Category Archives: social media

Facebook: A Popular Social Networking Website

Individuals, of all different ages, enjoy meeting and communicating with other internet users.  Even though individuals of all ages use the internet to socialize, there are certain groups of individuals that do more than others. Those groups of individuals include students, both high school students and college students. For that reason, it is only fitting that there should be a social networking website that has a focus on these individuals. That networking website is known as Facebook.

Facebook may not be as well-known as other popular social networking websites, such as Yahoo! 360 or Myspace, but it is still popular.  That popularity is mostly among high school students and college students, mostly because Facebook focuses on these individuals.  With Facebook, you are required to register for a specific network. That network can either include the high school or college which you attended or are currently attending.  Once you have joined the website, you should easily be able to contact others who are in the same network. 

The network in which you join can be considered an advantage of Facebook, as well as a disadvantage.  See, Facebook does not work like most other social networking websites.  Instead of being able to communicate with all site members, you are limited to contact with those that are in your network, the high school or college you that selected.  The creators of Facebook state that this is for your own safety.  Although it is safer for your profile and personal information to be viewed by a small number of individuals, you may not necessity want it to be that way. 

Although a large amount of focus is placed on high school students and college students, Facebook has added another popular feature to their website. That feature is workplace networks. By joining a specific workplace network, you will be granted access to other community members who work for the same company as you. This feature is nice, especially since many companies have become large corporations or expanded across the country.  You may be able to make contact and become friends with a long-distance coworker that you never knew you had.

Another aspect of Facebook that you may find inconvenient is their lack of available information, before you decide to become a community member.  When viewing their online website, which can be found at, it is hard to tell whether the site is free to use.  Most online social networking sites will make this known right up front, but Facebook does not.  Aside from the price, you should easily be able to obtain additional information on Facebook, before making the decision to become a member. This additional information may include how Facebook works, why you should become a member, how the invite process works, and general rules and restrictions that are in place.

If you are interested in joining the Facebook community, you should do what you should do with all other social networking websites, research.  By taking the time to research and examine everything that Facebook has to offer, you should be able to decide whether this popular networking community is what you were looking for.  There is a good chance that it will be, but if not, do not worry. There are literally an unlimited number of other social networking websites that you can join.

Stories are coming to YouTube next

YouTube is testing a new feature called “Reels” that, at least in concept, will be similar to the Stories you see every day on Snapchat and Instagram. According to TechCrunch, Reels will be given their own tab — separate from a creator’s main list of videos. YouTube’s reasoning for introducing them is not unlike what we’ve heard from Snap and Instagram: people want a way to share content without having to go the full mile and publish a traditional YouTube video. Reels are being tested among a small group of the site’s creators, and the company isn’t yet saying when this “new format” will be more widely rolled out.

YouTube is diverging from the typical Stories formula in several ways. Most notably, Reels won’t disappear after 24 hours or some other arbitrary amount of time. And YouTube will let users have multiple Reels — each with its own set of videos. That’s different from Instagram and Snapchat, where your temporary posts are part of one, centralized story.

TechCrunch says the process of making Reels is as follows: you shoot “a few quick mobile videos of up to 30 seconds each” and can spruce them up with the usual mix of filters or by adding music and text. “We’re also bringing creator-focused features like linking to YouTube videos and YouTube-y stickers,” YouTube’s Roy Livne said in a blog post.

YouTube giving into the Stories trend comes alongside the hire of Todd Sherman, who previously worked as lead product manager on Snapchat’s trend-setting version of the feature. It’s not clear if Sherman will be helming, in YouTube’s own words, the company’s “spin” on stories.

Some people will likely bemoan the idea of Reels invading the YouTube experience. But, at least during this initial beta phase, it sounds like users won’t be hit over the head with them through obnoxious placement at the top of the app or other ways of force-feeding the new feature to viewers. Only if users “engage with Reels” will YouTube possibly start displaying them in your main home tab recommendations, according to TechCrunch. “We’ll be experimenting with a beta version of Reels to learn and improve the product before expanding to more creators,” Livne said.


YouTube Begins Purging “Non-Family Friendly” Content As Advertisers React

In a statement on its official blog, Johanna Wright, VP of Product Management at YouTube, said the company has noticed  “a growing trend around content on YouTube that attempts to pass as family-friendly, but is clearly not. While some of these videos may be suitable for adults, others are completely unacceptable, so we are working to remove them from YouTube.”

Wright’s note claimed the service had terminated over 50 channels and removed “thousands of videos” in the last week. It also has implemented age restrictions on certain content, making it available only to those over age 18. It will also apply machine-learning technology to seek out potentially objectionable content for faster human review.


Executives at YouTube are not the only ones noticing the questionable content. Several major advertisers have pulled advertising on YouTube after learning of their ads running on pages favored by pedophiles and other unsavory characters, some of whom left hundreds of comments on videos of scantily-clad children.

Among the reported drop-outs: candy company Mars, which makes M&Ms and Snickers; Mondelez (Oreos, Cadbury); and Diageo (Guinness, Smirnoff vodka, and Johnnie Walker scotch. An investigation by the UK news service The Times is believed to have sparked the advertiser uproar, but online forums have been discussing the issue of questionable content on YouTube for some time.

 “We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content,” said a statement from the headquarters of McLean, Virginia-based Mars to USA Today. “We have stringent guidelines and processes in place and are working with Google and our media buying agencies to understand what went wrong. Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube and Google.”

Not every channel purged is sexual in nature. Toy Freaks, a channel with more than 8.5 million subscribers, was dropped because it reportedly posted content intended to gross-out children. Dozens of other channels appealing to kids have gone dark, which some observers estimate may account for upwards of 20 billion combined views.

The YouTube blog post by Wright promised five steps, including tougher application of community guidelines set by the video service and faster response to complaints; removing ads from inappropriate videos targeting families; blocking inappropriate comments on videos featuring minors; providing more guidance to content creators; and partnering with so-called “experts” while “doubling the number of Trusted Flaggers we partner with in this area.”


YouTube Begins Purging “Non-Family Friendly” Content As Advertisers React

How To Make Money Off Your Instagram Account

YouTubers with 7 million or more subscribers can earn up to $300,000 to partner with brands. Though it may not be viable for regular folks to gain this level of notoriety, even with just 100,000 followers, an Instagram user could earn $5,000 for a post made in partnership with a brand.

If you’re a regular Instagram user, there are ways for you to monetize your account. Here are a few tips to get started:

Grow Your Following

If you want to make money through Instagram, you need to make sure that brands would want to partner with you. This means you need to start by growing your following.

Users with more than 100,000 followers have a good chance of finding brands that would partner with them. But even if you have just a few thousand followers, you could still work with brands that need micro-influencers. Use these tips to grow your following on the platform:


• Create high-quality content that would appeal to people in your niche. Make sure all images are vivid and relevant to the products you wish to promote, whether it’s beauty products, fitness products or clothing.

• Use relevant hashtags so people can easily discover your content and possibly even follow you. Tools like can help you discover popular hashtags to use in your posts.


• Ask relevant accounts for a shout-out. You can conduct a hashtag search to find popular Instagram accounts that share content from different users in your niche. Go through their content and contact them to share your post if you notice that they regularly do shout-outs. For instance, @global.travelz is an Instagram account with more than 180,000 followers. If you look through their posts, you’ll see that they’re mostly user-curated photos related to travel. Instagram users who wish to grow their following and build a name in the travel niche could ask them to share their content.

You can even observe top influencers and see what they’re doing to engage their audience, from choosing an aesthetic to posting at consistent times.

Understand How Much You Should Charge

Once you’re able to gain several thousand followers for your Instagram account, you need to understand how much you’re worth to brands. This helps you avoid overcharging or undercharging your clients.

Some influencers may overestimate their worth and charge several thousand dollars when they’re worth only a few hundred. Others may underestimate their worth and only charge a few hundred dollars when they could charge more than $1,000 for each sponsored post.

The Webfluential Influence Estimator is a useful tool to gain a better idea of how much your posts are really worth. The tool will calculate the number of followers and quality of engagement to see how much you should be charging per post. Keep in mind their free tool only calculates Twitter value. You will need to register as a Webfluential influencer to find out the worth of your Instagram posts.

Find Brands To Partner With

After this, you can start looking for brands that will pay you for your Instagram posts. If you have millions of followers, you’ll already have brands approaching you for partnerships, so you probably don’t need to read on. But for emerging influencers, you’ll have to do the grunt work and look for brands to partner with on your own.

The good news is that there are several influencer networks and influencer marketing platforms that accept micro-influencers. If you’re a part of this network, the company will put you in touch with brands that are in need of relevant influencers. Here are a few good networks and platforms you can sign up for:

• Buzzweb: If you have more than 5,000 followers, you could join Buzzweb and monetize your Instagram influence. You can use the platform to calculate your potential monthly earnings based on the size of your following. And you can apply to be a part of as many campaigns as you wish. After your post is approved, you get paid within 24 hours.

• extends to more than 1,000 brands across 65+ countries. You can look for ones that you wish to partner with and directly submit an application to join their campaign. If you’re still a micro-influencer, this is much better than waiting around for a brand to approach you for a partnership.

• TRIBE: TRIBE is an excellent platform for influencers who only have a few thousand followers. The process of working with brands on the platform is fairly simple. You just need to find brands that you already use and are a fan of. You can then create a post for that brand and submit it for review. Once approved, you get paid within 48 hours.

• TapInfluence: There’s also TapInfluence, which estimates your monthly earning potential once you create your profile. You can choose the topics and subtopics you specialize in, then set your rate. The platform then matches you with brands whose needs match your characteristics.

• Fullbottle: If your content tends to get high levels of engagement, Fullbottle would be an ideal platform for you. On this platform, you don’t charge per post but, instead, get paid according to the engagement your content drives. You can bid a certain amount for every like on the Instagram post you create for a brand.

The most difficult part about monetizing your Instagram account is growing your following. But the tips provided here can help you overcome this challenge. And once you have sufficient followers, you just need to connect with the right brands to start earning through Instagram.


Wattpad’s storytelling app, now with 60M monthly users, adds a subscription service

Wattpad, the company behind a suite of apps for reading and sharing stories – including a fairly popular “chat fiction” app Tap, a rival to Hooked – is today adding its first ever subscription plan for its flagship application. The option, called Wattpad Premium, will remove the ads from Wattpad’s otherwise free app – a feature users have been requesting for some time.

The service will cost $5.99 per month, or $60 per year, the company says, and will be available to the company’s now over 60 million monthly global users.

Today, those users spend over 15 billion minutes per month reading the app’s original stories. To date, users have also uploaded more than 400 million stories, notes Wattpad.

Members who upgrade to Wattpad Premium will have ads removed both when browsing the web and mobile web, and will see a new theme in the native mobile app. In the months ahead, the subscription will include other features, too, focused on allowing users to better control the look and feel of the Wattpad platform.

The new subscription option comes at a time when Wattpad has been rapidly expanding its business. In addition to its main Wattpad app and its chat stories in Tap, the company also operates a standalone app for romance stories and a newly launched app called Raccoon, which allows users to tell personal stories using video.


The company this month also inked a deal with Toronto-based eOne which will source fan fiction from Wattpad to develop into original TV, movie and VR projects. This is an area of Wattpad’s business it has been expanding for some time, following the launch of its Wattpad Studios division last year.

While many of Wattpad’s users skew younger – a demographic that may have an aversion to paying for services when a free option is available – the company still has a sizable enough user base to tap into for this new subscription offering.

The option to upgrade will be available via a “Go Premium” button in the app, starting today.


Wattpad’s storytelling app, now with 60M monthly users, adds a subscription service

5 Ways Marketers Can Effectively Hack Instagram

The introduction of Instagram’s algorithm rewrote the rules of the platform and sparked outrage from influencers who deem the algorithm as creatively debilitating. Despite the outcries, Instagram hasn’t changed its stance on showing audiences what the platform thinks they want to see, rather than what has been most recently posted in the network.

While the algorithm forces content creators to work harder for engagement, users also have more platform touch-points to reach viewers in the forms of Instagram Live and Stories. There are approximately 800 million users engaging with Instagram every month (and 500 million daily), giving marketers the opportunity to connect with a robust (and fast growing) audience.

Over the past year the platform has become more sophisticated, and to keep up, so too must users. Gone are the days when brands and influencers could afford to simply throw content up on their feeds and hope something would stick. Organizations spanning various verticals, including Founding Farmersrestaurants, Taft, and Azazie, are tapping into Instagram’s newest features as a means of building deeper connections, growing their audiences and, of course, increasing their incomes.


Now, to truly leverage the vast reach and engagement potential of the platform, content creators must take more shrewd approaches.

While there is no magic formula to Instagram success, there are a few new and classic strategies that anyone or brand looking to up its Instagram game must implement. It’s time to get smarter with your Instagram marketing efforts and here are five hacks that deserve your attention:

1. Go Deeper with Instagram Stories

When you were new to Instagram, posting a photo and getting one comment was cause for celebration. However, as you’ve come to realize the benefits of this social platform, you’re looking for more.


This is where Instagram Stories comes into play. With this feature, you can share every moment from your day, all in slideshow format through both photos and videos.

It’s like Instagram marketing on steroids. You don’t have to worry as much about over-posting, in part because stories only stay up for 24 hours (although you still want to make sure it’s content that your audience wants to see, and that you don’t oversaturate). You can tell your story in a variety of ways: photos, videos, boomerangs, geo filters, stickers and/or emojis.

According to Dan Simons, co-owner of the most booked restaurant in the nation on Open Table,

“Insta-stories are a great way to give some real, authentic, behind the scenes looks into your business. At Founding Farmers for example, if we’re shaping bread in our bakery, getting a delivery from one of our partners, breaking down a whole fish, or making our ginger syrup at the bar – these are all things that our guests don’t usually see. We get great engagement when we go behind the scenes – and by doing this, we also get to showcase the people who work in the restaurant day in and day out – which is of huge value to us.”

Insta-stories is built so that you can tag other businesses and people easily, as long as they have an instagram account. In addition, business accounts with more than 10K followers can now link directly to products or services with the “swipe up to learn more” action. Thanks to Shopify, Instagram is also developing a way to sell directly without requiring users to ever leave the app to make a purchase. Although it’s still in test mode, it won’t be long before you can use this integration to sell directly to your target audience on Instagram.

This hack is sure to change marketing strategies in 2018.

2. Use Instagram Live

If an Instagram photo or story isn’t enough to get your point across, it may be time to experiment with Instagram Live.

With live video posted in real-time, there are many ways to use this feature to hack your way to Instagram success. Consider covering a live event, hosting a question and answer session, hosting a live show, or vlogging.

Many brands are still experimenting with Instagram Live, but the beauty of this feature is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Because the content is fleeting, it gives you the chance to pull back the curtain on your brand and highlight your voice and brand personality.

Take cues from brands, such as Cheerios, that have found a place in their marketing plan for Instagram Live.

For example, the company recently used this feature to introduce a new product that’s now available in stores nationwide. The video isn’t long or deeply involved, but it packs more punch than a standard post.

3. Interact Regularly with Your Followers

It’s social media, which means you need to be social with your followers. Instagram isn’t a post and run platform, but a post, connect, and converse. This includes responding to comments on your pictures, responding to direct messages via your stories, even using stories to answer questions directly, or interacting with your followers in other ways. Building your business capacity and systems to be live in real time on Instagram is an investment worth making.

Ecommerce bridal retailer, Azazie, recognizes that its customers are the heartbeat of its brand, and they are passionate about sharing their experiences and photographs with the entire Azazie community. When a customer makes the effort to engage with Instagram content, the Azazie team does not let it go unnoticed. For this company, every customer is an influencer, and every engagement matters.

Ted Chin’s eye.c Instagram page shows what it means to engage with followers. He doesn’t just post photos and move on. He takes the time to respond to as many comments as possible, which helps boost both the comment count and the number of likes.

If you’re new to Instagram, it will only take a few minutes to respond to every comment. It sounds trivial, but it’s one of the best ways to speed up the growth of your page. Your followers want to be part of your brand. Engaging through the comment section will help them feel included.

4. Opt For Quality Over Quantity

It goes without saying, perhaps, but on a social media platform built around pictures, image quality is paramount. It’s getting tougher to break through the Instagram noise and really resonate with audiences and brands have to prioritize quality. Uploading images that are off-brand, or inconsistent with your voice and tone can be jarring to your followers who can be very quick to unfollow you.

There is a lot of data available on what types of posts get the most engagement. For example, according to SproutSocial, photos with faces garner 38 percent more likes, and photos generate 36 percent more engagement than videos. Hopper HQ Instagram performance analysis indicates the Gingham filter attracts more likes and comments than any of the others, and Clarendon came in second.

If you’re wondering what a high quality Instagram photo looks like, check out National Geographic’s page. The photos tell a story, are within the brand’s niche, and are diverse enough to keep people coming back for more.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take “National Geographic-like” photos. All you need is a plan and some creativity. Snap as many photos as you can and then choose the best.

5. Choose Your Captions and Hashtags Wisely

As competition on Instagram continues to pick up, it’s more important than ever to use the consider how your captions and hashtags support your visual content.


