Posts tagged with "Instagram"

Russian cat makes shocking impression, with 31K followers on Instagram

October 6, 2021

Fedya, who has his own Instagram account—@fedjakot—with 31,000 followers, was found in his owner’s backyard in Rostov, Russia, nearly two years ago, according to British news agency SWNS.

 According to The Toronto Sun, Natalia Zhdanova found the kitty when he was only one week old and struggling to survive and him in—noticing the misaligned eyes created a permanently shocked expression.

“We’re not sure if it’s a genetic deformity or if he was dropped by his mum as a kitten,” Zhdanova said.  “Now he is much healthier. He is a very sweet, gentle, playful, and intelligent cat. He purrs very loudly.”

The kitty, who is now 21 months old, was nursed back to health with the help of a neighbor’s cat, named Handsome, who came over daily.

“Handsome cleaned and licked Fedya and became like a father figure to him,” Zhdanova told SWNS.

 Zhdanova, who makes educational books for children in Rostov, added: “He is inseparable with Handsome. They are the best of friends.”

 Research contact: @TheTorontoSun

Slinky seeks a new jingle after 75 years with a National Slinky Day campaign

August 31, 2021

This month, children’s consumer goods leader Just Play, based in Boca Raton, Florida, has launched a new jingle for  Slinky, the original walking spring toy—and is inviting others to join in by creating their own remixes. Content creators are encouraged to follow @originally_slinky and create their own #SlinkyRemix.

Introduced in tandem with National Slinky Day on August 30, the new interactive campaign remixes the original Slinky jingle across social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, leveraging influencers to get the word out and drive participation.

This initiative kicks off Just Play’s partnership with Philadelphia-based  creative agency Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners (RTO+P).

“National Slinky Day is the perfect time to bring this iconic brand to a new generation in a fresh, relevant way,” said Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play, in a company press release, adding, “Slinky truly is the original fidget toy and has long been an inspiration for creativity and innovation since its invention by Richard and Betty James in 1945. We’re excited to see where today’s content creators will take it.”

The campaign launches y with a 30-second video across social platforms. The clip mashes up old archival footage with new imagery of adults playing with Slinkys. The post directs consumers to Slinkys SoundCloud page, where they can access original Slinky jingle elements to create their own remix. Anyone who posts a new Slinky sound with #SlinkyRemix and tags the brand (@original_slinky) could win a Slinky Swag Pack, containing Slinkys and gear. Plus, one jingle will be featured in a national advertising campaign and win the ultimate Slinky prize package.

Slinky debuted in 1945 at Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia and sustained popularity throughout the rest of the 20th century. When it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2000, more than 250 million had been sold to date.

esearch contact: @JustPlayToys

TikTok named as the most downloaded app of 2020

August 12, 2021

TikTok was the world’s most downloaded app in 2020—taking the top spot from the 2019 winner, Facebook Messenger, according to digital analytics company App Annie.

The Chinese video-sharing platform is the only app not owned by Facebook to make the global top five of downloads, according to a BBC report.

In its home country, TikTok’s owner ByteDance also holds the top spot, along with the Chinese language video app Douyin.

Indeed, TikTok’s popularity has soared—even after former U.S. President Donald Trump tried to ban it in America. The Trump Administration claimed that TikTok posed a national security risk as the Chinese government had access to its user data. The company repeatedly denied the allegations—and now the pressure is off.

Since becoming U.S. President in January, Joe Biden has withdrawn Trump’s executive order.

Facebook-owned apps have held the top spot since the survey started in 2018 and the company still dominated the chart in 2020. Although it didn’t take first place, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant accounted for the rest of the top five with Facebook’s flagship app, as well as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger all making an appearance.

Research contact: @BBC

Bunny, the dog that can ‘talk,’ starts asking existential questions

May 12, 2021

When Bunny, TikTok’s beloved talking Sheepadoodle, stared at herself in a mirror and asked “Who this?” using her augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device’s buttons, many followers believed she was having an existential crisis. Since then, the Internet-famous dog seemingly has become more interested in her own, dare we say,“sense of self,” Salon reports.

More recently on April 24, Alexis Devine, Bunny’s human parent—an artist based in Tacoma, Washington—has posted a video of Bunny pressing a button for “dog,” then a second button for “what,” a third button for “dog” and a fourth one for “is.” “Dog what dog is?” Devine narrated.

“This is happening so frequently that I’m going to add the buttons ‘animal’ ‘same’ and ‘different,'” Devine wrote in the caption which accompanied the Instagram post. 

