Posts tagged with "Facebook"

Here’s how to find out whether your Facebook data has been filched

April 6, 2021

Last weekend, cybersecurity experts revealed that about half a billion Facebook users’ personal information had been breached— a treasure trove of data the includes full names, birthdays, and phone numbers, CNN reports.

Facebook said that the massive hack stems from an issue in 2019, which has since been fixed. Still, there’s no clawing back that data. More than 30 million U.S. accounts were affected– and, CNN notes, the social media company isn’t making it easy to find out if your data was included in the breach.

But a third-party website, haveibeenpwned.com, has come to the rescue: It makes it simple to check whether your feed has been breached by inputting your email. For now, it just checks if your email was among those stolen.

That’s a pretty big catch: Although 533 million Facebook accounts were included in the breach, only 2.5 million of those included emails in the stolen data. So you’ve got less than a half-percent chance of showing up on that website, even though you’ve got about a 20% chance of being hacked if you’ve got a Facebook account. (This author was among those hacked.)

HaveIBeenPwned creator and security expert Troy Hunt said on Twitter that he’s examining whether to add phone numbers.

“The primary value of the data is the association of phone numbers to identities; whilst each record included a phone number, only 2.5 million contained an email address,” Hunt’s website said.

Although this data is from 2019, it could still be of value to hackers and cyber criminals like those who engage in identify theft.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to CNN on Monday about whether if it will create a way to see if their information was leaked.

Research contact: @CNN

Facebook explores paid deals for new publishing platform

March 17, 2021

Facebook will soon begin testing partnerships with a small group of independent writers for its new publishing platform, sources have told Axios.

The platform—which includes tools that  journalists can use to build actual websites, in addition to newsletters—will be tested with a small group of writers, some of whom Facebook plans to pay to help get the tools off the ground.

Yet to be officially named, the platform is designed to be free-to-use, and will be integrated with Facebook Pages, sources say.

Overall, according to Axios, the platform will comprise the following features:

  • The Pages integration will allow writers, journalists, and other types of professional experts to publish content outside of text, such as live videos and “Stories” status updates;
  • In time, Facebook plans to build tools within the platform that enable writers to monetize their websites and newsletters with subscriptions, and possibly other forms of revenue down the line; and
  • The platform is meant to help writers create an audience community that is loyal and engaged. Facebook will allow writers to create Groups for their products on the Facebook, and will provide writers with metrics about how content is performing.

The seeds of the new platform were planted at Facebook about four yeqrs ago, and have been nurtured since then. Facebook began investing in incubator programs, products and events  geared to help news companies—especially at the local level—build sustainable revenue streams.

The company also created a separate feature called the “News Tab” as a dedicated space for news on Faceboo—where it has paid partnerships with many established news companies.

The next step: Trying to help find ways individual journalists can thrive as creators.

The big picture, according to Axios: The pandemic has prompted many high-profile journalists to leaving newsrooms to launch their own newsletters or websites. Now, tech companies are getting in on the trend.

  • Twitter acquired Revue, a newsletter platform for writers and publishers, in January, and already has begun integrating its newsletter platform into its main product. It recently announced a new feature that allows users to charge their followers for more content via a payment tool called “Super Follows.”
  • LinkedIn, which is home to one of the largest communities of professionals on the Internet, also plans to launch a creator program, that would work closely with the company’s editorial arm, made up of many former journalists.

Research contact: @axios

What’s Snoo? It’s a responsive bassinet that saves infants’ lives—in and out of the hospital

Febraury 17, 2021

Dr. Harvey Karp may not have been able to predict the pandemic, nor the extent to which it would complicate the usual challenges of parenting a newborn—but he is not surprised that his invention has been a tremendous source of relief during this time.

The Los-Angeles-based 70-year-old pediatrician, baby sleep expert—and founder of the Happiest Baby empire—is behind the Snoo, the world’s first responsive baby bed, which launched in 2016 to rave reviews, high-profile clients, and financial backing from two-time parents Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Fortune reports.