YouTube creators are frustrated that a bot keeps demonetizing their videos

One night at the beginning of November, tech reviewer Ben Schmanke published a YouTube video comparing the cameras on the iPhone X, the Samsung S8, and the LG V30. YouTube initially classified the video as suitable for all advertisers, indicated by a green dollar sign icon. When Schmanke woke up the next morning, the classification icon had been changed to a yellow dollar sign, which means the video can only make money from a limited number of advertisers.

“[YouTube] said this shouldn’t happen, but obviously it keeps happening,” Schmanke said of the switch from green to yellow. “Overnight I gained a good 10,000 or 20,000 views, so that’s lost money on both my part and their part.”

Schmanke is just one of several YouTubers who has had issues with YouTube demonetizing or limiting ads on their iPhone X videos in recent weeks. Dylan Hong, who runs a small tech channel, says his video about iPhone X accessories was immediately flagged as a yellow-icon, limited-ad video. He wasn’t really concerned about lost revenue, but he was surprised.

“I make super advertiser-friendly, family-friendly videos,” Hong told The Verge. “It was just an algorithm fail that a bunch of iPhone X videos from really reputable reviewers and much smaller channels just got auto-flagged from the beginning.”

As reported by TechnoBuffalo, YouTube’s algorithm began marking some new iPhone X videos as “unsuitable for advertisers” at the end of last month. Although more imaginative fans theorized that was Google’s way of boycotting Apple, it seems more likely that it was just the latest in a string of issues with ad revenue and algorithms on YouTube. Schmanke and Hong both said that after they appealed the classifications of their iPhone X videos, YouTube restored monetization within a few hours. Casey Neistat, who also had one of his iPhone X videos flagged immediately, tweeted that YouTube fixed the error about an hour later.


The bug received a lot of attention in the YouTube community because it affected high-profile users like Neistat, MKBHD, and Justine Ezarik, but YouTube says the issue was not widespread. “We looked into reports​ that iPhone X videos weren’t running ads, and ​there is no data to support there is any kind of trend,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Verge. “In fact, ​the vast majority iPhone X videos are monetizing ​just fine ​across the platform​. ​​We encourage creators to appeal ​if they feel their video has been wrong demonetized, and every appeal helps our advertising systems get smarter over time.”

YouTube also says total creator revenue is up “significantly” year over year.

Even though YouTube acted quickly to fix the issue, YouTubers are still frustrated by the company’s ongoing problems with demonetization and transparency. The main concern from creators seems to be that they don’t understand why particular videos get demonetized, especially when it’s something as seemingly uncontroversial as a phone unboxing. And because YouTube’s algorithm makes decisions immediately and at scale, it can be difficult to figure out what causes a certain video to get flagged.

“Before I posted the iPhone X video, I knew people were saying the algorithm was flagging that term exactly,” Schmanke said. “And I don’t know if it was because of ‘X,’ like X-rated or XXX… but you would think input some code on the back-end to ignore ‘iPhone X.’”

YouTube suggests that creators upload videos as unlisted or private to check the monetization status before a video goes public, but many creators don’t want to wait when it comes to timely news and reviews.

About a month ago, Neistat posted a video to his channel titled “DEMONETIZED DEMONETIZED DEMONETIZED,” after YouTube demonetized one of his travel vlogs. In the video, Neistat argues that the advertising “controversy” has become “a catalyst for the YouTube community to speak out about what upsets them about YouTube.” He argued that the company was considering its community second to advertisers, when in fact, the community should be treated as the most important part of YouTube. Soon after, YouTube announced it was releasing a “performance improvement update” that it claimed would result in 30 percent fewer videos being flagged for demonetization.

But the iPhone X demonetization error happened after this performance update, and there will likely be similar bugs in the future. Creators just want YouTube to handle communication differently. “I trust that YouTube is working hard on their end,” Hong said. “What YouTube is trying to do from a machine learning standpoint is really difficult… but their community engagement side is terrible.”

YouTube insists that every appealed video will “receive a human review,” but some creators think they shouldn’t have to appeal regularly at the whims of YouTube’s algorithm. Both Hong and Schmanke echo Neistat’s recent suggestion that bigger YouTube channels should receive an automatic human review, rather than lose views while appealing a video.


Facebook made an app just for video creators

In its latest attempt to woo video creators away from YouTube, Facebook has released an app just for them. It’s called Facebook Creator, and it includes a bunch of tools for streaming video, updating Stories, and message people across several of Facebook’s platforms.

Facebook has long had an app for people who manage Facebook Pages, and it’s also had an app for celebrities that did this kind of community building, too. In fact, Facebook Creator is really just an updated and rebranded version of that app — originally called Facebook Mentions (and still called that, since it seems to be stuck that way on the App Store for now) — but now it’s open to everyone.

There are two main draws to the Creator app. First, it includes some special features for Facebook Live. Anyone using it will be able to create custom intros and outros — intros are especially handy, as it takes a moment before other people see the link and start watching — as well as the ability to add interactive stickers and a custom video frame. The app is also able to take and edit photos and post them to Facebook Stories and other platforms (it’s not clear if that includes Instagram, but it really should).

The second big draw is communication. The app creates a unified inbox for comments on Facebook and Instagram and messages from Messenger, so that you don’t have to bounce between different apps in order to respond to people. The app doesn’t seem to cover every possible messaging vector inside of Facebook’s services, but it sounds like a handy start.

Finally, there are analytics too, so that creators can obsessively refresh the page wondering whether they’ve successfully gamed Facebook’s latest algorithm change. The app is available on iOS immediately and is supposed to come to Android in “the coming months.”

The app sounds handy for people who are already doing these things. But the bigger story might just be that Facebook is trying to show it cares about the community of independent vloggers. The same people who this app is designed to appeal to are currently struggling with odd changes and errors over at YouTube. Facebook has wanted to poach them for years now. One app isn’t going to suddenly change things, but a continued commitment could help win people over.


‘Pokémon GO’ Gets a ‘Pokémon Ultra Sun’ and ‘Moon’ Crossover Tie-In

Pokémon GO briefly crossed over with the main generations of Pokémon games Monday in a totally surprising and really low-key way. Now, you can dress up your Pokémon GO avatar just like the characters from the upcoming main generation of Pokémon games.


Niantic announced via the Pokémon GO blog Monday the release of these new avatar items meant to celebrate the upcoming launch of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra MoonPokémon GO players will be able to dress their character up in the same outfits worn by the protagonists in the new games.

Much like Sun and Moon, both Ultra games are also set in the tropical region of Alola, so the outfits reflect a much warmer climate than your avatar is probably used to. There are bathing suits, fun hats, tank tops, and items that looks like you’d only ever wear them on the beach.

The Pokémon GO versions of the character outfits look decidedly more mature than they do in-game:

The new pair of protagonists look much more fun and tropical than the 'Sun' and 'Moon' counterparts.
The new pair of protagonists look much more fun and tropical than the ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’ counterparts.

The region of Alola was first introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon, in which the player explored the Hawaii-inspired islands and completed challenges new to the Pokémon franchise. But now, strange portals in the Ultra sequels let players catch pretty much every Legendary Pokémon ever and square off against the villainous Team Rainbow Rocket, a team-up of every villainous group ever.


We’re probably still a long way away from any Alola Pokémon making their way into Pokémon GO considering we’re still several generations away from reaching that far. But you never know. If Niantic is willing to promote Ultra Sun and Moonin this way, maybe they’d be willing to sneak some fun Alolan Pokémon into your local wilderness.

The new outfits are now available in Pokémon GO, and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will be released for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems on November 17, 2017.


Sean Parker on Facebook: ‘God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains’

Sean Parker, of Napster fame and an early investor in Facebook, says the founders of the social networking site knew they were creating something people would become addicted to, reports Axios. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said at an Axiosevent in Philadelphia, noting that he has become a “conscientious objector” on social media, even though he still maintains a presence on Twitter and Facebook. (He is currently the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.)

Parker says the social networking site exploits human psychological vulnerabilities through a validation feedback loop that gets people to constantly post to get even more likes and comments. “It’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” he said. “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.” In other words, using Facebook is like junk food: you get instant gratification when you post for likes and comments. It’s quick and easy but has little substance.

Parker says that the thought process when building Facebook was to figure out “how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” The comments are a little ironic given the billions Parker has made from being an early investor in Facebook. It’s not the first time a tech entrepreneur has disavowed something they’ve created or been involved with — Programmer Ethan Zuckerman famously penned an apology letter for unleashing pop-up ads into the world several years ago.

Public sentiment is also turning against Facebook, hit by issues surrounding fake news and Russian election posts that reached 126 million people. A recent deep dive by The Verge into technology companies found Facebook to be one of the most divisive. More people say they distrust it more than Amazon, Google, Apple, or Microsoft, though a majority of people said they would still care very much if Facebook went away. “The unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker said.


Missing teen believed to be victim of sex trafficking

A missing Pennsylvania teen last seen in Queens may be the victim of sex trafficking, police sources said Tuesday.

Slusser’s tattoos










Corinna Slusser, a 19-year-old college student, was last seen at the Haven Motel on Woodhaven Boulevard in Rego Park on Sept. 20 — and cops now fear she’s trapped in a prostitution ring.

Slusser recently filed a complaint against a man known for pimping out women in New York City, police sources said.


The teenager was first reported missing in Pennsylvania but her family later found photos on Instagram tracing her to the Bronx, police sources said.

The NYPD, which released her photo Monday, is on the lookout for the teenager, who has been studying marketing at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, according to her Facebook page.


Corionna’s mom, Sabina Tuorto, posted a message on Facebook begging or her daughter’s safe return.

“My daughter was a great student , a cheerleader. She had many friends and lived her life as a normal teenager. I need her home and I cant bare anymore days like this,” she wrote on Oct. 10.

“I fear the worst but I pray for the best and her to return home. Waiting for an Angel to hear my prayer,” she wrote.

Slusser has blond hair and blue eyes and is 5 foot 6. She weighs approximately 140 pounds and large black flower tattoo in the middle of her chest, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS [8477].


African-American Reporter Takes Stand After Body-Shaming

A woman’s comments that an African-American female news reporter in Dallas “looks ridiculous” in her clothes has sparked outrage on social media.

Wednesday morning, a woman on Facebook posted a photo of WFAA Channel 8 News traffic reporter Demetria Obilor wearing a red dress, criticizing the way she looked in her dress. The post has since been taken down.

“She’s a 16/18 woman in a size 6 dress and looks ridiculous,” the post said. The woman also said she would stop watching the news channel.


Obilor, 26, has been a traffic reporter at the station for two weeks. She was previously a traffic reporter at KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. She said she wasn’t made aware of the post until Friday when someone posted a screenshot of the post on Twitter.

“I’m not a 16/18, but even if I was, for you to try to call out my size like that to hurt me or discriminate against me, I’m not for that,” she told NBC News.

Having been in the business almost four years, she said she isn’t hurt by the comments and has thick skin.

“When you get older and you’re in the news people warn you that, ‘Hey, you’re going to be under a harsh lens. People are going to critique you, people are going to say mean things about you,'” she said.

This isn’t the first time Obilor has been attacked over her looks. Over the summer, while a traffic reporter in Las Vegas, she shared a screenshot of an email from a viewer who said her natural hairstyle must be hard to clean and “smell bad.”

Obilor isn’t alone. Rhonda Lee, a former meteorologist in Louisiana was fired for responding to a viewer who said her natural hairstyle didn’t “look good on TV.”


Obilor, whose mother is white and father is Nigerian, said some people must accept that we now live in a time where styles and body types once rarely seen in media are now being embraced.

“Black people on TV; there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said. “Naturally, curly hair — I don’t care if a black woman wants to wear her hair straight or in braids, you don’t get to say what’s professional and what’s not professional based on your white standard of beauty.”

Obilor said her news colleagues have been supportive of her. NBC News reached out to WFAA Channel 8 News but has not received a response.

She has also received support on social media, with people thanking her and telling her she is beautiful. Chance The Rapper retweeted a post about Obilor that has been liked over 100,000 times.


Apple won’t let apps turn the iPad’s camera into a button

Earlier this month, drawing app developer Astro HQ released a video of a really clever new idea for its apps: it turned the iPad’s front camera into a button, letting you tap on the lens to activate things on screen. It was a smart way to free up screen space, but as it turns out, Apple doesn’t agree. Astro said today that its app was rejected from the App Store for violating Apple’s guidelines.

In particular, Apple pointed to a section saying that apps couldn’t “alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors.” While Astro’s app, Astropad Studio, wasn’t strictly altering a switch, it did make the camera stop acting like a camera, which seems to at least break the spirit of the rule.

Apple is extremely strict about what it does and does not allow into its App Store, so this rejection isn’t a huge surprise. The company uses its position as a gatekeeper to make sure that apps don’t alter the experience of using its devices, maintaining consistency in a way that’ll be clear to users. It seems hard to argue that a small tweak like this in an app meant for professional illustrators really would have had a deleterious effect on the platform, but Apple has rejected apps for less.


You can now go live on Instagram with a friend

Following a test this past summer, Instagram is now letting users broadcast live with a friend. Users can invite anyone who’s currently watching their broadcast to join, although only two people can broadcast simultaneously, which is visualized through a split screen. The owner of the broadcast can remove their guest and add someone else whenever they want.

The actual stories will look different in Instagram’s feed, too. Instead of a single live circle, you’ll see two circles stacked on top of each other. The update should be live in both the App Store and the Google Play Store today.


Facebook is now testing paywalls and subscriptions for Instant Articles

A few months ago we reported that Facebook may begin testing paywalls and subscriptions for Instant Articles beginning in October. Well now it’s October, and surprise – Facebook has started testing subscription support for instant articles!

Here’s how it will work: Facebook will start with two paywalled options for publishers to choose from:

The first option is a metered model where everyone gets to read 10 free stories per month before needing to subscribe. The second is a freemium model where the publishers choose which articles to lock.

When someone who isn’t a subscriber hits one of these paywalls, they will be promoted to subscribe for full access to the publishers’ content.

One really interesting aspect – if you want to purchase a subscription Facebook will direct you to the publisher’s website to complete the transaction, meaning they process the payment directly and can keep 100% of the revenue and transaction data. The subscriptions will then also include access to the publisher’s full site, and existing subscribers can also authenticate within Instant Articles so they can get full access without paying twice.

Redirecting users away from Facebook to complete a transaction is a huge win for publishers. But not everyone is happy with the arrangement. Notably, Recode reportsthat Apple is balking at the subscription signup flow, saying it violates the company’s rules about subscriptions sold inside apps. Right now Apple gets up to 30% of all subscriptions sold inside 3rd-party iOS apps, so Facebook’s current signup method would strip them of this revenue.

For this reason the feature isn’t launching yet on Apple – only Android, which doesn’t have any restrictions on how subscriptions can be sold. There’s no timeline for when a deal could be made with Apple, with Facebook only saying that “this initial test will roll out on Android devices first , and we hope to expand it soon.”

Facebook says many of their partner publishers identified subscriptions as a top priority, and especially requested the ability to maintain control over pricing, offers, and all the revenue generated from each subscription.


Facebook is now testing paywalls and subscriptions for Instant Articles

Yellowstone supervolcano may erupt faster than we thought

Yellowstone may be best known for its geysers like Old Faithful, but it’s also famous for the supervolcano that lies just beneath the surface.

Now researchers from Arizona State University believe the supervolocano last erupted after two influxes of fresh magma flowing into the reservoir beneath the volcano — and it all occurred much more quickly than previously thought.

Geologists previously believed it would take centuries for a buildup like that to lead to an eruption.

The latest analysis of minerals in Yellowstone reveal the critical changes in temperature and composition built up in decades as opposed to centuries.

Another study from 2013 also showed the magma reservoir that feeds the supervolcano is about two and a half times bigger than previously thought.

A single eruption from this supervolcano would likely darken the sky across the majority of the United States in addition to spewing hot lava from the eruption site.

The Yellowstone supervolcano has erupted three different times, the last of which was 631,000 years ago.

In that eruption, roughly 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock, dust and volcanic ash exploded into the sky and rained across more than half the United States.

Don’t go prepping for the end now, however.

The supervolcano in Yellowstone is one of the most monitored volcanoes in the world, and scientists haven’t seen any signs of an imminent threat.

The U.S. Geological Survey puts yearly odds of another Yellowstone eruption at 1 in 730,000. If that slim chance does occur, now we know we’ll at least have decades to prepare as opposed to centuries.


Facebook now lets you order food without leaving Facebook

Today Facebook is announcing that users can now order food for takeout or delivery using both the Facebook mobile app and website. But it’s not at all what you might think; Facebook hasn’t created its own answer to Seamless, which would be massive news for the restaurant industry. This isn’t that.

Instead, the company is partnering with existing services GrubHub,, DoorDash, ChowNow, Zuppler, EatStreet, Slice, and Olo, and will now link out to those food ordering businesses for restaurants that support them. You head to the new “Order Food” area of Facebook under the Explore section, find the local spot you’re craving, and then hit “start order.” From there, if a restaurant supports more than one of Facebook’s ordering partners, you’ll be able to choose between them. Once you do, Facebook will bring up an in-app browser that takes you through the existing websites for and the others. That’s where all the ordering actually happens, so you’re not actually doing much with the Facebook app beyond finding a restaurant and tapping your preferred delivery option.