The canine Bunny, who has 6.5 million followers on TikTok, is one of nearly 2,600 dogs and 300 cats enrolled in a project called “They Can Talk.” The study’s aim is to understand if animals can communicate with humans through AAC systems. AAC systems—such as Bunny’s giant labeled buttons that speak a single word when pressed—originally were designed to help humans with communication disorders. Yet they have been adapted to be used in language experiments with animals, such as the study Bunny is enrolled in, which is led by Federico Rossano, director of the Comparative Cognition Lab at the University of California–San Diego.

In Rossano’s study, participants receive instructions on how to set up their AAC buttons for their pets; generally, pets begin with easy words like “outside” and “play.” Pet parents set up cameras to constantly monitor the animals when they are in front of their boards—data that then is sent to the lab so that researchers examine what they say.

Now, Bunny’s followers have become obsessed with the notion that her language-learning is making her develop some kind of self-awareness. Is that possible?

And if so, does learning language have something to do with it?

“The question here is, is this a behavior that has been trained — like, look, I’m going to show you this individual here, this is ‘you’ or ‘dog,’ and don’t be afraid of it, and then over time the dog learns that,” Rossano told Salon. “Or to what degree is this spontaneous?”

If it is spontaneous, the research around the ethology for canines could get really interesting. Scientific evidence has previously suggested that dogs don’t recognize themselves in the mirror. The so-called mirror test is used to determine whether an animal has the ability of visual self-recognition, and is considered a marker of intelligence in animals. Elephants, chimpanzees, and dolphins are among the animals who have passed the test, but dogs typically don’t.

That might suggest dogs possess a lack of self-awareness. However, separate studies have shown that dogs can recognize their own scent, which hints at the opposite.

Péter Pongrácz, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, was curious if the standard mirror test was sufficient enough to determine whether or not dogs have “self-representation”—which, as Pongrácz explained, is what ethologists prefer to call “self-awareness” in animals. This curiosity led Pongrácz and a team of researchers to study dogs’ “self-representation” in a test called “the body as an obstacle.” As a behavioral test, the dogs were tasked with picking up an object and giving it to their owners while standing on a small mat. However, the object was attached to the mat, forcing the dogs to leave the mat in order to lift the object.

“Dogs came off the mat more frequently and sooner in the test condition, than in the main control condition, where the object was attached to the ground,” the researchers write in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports published by Nature. “This is the first convincing evidence of body awareness through the understanding of the consequence of own actions in a species where previously no higher-order self-representation capacity was found.”

Pongrácz told Salon via email that the “body as an obstacle test” is more suitable for dogs, and perhaps, theoretically, could be for more species because animals are then forced “to negotiate physical challenges where their bodies can impede their actions.” Pongrácz added that mental capacity is “complicated” and should be thought of as something that consists of “several building blocks.”

“Dogs are large bodied, fast moving animals that live in a complex environment and they have a well-developed cognitive capacity; therefore, it was reasonable to hypothesize that they would benefit from being capable of understanding that they ‘have a body’ that can interact with the environment,” Pongrácz said.

“As our test proved this, yes, we can say that dogs are aware of their body—and, as body-awareness is part of the complex self-representation system, yes, they can be considered as being self-aware,” he added.

As an online spectator observing her, it is hard to deny that Bunny isn’t becoming more curious about what “dogs” are, as she has been recorded wandering over to her word board pressing “dog” and then “what.” Another time, she asked “dog” and then “why,” which humans might interpret as her asking why she’s a dog. Devine says on Instagram that this line of questioning occurs “regularly” now.

But as Rossano said, the tricky part is sussing out what is learned behavior and what is Bunny’s own doing. And that’s a separate question from whether the AAC device has influenced her sense of self. After all, as Pongrácz said, mental capacity is comprised of building blocks; language may be just another block.

“I think there’s a good reason to believe that Bunny is probably capable of a sense of self and recognizing herself in the mirror, but to what degree is spontaneous versus learned over repeated exposures, I would say it’s more likely to be the latter than the former,” Rossano said, adding that “self-awareness” wasn’t something they were interested in measuring at first in the “They Can Talk” study. But now, that’s changed.

“We know that language helps not just communicate with others, but also helps us categorize; and it also gives us some sense of consistency and continuity over time,” Rossano said. In other words, self-awareness and language could be connected, as

Rossano said a new, key interest of his study is whether or not dogs have a sense of

Research contact: @Salon

Heineken responds perfectly to the implosion of the European Super League

April 27, 2021

In America, the XFL is the most iconic example of a football league that couldn’t go the distance: After its eight teams engaged in just five weeks of play in its inaugural 2020 season, the league’s operations slowly came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic—leading to bankruptcy.