Indeed, during the past five years, the Snoo Smart Sleeper Bassinet has become the most awarded baby product in history. Recently, it was accepted into the FDA’s Breakthrough Devices Program, where it is undergoing review as the first device to prevent the leading causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)—nationwide annually.

While the smart bassinet is largely known as an at-home item used in the first months of a baby’s life, it also has become a critical tool for hospitals—particularly at understaffed maternity wards where nurses and doctors continue to be hit by record numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Currently, more than 75 hospitals are using Snoo—including Boston Children’s, Mount Sinai, Jefferson Health, and UCSF medical centers—some as part of research trials; others, as a result of the company’s bed and appliance donations, worth more than $100,000, to alleviate the heavy burdens on medical workers, Fortune says.

The Snoo, which retails for $1,495 or $30 per month as a rental, automatically responds to a baby’s cries and excessive squirming by rocking and activating low-level white noise. When the baby quiets, the bed detects the change and slows to a swing.

The bed—itself a beautiful Wi-Fi–enabled object designed by Yves Béhar of Fuseproject with an organic cotton mesh outer layer, sleek wood paneling, and hairpin legs—is the physical application of the “5 S’s,” a series of cues outlined in Dr. Karp’s bestselling book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, to ensure quality sleep. A mix of swaddling, positioning the baby on her side or stomach, shushing, swinging, and sucking is key to replicating the calming trance babies experience in utero.

“Babies are exposed to a symphony of sensations in the womb. The sounds are louder than a vacuum cleaner, and there is constant movement,” Dr. Karp tells Fortune, adding that “newborns need rhythmic stimuli as much as they need calories. It soothes them to sleep.” And longer, better-quality sleep for babies means more rest for parents.

Dr. Lauren Pioppo, chief resident in Internal Medicine at Rutgers Health RWJ Medical Center, whose department has been participating in a research study for trainees and fellows, trialed the bed after the birth of her first child last May. She insists it’s nothing short of a game changer.

“As both physicians and parents, we tend to be on the paranoid side. It gave me a lot of peace of mind knowing that my daughter was strapped in and I didn’t have to worry about her rolling or flipping or potentially having her face against the side,” she says. Babies are secured safely on their backs in the Snoo’s swaddle, while their heads remain free to move. If the wings of the swaddle aren’t properly locked in, the bassinet will not turn on. “It really took the place of me in the middle of the night. After feedings, she would fall back to sleep in less than two minutes. I only had to worry about feeding and changing her; there was no anxiety around sleep and how it would impact my shifts at work.”

According to Dr. Karp, the data drawn from 42,000 infants using the Snoo demonstrate they will sleep an extra hour or two on average from their first days of life. Being able to rely on a tool that responds to an infant’s needs has proved invaluable during the pandemic, as hospitals have been forced to limit nurse exposure to newborns and mothers as well as forgo volunteer cuddle programs (which provide comfort and skin-to-skin contact to premature babies and drug-exposed infants), and new parents go without at-home caregivers owing to social distancing—an additional burden.

Based on a company survey of 56 nurses across nine hospitals conducted from April 2020 to June 2020, the Snoo saves nurses 1.7 hours per shift each day, allowing them to focus on other tasks. What’s more, it reduces the rate of infection as well as the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for a patient’s stay.

 “It’s true, you have to be a bit well-off to buy one,” Dr. Karp admits, adding that a night nurse would still cost more. “But that’s why we knew from the beginning that we’d go into rentals: to reach the largest number of people.” As of now, half of all Snoo consumers in the U.S. are renters, and more than 50 major companies subsidize the product as an employee benefit, including FacebookActivision Blizzard, and Snap, where it is considered a top new parent perk. The next step is getting insurance companies to cover the cost entirely.