Seamless is not currently among Facebook’s partner services, but parent company GrubHub is, so that should get you most of the same delivery restaurants. But there are other omissions such as Caviar, so you’ll still need to open those apps separately to know which restaurants use them and place an order.


Facebook is also partnering on food ordering directly with national chains Chipotle, Five Guys, Jack in the Box, Papa John’s, Wingstop, Panera, TGI Friday’s, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, and Jimmy John’s. But it works the same way as with the other services; you browse to one of these nearby chain locations, pick start order, and then you’ll be sent to their existing delivery system. All Facebook is really doing here is launching an in-app browser so you can get a meal without ever leaving the app.

“We’ve been testing this since last year, and after responding to feedback and adding more partners, we’re rolling out everywhere in the US on iOS, Android and desktop,” Alex Himel, Facebook’s VP of local, said in a press release. “People already go to Facebook to browse restaurants and decide where to eat or where to order food, so we’re making that easier.”


Facebook can unlock your account with facial recognition

Facebook has its own version of Apple’s Face ID. If you get locked out of your Facebook account, the company is testing a way to regain access by using your face to verify your identity. That could be especially useful if you’re somewhere that you can’t receive two-factor authentication SMS, like on a plane or while traveling abroad, or if you lose access to your email account.

Social media researcher Devesh Logendran (a pseudonym) sent a screenshot of the feature to TNW’s Matt Navarra. We asked Facebook about it and got this confirmation:

“We are testing a new feature for people who want to quickly and easily verify account ownership during the account recovery process. This optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in. It is another step, alongside two-factor authentication via SMS, that were taking to make sure account owners can confirm their identity.”

If the feature proves reliably helpful to users and isn’t fooled by hackers, Facebook could potentially roll it out to more people.


Over the years Facebook has tried a number of novel ways to help you get back into a locked account. In some cases it asks you to identify photos of your friends to prove you’re you. Or it’s tried allowing you to designate several “trusted friends” who receive a code that you can ask them for to unlock your account.

While Facebook has experienced some backlash to facial recognition for photo tag suggestions in the past, this feature would only use the technology to privately help you out. Therefore it shouldn’t engender as big of privacy concerns, though obviously anything related to biometric data can give people pause. But if it means you can get back to your messages and News Feed, or repair damage done by a hacker, many people are likely to be comfortable to use their face to Facebook.


Facebook can unlock your account with facial recognition

Stephen Paddock: Las Vegas gunman identified by police as 64-year-old white male

The suspected gunman in the mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas has been named as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock.

At least 50 people were killed and more than 200 injured at the Route 91 country music event near the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

It is the deadliest mass shooting in US history, with the death toll surpassing the 49 killed at a nightclub in Orlando in June 2016.

Witnesses described seeing flashes of light high up in the tower of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and a noise “like firecrackers” as a “clip after clip” was unloaded into the crowd of 40,000 people.

The shooter was believed to have been firing down at concert-goers from the 32nd floor.

A Swot team used a controlled explosion to enter the hotel room, where they shot Paddock – of Mesquite, Nevada – dead.


Announcing the suspect’s name, Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said police had “located numerous firearms”, including rifles, in the hotel room and a search of Paddock’s house was due to take place shortly.

He said Paddock was born on 9 April 1953, adding: “As far as history and background we haven’t completed that part of the investigation.”

Police previously said they did not believe the suspect was connected to militant groups.

Records show Paddock lived in a three-year-old, $396,000 (£297,554) two-bedroom home in the small community of Mesquite, 80 miles north east of Las Vegas near the Arizona state border.

Local media said he had also previously lived in Reno, Nevada, California and Florida.

Sheriff Lombardo said: “We are looking at in excess of 50 individuals dead and over 200 individuals injured … Obviously this is a tragic incident and one that we have never experienced in this valley. My condolences go out to the loved ones.”

One Las Vegas police officer is among the dead, while another is in a critical condition.

The FBI – including federal crime scene investigators – were assisting in the investigation, he said, adding: “It is going to be a long and tedious investigation.”

He said police had found a person of interest, a 62-year-old female companion of the shooter called Marilou Danley.

Image result for Marilou Danley.

US President Donald Trump responded to the massacre in a tweet, saying: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”


Facebook Is Sending a Team to Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico to Get the Island Back Online

Facebook has dispatched a “connectivity team” to supply emergency telecommunications support to Puerto Rico, much of which has been rendered a communications black spot after Hurricane Maria battered the island last week.

“Communication is critical during a disaster,” Facebook founder Zuckerberg wrote in a post Wednesday. “With 90% of cell towers on the island out of service, people can’t get in touch with their loved ones—and it’s harder for rescue workers to coordinate relief efforts.”

 Facebook Inc. Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings Figures

In addition to sending a team to bring Puerto Rico back online, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is splitting a donation of $1.5 million between the World Food Program and Net Hope, a consortium of nonprofits and tech companies that Facebook previously collaborated with in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Puerto Rico’s population of 3.4 million American citizens is in the throes of a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which killed 16 people and ravaged the islands electricity grid. Only 11 of the island’s 69 hospitals have power or fuel supply and almost half of the population is without potable water, according to a FEMA briefing issued Tuesday morning.



In the days immediately after the 2016 election, Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg seemed offended by suggestions that the social network he created might have had any influence on the outcome, beyond serving as a marketplace for the exchange of ideas. “Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” he said, on stage at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, California. While some were quick to blame Facebook for amplifying misinformation about Hillary Clinton,Zuckerberg suggested that critics were betraying a “profound lack of empathy” by not taking voters who supported Donald Trump seriously.


Zuckerberg wasn’t wrong to be skeptical of Democrats assigning blame rather than engaging in self-reflection. But in dismissing the possibility that social media might be anything other than a force for good, Zuckerberg was also slow to recognize Facebook’s own vulnerabilities in an age of information warfare. About a week after the Techonomy conference, however, Zuckerberg received a “wake-up call” from President Barack Obama, The Washington Post reports. During a meeting of world leaders in Lima, Peru, nine days after the election, Obama tried to personally appeal to Zuckerberg, warning that unless Facebook did something, its fake-news problem would only be exacerbated in the next presidential election:

For months leading up to the vote, Obama and his top aides quietly agonized over how to respond to Russia’s brazen intervention on behalf of the Donald Trump campaign without making matters worse. Weeks after Trump’s surprise victory, some of Obama’s aides looked back with regret and wished they had done more.

Zuckerberg acknowledged the problem posed by fake news. But he told Obama that those messages weren’t widespread on Facebook and that there was no easy remedy, according to people briefed on the exchange, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of a private conversation.

The account of Zuckerberg’s post-election reckoning also reveals new details about what Facebook executives knew, and when they knew it. The Post reports that Facebook notified the F.B.I. as early as June 2016 when a hacking group working in connection to the GRU, the Russian military intelligence unit, started making fake Facebook profiles to disseminate stolen e-mails and manipulate public opinion—days before Guccifer 2.0, a hacking persona now thought to be a front for Russian intelligence, took credit for hacking the Democratic National Committee. But after looking into the accounts, which were linked to the GRU’s hacking group called APT28 or Fancy Bear, which set up a Facebook profile for Guccifer 2.0 and a Facebook page called DCLeaks, the company came to believe they weren’t linked to a foreign government but were instead financially motivated.


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This is not a book of ideas but a blueprint for Facebook success. Facebook is becoming a social media and search engine powerhouse. Seeing the trends in the online platform and knowing how to utilize them will ensure success. This has revolutionized publishing and has dawned to a new digital era. There are a million and one reasons. However, you do not need all of them. Just a few concrete ones to make you see the light as to why Facebook is giving you a golden opportunity to monetize publishing in a smarter creative way.

Google debuts Tez, a mobile payments app for India that uses Audio QR to transfer money

After several weeks of speculation and leaked details, today Google officially unveiled its first big foray into mobile payments in Asia. The Android and search giant has launched Tez, a free mobile wallet in India that will let users link up their phones to their bank accounts to pay for goods securely in physical stores and online, and for person-to-person money transfers with a new twist: Audio QR, which uses ultrasonic sounds to let you exchange money, bypassing any need for NFC.

“Send money home to your family, split a dinner bill with friends, or pay the neighbourhood chaiwala. Make all payments big or small, directly from your bank account with Tez, Google’s new digital payment app for India,” Google notes in its information portal about the new app.

Tez is Google’s play to replace cash transactions and become a more central part of how people pay for things, using their mobile to do so. But it’s also a chance for the company to push out some new technologies — like audio QR (AQR), which lets users transfer money by letting their phones speak to each other with sounds — to see how it can make that process more frictionless, and therefore more attractive to use than cash itself. More on AQR below.

Tez is launching today on iOS and Android in the country and will see Google linking up with several major banks in the country by way of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) — a payment standard and system backed by the government in its push to bring more integrated banking services into a very fragmented market. There will also be phones coming to the market from Lava, Micromax, Nokia and Panasonic with Tez preloaded, the company said.


Google debuts Tez, a mobile payments app for India that uses Audio QR to transfer money

Spotify launches an iMessage app for texting songs to friends

Spotify has quietly launched its own iMessage application that let you text songs to friends with just a few taps. The new app hasn’t been officially announced, but appears to be similar in functionality to Spotify’s Messenger app, which went live earlier this spring as one of Messenger’s new chat extensions.

As with the Messenger bot, the new iMessage app also lets you quickly search across Spotify’s full catalog for a track you want to share, then tap a button to paste a preview of that song into your chat session. This preview includes an album image, song title, and artist information.

But in the iMessage app’s case, the image is much larger than on Messenger, and there’s no “play” button. Instead, a small Spotify logo at the top left is what indicates that what you’ve sent is a song.

The recipient then taps the image which launches a new window, overlaid on top of the chat session. From here they can play the provided 30-second clip, or tap the “Play on Spotify” button below to hear the full track, if you’re a subscriber. (We also noticed that once it knows you’re a paying Spotify user, the option to stream a clip goes away and you’re just directed to the Spotify app to stream.)


Spotify launches an iMessage app for texting songs to friends

Selena Gomez Reveals Actress Pal Francia Raisa Donated Her Kidney to Her

Now that’s a friend! Selena Gomez took to Instagram early Thursday to give her fans a health update and share some shocking news.

The 25-year-old actress and musician revealed that she recently underwent a kidney transplant due to her Lupus, explaining why she’s stepped back slightly from her career in recent months. 

“I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of,” she wrote. “So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health.”

Gomez also revealed that her longtime pal, actress Francia Raisa, is the one who donated her kidney. 

“There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa,” she captioned the pic of her and Raisa, 29, side-by-side holding hands in hospital beds. “She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis.”

The Disney alum also assured her fans they’d be let in even more in the coming months, writing, “I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery.”

Selena Gomez shows transplant scar
Photo: Instagram

Gomez also shared separate photos of her post-transplant scars. 


The advocate and activist ended her message with some information on Lupus, writing, “Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website:”


Facebook has pulled Instant Articles off Messenger

While Facebook prepares to offer readers a way to subscribe and pay for news directly from inside its app, the social network continues to tinker with how it presents publishers’ content elsewhere. In the latest development, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Facebook has removed Instant Articles — Facebook’s self-hosted, faster-loading article format for mobile — from Messenger.

“As we continue to refine and improve Instant Articles — and in order to have the greatest impact on people and publishers — we’re focusing our investment in Instant Articles in the Facebook core app and are no longer offering Instant Articles in Messenger,” a spokesperson said. “We believe that Messenger is an exciting channel for new and interesting news consumption experiences, including the opportunity to build unique messaging experiences in Messenger that many publishers (including TechCrunch) have executed successfully via the Messenger Platform.”

Instant Articles was a pared-down article format launched by the social network in 2015 with the aim of speeding up page load time by ten times compared to the mobile web, thereby cutting down the number of people dropping off when reading on mobile devices. (The “Instant” feel and performance is something that Facebook appears keen to develop: just this week it started to test Instant Videos.)

Originally designed to run in the News Feed, a year ago Facebook expanded Instant Articles to Messenger as part of a wider strategy to enhance content on its popular messaging platform, which today has over 1.2 billion users.

But while Instant Articles does what its name suggests, there have been some teething pains with the format.

Several high profile publications and publishers, including the Guardian, Forbes, Hearst, The New York Times, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, CBS News, NPR, Financial Times, and VICE News either pulled, scaled back, or never participated in Instant Articles in the first place because of the lack of monetization on the platform. There have also been issues with traffic reporting with the format.


Facebook has pulled Instant Articles off Messenger

Facebook plans to spend up to $1B on original shows in 2018

Facebook could spend as much as $1 billion to fund original content initiatives for its new Watch video platform, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The amount might seem familiar – it’s the same investment Apple is said to have earmarked for original shows and movies through 2018.

Facebook’s spend could vary depending on the success of programming, but it’s also a figure that extends through next year. This would also be a new high-water mark for Facebook spending on video content specific for its platform, exceeding past initiatives like incentives paid to encourage live streaming from media outlets.

Facebook launched Watch to all U.S. users this week – the new tab in the Facebook app houses original shows from Facebook partners, including content from Freethink Media, MLB, Discovery Channel and more. It’s hoping to drive more engagement on the platform with its original video content initiative, and the shows resemble a lot of the videos that naturally receive a lot of interaction on the platform when shared, covering sports, science and other ‘shareable’ topics.

This kind of spending on original content, even if Facebook extends to the top end of its proposed budget, is still behind what dedicated companies like Netflix and Amazon spend on their own shows. But it’s not far off from HBO’s annual content creation spend, and could go a long way if Facebook is spending more of it on less ambitious programming relative to something like Game of Thrones.

Streaming platforms so far have shown that destination programming is key – Facebook’s approach seems to be a blend of the Netflix and YouTube methods for obtaining said programming. Next year definitely sounds like it’ll be interesting for the original content realm – should give us plenty to talk about.


Facebook plans to spend up to $1B on original shows in 2018

Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev tickets to go on sale from Monday

Matchroom Boxing have announced that tickets for the blockbuster Heavyweight World title clash between Anthony Joshua MBE and Kubrat Pulev will be available to fans from Monday.

The tickets for what could be Joshua’s last UK fight for over a year go on pre-sale to Matchroom Fight Pass members at midday on Monday and general sale on Tuesday ahead of the October 28 event live on Sky Sports Box Office.


Joshua is back in action after his epic win over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium, and the unbeaten British star now heads to the Principality Stadium in Wales to face IBF mandatory challenger Pulev.


Tickets for the event are priced at £40, £60, £80, £100, £200, £300 and £500 – with VIP tickets priced at £1500.


Fear and uncertainty for Dreamers as Daca ends: ‘Where am I going to go?’

Reyna Montoya was on a plane, Sheridan Aguirre was standing outside the White House, and Concepcion Solis had arrived at work early to be in front of her computer when US attorney general Jeff Sessions upended their lives.

“I was debating whether or not I should come to work because I knew it was going to be hard,” Solis said. “But what can I do? Now more than ever I need to continue working.”

The Trump administration’s termination of the policy that protected “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children – from deportation will affect nearly 800,000 young people. Five years after Barack Obama’s implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) allowed recipients to get driver’s licenses, attend college, begin careers, purchase homes, and do all the other things that US citizens take for granted, Dreamers now face the reality that it could all be taken away.

For Solis, that means preparing for a future without her well-paid job at an insurance company and her rent-controlled apartment in her hometown of Oakland.

“My work permit expires in September, so I have until September,” the 30-year-old Daca recipient said. “I need to work as much as I can right now and save as much money as I can.”

Among Solis’s most pressing concerns is the fact that she provided the federal government with extensive information about herself in order to receive Daca in the first place. “Immigration has my address,” she said. “So come September, what’s going to happen?

“I can’t stay there, but where am I going to go?”


Montoya, a Daca recipient and the founder of a grassroots immigrant rights organization in Phoenix, Arizona, was concerned not just for herself but for the people who work for her.

“I have as an employee a US citizen,” she said Tuesday. “What does it mean if I get taken away?”

For Angelica Hernandez, a mechanical engineer at an energy efficiency company in Chandler, Arizona, the stakes are incredibly high. Hernandez was born in Mexico, but came to the US at the age of nine. She received Daca when she was studying for a master’s degree at Stanford. She bought a house, married another Daca recipient, and has two children who are US citizens.


Most Popular Facebook Shows: So Far, They’re a Lot of Viral Videos

It’s been five days since Facebook started opening up Watch, its new video guide for longer-form content, to U.S. users — and the most popular stuff trending in the first week is viral clips, rather than longer-form, TV-like episodes.

Out of several hundred shows on Watch, the most-watched video so far: The funeral-prank premiere episode of A&E’s “Bae or Bail,” which has notched more than 22 million views. In the four-and-a-half-minute clip, three different people punk their significant others at a fake funeral (supposedly of a coworker’s relative) in which the corpse springs from the coffin after a voodoo ritual. The episode has more than 100,000 reactions and has been shared more than 200,000 times.


