friday, Bónus will have longer opening hours. Vísir reports that the extension was announced to customers at the same time that the discount grocery chain unveiled that its mascot, the iconic Bónus pig—an off-kilter, droopy-eyed swine that appeared to be recovering from a hard night out—had undergone a makeover. But while the later shopping hours will undoubtedly be welcomed, not all locals are equally enthused about the popular porker’s facelift.

Bónus CEO Guðmundur Marteinsson says the chain extended its hours in response to calls from consumers. “This is the complaint we receive most often,” he explained. “But we’re cost-conservative and opening hours are part of the cost. But by keeping the opening hours within reasonable limits—we’re not extending them by much—we believe we can implement this without increasing the cost too much. Prices won’t change because of this adjustment.”

Previously, Bónus closed at 6:30 pm. From now on, however, seven Bónus locations will be open until 8:00 pm every day: in the capital area, Smáratorg, Skeifan, Spöngin, Fiskislóð, and Mosfellsbær, as well as Helluhraun in Hafnarfjörður and Langholt in Akureyri. The remaining locations will be open until 7:00 pm. In addition, Bónus will open an hour earlier on Sundays, or 10:00 am.

‘He was always a bit cockeyed’

The original Bónus mascot, via Facebook

Remarking on the controversial mascot transformation, Guðmundur said, “We’ve just streamlined him a little—it isn’t that big a change. We took out one or two lines that it’s always looked like we forgot to erase when he was initially designed,” he continued, pointing to a crinkle on the Bónus pig’s nose and an extra line on his back.

More dramatic, however, is the adjustment of the pig’s left eye. “He was always a bit cockeyed,” Guðmundur said. “But as I see it, this is part of our evolution.”

The brand’s font has also been adjusted, moving from a blocky serif font to a cleaner sans serif.

‘Long live the Bónus pig!’

Change does not always come easy, though, and some locals took to social media to mourn the mascot.

“What kind of sick joke is this?” wrote Hrafn Jónsson on Facebook. “You take one of the most iconic pigs of all time and mess with it? […] What kind of personality-less impostor is this?”

“Why can’t *anything* be left alone in this country?” tweeted @siggiodds. “What is the point/goal? Take the nuance, the history, and the humor away so you’re left with just an empty, generic shell?”

Rex Beckett

The transformation has also already inspired several memes. “Long live the Bónus pig!” proclaimed Rex Beckett on Facebook, screen-capping the messages she sent directly to the company. “I just wanted to say that I am extremely sad about the decision to change the Bónus Piggy’s look,” she wrote. “He was a delightful little weirdo with such a fun personality and his wonky eye made everyone happy. […] Please let us hang onto our old friend.”

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“They’re With Me”: Icelanders Campaign for Asylum Seeker Family on Social Media

The police have officially requested information from the public on the whereabouts of the Egyptian Khedr family, after their planned deportation last week proved unsuccessful. The decision to deport the family is controversial, and several people have responded on social media under the hashtag #þaueruhjámér (they’re with me), to show support for the family as well as to flood the police with leads.

If the tips on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #þaueruhjámér are to be believed, the family is simultaneously in Hafnarfjörður, West Reykjavík, taking a stroll in the city centre, at someone’s house listening to Sonic Youth, driving the South Coast, and on a couch watching the Gilmore Girls. Sympathetic Icelanders also suggest the police look for the family in hiding as far as in Amsterdam’s Anne Frank Museum or as far as Seattle. The social media posts are intended to show support for the Khedr family, with multiple people claiming to be hiding the family and taking care of the children. Many also encourage the public to email the police directly at the email address provided with the request for information.

When the police arrived to escort the family of six to the airport on the day of their planned deportation, Ibrahim Khedr, his wife Dooa, and four children were not at their place of residence and haven’t been seen since. The family had requested asylum on the grounds of political persecution due to the father’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been in Iceland for more than two years, and their case is controversial in part since regulations state that families with children that have waited for more than 16 months for their asylum application verdicts be granted asylum on humanitarian grounds. They are believed to still be in the country.

The Khedr family’s lawyer, Magnús Davíð Norðdahl, filed a lawsuit in the Reykjavík District Court yesterday on behalf of the family and requested accelerated proceedings, stating that authorities had not done an independent and comprehensive assessment of the children’s best interest. He said the Directorate of Immigration never investigated whether the mother and ten-year-old daughter were in a particularly sensitive position as over 90% of women in Egypt had suffered genital mutilation.

“No investigation was made into whether the mother and daughter were victims of such violence or if they were at risk,” Magnús told Vísir. “The Directorate of Immigration ruled in the case of another Egyptian family early in 2019 and in their verdict, covered the frequency of female genetic mutilation in Egypt extensively but as stated earlier, over 90% of women there have suffered such violence,” says Magnús. In the 2019 case, the family was granted asylum.

The lawsuit and accelerated process request are now in the hands of Símon Sigvaldason, Chief Judge at the District Court of Reykjavík.

Facebook Maintains Popularity, Tik Tok on the Rise in Iceland

Nine out of ten Icelanders use Facebook regularly and over half use YouTube, Snapchat, Spotify, and Instagram. The data comes from a social media usage survey conducted by MMR last May. The survey also showed that 14% of respondents used Tik Tok, compared to just 0.2% last year.

Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat were the three most popular platforms (in that order) among Icelanders, unchanged from the previous three years. Facebook usage has remained consistent over the last four years, with between 89-92% of locals saying they use Facebook regularly. Instagram has grown in popularity over the same period: while 30% stated they used the platform on a regular basis in 2017, the figure this year was 55%. Spotify jumped from 26% to 57% over the same period.