“Babies are the same everywhere,” says Dr. Karp, matter-of-factly. “I truly believe this has the potential to change the world.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Trump supporters flee to MeWe, Gab, and Rumble after Parler goes offline

January 13, 2021

Now that the account of @realDonaldTrump has been banned from Twitter—and both Apple and Google have dropped Parler from their app stores—supporters are flocking to the social media sites MeWe, Gab, and Rumble, Fortune reports.

Gab, a service that claims to champion free speech, said it added 600,000 new users over the weekend. Meanwhile, MeWe, a similar service, said it has added 400,000 users every day since Saturday and now has more than 14 million members.

The gains follow Sunday’s shut down of conservative social network Parler, which went offline after Amazon web hosting service dumped Parler as a customer because of violent posts and threats in wake of the Capitol riot. Shortly beforehand, both Apple and Google had banned Parler from their app stores.

Adding to the increased interest in alternative social media sites are bans by Twitter and Facebook on President Trump and other high-profile conservative personalities..

On Monday, Fortune notes, Facebook went to the additional step of removing content containing the phrase “stop the steal” in hopes of preventing future violence. The phrase is a popular rallying call of Trump supporters who falsely believe there was widespread fraud in the presidential election.

“It’s almost like the perfect storm,” MeWe CEO Mark Weinstein told the news outlet, adding, “The melting pot of people coming to MeWe are coming from all directions.”

Weinstein hammered home the point that his goal is to be “more vigilant” in moderating content on his service, and that he does not want to be an “anything goes” app—a thinly veiled swipe at Parler’s lax approach.

He said that MeWe has just shy of 100 content moderators who review posts on its service, and that they actually adhere to “strict” terms of service that includes the possibility that they’ll alert authorities about any concerning posts. But on Monday, several QAnon and “patriot” private groups could be found, one of which called Patriots Unleashed asked users if they were “armed and ready” before allowing them to join.

Weinstein acknowledged that some of MeWe’s user growth has been due to Parler shutting down. But he added that the app was growing prior to the election and riots. As a result, he said MeWe’s users have a wide array of political views, and are not just Trumpists.

“Those other guys, they’re opinion chambers,” he said about Parler and Gab. “We’re a social network.”

The rise of alternative social media services began late last year after Facebook and Twitter began labeling and removing more posts on their services for election misinformation. Conservatives considered the crackdown to be evidence of bias against them and President Trump.

For example, Rumble, a little-known YouTube rival, suddenly soared in popularity. Over the weekend, users downloaded its app 162,000 times— a nearly 10-fold gain from last weekend, Fortune says.

But Mark Shmulik, analyst at investment bank AB Bernstein, said he doesn’t expect the latest rise in popularity of MeWe and Gab to be long-lasting. “It’s a fad,” he said. “There will be a little niche, but it won’t disrupt what we’re seeing on Twitter.”

Shmulik said Twitter and Facebook, though growing slower, are far larger and also attract a more diverse set of users with a diverse set of thoughts. That’s what makes big social media companies more engaging than the upstarts, he added, which he described as the “equivalent to Trump rallies.”

“You can continue that, but at some point you have to reach the masses,” Shmulik said.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

T-Riffic: Texas family aces pregnancy announcement with T-Rex themed photo

January 7, 2021

Nicole Berkley, of Aubrey, Texas, has loved dinosaurs since she was a child. And when she learned she was pregnant with her fifth child, the expectant mom wanted to stray from the usual “cute, generic” baby announcements, People magazine reports.

With that, one word came to Berkley’s mind: dinosaurs!

“My family, we’re all pretty big Jurassic World fans … We wanted to do something that was fun and fit with our personalities. So, I came up with the idea to do dinosaur costumes with our pregnancy announcement.”

Excited, Berkley ordered four child-size T-rex costumes on Amazon and two for adults. Although her family loves dinosaurs, Berkley says they took a bit of convincing before agreeing to participate in the unique shoot.

“I wanted it to be funny and so true to our personalities,” Berkley, age 28, told People. “But everybody in my family thought I was crazy — my husband included. “They were like, ‘We’re gonna get in costumes? It’s not Halloween.’ My kids thought I was nuts.”