To be sure, some of the Facebook-funded shows are hitting high marks. The first episode of Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor,” a docu-series recognizing local heroes, has 11.8 million views. Conde Nast Entertainment’s debut ep of “Virtually Dating” featuring a VR blind date set in outer space has 7.6 million views, while “Ball in the Family,” the reality series featuring LaVar Ball and his basketball-playing brood, has notched 5.5 million in the first five days for the premiere segment.

Here are the top-performing episodes of the shows in Facebook’s Watch, with view counts to date:

  • A&E’s “Bae or Bail”: “Funeral Prank,” 22.2 million
  • The Dodo, “Comeback Kids: Animal Edition”: “Dog Who Lost Her Legs Was Determined To Walk Again,” 13.1 million
  • Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor”: “Operation Combat Bikesaver,” 11.8 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “You’re Infected, Bro,” 9.3 million
  • Conde Nast Entertainment, “Virtually Dating”: “VR Blind Date in Outer Space,”  7.6 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “When She Finally Leaves You,” 5.7 million
  • “Ball in the Family: ” Bittersweet Victory,” 5.5 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “You’re Trying Too Hard,” 5.1 million
  • Ray William Johnson’s The Funny Page: “Accidental Dick Pic,” 4.8 million
  • Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor”: “Donovan Discovers,” 4.1 million
  • NBA’s “Best of the NBA”: “Top 40 Long Distance Shots of the 2016-17 NBA Season,” 3.6 million
  • NBA’s “Best of the NBA”: “Top 50 Blocks of the 2016-17 NBA Season,” 3.2 million
  • Laura Clery’s “Help Helen Smash”: “Labor Day With the Family,” 3 million
  •’s “Weird Wild World”: “This Boy Is Worshipped,” 3 million
  • Nas Daily, “She Has 20 Cars!,” 2.6 million
  • Red Bull “Raw 100”: “Brandon Semenuk is back”: 1.9 million
  • “Apocalypse NowThis”: “How the World Could End: Nuclear Annihilation,” 1.7 million
  • Cake Boss: “Outrageous Cakes: Lady Liberty,” 1.6 million
  • ATTN:’s “Health Hacks”: “Portion Sizes in America vs. The World,” 1.3 million
  • Laura Clery’s “Help Helen Smash”: “Me Trying To Flirt On Botox,” 1.3 million
  • Nas Daily, “She Used to Be a Man!,” 1.1 million
  • Robert Reich’s “The Reich Report”: “Trump’s Corporate Tax Cuts,” 1.1 million


Most Popular Facebook Shows: So Far, They’re a Lot of Viral Videos

Steve Harvey: My Wife Told Me To Skip Meeting With Trump, I Should’ve Listened

When comedian and TV host Steve Harvey met with President Donald Trump earlier this year, he didn’t expect the degree of outrage he’d receive. 

Harvey, who recently opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about his career as a comedian and a TV host, spoke about both personal and political experiences over the years and how his meeting with Trump made for one that brings him regrets.

“I didn’t see that coming. Jesus,” Harvey told the publication in a new piece published Tuesday. “It was so vicious that it really threw me.”

“I was being called names that I’ve never been called: Uncle Tom. A coon. A sellout,” he added. 

Harvey said he first met with Trump after he said his business partner received “a call from the Obama transition team, who said that the Trump transition team would like to set up a meeting.” He said yes ― but the meeting was also to be held around Harvey’s 60th birthday celebration, which was hosted on a boat. So his wife, Marjorie Harvey, suggested he deliberately miss the meeting. 

“My wife says, ’Steve, just take off [and skip the meeting]. You’ll meet with him some other time,’” he recalled. “God, I should’ve listened.” 

Harvey met with the President at the Trump Towers and said he spent about 20 minutes in the January meeting talking about golf. He recalled how he told Trump about potentially working with Ben Carson, whom the president appointed to lead the department of Housing and Urban Development, to help identify ways he could help transform closing schools into “vision centers and teach STEM and computers and coding.”  

Harvey said he has since been to HUD twice and that he’s met with Carson. “We’re actually trying to get it started,” he said. “Hopefully before the year goes out, we’ll be making the announcement about the first vision center.” 

Harvey, who was pictured with Trump immediately following their meeting, drew ire from critics who called out the disrespect and shame they felt in seeing him, a black man, be so willing to work with a man who has consistently neglected and disrespected the black community. 

Harvey himself released a statement in January as the outrage began to bubble up, explaining then why he met with the President and affirming that “he would sit with Trump anytime.”  

A fancy birthday boat ride doesn’t sound half bad, after all. 


Facebook’s new video hub is coming to everyone in the US

Facebook’s new video platform is rolling out to all users in the US over the next few days, the company announced today. The platform, called Watch, will have hundreds of original shows for people to choose from.

Facebook is priming the platform by paying creators to make 20- to 30-minute shows. But eventually, Facebook plans to open up content-making privileges to everyone. The platform was initially announced in early August and will replace the current video tab in Facebook on mobile, desktop, and TV.

For Facebook, this is a golden opportunity for luring in ad revenue, especially for a company that has run out of advertising space on its packed News Feed. Billions of people already watch and share Facebook videos regularly, so it’s easy to imagine them simply tapping one tab over to continue doing so.


Instagram says hackers swiped contact info for verified users

Instagram just suffered a potentially serious (and this time, very real) data breach. The social photo service is sending out alerts that intruders got access to the phone numbers and email addresses for a number of “high-profile” users by exploiting a bug in Instagram’s programming interface. The attackers didn’t obtain passwords, and Instagram says it has already fixed the bug, but it’s warning all verified users out of an “abundance of caution.”


We’ve asked Instagram for more details and will let you know if it can shed more light on the situation, such as when the breach happened and how many people were targeted. It’s also unclear if this is related to the recent hack that compromised Selena Gomez’s Instagram account.

The breach isn’t as severe as it could have been, but it’s definitely not what Instagram needs in the wake of the Gomez incident. The social network is growing very rapidly, but it might run into trouble if big-name users are hesitant to stick around over security fears. The apparently prompt fix suggests that Instagram is at least on top of these issues when they do come up.


Residents warned to ‘get out or die’ as Harvey unleashes new waves

The storm once known as Hurricane Harvey made its second landfall Wednesday, dumping record rains and spurring additional flooding in small Texas cities that lie east of now-devastated Houston.

Harvey, which had swung out into the Gulf of Mexico again, came ashore at dawn near the Texas-Louisiana border. Its rain bands preceded it, pounding Texas towns including Orange, Port Arthur and Beaumont with more than two feet of rain.

City officials said much of Port Arthur — a city of 55,000 — was under water. A shelter for flood victims flooded. One official estimated that water had entered one-third of the city’s buildings.


“We need boats. We need large trucks, and we need generators,” said Tiffany Hamilton, a former city councilwoman in Port Arthur who was helping coordinate relief efforts in a city that is also without electricity. “The entire city has been flooded.”

About 80 miles to the west, the Houston area was just beginning to recover from the biggest rainstorm in the recorded history of the continental United States.

Nearly 35,000 people were in shelters. Thousands of homes were still submerged.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Wednesday that 20 people remained missing in the city. At one point, that figure had gone as high as 47, but Acevedo said 27 people have been found alive and removed from the list.

At least 37 people were dead, and that number was climbing as water receded, revealing the storm’s awful toll.

Harris County authorities finally located a van, containing six members of the same family, that had been washed off the road days earlier. All six were dead.

A few miles away, authorities discovered the bodies of two friends who had gone out in a boat Monday, trying to rescue neighbors. They lost control in the current, drifted toward the sparks of a downed power line. They jumped in.


Three other men, including two journalists from a British newspaper, suffered electrical burns but survived by clinging to a tree above the water.

By Wednesday afternoon, the remnants of Harvey had moved into Louisiana, and by the evening had weaken to a tropical depression.

Louisiana officials, who had worried that Harvey might devastate their state as well, said the threat of flooding seemed to be lessening.

“Somewhere between being complacent and being panicked is the right place” to be, said Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). “That’s where we’re going to ask the people of Louisiana to settle.”

More than 50 inches of rain fell onto Houston over four days, turning the country’s fourth-largest city into a sea of muddy brown water, boats skimming along what had been neighborhood streets in search of survivors.

At the height of the flooding, between 25 and 30 percent of Harris County — home to 4.5 million people in Houston and its near suburbs — was flooded as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the county flood control district. That is an area as large as New York City and Chicago combined.

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said more than 210,000 people in his state had applied for assistance from FEMA.


The number of people who have registered for federal assistance is expected to go up, William “Brock” Long, the FEMA administrator, said during a news briefing. It will take “many, many years” before the full scope of Harvey’s impact is clear, Long said.

“We expect a many-year recovery in Texas, and the federal government is in this for the long haul,” Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said at the same briefing Wednesday.



Teen posts heartbreaking message before she’s swept away by flood

A teenage girl wrote a heartbreaking final message before she and five members of her family reportedly drowned in a flood caused by a devastating storm.

Devy Salduvar, 16, is feared to have been swept away in the Texas floods along with five other relatives, US authorities said.


The night before she went missing she wrote on Facebook: “No sleep & anxiety, please let this pass sooner.”

A few hours after the post, her great-uncle tried to drive the family to safety when waters caused by Storm Harvey engulfed their van.

Devy’s uncle, Ric Saldivar, ABC 13: “The water picked the van up, and it was just floating after that.

“It went head-first in, and water came in real fast.”

Devy posted a message on Facebook saying she was ‘anxious’ the night before she went missing (Image: Facebook)
Top left to bottom right: Manuel Saldivar and his wife Belia, 81, Daisy, Dominic, Xavier and Devy (Image: Facebook)

Devy, Daisy, 6, Xavier, 8, and Dominic, 14, are feared to have died along with their great-grandparents, Manuel Saldivar, 84, and his wife, Belia, 81, authorities said.

The children’s mother reportedly went out in a boat in a desperate attempt to locate the van.

The Harris County Sheriff’s office said: “Deputies on Sunday rescued a man from Greens Bayou flood waters, who stated his van with 6 relatives was submerged. Van has not been located.”

The children’s school also paid tribute to the family on social media.


Facebook says Pages that regularly share false news won’t be able to buy ads

Facebook says it’s taking another step against Pages that share fabricated news stories.

The company has already been working with outside fact-checkers like Snopes and the AP to flag inaccurate news stories. (These aren’t supposed to be stories that are disputed for reasons of opinion or partisanship, but rather outright hoaxes and lies.) It also says that when a story is marked as disputed, the link can can no longer be promoted through Facebook ads.

The next step, which the company is announcing today, involves stopping Pages that regularly share these stories from buying any Facebook ads at all, regardless of whether or not the ad includes a disputed link.

Facebook was criticized last year for its role in helping to spread of fake/false news. (The company is using the term “false news” for now — “fake news” has become heavily politicized and almost meaningless.) Product Director Rob Leathern said the company has been trying to fight back in three ways — ending the economic incentive to post false news stories, slowing the spread of those stories and helping people make more informed decisions when they see a false story.


In this case, Leathern said blocking ad-buying is meant to change the economic incentives. Facebook is concerned that “there are Pages posting this information that are using Facebook Ads to build audiences” to spread false news. By changing the ad policy, Facebook makes it harder for companies to attract that audience.

Facebook isn’t specifying the exact numbers of disputed links a Page can share before it gets blocked — after all, the company doesn’t want people to try to game the system — but Leathern said, “Obviously, it’s not a single instance. It’s a repeated pattern of misinformation.”

He also noted that the ban on buying ads isn’t necessarily permanent. If a Page stops sharing false stories, it should eventually be able to buy ads again.


Facebook says Pages that regularly share false news won’t be able to buy ads

Facebook will livestream 15 upcoming college football games

Facebook secured exclusive rights to livestream college football games during the upcoming season, starting with a pair of games on September 2nd. Users worldwide need only visit the sports network Stadium’s Facebook page to watch the matches, or they can view them on the social network’s recently-launched Watch platform.

Facebook’s been pushing hard to snag athletic events it can livestream, but it’s not alone, tussling with Snapchat and Twitter for the rights to upload clips of the 2018 World Cup. Facebook did make a deal with Major League Baseball to start broadcasting games every week back in May, but college football has its own rabid fanbase.

Fans will get a few extras if they tune to the Stadium page on game day, including a curated chat with football personalities. It’s a good deal for folks following these particular teams, but it’s still an incremental victory in the perpetual tug-of-war between all the top social platforms jockeying for more sports content.

Here’s the full schedule of games, per TechCrunch:

  • Saturday, Sept. 2: Miami (OH) at Marshall, 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 2: UC Davis at San Diego State, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Thursday, Sept. 7: Idaho State at Utah State, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 9: New Mexico State at New Mexico, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 23: FIU at Rice, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 23: Utah State at San Jose State, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Sept. 30: Texas State at Wyoming, 4:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 7: Southern Miss at UTSA, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 14: Wyoming at Utah State, 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 21: Rice at UTSA, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: FIU at Marshall, 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 4: North Texas at Louisiana Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Southern Miss at Rice, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 18: Marshall at UTSA, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Saturday, Nov. 25: FAU at Charlotte, 2:00 p.m. ET


Teens favoring Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook, says eMarketer

Facebook is losing appeal among teens and young adults which is contributing to generally slowing growth for the platform, according to the latest projections from research firm eMarketer.

At the same time alternative social apps Snapchat and (Facebook-owned) Instagram are seeing rising and double-digit growth in the same youth demographic — suggesting younger users are favoring newer and more visual communications platforms.

“Both platforms have found success with this demographic since they are more aligned with how they communicate — using visual content,” noted eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco in a statement.

It’s the second consecutive year of expected usage declines for Facebook among this advertiser-coveted group, according to the researcher.

eMarketer suggests some tweens are even skipping adopting Facebook entirely (it calls them “Facebook nevers”) and going straight to the rival platforms, even as remaining tweens and teens appear less engaged on Facebook — logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform.

While having slipping relevance among a coveted ad demographic is obviously not good news for a social behemoth whose business is dependent on ad revenue, Facebook does have the consolation of also owning one of the two main youth-friendly alternative platforms: Instagram. (Aka, ‘if you can’t be it, buy it’.)

Still, eMarketer is also projecting that the acquisition that got away from Zuck, Snapchat, will overtake Instagram and Facebook in the total teen (12 to 17) & young adult (18 to 24) ages for the first time in 2017 — boosting its share of US social network users to 40.8 per cent, and projected to push close to a majority by 2021. (Though Instagram is also forecast to maintain its greater reach through this timeframe.)

Back in 2013, when reports of Facebook’s spurned acquisition attempts of Snapchat surfaced, it followed fast on the heels of the company reporting a first-time decline in young teens using its service daily.


Nearly four years later Facebook’s problem with keeping teens happy has only got bigger — but the company’s success at using Instagram to successfully clone Snapchat’s features has helped mitigate the issue. (Even if it means Facebook’s corporate motto should really now read: ‘Move fast and clone things’.)


Teens favoring Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook, says eMarketer

Facebook’s Craigslist competitor will soon feature a lot more than just your neighbor’s old junk

Facebook has big plans for Marketplace, the Craigslist-like section inside its app where people can sell used goods to others in their neighborhood.

It’s just not sure what those big plans should look like.

So to figure that out, Facebook is throwing a bunch of products inside Marketplace to see what people want, including more professional products and services offered by actual retailers, not just regular Facebook users.

Facebook now shows job postings inside Marketplace, and recently started offering “daily deals” as part of a new arrangement with eBay. But Facebook has more categories coming to Marketplace, including ticket sales and products from retailers’ shopping Pages, said Deb Liu, the Facebook VP who oversees Marketplace, in an interview with Recode.

Until now, Facebook has limited postings inside Marketplace to individual users, not business Pages. But that’s changing as the company expands into more areas. Facebook hopes to learn what kinds of stuff people want to find inside Marketplace, then push deeper into those areas.

“We’ll kind of look and see what’s popular, what people want to engage with,” Liu said. “So if people are searching or looking for something, we want to make that available to them.”

One popular area has been auto sales, so Liu says Facebook will soon feature cars for sale inside Marketplace from local car dealerships. It plans to do the same with real estate listings to increase inventory for apartment hunters.

Facebook did not share details about who, specifically, it was planning to partner with for these categories. And the company did not highlight any specific retailers during our conversation.

So Facebook wants higher-quality options inside Marketplace, but it’s unclear where they will come from.


Still, some of these more traditional retail options, like ticket sales and shopping pages, already exist inside Facebook. They’re just scattered throughout the app, and it’s possible most people don’t even know they exist. Which is one of the reasons Facebook is bringing them all into one central location, Liu said.

One area it doesn’t plan to push into: Payments. Right now, Facebook connects buyers and sellers, but the actual transactions still happen off site. Facebook isn’t making money from any transactions it helps facilitate, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

“Eventually, we could go in a number of different directions [with payments],” Liu said. “But right now we’re really trying to figure out, ‘how do you actually drive engagement between people and businesses, people and other people locally?’ That’s how we really think about the product.”

Facebook has tried to get commerce to stick inside the social network for years without much success. It closed a gifts service, and dabbled with “buy buttons” that never took off.