Women were more likely to report using Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify, and Instagram regularly, while men were more likely than women to use YouTube regularly. While women’s usage of Facebook grew by 3% as compared to survey results from last year, men’s usage of the platform decreased by 7%.

Tik Tok showed more growth between years than any other platform in the survey, and 42% of the youngest age group (18-29) stated they used the platform regularly.

Women-Led Social Media Campaign for Constitutional Reform Asks #Hvar?

A new social media campaign is calling on the government to make good on its commitment to revise the nation’s constitution, a process set in motion almost eight years ago. Fréttablaðið reports that the campaign was initiated by the Women’s Association for a New Constitution, using the hashtags #hvar (#where) and #HvarErNýjaStjórnarskráin (#WhereIsTheNewConstitution). Young women on TikTok and Instagram have been particularly active in the campaign, with some videos receiving upwards of 10,000 views.

Iceland attempted to draft the world’s first “crowdsourced constitution” in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, enlisting citizens—not politicians—to revise the constitution to better reflect the values and rights the nation wanted to emphasize moving forward. The process was intended to be democratic, modern (suggestions were solicited on social media, for instance, and a right to the internet was written into the amendments), and also meant to reflect an unprecedented level of transparency. The constitutional proposals were approved by a two-thirds majority of voters in a referendum that was held in October 2012, but, in a dispiriting turn of events, failed to receive the necessary parliamentary approval they needed to move forward that following spring.

Eight years later, participants in the #hvar campaign are posting tongue-in-cheek photos of themselves searching for the new constitution. Is it at the bottom of a laundry basket of dirty socks? Perhaps under a pile of fresh veg, under a rug, hidden in a Where’s Wally? book, or at the bottom of Tjörnin pond?

At time of writing, the Women’s Association for a New Constitution’s petition demanding that Alþingi pass the constitutional amendments into law had 19,192 signatures.

Icelandic Influencers Banned From Using Hidden Advertising

The Consumer Agency has ruled that two Icelandic social media influencers were not clear enough that some of their Instagram posts were in fact product advertisements. The Agency has banned both Sólrun Lilja Diego Elmarsdóttir and Tinna Alavisdóttir from using hidden advertising on the platform in the future, threatening fines if they do so.

The Agency was tipped off about the potential advertisements and requested information from the two women about whether or not they had received remuneration from the relevant companies for making the posts as well as how the business relationships with the companies were conducted. Although neither Sólrún nor Tinna received cash payments for the advertisements, they did receive free products in exchange for the promotion.

The consumer agency considered these “gifts” to be remuneration and that the Instagram posts did not make it sufficiently clear that they were made for commercial purposes.

Icelanders Still Love Facebook

Although Facebook and its negative impacts have been under a great deal of discussion in Iceland of late, just under 50% of Icelanders still feel positively about the social media platform. Vísir reports that a new survey conducted by EMC Rannsóknir shows that Icelandic women, upperclass Icelanders, and Icelanders who live in the countryside tend to be the most positive about Facebook. Just over 30% of Icelanders are neutral about Facebook; 20% are negative about it.

The survey was conducted from August 12-24 and examined public opinion about 65 different companies in Iceland, including Facebook. A total of 1,170 people took part.

Icelanders have long been avid internet and social media users. In 2018, the country ranked 6th in WeAreSocial.com’s global Internet Penetration Rankings, with 98% penetration.

[media-credit name=”We Are Social” align=”alignnone” width=”860″][/media-credit]

The same organization’s “Digital in 2018 in Northern Europe – West” report showed that last year, of the country’s 336,400 inhabitants, 270,000 (80%) were active social media users and active monthly users of Facebook. 240,000 Icelanders (71%) were active mobile social users. Facebook was Iceland’s third most visited website, just after Google and Youtube. (See the full Iceland Digital in 2018 profile here.)

[media-credit name=”We Are Social” align=”alignnone” width=”860″][/media-credit]

EMC Rannsóknir CEO and owner Gísli Steinar Ingólfsson said that Icelanders’ overall positivity toward Facebook was noteworthy.“In spite of the intense and negative discussion about social media and its profound impact, Facebook came out really well in comparison to many companies in Iceland. This suggests that many people put more emphasis on the positive impacts of social media than its negative ones. It will be interesting to follow developments with this in the future and see whether attitudes change with increased discussion.”

Locals Repair Off-Roading Damage by Mývatn

Extensive damage left by a tourist’s off-road driving in North Iceland was repaired yesterday by the members of a local 4×4 association. Volunteers from Ferðaklúbburinn 4×4’s Eyjafjörður division repaired the deep tyre tracks left near Mývatn, North Iceland by a Russian Instagram influencer who bragged about the incident.

The repairs were carried out in collaboration with the landowners, who were very grateful to the club members for their help. They showed their thanks by treating the volunteers to a trip to Mývatn Nature Baths. “It’s safe to say that everyone was left satisfied after this job well done,” says a notice on the club’s online forum.

Russian Instagram influencer Alexander Tikhomirov sparked outrage among local and foreign nature-lovers when he posted pictures of himself on social media three days ago, posing and smiling at the scene of the crime with the caption “Congratulations, today I got a big fine.” Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland, as the sub-arctic landscape is fragile and takes decades to recover from damage. Tikhomirov paid an ISK 450,000 ($3,600/€3,200) fine for the incident.