Still, Berkley’s husband, 26-year-old Daniel, and their four children were “troopers.” she says. The family met with Susan Garrett (of Susan Garrett Photography) on September 21 and headed to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano on a rainy Texas day; where they put on the costumes and posed with a sonogram of the new baby.

“People walking by were stopping and taking pictures and videos of us. It was a spectacle,” Berkley recalls. “The kids braved it and it was phenomenal. It was amazing and it turned out to be one of the funnest sessions ever. We had so much fun in these costumes.”

In the photos, the Berkleys are shown in their orange T-rex costumes, with the children’s faces poking out of the middle. Berkley and Daniel held the sonogram on a toy dinosaur egg.

She says it was fun watching her kids — Myleigh, 10, Montana, 6, Lane, 5, and 4-year-old Hannah — run around in the costumes.

Berkley recalls laughing at the photos with her family as soon as Garrett sent the finished product. The expecting mother couldn’t help but to share the photos on Facebook. The post quickly amassed hundreds of “likes” and shares.

“I was getting a lot of comments and a lot of shares from people I didn’t know so I, kind of, had an idea it was going a bit viral locally,” she explained to People. “But I never expected for it to become a national thing! I’m a little overwhelmed with how much positive feedback I’ve gotten.”

Research contact: @people

What a hoot! Tiny owl is rescued from boughs of Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in NYC

November 20, 2020

A tiny owl has become New York City’s Christmas miracle: The northern saw-whet owl—one of the smallest in North America—had stowed away in the boughs of a 75-foot Norway spruce that was trucked 170 miles from the upstate town of Oneonta to New York City to become this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, The New York Daily News reports.

He was found when the tree was unwrapped—and promptly captured the hearts of both the workers and pandemic-worn New Yorkers who were on the scene. But they immediately knew he should be brought back home. This was not a city bird.

That’s when  the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, was called into action. “Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from someone who asked if we take in owls for rehabilitation,” wrote the rehab center’s Director and Founder Ellen Kalish on Facebook Tuesday, November 16.

“I replied, ‘yes we do.’ There was silence for a moment and then she said ‘OK, I’ll call back when my husband comes home, he’s got the baby owl in a box tucked in for the long ride,’” she wrote.

The female caller’s husband worked for the company that transported the world-famous tree to Manhattan, and realized the feathered fowl had carpooled to the city from the tree’s home in Oneonta.

Kalish and the woman met up about half an hour south of the rehab facility to transfer the bird. After a few days of feast and drink at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, the owl—now aptly named “Rockefeller,” according to the Daily News’ report—will be released to the wintery wild.

“So far so good, his eyes are bright and seems relatively in good condition with all he’s been through. Once he checks in with the vet and gets a clean bill of health, he’ll be released to continue on his wild and wonderful journey,” Kalish wrote.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Photo finish: 33% of us are guilty of doing this to our exes, research shows

November 19, 2020

It’s human nature to want to rid yourself of any reminders of your ex after he or she is out of the picture. The thought of seeing you and your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend smiling in a picture together is often too much to bear. So, you take their photos down from your wall, donate the old sweatshirt they left in your drawer—and if you’re like many people, you delete any evidence of them from your social media profiles, as well, Best Life reports.

Dating app Plenty of Fish has just released its annual list of dating trends—and points out that this phenomenon is fairly common among daters, with more than one-third of people copping to it. In fact, there’s a word for it: sanitizing, which Plenty of Fish describes as “the act of wiping your social media of all photographic evidence of a past relationship.”