Marketplace is Facebook’s latest hope — and the changes raise the question of whether they are being made because the initial version of Marketplace hasn’t taken off. But Liu says Marketplace has had “tremendous growth,” with 18 million items listed inside Marketplace in the U.S. alone back in May. But not all of the items are high quality.

Given Facebook’s ambitions here, and its willingness to get more established retailers and businesses using Marketplace, that could start to change.


Mastering Apps – A Beginners Guide to Start Making Money with Apps

Instant Apps now on 500 million Android devices

Instant Apps are a way for developers to provide a lightweight, modularized portion of their full app experience when a user opens specific search results. The user has to enable Instant Apps in the Settings menu before the feature will work, however. Announced at Google I/O 2016, the feature was made available to all developers after this year’s I/O.

Google has announced the feature is now available to 500 million users, so developers should feel encouraged to start building for the feature. Instant Apps are available for any user running Android 6.0 and later, or 45.8% of all Android users. While that’s not a majority, that’s still a very large number of users and will continue to grow in the future.

Google also shared that application developers are already seeing a return on their work for Instant Apps. Vimeo increased session duration by 130% following the integration of Instant Apps, while the real estate purchasing application dotloop saw a 62% increase in users using its service to sign documents after integrating Instant Apps into its platform.


Google also provides a list of best practices for developers interested in integrating Instant Apps into their service.

Have you stumbled across an Instant App you like yet? Let us know down below!


Johnny Cash Always Fought Hatred. His Family Just Disavowed a Charlottesville Nazi.

In 1964, right after the mainstream success of “Ring of Fire,” Johnny Cash risked his career to release Bitter Tears, an album advocating for the rights of Native Americans. This wasn’t something that country singers did in the mid-’60s. Backlash from the racist music industry at the time was swift. His record, and its single—”The Ballad of Ira Hayes” about the Pima Indian who helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima—was being boycotted by radio station managers.


But, Cash kept fighting. He took out a full-page ad in Billboard saying: “D.J.s–station managers–owners, etc., where are your guts? ‘Ira Hayes’ is strong medicine. So is Rochester, Harlem, Birmingham and Vietnam.” Cash won that battle. His song wasn’t silenced by racists; instead it’s become one of the most beloved American social anthems of all time, recorded and re-recorded by artists through the last five decades.

Tragically, 54 years later, we’re still fighting that same fight.

Last weekend, that racism reared its ugly head again as a group of Nazis caused chaos in Charlottesville, with a pathetic rally that resulted in the death of one counter-protester. Among the many horrifying images spread on TV and the Internet was video of a white supremacist wearing a Johnny Cash t-shirt. Someone notified the Cash family, who were sickened by the association, as his daughter Rosanne Cash wrote on Facebook.

“He would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred. The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII,” Rosanne Cash wrote. “Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honor. Our dad told each of us, over and over throughout our lives, ‘Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love.'”

The men who marched in Charlottesville are outsiders in any community that embraces the ideals that Johnny Cash stood for. Cash would have fought them as he fought the racists who boycotted his music.

“To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you,” Rosanne Cash wrote. “Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.”

It’s bizarre to see Neo Nazis and White Supremacists embrace cultural idols like Johnny Cash. Earlier this year, Richard Spencer’s favorite band, Depeche Mode, completely disavowed everything the white supremacist leader stood for. This shows an extension of their ignorance and twisted views of the world that they don’t realize artists like Johnny Cash or Depeche Mode fought for equality. That’s what it is: ignorance. These men have no sense that their ideals are not wanted in our art, our culture, or our country. Leave Johnny Cash out of it.


Facebook’s New ‘Watch’ Feature Has Got YouTube and Google Really Worried

If you’ve been at all in tune with the modern world the last decade, you’ve definitely noticed that Facebook has largely taken over the social media sphere. From its classic blue-and-white timeline to its acquisition of Instagram to–most recently–its addition of Snapchat-like features, Facebook has done a stellar job keeping up with the fluctuating trends of every emerging generation.

Facebook just stepped up its game once again, unveiling a new feature to add to its continually growing roster: A new Watch tab that allows existing Facebook users to consume video content, chat and share with friends, and discover short-form videos and visual content that their friends are engaging with.

How does it show what we’re all really looking for in social media?

Facebook’s move of blending video content with intimate online interaction with our friends and family shows us that–for the vast majority of social media users–the most important aspect of going online is our interactive engagement with our personal communities.

Although Facebook’s forthcoming Watch tab definitely mirrors existing video platforms–YouTube’s, in particular, is easily the first to jump to mind–it offers a new way to interact with existing online friend networks that YouTube doesn’t. So, despite the video giant’s 1 billion users per month, Facebook’s newest feature–with the platform’s 2 billion monthly users–could potentially help the company unseat YouTube as the reigning video king.

Think about it for a second. Whenever you look up a YouTube video, you’re there simply to watch the content. Sometimes, you might take a couple minutes to scroll through the comments section to check out what trolls and random people from the Internet are saying before leaving to watch the next video, or close the tab altogether.

When you discover a video on Facebook, however, it’s usually something your friends have shared. You might be more interested, more willing to comment, and more likely to re-share it yourself–which is ultimately a lot more engagement than a video on YouTube would experience.

So, next time you watch a video on any social platform, think about how you interact with it. With Facebook’s new update, you might be surprised by how much having a community online will change your habits.


Facebook Marketplace Opens for Business in 17 European Countries

Facebook is stepping up its modest moves into e-commerce by expanding its service for connecting local buyers and sellers into 17 new European markets, the U.S. company said on Monday.

Marketplace, which sits alongside Facebook’s mainstay newsfeed, photo, video, messaging and other services, marks fresh competition for community-based e-commerce pioneers such as Craigslist and eBay’s (EBAY, +0.61%)classifieds business.


Marketplace is being introduced this week in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Launched 10 months ago, Marketplace charges no fees to buyers or sellers and aims to make it easy for users to trade mostly second-hand goods, with the ability to post items for sale via smartphone or computer in less than 15 seconds.

Marketplace, already up and running in a handful of markets including the United States, Britain and Australia, is building on Facebook’s buy-sell groups. These draw in about 550 million monthly visitors, accounting for more than a quarter of Facebook’s 2 billion global users.

“We want to make it easier to buy and sell, but we also want to make it community based,” said Deborah Liu, vice president of Facebook Marketplace.

Prospective buyers can pick a radius for how far they wish to travel to collect purchases, but most transactions are local. Marketplace restricts searches within national boundaries, mainly to avoid language confusion, Liu said.


Obama Charlottesville tweet one of the most liked ever

Former president Barack Obama still knows how to find the right words after a national tragedy. 

With more than 2.4 million likes and counting, Obama’s tweet Saturday quoting Nelson Mandela in the wake of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., is the third-most liked tweet since Twitter launched.

One woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man, who had been a part of a white supremacist rally in downtown Charlottesville, rammed his car into a crowd of people. 

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” Obama’s tweet read. 

The quote is from former South African president Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. 

I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

Obama shared more of the quote in two more tweets, which got 1 million and 900,000 likes respectively. 

By contrast, President Trump’s first tweet in response to the tragic scene in Charlottesville got 186,000 likes.

Of course, not everyone liked Obama’s sentiment. 

Some users called on the former president to condemn the violence “from either side.” 

DeLorean Aerospace Is Working on a Flying Car With a Range of 120 Miles

DeLorean cars have become a staple of ’80s pop culture thanks to their starring role in Robert Zemeckis’s iconic Back to the Future trilogy. Now, a new generation of the DeLorean family is looking to put the brand back into the spotlight by giving new meaning to a line kooky inventor Doc Brown delivers at the end of the first film: “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

In a recent Wired profile, Paul DeLorean, nephew of the original carmaker and current CEO and chief designer of DeLorean Aerospace, revealed that his company is joining the likes of Uber, Airbus, Kitty Hawk, and a few others in attempting to build a flying car.

DeLorean says the company is working on a two-seat, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle meant for personal transport and that will eventually be capable of autonomous flight. “We are moving forward on a full-size, piloted prototype which will carry two passengers and is designed to operate, fully electric, for a range of  [193 kilometers (120 miles)],” he explained to Wired.


Other flying cars in development are only expected to have ranges of around 40 to 80 kilometers (25 to 50 miles), so DeLorean’s target is well above the norm.


As for design specifics, the DeLorean DR-7 aircraft sports two sets of wings, one at the vehicle’s front and the other at its back, with another pair of winglets under the hind wings. The vehicle’s takeoff and forward propulsion rely on a pair of fans, which are powered by electricity and mounted along its center. The fans swivel after takeoff to push the vehicle forward.

In all, the aircraft is about 6 meters (20 feet) long, with a wingspan of about 5.6 meters (18.5 feet). To help the aircraft fit into a (large) garage, the wings are capable of folding against the vehicle’s sides.


Whether they be of the self-driving or flying variety, the cars of the future need to surmount regulatory hurdles before we’ll see any kind of widespread adoption. The use of traditional vehicles and aircraft is currently regulated by numerous laws, and the advanced capabilities of autonomous or flying vehicles are presenting lawmakers with a slew of unprecedented questions.


Snapchat now lets you Pikachu yourself

Snapchat is teaming up with The Pokémon Company to introduce a new Pikachu filter to the app. The official Pikachu filter applies the electric mouse’s trademark rosy cheeks, pointy ears, black nose and big eyes to faces in the app, and when users open their mouth the iconic Pikachu cry rings out as an animated version of the characters leaps into frame.

The Pikachu filter is a pretty perfect tie-in for Snapchat, which aims at a demographic that is already pretty gaga for the most recognizable of Nintendo’s pocket monsters. Plus, Snapchat could use some brand juice, and Pokémon and Pikachu have proven to offer that for a lot of other platforms, including any of Nintendo’s hardware consoles and even AR via Pokémon Go.


Snapchat’s Pikachu filter is a limited run option, so if you want to capture yourself looking like Ash’s best pal you’d better get on it. The best strategy is probably to stockpile a wide range of selfies of yourself as Pika so you have one for every possible emotional response you can possibly make.


Will Snapchat Pika reach the lofty heights of Dancing Hot Dog? Only time will tell.


Snapchat now lets you Pikachu yourself

Dawn of the Social Media Influencer as Entrepreneur

Over the past week, I have been working with the model, social media star and actress Alexis Ren to launch her own brand, REN Active ( Many social media stars have launched merchandise: most is usually the typical banal array of t-shirts, hoodies and caps sold at concerts and events by stars and celebrities. What distinguishes REN Active is that it has been beautifully crafted and designed in the very same minimalist aesthetic and style that her 10 million followers have already come to know from her. Alexis Ren has not only launched products, but a genuine brand with a message.

21st century society has become accustomed to the newly-formed celebrity of emerging You Tube talent, Instagram “hotties” and blogging fashion and beauty mavens. Over the past several years, so-called “digital talent” have matured from being the millenial outliers of the media world to being becoming part of daily life for middle America and the rest of the globe. Unlike the awe fans feel for traditional celebrities, actors and pop-stars, followers of social media talent are immersed inside the daily life and routine of the influencers they follow.


Because of this direct relationship between follower and influencer, a global marketplace has developed between brands and social media stars buying and selling their influence over the millions of constituents they react with on a daily basis.  An entire economy of agents, agencies, media networks and brand consultants has emerged around influencer marketing. Because technology is so closely linked with social media, never before has it been easier to target any particular demographic or measure the direct success of any influencer-based marketing campaign. In the “good old days”, it was just a well-founded guess how successful an expensive ad campaign gracing the pages of Vogue might have been. Today, a brand knows exactly how many consumers have clicked through to, commented on or “liked” any digital social media campaign they have invested in.


Major ecommerce and brick and mortar retailers are now also looking to partner and create joint ventures with social media stars and celebrities to help launch new businesses. From my own experience representing “new-age” digital talent, Walmart, Jet.Com, Target and even traditional department stores are moving into the game. A new class of incubators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are also emerging, seeing the opportunity to partner with social media talent by contributing their expertise, capital and management skills to help launch new brands.

Will Alexis Ren and her fellow social media standouts be the Ralph Laurens, Oprah Winfreys and Donna Karans of the future? No one really knows, but it is certain that they will have an impact on the landscape of media, entertainment and commerce in the foreseeable future.


Bruno Mars Donates $1 Million to Flint Water Crisis Efforts at Michigan Concert

Bruno Mars did a seven-figure solid for the city of Flint, Mich., during his show on Saturday night (Aug. 12) in suburban Detroit.

As he closed his main set with “Just The Way You Are” at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mars told the crowd that he was donating $1 million to “our brothers and sisters in Flint, Michigan” to provide aid for the continuing wake of the city’s water crisis. Mars and Live Nation directed funds from the sold-out concert to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, which addresses both immediate concerns as well as future needs of children exposed to lead in its water supply.

In a statement, Mars said, “I’m very thankful to the Michigan audience for joining me in supporting this cause. Ongoing challenges remain years later for Flint residents, and it’s important that we don’t forget our brothers and sisters affected by this disaster. As people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again.”

After announcing the donation in concert, Mars told the Palace crowd, “This is why we love what we do. We get a chance to go up on stage every night and perform … and the fact that we can show up here and celebrate under one roof together, all this positive energy that’s flowing. This is the world we want to live in.”

Mars added, “I love this state” and spoke about walking around Detroit and visiting the Motown Museum the day before the show. He and his band, the Hooligans, added a bit of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” to start their encore as an added local touch.

Saturday’s concert was part of Mars’ continuing 24K Magic World Tour, which wraps up its North American leg with four November shows at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., followed by swings through Latin America Oceana, Asia and Mexico into June of 2018.

The Flint Water Crisis was identified in 2014 when the source for drinking water was switched from Detroit water to the Flint River. Due to insufficient treatment an estimated more than 100,000 residents were exposed to tainted water with high levels of lead, which as been linked to an increase in Legionnaires’ disease and other health issues. Flint has switched back to Detroit for its water supply, and several state officials have resigned or are under indictment for negligence.

Other celebrities, such as Eminem and Cher, have also made donations and supported Flint in the wake of the crisis. More information about the situation in Flint and the Community Foundation can be found at


Facebook knew about Snap’s struggles months before the public

You may have only recently discovered that Snap isn’t having much luck attracting new users, but Facebook knew months before — and there’s a chance you helped it find out. The Wall Street Journal has learned just how Facebook has been using app usage data from Onavo Protect, the VPN-based security app from its Onavo team, to see how Snapchat adoption has changed over time. The social network looked at aggregated info about the frequency and duration of app use to determine that Snapchat use slowed down soon after Snapchat-like Instagram Stories became available. In other words, Facebook knew it could double down on its anti-Snap strategy within just a few months.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has used Onavo’s app usage data to make major decisions. The info reportedly influenced the decision to buy WhatsApp, as Facebook knew that WhatsApp’s dominance in some areas (99 percent of Android phones in Spain had it) could cut it out of the loop. Likewise, it added live video after seeing how people used Meerkat and Periscope.


To be clear, Facebook isn’t grabbing this data behind anyone’s back. The company says Onavo Protect is explicit about what info it’s collecting and how it’s used, and that apps have incorporated market research services like this “for years.” The odds are slim that many people read these disclosures before using Protect, but anyone who was concerned could have found them. The revelation here is more about how Facebook uses that information rather than the collection itself.

All the same, it’s that collection that has some observers nervous. Former Federal Trade Commission CTO Askhan Soltani tells the WSJ that Facebook is turning customers’ own data against them by using it to snuff out competitors. Meanwhile, tech lawyer Adam Shevell is concerned that Facebook might be violating Apple’s App Store rules by collecting data that isn’t directly relevant to app use or ads. Apple isn’t commenting on whether or not it is.

No matter what, the news underscores just how hard it is for upstarts to challenge Facebook’s dominant position. How do you compete with an internet giant that can counter your app’s features (or simply buy your company) the moment it becomes popular? This doesn’t make Facebook immune to competition, but app makers definitely can’t assume that they’ll catch the firm off-guard.


Tips for photographing the total solar eclipse

I’ve never been a big fan of astronomical events: there are just too many meteor showers or planet transits to keep up with, and a slightly larger Moon just doesn’t do much for me. But I have completely shed my cynical attitude regarding the upcoming total solar eclipse. The more I learn about it, the more excited I am to see it — and to photograph it. I’ll be heading down to Nashville, which lies in the path of the eclipse’s shadow, so I’ll have the opportunity to get an incredible snapshot of the Sun completely covered by the Moon.

I consider myself an amateur photographer, but I’ve never tried taking pictures of celestial events before, and I’ve never even witnessed an eclipse. So I turned to a self-proclaimed astrophotographer Justin Starr to give me some tips about how to best snap a picture of the Sun — before, during, and after totality. Watch his demonstration in the video above and check out a summary of his suggestions below.


When it comes to setting all of your gear up, you’re going to need a pair of solar filter glasses. These are specialized lenses that block out 99.99 percent of the Sun’s light. You’ll need to wear them in order to spot the Sun in the sky and also to watch as the Moon starts to cover the solar disc. NASA and the American Astronomical Society have a list of approved manufacturers of solar filter glasses on their sites.

Once your eyes are safe, there are four basic things you’re going to want to use to photograph the eclipse:

  1. A DSLR camera or a camera with full manual controls
  2. A telephoto lens (we’re using a 70 to 200 millimeter zoom lens)
  3. A tripod
  4. A solar filter for your lens

Just as your eyes need protection, so does your camera lens. That’s where the solar filter comes in. These specialized instruments are made to fit over your camera’s lens to block out most of the sunlight. Most of the filters will turn the Sun into a golden or orange disc in your photographs. And you’ll need to be sure that your filter will properly screw on to the front of your lens.


Once your lens is fitted with a filter, set up your camera on your tripod and aim it toward the sky. You may need to spend a few minutes searching for the Sun, which will be tricky with the solar filter, as it blocks out basically everything else but the Sun. And no, you don’t want to take the filter off leading up to and after the eclipse. “If I did not have a solar filter on here, I could really fry the imaging sensor on my camera,” Starr told me during a demonstration. Even when 5 percent of the Sun’s light is left, it’s enough to do some damage.


Disney sued for allegedly spying on children through 42 gaming apps

A federal class action lawsuit filed last week in California alleges that the Walt Disney Company is violating privacy protection laws by collecting children’s personal information from 42 of its apps and sharing the data with advertisers without parental consent.

The lawsuit targets Disney and three software companies — Upsight, Unity, and Kochava — alleging that the companies created mobile apps aimed at children that contained embedded software to track, collect, and then export their personal information along with information about their online behavior. The plaintiff, a San Francisco woman named Amanda Rushing, says she was unaware that information about her child, “L.L.,” was collected while playing mobile game Disney Princess Palace Pets, and that data was then sold to third parties for ad targeting.

The class action suit says this violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was enacted by Congress in 1999 and designed to protect the privacy of children online. COPPA requires that companies designing apps for children under the age of 13 obtain consent from parents before collecting personal information. In 2013, the FTC revised COPPA, expanding what counts as personal information to include things like geolocation markers and IP addresses. The update also requires third-party advertisers to comply with the rules.

Disney has responded to the lawsuit, saying:

“Disney has a robust COPPA compliance program, and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families. The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court.”
This is not the first time Disney has faced COPPA violations. In 2011, the FTC levied a $3 million civil penalty against subsidiary Playdom after it illegally collected and disclosed personal information from “hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents’ prior consent.”


Facebook launches Watch tab of original video shows

Facebook has a new home for original video content produced exclusively for it by partners, who will earn 55 percent of ad break revenue while Facebook keeps 45 percent. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will start rolling out to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow on mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps.

By hosting original programming, Facebook could boost ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.

Watch features personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch, plus categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” Publishers can also share their shows to the News Feed to help people discover them. A Watchlist feature lets you subscribe to updates on new episodes of your favorite shows. Fans can connect with each other and creators through a new feature that links shows to Groups.

Facebook says it plans to roll out access to Watch to more users and more content creators soon, starting with the rest of the U.S. before expanding internationally. Users with access will see a TV-shaped Watch button in the bottom navigation bar of Facebook’s main app that opens the new video hub.

Facebook admits that “we’ve also funded some shows” as examples, but notes that these are only a small percentage of all the available shows. “We want any publisher/creator who is interested to be able to create a show in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. “So there will be hundreds of shows at launch, and we’ll hopefully scale to thousands.”

Business Insider reported some leaked details about the redesign earlier today, but pegged the launch of original programming as starting August 28th, when the shows actually will begin to roll out tomorrow.


Facebook launches Watch tab of original video shows

Facebook says it’s removing accidental clicks from its ad network

Advertisers on Facebook’s Audience Network will no longer have to worry that they’re paying for users who accidentally clicked on their ads.

I’m betting we’ve all had moments where we were scrolling or swiping or clicking through a website/mobile app and we ended up clicking on an ad without really meaning to. (Those moments probably outnumber the times I’ve intentionally clicked on an ad.)

So Product Marketing Manager Brett Vogel said Facebook won’t be charging for those clicks in its Audience Network (where Facebook runs ads in other apps), and those clicks won’t be included in the metrics shared with advertisers and publishers.

Facebook is sorting out unintentional clicks by discounting instances where a user bounces back after two seconds or less. After all, if you clicked on an ad and then immediately clicked back, you probably didn’t care about the ad.

Still, Vogel said the two-second threshold is a “starting point” that Facebook can adjust if necessary.


Publishers may worry that this change could hurt their bottom line, but Vogel said the “vast majority” will not be affected, because their ads aren’t driving a significant number of unintentional clicks. He added that Facebook is making the change for the good of the ecosystem.

“Unintentional clicks end up delivering really poor experiences for people and advertisers,” he said. “It’s not a good path for publishers to build sustainable businesses.”

In addition, Facebook is also announcing that it’s making new ad metrics available (it’s been making a broader push around this).

Those metrics including gross impressions, a number that combines billable impressions with non-billable impressions — advertisers aren’t paying for things like non-human traffic, but some of them have still asked to see the numbers. Facebook is also adding auto-refresh impressions (those are ad impressions for banners on the right-hand side) and gross auto-refresh impressions.


Facebook says it’s removing accidental clicks from its ad network

Facebook begins testing Stories on the desktop

Great news, folks. Facebook Stories, the shameless Snapchat clone that sits above the News Feed on Facebook’s mobile app, is now rolling out to Facebook’s desktop site. Here, the Stories feature is no longer at the top of the page, but is instead off to the right side, where it’s at least a bit less intrusive. A small question mark icon appears in the Stories module, as well, which will explain the feature’s purpose, when hovered over with your cursor.

The explanation simply states that Stories consist of photos and video that are visible for 24 hours before they disappear.

Facebook has confirmed to TechCrunch the Stories launch on desktop is still considered a test, but notes that a wider rollout is expected soon.

The company chose to bring Stories to Facebook, after seeing its success on Instagram, where Stories had debuted in summer 2016.

With the first five months, Instagram Stories soared to 150 million daily users. It now has 250 million daily users, compared with Snapchat’s 166 million. Half of the businesses on Instagram created a story in the past month, Facebook also announced this week, and Instagram’s average usage has climbed to 32 minutes per day for those under 25, and 24 minutes per day for those 25 and up, it said.

The feature arrived on Facebook at the beginning of 2017, initially in Ireland before expanding to other countries, including the U.S.


The company has credited Snapchat with pioneering the visual communication format, but believes the pivot into Stories goes beyond simply copying a competitor’s popular app. Like Facebook’s News Feed – a format that went on to become the standard across social apps – Stories are a new way to share. That’s led to the format being broadly adopted across the industry.

Facebook itself has added Stories to Instagram, Messenger, and its flagship app. It even tried a Stories-like feature in WhatsApp. Elsewhere, Stories is inspiring redesigns of other top apps, including most recently, Tinder, Match, and Skype.

However, on Facebook, the feature hasn’t seen as much traction.

In fact, there were so few people using Stories on Facebook’s mobile app, that the company in April began to display grayed-out icons of your most frequently contacted friends instead of blank spaces in the Stories feature that no one much was using.


Facebook begins testing Stories on the desktop

How Rovio Fought Off Bankruptcy to Make Angry Birds

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Right?

For the maker of Angry Birds, everyone’s favorite time waster, it actually took 51 tries before they created the perfect casual game. Wired UK has an excellent profile of how the company battled back from bankruptcy to become one of the hottest entertainment companies in the world. It’s more inspiring than you’d expect.

First they had to save a company in crisis: at the beginning of 2009, Rovio was close to bankruptcy. Then they had to create the perfect game, do every other little thing exactly right, and keep on doing it. The Heds had developed 51 titles before Angry Birds. Some of them had sold in the millions for third parties such as Namco and EA, so they decided to create their own, original intellectual property. “We thought we would need to do ten to 15 titles until we got the right one,” says 30-year-old Niklas. One afternoon in late March, in their offices overlooking a courtyard in downtown Helsinki, Jaakko Iisalo, a games designer who had been at Rovio since 2006, showed them a screenshot. He had pitched hundreds in the two months before. This one showed a cartoon flock of round birds, trudging along the ground, moving towards a pile of colourful blocks. They looked cross. “People saw this picture and it was just magical,” says Niklas. Eight months and thousands of changes later, after nearly abandoning the project, Niklas watched his mother burn a Christmas turkey, distracted by playing the finished game. “She doesn’t play any games. I realised: this is it.”

I’ve long thought casual games are like pop songs. Everyone knows roughly what they’re supposed to sound like, but getting everything just right is stupendously unlikely. Since nearly every single casual game or pop song won’t be a hit, the key skill seems to be the right ear (or fingers) to feel when something isn’t good, but great. Or maybe you just have to get lucky.



Facebook bought a startup to crack down on users who share videos without permission

Facebook has acquired Source3, a startup that uses technology to identify content that has been shared on the internet without permission, Recode reports.

Facebook has had issues with pirated content in the past, and is now looking to use Source3’s software to enhance its rights management technology and potentially crack down on users who privately share videos they don’t own the rights to.

That is a necessary step if Facebook wants to push its video business and become competitive with platforms like Google’s YouTube, which offers a similar identification tool called “Content ID.”

Facebook has made it clear that its intention is to move towards longform, exclusive video content on its platform, and the acquisition could help video creators (and right holders) to remain enticed by Facebook’s massive scale and reach.

Recode reports that Facebook is “acquiring both the technology and at least some of the team behind Source3,” and that the group will be integrated fully into Facebook and not operate as a standalone unit.


Facebook Pages can now build their own communities

Today, Facebook is rolling out a new feature called “Groups for Pages,” which will let artists, brands, businesses and newspapers create their own fan clubs. The company says the idea stems from two reporters at The Washington Post who started a Facebook group called PostThis, where they interact with some of “the most avid fans” of the paper on a daily basis. Facebook says right now there are more than 70 million Pages on its platform, so this going to be great for many users who want to let their loyal supporters feel more connected to them.

The launch could further Facebook’s new mission statement to “bring the world closer together” and push it toward its goal to grow the membership of “meaningful groups” from 100 million now to 1 billion in the future.

Users can look at a Page’s Groups shortcut for any communities they’ve created. Pages can link an existing Group to their Page in addition to launching new ones.


For years, Facebook pushed people to create lists of specific friends to share different posts with, or to just fully embrace “openness” and share publicly. But it seems to have realized that people’s values and interests don’t always align with their geographic communities, or even their closest friends. Since the News Feed prioritizes showing content that gets lots of clicks and Likes, niche content could often fall flat and reach few people. Plus there’s the issue that Trump’s polarization of the United States has made sharing political content to Facebook a minefield of angry relatives and extremist high school classmates.


Facebook ‘Groups for Pages’ unlocks fan clubs

O.J. Simpson granted parole and could be released from prison as soon as Oct. 1

O.J. Simpson will soon be a free man. Again. A four-member parole board in Carson City, Nev., voted unanimously Thursday to curtail his 33-year prison sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming from a confrontation over sports memorabilia in Las Vegas in 2007.

The football legend and abusive husband, now 70 years old, could be released as soon as October 1 into a world that’s still fascinated by his plummet from grace.

As the proceedings got underway around 10 a.m., Nevada time, a smiling Simpson entered the hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center dressed in a light blue shirt with billowy sleeves, his hair splotched white, his voice gravelly. Seated at a desk with his attorney, Simpson was by turns affable and testy, humbled and defiant.

“I always thought I’ve been pretty good with people,” Simpson told the board by video link, “and have basically spent a conflict-free life.”


Simpson’s eldest daughter, Arnelle Simpson, and one of Simpson’s victims from the Vegas case testified in support of his release. “I’ve known O.J. for a long time,” said Bruce Fromong, a memorabilia dealer. “I don’t feel that he’s a threat to anyone out there. He’s a good man. . . Nine-and-a-half to 33 years is way too long. I feel that it’s time to give him a second chance.”

The networks and cable-news stations carried this latest chapter live for more than an hour, programming their day with key players from Simpson’s trial for murder in 1994 and 1995.


Linkin Park Frontman Chester Bennington, 41, Found Dead of Apparent Suicide

Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park, has committed suicide by hanging, TMZ reports. He was 41 years old. Law enforcement officials tell the outlet that his body was found just before 9 a.m. on Thursday in a private residence in Palos Verdes Estates, a district of Los Angeles Country.

The rock frontman was a close friend of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell—who also committed suicide by hanging in May—and spoke at his funeral. Bennington’s body was found on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.

Linkin Park were one of the best selling alternative rock bands of all time, scoring a string of hits including “Faint,” “In the End” and “Crawling.” Their 2000 debut Hybrid Theory has been certified diamond by the RIAA, and they famously collaborated with JAY-Z in 2004 for the genre-melding EP Collision Course.

Bennington leaves behind six children from two marriages.



Linkin Park Frontman Chester Bennington Found Dead of Apparent Suicide

Usher reportedly paid $1.1M to woman he allegedly infected with herpes

This sex scandal won’t be going away.

Usher paid out $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit with a stylist who claimed the pop star infected her with herpes, court papers show.

The documents were first published Wednesday by Radar Online, but they appear to date to late 2012.

The 38-year-old “Confessions” singer, whose real name is Usher Raymond IV, was diagnosed with herpes in 2009 or 2010, according to the court papers. But nonetheless, he had unprotected sex with the claimant without confessing that he was carrying the virus, the papers add.

The law is clear in California: It is illegal to knowingly or recklessly transmit an STD. Usher allegedly did just that when he told the victim he had tested negative for the virus, despite a “greenish discharge” from his penis, the court papers say.

“Believing Raymond’s statements that (the discharge) had been nothing and cleared up, (she) continued her relationship,” the legal docs said.

The claimant was later diagnosed with herpes, complete with vaginal sores, fevers and chills, she alleged in papers.

 usher (1)

Usher paid some of the victim’s medical bills in 2012 — $2,754.40 in all, the court papers show. That’s when he also had his doctor call the woman to tell her that the singer did indeed carry the herpes virus.

He had, apparently, for many years. The legal documents noted that Usher was “exposed to herpes” in 2009 or 2010, around when he finalized his divorce to Tameka Foster after she accused him of cheating.

The singer married his current wife, Grace Miguel, in 2015.

The Daily News reached out to the R&B singer, but a request for comment was not immediately returned.

In the U.S., one out of every six people ages 14 to 49 years have genital herpes, which is spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can be spread to sexual partners, even when people who have it show no symptoms.


Facebook Is Pursuing a Subscription Tool for News Outlets on Its Site

Facebook is working on a new tool that could help drive subscriptions to news organizations that publish articles directly on the online service, an effort to improve the fraught relationship between the social giant and media companies.

The tool would be added to Facebook’s Instant Articles product, which allows publishers to post news articles that can be read within Facebook rather than on the publisher’s website.

The discussions about the tool are still in the early stages, according to two people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were not public. But it is possible that Facebook could produce a metered pay wall product similar to those used by some publishers. After reading 10 New York Times articles on Facebook, for instance, a user could be sent to The Times’s subscription sign-up page.

Facebook plans to start a pilot with a small group of publishers using the tool in October and to expand the initiative in 2018 if early results are promising. It was not clear which publishers might participate in the test.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on the discussions.

“We are in early talks with several news publishers about how we might better support subscription business models on Facebook,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said in a statement. “As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we are taking the time to work closely together with our partners and understand their needs.”

News outlets have become increasingly dissatisfied with how online platforms like Facebook and Google are consuming the digital advertising market and gaining more control over the online distribution of news. This month, a group of publishers started an effort to gain group bargaining rights so they might be able to negotiate more effectively with the online platforms that are threatening their business models.

While nearly all publishers have shifted their attention to increasing digital revenue, most are still seeking profitable solutions that will work in the long term.

Although many publishers recognize the importance of online platforms for getting their content in front of broad audiences, there are also drawbacks. Publishers are concerned about losing valuable ties to their readers, particularly subscriber data and payment connections. Readers may also become accustomed to staying in Facebook to consume news, instead of, say, navigating directly to publishers’ sites.


Amazon has launched a shoppable social network called Spark — here’s how it works

Amazon would really like you to buy more stuff, ideally through Amazon.

The company has launched Amazon Spark, an Instagram-style shoppable feed that appears inside the Amazon app to showcase products. We first saw Spark on TechCrunch.

The experience is similar to scrolling through your Instagram feed, except in this case everything is set up so you can click on an image and buy the items in it.

Business Insider tried Amazon Spark on the iOS version of the Amazon app. It feels a bit beta for now — you have to be in the US, and Spark shows up only for Prime members. And some items don’t seem to be available to buy as they appear in Spark; we tried to buy a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that we saw on Spark, and Amazon showed us a slightly different version.

Here’s how Spark works:

View As: One Page Slides


To open Spark from the Amazon app, click the menu from the home screen, scroll down to “Programs and Features,” and you should find Spark listed.

To open Spark from the Amazon app, click the menu from the home screen, scroll down to "Programs and Features," and you should find Spark listed.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

If you’re in the UK and want to use Amazon Spark, you’ll need to change your country settings to the US.

If you're in the UK and want to use Amazon Spark, you'll need to change your country settings to the US.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Spark will show you images based on your interests, and it will ask you to pick five or more from categories like men’s fashion and home decor.