There are many reasons you may feel compelled to delete all traces of your ex from social media—and the following may be among them:

  • It helps you avoid those “Where’s your better half?” questions. If you want to avoid getting asked where your partner is all the time, deleting him or her from your social media can be a good way to send the message to others that you two are no longer together.
  • After a breakup, you enter a new chapter of your life, and with that shift, you may want to reinvent yourself a bit. Relationship expert and matchmaker Rori Sassoon tells Best Life that people are eager to “redo, restart, and reinvent themselves” after a relationship ends. “Once you break up, it’s not about the relationship anymore; it’s about you and your next chapter in life, which doesn’t include that other person.”
  • It’s cathartic. If you were in a toxic or abusive relationship, you’ll likely want to remove anything that will remind you of that experience. Indeed, deleting these images could even be therapeutic. Pressing ‘delete  on photo after photo, many of which are associated with painful memories, can feel cathartic and help you move on.
  • It helps you gain closure. Catching a glimpse of your ex every time you open an app could make it harder for you to move forward. Removing those photos allows you a symbolic fresh start. “Closure is an important part of the healing process to allow the person to move on,” marriage counselor Wyatt Fisher tells Best Life. “Part of what helps with closure is removing everything that reminds you of your ex, including all pictures of him or her on social media.”
  • It signals that you’re single and ready to mingle. If your Instagram is inundated with photos of you and your ex, it may impede on your ability to get back out there when you’re ready. Some people sanitize to make it clear on their profile that they’re single.

Research contact: @bestlife

Rocking the pandemic: Texas nature path becomes a wonderland of tiny stone paintings

November  18, 2020

Chris Penny figures that his mail carrier must have spectacular biceps by now. Most every day for the past seven months, when the carrier arrives at Penny’s home in Grapevine, Texas, he unloads a few heavy bins and hauls them, one by one, up the driveway to Penny’s front porch.

The boxes are filled with packages containing painted rocks—most of them intricate works of art, handmade and mailed from people all over the country, The Washington Post reports.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been sending them to Penny so that he and his family can place them along the Parr Park Rock Art Traila mile-long public walking path that has become a wonderland of more than 4,000 art rocks.

“These aren’t just any rocks;

Above, a wagon loaded with new rocks to be displayed along the rock trail. (Photo source Chris Penny)

they’re works of art,” said Penny, 44. “The other day, I had 11 big boxes to unpack in my living room. It’s incredible to see that people from all over are now painting rocks to turn my community into a trail of happiness.”

The rocks—painted to resemble everything from the Beatles to Mickey Mouse to a face mask—started arriving at Penny’s house ever since he bought a bunch on eBay after noticing a dozen painted rocks scattered along a nature trail in Parr Park. Penny said he knew right away that he wanted to flood the trail with them and make it a destination.

Penny learned that the colorful rocks he’d stumbled upon were painted by Ron Olsen and his three grown children in March, after Olsen returned from a trip to Iceland and discovered that Grapevine, a city of around 46,000 people, had practically become a ghost town due to the nationwide coronavirus shutdown.

Olsen said he wanted to do something for the community, so he gathered his family together on March 28 to paint a few rocks—including one covered with blue bonnet flowers and another decorated with balloons—and scatter them along his favorite trail in Parr Park.

Soon, he and Penny decided to join forces to transform the trail into an artsy attraction for anyone in Grapevine and beyond who wanted to escape the stress of COVID-19 for a while.

“We wanted to make it a getaway for people and give parents something safe to do outdoors with their children,” Olsen, 62, who works in Grapevine as a photographer and RV dealer, told the Post.

“Anyone can paint a rock,” he said. “And if you put hundreds and hundreds of them together, it really adds up to something amazing.”

Penny, who runs the nonprofit Broken Crayon, focused on helping women and children living in poverty in the United States and Ghana, said the project has provided his family with something fun and positive to do close to home during the pandemic.

In the early days in March, after he’d painted several dozen rocks with his daughters and bought dozens more online, Penny posted on Facebook, asking anyone who would like to contribute to the project to mail him their rocks and he’d pay for the shipping.

“I thought that a few people might want to pitch in, but I was stunned when I went to get my mail one day and found tons of rocks on the porch,” he said. “Pretty soon, we were the talk of the post office.”

For Lissa Critz, who visits the park regularly with her two children, told the post that the rock trail has provided some much-needed diversion from home schooling in Grapevine.