Spark will show you images based on your interests, and it will ask you to pick five or more from categories like men's fashion and home decor.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Once you’re in Spark, you can scroll through an Instagram-like feed, all inside the Amazon app.

Once you're in Spark, you can scroll through an Instagram-like feed, all inside the Amazon app.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Spark highlights which items in the image are available to buy on Amazon — in this case, it’s the rug, the mistletoe, and the sunglasses. We tried buying the sunglasses …

Spark highlights which items in the image are available to buy on Amazon — in this case, it's the rug, the mistletoe, and the sunglasses. We tried buying the sunglasses ...

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

… and it’s not perfect. The Ray-Ban sunglasses shown on Spark look slightly different and cooler than what’s available on Amazon.

... and it's not perfect. The Ray-Ban sunglasses shown on Spark look slightly different and cooler than what's available on Amazon.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

And Amazon shows you items in Spark that aren’t available to buy. Here is a glossy product shot of Amazon’s new meal kits, which launched this week …

And Amazon shows you items in Spark that aren't available to buy. Here is a glossy product shot of Amazon's new meal kits, which launched this week ...

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

… but if you want to buy them, they’re sold out.

... but if you want to buy them, they're sold out.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Anyone who uses Spark right now is probably a big Amazon fan. The company has acknowledged that by featuring a nod to a recent meme about its CEO, Jeff Bezos.


Walmart apologizes after offering weaving net in ‘n—-r brown’

Walmart is apologizing after selling a product in the color “n—-r brown.”

A weaving net for hair extensions offered on the big box store’s site was removed by Monday afternoon after Twitter users noticed the slur.

“Hey @Walmart what are you doing,” Kwani Lunis asked about the listing for a Jagazi Natural’s Full Cap Weaving Net.

The n-word was featured both in the headline for the product as well as a description about it that praised its “characteristic and chic design.”

“We are very sorry and appalled that this third party seller listed their item with this description on our online marketplace,” Walmart said in a statement Monday.

“It is a clear violation of our policy and has been removed, and we are investigating the seller to determine how this could have happened.”


But beyond offering a product tainted with racism, Walmart also was offering the weaving net through a fake vendor, according to the owner of Jagazi Naturals.


Chizo Onuh, a 39-year-old based in London, told the Daily News that she had just got back from dropping her kids off at school when she began receiving emails blaming her for the n-word weaving net. 

“Considering the fact that I’m a black woman from Nigeria, what really pains me is that I get these emails from other black people who are in pain because of that word,” she said.

Onuh told the News that there is “nothing I can do about it” and that her brand,a nonsense name she made up herself, has previously been copied by others on eCommerce platforms such as Amazon and to sell similar products.

She said that she does not believe her product had ever been used with a racial slur before.


Dana White delivers warning to Conor McGregor

Dana White left little for interpretation. If Conor McGregor resorts to his mixed martial arts ways in the mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., he’s going to regret it for a long time.

“He would have a lawsuit against him that would destroy Conor’s life, and Mayweather would win,” the UFC president said Thursday as the world tour hit Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with a press-conference show for its third stop on the four-city hype machine that finishes in London. “It absolutely cannot happen.

“He would be sued beyond belief if he does anything but hit Floyd Mayweather with his hands to the head and body.”

White said there is language in the contract that would punish McGregor for doing so, though no one has given exact details about what that is, whether it would include a large chunk of his purse or merely result in him getting sued or losing proceeds from pay-per-view buys.

“There is a significant penalty,” Showtime Sports executive vice president Stephen Espinoza said. “It was enough of a financial disincentive.

“Something out of the ordinary beyond what would be a normal ‘boxing’ [action].”

When asked if he would pull out any MMA moves, McGregor said: “We’ll see on the night.”

White repeatedly said “that can’t happen,” when asked if he was concerned McGregor, a UFC champion in two different weight classes who has never had a professional boxing fight, could grow frustrated against the skilled and defensively sound Mayweather and revert to other means to hurt his opponent.

“Any lawsuit is all about damages, and damages on Mayweather if something like that happened would be massive,” White said.

During the first day of the tour in Los Angeles, McGregor taunted Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr., that if the undefeated 12-time boxing world champion disrespects him, “I might just bounce an elbow off his eyebrow.” Mayweather said he’s not worried about McGregor breaking the rules, saying it’s up the referee to handle it.

“My job is to keep my composure,” Mayweather said.

After all, White pointed out, McGregor is in line to make a ton of money, so why would he risk that? At one point, White suggested McGregor could retire from fighting after this bout, though the UFC boss later said he expects him to return to MMA before the end of 2017. White predicted the showdown could net up to 4.9 million pay-per-view buys, which priced at $99.95, could net nearly $500 million.

“Conor is a bit of a wild man, but he likes money as much as Floyd does,” White said. “He wants Floyd to have all his money, that’s the way do it.”


Sammy Sosa’s appearance gets even more peculiar

Baseball fans once looked at Sammy Sosa and wondered, “Will he break the single-season home-run record?”

That was so 1998ish. Today, fans are looking at Sosa and asking, “What the heck happened to his face?”


Sosa appeared this week on ESPN wearing a bright pink hat, and his skin tone appeared to closely match the hat.

Many people have gone on social media to try to get the skinny on Sosa’s new look, using the brutal, no-holds-barred approach you’d expect.


The 48-year-old Sosa, who retired in 2007, hit 609 career home runs and won the 1998 NL MVP Award with the Cubs.


A free robot lawyer is fighting parking tickets and much more

Lawyers can be really expensive, and for small disputes like fighting your landlord, claiming lost luggage for an airline, or a parking ticket, it can feel like a fight isn’t worth it.

Enter DoNotPay, the world’s first robot lawyer, built by young British entrepreneur Joshua Browder. DoNotPay hit headlines in early 2016 after then successfully appealing £2 million in parking tickets. The bot then expanded to help refugees, and now it’s expanding into 1,000 different areas of law in all 50 US states and across the UK.

According to MarketLine research, the US legal market alone is worth $292 billion (£227 billion).

Now Browder’s bot can help you ask for more parental leave, dispute nuisance calls, fight a fraudulent purchase on your credit card, and a host of other issues.

“I originally started DoNotPay two years ago to fight my own parking tickets and became an accidental witness to how lawyers are exploiting human misery,” said Browder. “From discrimination in Silicon Valley to the tragedy in London with an apartment building setting on fire, it seems the only people benefitting from injustice are a handful of lawyers.


“I hope that DoNotPay, by helping with these issues and many more, will ultimately give everyone the same legal power as the richest in society.”

The updated version of DoNotPay goes live on Wednesday.

Ask the bot a question and it generates a legal response for you

DoNotPay works as a Facebook chatbot, or through the DoNotPay site. You type in a query, like “I keep getting unwanted calls.” DoNotPay gives you a few options: it can generate a cease-and-desist letter for you to send to the relevant authorities, or if you’ve done that already, it can advise you on next steps.

Browder told Business Insider that the bot can’t take on court battles “yet”, but it can help with anything involving documents. It can fill PDFs, or generate letters, something he said is “easy to automate”. The bot is powered by IBM’s “Watson” AI technology.

That’s not to say training DoNotPay has been easy, particularly around natural language.

Browder said: “For example, knowing that when someone says ‘the signs were difficult to understand’ to the bot, it has to know to fill in the letter referring to incorrect signage regulations. This challenge was the hardest, but with Watson and a year of hard work, I am ecstatic that we made it possible.”

DoNotPay has also challenged considerably more parking tickets — it’s contested 375,000 tickets in the UK, New York, and Seattle, the equivalent of $10 million (£7.7 million).

Browder thinks DoNotPay might help prevent another tragedy like Grenfell, where at least 80 people died or went missing in a tower block fire.

“The current set of bots are designed to prevent further atrocities by making sure landlords and developers follow basic safety regulations,” he explained. “For example, to immediately fix a gas leak.”

The bot could also allow those left homeless by such accidents to claim housing more easily.

Browder’s bot has earned him national attention and, he said, it just started as a side project. He’s now entrepreneur-in-residence at venture firm Greylock, something he says he “could never have imagined.”


Facebook will test Messenger ads worldwide

You might be cringing at the thought of seeing ads in Facebook Messenger, but Facebook doesn’t appear to have those reservations. The social network has revealed that it’s expanding its beta test of home screen Messenger ads worldwide in the weeks ahead. It’ll be a slow rollout, but the targeted promos should be widely visible by the end of 2017. At least the company isn’t shy about why it’s pushing forward.



Messenger product lead Stan Chudnovsky tells VentureBeat that it’s a simple matter of income: advertising is “how we’re going to be making money right now.” There are “other business models” under consideration, he says, but they all tie into ads. In short: don’t expect Facebook to have second thoughts as long as it’s making billions of dollars in profit from ads.



Facebook does care about the kinds of ads you see. While it’s fine with ads kicking you to a website, it would prefer that ads lead to chats with businesses. You’re more likely to respond to an ad if it takes you to another conversation inside the chat app, Chudnovsky says. The question is whether or not people will simply roll with the changes or balk at them. It’s entirely likely that people will just shrug and move on, but there is a chance this could steer some users toward ad-free alternatives.


NASA plans to save Earth by knocking asteroid off its orbit

Aiming to show how to protect Earth from a future killer asteroid strike, NASA plans to crash a refrigerator-sized spacecraft at a speed about nine times faster than a bullet into a space rock, forcing it to change its orbit.

The target for the first-ever mission to demonstrate an asteroid deflection technique for planetary defense — the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — is an asteroid that will have a distant approach to Earth in October 2022, and then again in 2024, NASA said.

“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique — striking the asteroid to shift its orbit — to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” said Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The asteroid is called Didymos — Greek for “twin” — because it is an asteroid binary system that consists of two bodies — Didymos A, about 780 metres in size, and a smaller asteroid orbiting it called Didymos B, about 160 metres in size.

DART, scheduled for launch in 2020, would impact only the smaller of the two bodies, Didymos B.

The Didymos system has been closely studied since 2003. The primary body is a rocky S-type object, with composition similar to that of many asteroids.

The composition of its small companion, Didymos B, is unknown, but the size is typical of asteroids that could potentially create regional effects should they impact Earth.

“A binary asteroid is the perfect natural laboratory for this test,” said Tom Statler, programme scientist for DART at NASA Headquarters.

“The fact that Didymos B is in orbit around Didymos A makes it easier to see the results of the impact, and ensures that the experiment doesn’t change the orbit of the pair around the sun,” Statler added.

After launch, DART would fly to Didymos, and use an on-board autonomous targeting system to aim itself at Didymos B.

Then the spacecraft would strike the smaller body at a speed about nine times faster than a bullet, approximately six kilometres per second.

Earth-based observatories would be able to see the impact and the resulting change in the orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A, allowing scientists to better determine the capabilities of kinetic impact as an asteroid mitigation strategy.

The kinetic impact technique works by changing the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity, but by doing it well before the predicted impact so that this small nudge will add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid’s path away from Earth.

“DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact,” saiid Andy Cheng of The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, the DART investigation co-lead.


Child’s Casket Containing Human Organs Found On Pennsylvania Sidewalk

Authorities in Pennsylvania made a disturbing discovery on Monday, finding that a child-sized casket spotted on a Philadelphia sidewalk contained human organs.


“The medical examiner investigator at the scene confirmed that the contents of the casket were indeed embalmed internal organs,” Philadelphia police said in a statement to HuffPost.


The small white casket was found by a passerby in the 3100 block of W. Clearfield Street, police said. No skeletal remains were found at the scene.


Chris James, who was in the neighborhood at the time of the discovery, used his cellphone to record video of responding officers opening the coffin.


“I was pretty shocked,” James told Philadelphia’s KYW-TV. “It looked like something straight out of ‘Thriller.’”

WTXF News in Philadelphia reported the lid to the casket appeared to have been pried open. That, combined with the location of the discovery, which is across from Mount Vernon Cemetery, led investigators to suspect someone dug up the coffin.


“There have been cases where people take remains or human bodies for whatever unusual reason they decide,” Chief Inspector Scott Small told KYW-TV.


A search of Mount Vernon Cemetery failed to turn up any freshly dug-up graves. Investigators have since expanded the search to other nearby cemeteries, Philadelphia Magazine reported.


The Office of the Medical Examiner is analyzing the remains. As of Wednesday afternoon, authorities had no further information to share about the case.


City police ask anyone with information to call 215-686-TIPS (8477). Callers do not have to give their names.


Mark Zuckerberg doubles down on universal basic income after a trip to Alaska

During his commencement speech at Harvard, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for exploring a system of wealth distribution known as “universal basic income.”

Under basic income, all citizens would receive a standard amount of money each month to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and clothes. Advocates say the system is one of the surest ways to lift people from poverty, since it would provide immediate assistance with no strings attached.

On July 4, Zuckerberg doubled down on his initial support of the concept in a post on Facebook.

He recounted a recent trip that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, took to Alaska, and said the state’s unique social safety net stood out to them. Every year since 1982, law-abiding Alaskans have received a yearly check from the state’s Permanent Dividend Fund, a $52-billion rainy day fund that’s largely made up of oil revenues the government saves in case oil someday becomes less lucrative.

The checks, typically $1,000 to $2,000, are a kickback the government pays to full-time, law-abiding residents.

It’s not technically basic income, since the amount varies each year and is too small by most advocates’ standards, but it’s the closest thing the US has to an ongoing basic income experiment. Zuckerberg praised the system for a couple reasons.

“First, it’s funded by natural resources rather than raising taxes,” he wrote. “Second, it comes from conservative principles of smaller government, rather than progressive principles of a larger safety net. This shows basic income is a bipartisan idea.”

Ultimately, Zuckerberg said the state’s approach “may be a lesson for the rest of the country.”

Recent research suggests that Alaskans see a lot of benefit from their dividends. A survey from the Economic Security Project found that 81% of people said the cash-transfer program increases their quality of life, and 90% agreed the money should go to everyone who is a full-time resident of Alaska.

In his post, Zuckerberg also pointed to a smaller dividend program involving what the state calls Native Corporations. These corporations are owned and run by native Alaskans and sit on native land. Each year, the corporations pay a small dividend to their shareholders.

“So if you’re a Native Alaskan, you would get two dividends: one from your Native Corporation and one from the state Permanent Fund,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The Facebook CEO became the latest tech executive to endorse basic income with his May 25 commencement speech — but Zuckerberg is in good company. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Y Combinator President Sam Altman, eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar, and a handful of others have expressed interest in basic income as a way to stave off the negative effects of widespread automation.

“I think we’ll end up doing universal basic income,” Elon Musk told the crowd at the World Government Summit in Dubai earlier this February. “It’s going to be necessary.”


Prison Letter Reveals 2Pac Dumped Madonna Because She Was White

There are few celebrity couples that seem like odder fits than 2Pac and Madonna were when they were together. On the surface, they existed within very different spaces as artists, with ‘Pac speaking on issues of police brutality and black power while Madonna was cranking out pop hits.

And as it turns out, there was a bigger elephant in the room than the type of music they made. In a newly-publicized letter 2Pac wrote from prison, he explains a motivating factor behind his breakup with Madonna—race. Though segments of the letter shared by TMZ have been blurred out, there are long sections we can read, including this bit on calling it off.

“For you to be seen with a black man wouldn’t in any way jeopardize your career, if anything it would make you seem that much more open and exciting,” he wrote. “But for me at least in my previous perception, I felt due to my ‘image’ I would be letting down half of the people who made me what I thought I was. I never meant to hurt you.”


Though he doesn’t say it outright, the implication from the letter is clear. If you listen to 2Pac’s early work, especially his debut album 2Pacalypse Now, a lot of the issues he’s speaking to specific to the black experience in America. “Why did you lie to me? I couldn’t find a trace of equality,” he rapped on the song “Trapped,” and the message of black America’s tilted playing field was intertwined through his work until his untimely death. In his eyes—or at least in the eyes of a certain segment of his fan base—continuing a relationship with a white pop star like Madonna was no bueno.

This is also a lot different than, say, Kodak Black’s recent assertion on his racial dating preferences. 2Pac’s motivations don’t appear driven by his own perception of beauty, but rather societal pressures put on him by the people supporting his music.

Later in the letter, 2Pac also admits that things Madonna said publicly cut him deep. One interview she conducted in particular struck a chord, and it looks like it caused friction between them.

“An interview where you said, ‘I’m off to rehabilitate all the rappers & basketball players’ or something to that effect, those words cut me deep seeing how I had never known you to be with any rappers besides myself,” he said. “It was at this moment out of hurt & a natural instinct to strike back and defend my heart & ego that I said a lot of things.”

In the end, it seems like they were able to leave things on good terms, and 2Pac even closed the letter by asking Madonna to visit him in prison so he could talk about this with her in person. Though he felt they needed to end things for various reasons, it doesn’t sound like there was any ill will between them.

The letter, which will be up for auction for $100K starting on July 19, can be viewed here.


Historians Discover Slave Quarters Of Sally Hemings In Thomas Jefferson’s Mansion

Time has established the unsettling fact that Thomas Jefferson was a slave holder who had an unwilling relationship with an enslaved woman by the name of Sarah “Sally” Hemings. Centuries later, more details have come to life about his hidden truths with the discovery of Hemings’ slave quarters.

NBC News reports the findings came to be on Monday (July 3) by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, which was also the name of his mansion where he kept 600 slaves. Historians claim Hemings’ room was looked over in the 60’s when it was turned into a bathroom to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the mansion. Hemmings and her family were inherited by Jefferson in 1775/76 after the death of his wife Martha Jefferson. In addition to the then 14-year-old Hemings, Jefferson inherited 134 other slaves he put to work at his Monticello mansion.

Hemings would later give birth to her first child at 16 during Jefferson’s (then 45) tenure in France. While Hemings could’ve stayed in the country, Jefferson promised her that any children she birthed by him would be free at the age of 21. She died at the age of 60 and was never formally freed by Jefferson. While Jefferson historians tried to deny the existence of Hemings and her seven children by Jefferson, a DNA test in the late 90’s revealed decedents of Hemings were in fact related to Jefferson.


Gardiner Hallock, director of restoration for Jefferson’s mountaintop plantation, says Hemings’ room could tell the young mother’s story in a new light. “This discovery gives us a sense of how enslaved people were living. Some of Sally’s children may have been born in this room,” Hallock said. “It’s important because it shows Sally as a human being — a mother, daughter, and sister — and brings out the relationships in her life.”

Author Annette Gordon-Reed broke down the story between Jefferson and Hemings in her 1998 book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy. The book broke down inconsistencies surrounding the legacy of Jefferson and those connected to Hemings. 

“For the first time at Monticello we have a physical space dedicated to Sally Hemings and her life,” Mia Magruder Dammann, a spokeswoman for Monticello added. “It’s significant because it connects the entire African American arch at Monticello.”

Historians at Monticello are currently working on The Mountaintop Project, a $35 million restoration project to uncover the stories of the enslaved and free African-Americans who lived on the Virginia property. Through Jefferson’s work log, the names (or given) were discovered but it’s been suspected that Jefferson didn’t write anything about Sally Hemings in order to hide his crimes. The names of her children were found after they were listed as slaves.

Hemings’ quarters reveled a stove and a fireplace. Historians are hopeful to find more artifacts to give life to Hemings and her family’s story.

“This room is a real connection to the past,” Fraser Neiman, director of archeology at Monticello said. “We are uncovering and discovering and we’re finding many, many artifacts.”

Of course, the reveal of Hemings’ quarters were overlooked when she was referred to as a “mistress” by the news outlet.


Adele Says She May Never Tour Again on First Night of Wembley ‘Finale’

LONDON — The first words out of Adele’s mouth at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening were memorable ones. “F— me,” the singer said. “I have never been so f—ing scared in all of my f—ing life.”

The singer’s anxiety as she began the first of four shows at the London venue, dubbed “The Finale” because they end her 18-month tour run on “25,” was understandable. The opening show broke attendance records for Wembley, drawing nearly 98,000 fans to the in-the-round setting — breaking the venue record set by U2 in 2009. The singer, who joked that she’d considered canceling the concert the night before, was quick to note, however, “Once I settle into me nerves, I’ll be fine.”

Settle she did. As the 18-song set unfolded, frequently interrupted by the singer’s rambling, hilarious chatter, Adele seemed more and more at ease in the massive arena. From her opening number of “Hello,” she grew increasingly more comfortable with the space—and with the fact that the fans circled the stage, which was set aloft in the middle of the field. By her fifth number, a lively rendition of “Rumour Has It,” Adele had found her groove.


She rolled through a selection of both hits and deeper album cuts and scattered her setlist choices across all three of her albums rather than emphasizing “25.” The set, which lasted nearly two hours and had no opening act, relied on Adele’s voice to carry the audience through. The production was minimal and classy. Video screens encircled the stage, playing clips previously used in this touring cycle, although the shots of London during “Hometown Glory” were edited to include shots of a burned Grenfell Tower — the singer made an impassioned plea for audience members to donate 5 pounds each to the relief fund for victims of the fire earlier this month, in which an estimated 80 people died.


In a lighter moment, the singer brought out a men’s choir for her rendition of “Skyfall,” joking that they’d ignored her request to perform shirtless; a fireworks display illuminated “Set Fire to the Rain,” the song that concluded the main set.

Despite the enormity of the venue, which implemented heightened security checks at the entrances, Adele encouraged a feeling of intimacy throughout. The circular stage gave her the means to interact with all sides of the room and she took a pause midway to fire a T-shirt gun in four directions (“Say hello to my little friend,” she quipped, gripping the gun). She repeatedly told the crowd that she’d forgotten the words to the next song, asking for help with each lyric. Whether she actually needed the help was a moot point; the assertion gave the audience an even bigger motivation to sing louder and more forcefully. As Adele launched into “Someone Like You,” the three-track encore’s finale moment, there was a tangible sense of community. The collective feeling of 98,000 fans, all who have felt hurt or heartbreak at some point in their lives, lingered after the final notes.

The impact wasn’t lost on Adele, who took a moment to thank her significant other and her son for their support: The night’s performance marked the singer’s 120th global show on this touring run. Before the last track, Adele choked up, telling the crowd how blown she was by the experience.


Adele Says She May Never Tour Again on First Night of Wembley ‘Finale’

Facebook’s Hate Speech Rules Make ‘White Men’ a Protected Group

Is Facebook really training its content moderators to protect white men over black children?

Facebook, which topped 2 billion global users yesterday, has been working to fend off critics who say the social networking giant doesn’t do enough to police offensive content and online harassment on its site. But now those efforts may be backfiring following a new report that claims to show the awkward criteria the company uses to choose which content to censor.


A new report on Wednesday from ProPublica, which reviewed internal documents from Facebook, sheds some light on what appears to be the convoluted process through which the social media company determines which allegedly offensive posts are removed and the accounts that get suspended for hate speech. ProPublica reports that the internal guidelines that Facebook uses to train its content censors differentiates between groups such as white men, who fall under a so-called “protected category,” and black children. The latter belong to “subset categories,” which include groups of people whom Facebook would reportedly not protect from online hate speech, according to ProPublica.

The report went on to explain the reasoning behind Facebook’s seemingly confusing moderation policies, which look to censor slurs and other attacks against “protected categories” that are based on race, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and serious disability or disease. Facebook posts including slurs based on those factors would be subject to removal. Other factors—including age, appearance, occupation, social class, and political affiliation—are lumped into unprotected categories based on the idea that they are less central to a person’s identity. Therefore, Facebook’s guidelines would call for slurs against “white men” (which are based on race and sex) to be categorized as hate speech over offensive posts aimed at “black children” (a group based on race and age).

The reasoning there would seem to be that two protected categories outweigh only one. It’s a solution that, perhaps, makes more sense as an algorithm than it does when put into practice with real people and actual offensive posts.

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Still, even if the logic behind Facebook’s policies becomes somewhat less cringeworthy upon further explanation, the company will undoubtedly still have to deal with the backlash stemming from the ProPublica report, which includes a pretty regrettable company training slide that asks moderators which groups Facebook protects and presents the options as “female drivers,” “black children,” and “white men” (with the latter group inexplicably represented by a photo of the pop ensemble the Backstreet Boys, no less). White men are the correct answer under the company’s reported guidelines.



At the very least, the company knows that its policies are not perfect. “The policies do not always lead to perfect outcomes,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, told ProPublica. “That is the reality of having policies that apply to a global community where people around the world are going to have very different ideas about what is OK to share.”

Bickert offered a similar response last month, after the Guardian published more leaked documents showing examples of “disturbing” content that Facebook’s moderation rules would still allow to remain on its site. At the time, Bickert noted that moderating content on a massive scale “is complex, challenging, and essential,” but she also admitted that the company can “get things wrong, and we’re constantly working to make sure that happens less often.”

Facebook certainly isn’t the only digital company to face criticism for its handling of offensive content and online harassment, with Twitter among those also frequently coming under fire. In early May, Facebook hired an additional 3,000 content moderators (bringing the total to 7,500), and the company said it is deleting roughly 66,000 posts it identifies as hate speech each week as part of stepped-up efforts to combat online harassment along with offensive and violent content. Unfortunately for Facebook, the fallout from the ProPublica report is the latest stain on those efforts.


In Preschool, He Told His Class He Would Marry Her. 20 Years Later, He Did.

The pair first met as kiddos at a preschool in Phoenix where they would chase each other around the playground and stay up together during nap time. In a post on the Instagram account The Way We Met, Matt said that one of his earliest childhood memories was standing up in front of his class and declaring his love for his best friend Laura, writing, “I was enamored with Laura as a child, and I still am to this day.”

Laura told HuffPost that she remembers preschool Matt being a total goofball.

“We did almost everything together,” she added. “We would just have a blast together.”


Matt, on the other hand, recalls trying to impress Laura from an early age. 

“Lion King was what all the kids were into back then so we would spend most of our time reciting lines from the movie on the playground,” Matt told HuffPost. “I remember trying to impress her during a Cinco De Mayo celebration at the preschool where we were trying to break open a piñata. Fortunately, I was the kid who managed to do it and I assume it got her attention.”

Pool time for the childhood besties. 

The two ended up going to different elementary schools and eventually lost touch. They reconnected years later during their freshman year of high school after Laura saw Matt’s name in a mutual friend’s phone. The friend wanted to set her up with Matt, but Laura was wary at first.


“I was hesitant to go out with him,” she said. “But he texted me and we hit it off.”

Within two weeks they were boyfriend and girlfriend. They attended different high schools and went to college in different states but they stayed together through it all. 

After years apart, the couple reconnected during high school. 

In May 2015, Matt made good on his childhood promise when he popped the question to Laura at the preschool where they first met. She just thought they were there for a picnic date to celebrate the end of their junior year of college. 


“The whole car ride to the preschool she kept asking me why I seemed anxious. I kept checking my pocket when she wasn’t looking to make sure the ring was still there,” Matt told HuffPost. “I dropped down on one knee while my brother came in with the phone, snapping photos. Laura was shocked. I gave her my pitch on why I wanted her to marry me and she said yes ― whew!”

Back to where it all began. 

The pair tied the knot in December 2016, proving that fairytale romances do, indeed, exist. 

Congrats to the happy couple! 

Below, more photos of the couple throughout the years:








3 Tips to Create Content And Social Media Marketing That Sells

Powerful Social Media Targeting

As organic reach on Facebook continues to plummet to zero, investing in paid promotion is a necessity. One of the strengths of today’s social networks lies within the targeting capabilities available to advertisers. Social media platforms have amassed rich data on consumers that financial marketers can leverage.

Using your research and sales data, you can identify specific segments that can be targeted within social platforms. You can target people who are either engaged, married or pregnant, or those who are members of a credit union, or customers at a national/community banks. For example, 70% of people rolled over their 401k into an IRA due to a recent job change according to Oliver Wyman.

Here are some other great examples of targeting options available within Facebook, and the potential banking products that match with them:

  • First-Time Home Buyer – FHA Loans, Mortgages
  • Newly Engaged, Newlyweds – Mortgage, Joint Accounts, Savings Accounts, Financial Advisors
  • New Job – IRA Rollovers
  • New Mover, Recently Moved, Likely to Move – Checking Accounts, Mortgages, IRA Rollovers
  • New Vehicle Buyers & Shoppers – Vehicle Loans

2. Synch Sales With Marketing

To develop a sound content strategy, marketing and sales teams need to be aligned. They need to share knowledge, and agree on what qualifies as “good leads.” Working together, they should define common pain points and objections, plan upcoming initiatives and establish metrics for measuring progress.

A study by Marketo found that when both sales and marketing teams are both in synch, organizations became 67% better at closing deals and generated 209% more value from their marketing efforts.

3. Map Content to Personas

People have different needs and expectations as they get deeper into the sales funnel; accordingly, they seek specific information unique to each stage. Marketers need to develop the right content that speaks to prospects’ needs at each stage of the sales funnel. Personas and journey mapping can be a powerful way to determine appropriate messaging for different segments. Although it takes more effort to develop unique messages for different target audiences, there’s greater potential to make a bigger impact and produce better results. People want to feel like you are speaking directly to them. Let’s use the persona “Frank the First-Time Homebuyer” as an example for a quick content mapping exercise:

Awareness. Frank is newly engaged and is aware of a problem – he rents and feels it’s like throwing away money and isn’t sure if he can afford a home. Create content that helps him determine if it’s better to buy or rent and how much he can afford, like a blog post with a buy or rent calculator. This isn’t the time to hard-sell Frank on a mortgage. At this time, just introduce your financial institution and offer helpful advice for his specific needs. During this stage, drop a remarketing pixel on your website, so you can target Frank to return and continue to build awareness.

Consideration to Conversion. Frank is now considering a solution to his problem, buying his first home, but wants to know how to get the lowest mortgage rate, and is concerned about his ability to afford a 20% down payment. Create content that explains how rates aren’t the only factor in the final actual cost of a mortgage (to compete with online mortgage sites with super low rates and high closing costs), and share information on how he could get a home with no money down. You can also offer more calculators, information on how to get pre-approved or pre-qualified, and a mortgage checklist. At this stage, include a strong call to action to set up appointment with a loan officer or direct him to your online mortgage application.

Loyalty. Frank has become a happy customer and moved into his new home. Now is a wonderful time to introduce a referral program to get him to refer his friends, or ask to get a positive review on social media. Frank may also benefit from some of your other banking or loan products down the road so make sure you keep him engaged with your brand for the next time he’s in the market for another financial product.


Facebook crosses 2 billion monthly users

Facebook has announced that it now has over 2 billion monthly active users. That’s up from the 1.94 billion total that the company cited as part of its most recent earnings report in May. Mark Zuckerberg shared the news directly, and Fast Company has a story on Facebook’s constant efforts to keep pushing growth upward. “It’s an honor to be on this journey with you,” Zuckerberg wrote. Facebook’s other apps are faring well, too: Messenger has over 1.2 billion monthly users and Facebook-owned WhatsApp tallies a similar figure. Twitter, by comparison, has 328 million monthly active users. Instagram has over 700 million.


“Each day, more than 175 million people share a Love reaction, and on average, over 800 million people like something on Facebook,” product manager Guillermo Spiller said in a press release. “More than 1 billion people use Groups every month.” Facebook will, in its own words, “show appreciation” for its latest milestone over the next few days by rolling out personalized videos tied to its newly revised mission statement. “We’re making progress connecting the world, and now let’s bring the world closer together,” Zuckerberg said.

Bring the world closer together latte art.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, June 26, 2017

Your custom video and some stats tied to your profile will be available on this page, which is where Facebook also plans to share “stories of people who inspire us.”

Facebook will be displaying thank you messages whenever users heart a friend’s post, wish someone a happy birthday, or create a new group — all actions that the company views as central to community building.


Spotify is testing ‘Sponsored Songs’ in playlists

Spotify users have noticed a new opt-out setting appearing both on desktop and in-app: Sponsored Songs. Sponsored content in general is not new for Spotify — last year they allowed their most popular playlists to be sponsored by brands — but allowing labels to promote individual songs certainly is. A representative from Spotify confirms to The Verge that Sponsored Songs is a test program that will only appear to users on the free tier.


Sponsored Songs don’t appear as banners like the platform’s existing ads, but are integrated into playlists you follow. In the example below from Liam Maloney, the sponsored song — “Call Me” by NEIKED — is featured above the playlist. As first reported by TechCrunch, the songs are chosen to match a user’s existing music tastes, are instantly playable, and are savable without a prerequisite ad click.

“Show sponsored songs” is an auto-enabled setting which Spotify seems to only be testing with some users. If the toggle is available on your account, you’ll have to turn off under Settings > Display Options on desktop and Settings > Sponsored Content on mobile if you don’t want the songs to appear. The toggle will show for both premium and free users, but the actual sponsored song test is only functioning on the free tier.


Candice Wiggins Says She Was Bullied During WNBA Career

Nearly one year since announcing her retirement, former WNBA star Candice Wiggins revealed Monday that she was bullied during her time in the league.     

According to Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the former Minnesota Lynx standout said her status as a heterosexual made her a target for criticism:

Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge. I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they [the other players] could apply.

There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs. The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.

People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’

Wiggins called the WNBA culture “toxic” and said it contributed to her retiring two years earlier than she intended.

The Stanford alum won a single WNBA title during her eight-year career and averaged 8.6 points per game with the Lynx, Tulsa Shock, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty.


In addition to getting bullied, Wiggins said playing in the WNBA was difficult because of an overall lack of fan interest in the product.

Now 30 years of age, Wiggins is pursuing a career in professional beach volleyball with an eye toward potentially playing in the Olympics one day.



It’s no secret that Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert are head over heels in love.

The “Do Not Disturb” entertainer is very public and affectionate about her hubby, and naturally, she showed him and the world just how much he means to her on his special day.

“Last night I looked up and matched each star with a reason why I love u,” Taylor wrote as an Instagram caption. “I was doing great, until I ran out of stars! No amount of stars can match my love for you. The sweetest thing I’ve ever known, happy birthday my love @imanshumpert #BirthdaySexBoutToBeExtraLit #FinnaSnatchHisSoul #TheSoulSnatcher”