“It’s become like a game when we go to the park to locate all of the new rocks,” said Critz, 41. “The rocks are so well done and so much time and care has been put into the project. We love it.”

There are sections devoted to wildlife, teachers, health-care heroes, firefighters, Disney princesses, patriotism, movie stars, video games and travel, said Olsen, who visits the trail several days a week to photograph all of the new rocks and post them on the park’s Facebook page.

“Of course, we have a rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame, and we also have a dog park,” said Olsen, adding that they have cat rocks but they haven’t yet made a “cat park.”

“I guess we’d better get busy on that,” he added.

 

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Facebook joke about putting an Elf on the Shelf into quarantine goes viral: ‘Brilliant’

November 13, 2020

Parenting during the pandemic is no easy feat, so many adults are adopting an hilarious idea for checking one time-consuming chore off their holiday to-do lists: They are sending the Elf on the Shelf into quarantine.

The popular Christmas toy—which parents secretly rotate around the house in the days before December 25—comes with a book instructing little ones to be on their best behavior during the Christmas season, as the elf is “watching” to report back to Santa Claus.

According to a report by Fox News, although youngsters seem to love the tradition, parents say that shifting the elf around every day eventually becomes a hassle—inspiring a practical hack to make life easier and maintain the Christmas magic this year.

“ELF ON THE SHELF will need to quarantine for 14 days after his trip from the North Pole!” Facebook user Hilary Soria recently joked, sharing a photo the elf doll wearing a face mask in a snow globe-like mason jar. The toy was armed to fight COVID-19 with miniature bottles of hand sanitizer and Lysol.

“This should help you mamas!!” Soria said, and others seemed to agree: The post has been celebrated with over 373,000 shares and 12,000 comments.

“Definitely using this one,” one said of the advice.

“I’m very tempted to do this” another echoed.

“Brilliant, I thought maybe he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the North Pole this year,” one teased.

Elf on the Shelf co-founder Chanda Bell told Fox Business last year that over 13 million “Elf on the Shelf” products had been sold to date, tapping a target market of “true believers” who are anywhere from age 2 to 11 years old.

Research contact: @FoxNews

 

‘Tressing’ for success: 2020 Kids Mullet Championships winner crowned

November 11, 2020

With business in the front and party in the back, the results of this election are something we can all agree on. The Kids Mullet Championships has crowned an inaugural winner, announcing that an eight-year-old boy from Texas has the most marvelous mane among the pint-sized competitors, Fox News reports.

Jax recently first prize among babies and boys (ranging in age from one to 14) for his classic “Curly Mullet” tresses, the USA Mullet Championships noted. The contest went viral in September—with over 20,000 votes and 50,000 social media reactions across Facebook and Instagram.

With his victory, the young Texan won a $500 cash prize and gift card package to businesses in Fenton, Michigan, where the contest is headquartered. Second-place winner Noah, 12, from Illinois, and third-place winner Jude, 7, from Colorado, each will receive smaller bundles of cash and some swag, too.

Kevin Begola, president of the USA Mullet Championships, speculated that Texas voters went wild for the third grader’s toothy grin—pushing him to first place on the podium.

“Jax is the man! He is a little guy that has 100% accepted the mullet lifestyle and was rocking the hairstyle well before we did this contest,” Begola told Fox News on Tuesday. “His smile and missing teeth might have put him over the edge.”

Although he’s cool with his overnight fame, Jax endearingly can’t sign autographs “because he doesn’t know cursive yet,” the organizer added.

The USA Mullet Championships began with an adult competition earlier this year, and the kids edition followed soon after. According to Begola, “This contest was just what 2020 needed! It was fun and brought back a lot of memories for people who lived through the ’80s,” he explained. “Life has been pretty hectic around the world for most people this year and the mullet lifestyle really makes people smile.

“When many states shut down, it only meant that haircuts were not happening and we figured it would be a great time to compete for the best mullets in all the land!”

Research contact: @FoxNews