But, Adweek reports, the XFL feels like an enduring cultural institution compared to the European Super League, an audacious concept that lasted a mere 60 hours in late April before imploding spectacularly.

Now, brewmaker and soccer sponsor Heineken and its advertising agency Publicis have cheekily marked the misguided attempt at a new soccer league with an Instagram post that bears a simple warning: Don’t drink and start a league.

The social post was created through Publicis Italy and the agency’s dedicated Heineken group, Le Pub.

As a longtime sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, Heineken obviously had a clear side in the debate, but it’s also one that the brand could rest comfortably knowing that its sense of humor would be shared by most fans.

Indeed, according to Adweek, the Instagram post developed by Publicis has received more than 12,800 likes in its first six hours, with comments consistently describing the response as “brilliant” and “genius.”

Research contact: @Adweek

Seriously, stop sharing your vaccine cards on social media

March 19, 2021

When one of her editors at CNN Business recently shared a celebratory picture of his vaccine card on Instagram, Samantha Murphy Kelly sent him a direct message: “Didn’t you read our story about not posting your record? Scammers are watching!”

He argued they’d be hard pressed to dupe him based on anything listed on the card: “What scam are you gonna run on me just by knowing my name and my birthday? Unless it’s that you sign up for free ice cream scoops on my birthday and don’t give them to me in which case, yes, that is very serious.”

But it’s not just his birthday that was listed. The card showed medically sensitive information, including his vaccine lot number, clinic location and the brand of vaccination received. And for some people, the card contains even more.

As the COVID vaccine rolls out to more people around the country, Kelly writes that she has lost track of how many vaccine information cards I’ve seen across social networks and chat apps.

While selfies are encouraged as a way to express joy at being vaccinated and broadcast that people are doing their part to help stop the spread of Covid-19, multiple government agencies have warned about the risks of posting vaccine card images online.

“Think of it this way—identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of pieces of personal information. You don’t want to give identity thieves the pieces they need to finish the picture,” the Federal Trade Commission said in a blog post last month. “Once identity thieves have the pieces they need, they can use the information to open new accounts in your name, claim your tax refund for themselves, and engage in other identity theft.”

Cybersecurity experts said they’re not aware of any widespread hacks or scams specific to vaccine cards—although the roots of identity theft are hard to uncover. But some also said these security threats would be easy to execute.

For now, it’s mostly “speculation but plausible,” Mark Ostrowski, head of engineering at cybersecurity company Check Point Software said in an interview with CNN. “We will have hundreds of millions of people getting vaccinated. If cyberattack history repeats itself, these threat actors or scammers will try to find a way to take advantage of this situation.”

At the same time, there have been a number of COVID-19 scams—ranging from people pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers to fake websites promising vaccine appointments.

Many of us (perhaps Kelly’s boss included) may be desensitized to the risks given how much information we assume is already available online about us—either because we posted it ourselves, it’s been harvested from public data, or because it was dumped as part of a previous security breach.

But Rachel Tobac, an ethical hacker who specializes in social engineering, told CNN that one of the biggest concerns around the vaccine card trend is that the information is visible all in one place and easy to access.

“Posting an unedited vaccination card, unfortunately, makes it much easier for a criminal to target a specific person,” she said. In some cases, a person’s medical record number is listed on the card. “To gain access to sensitive medical records over the phone, having the medical record number, last name, and date of birth—all of which are listed on the vaccination card—are all I need to authenticate as that individual and gain access to sensitive details.”

A cybercriminal could attempt to impersonate you and call your healthcare company to learn about your medical history or diagnoses, cancel upcoming procedures, change prescription doses and more.

With or without the medical record number, she said, vaccine cards could also allow a hacker to conduct a phishing scheme to steal data and passwords. With the lot number of the vaccine you received or the location of the place where you got the shot, they’d be able to spoof the email address of that facility with a message about, for example, a recall urging you to click a link, supposedly to reschedule an updated dose but really intended to take information from you.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore any email you get about your vaccine, but it is a good reminder to be thoughtful about links you click with any email about any subject and to make sure the sender is who they say they are.

People who are in the public eye more, whether they’re influencers, celebrities or journalists like my editor, have a higher threat of this because criminals are more likely to target them. Stealing their free ice cream scoops on their birthday would be just the start of it.

“There are all kinds of issues related to potential identity theft,” said Michela Menting, a research director who specializes in cybersecurity at tech market advisory firm ABI Research. “Individuals should be as wary of posting vaccine records information as they would be about posting their credit card numbers online.”

Research contact: @CNNBusiness

Casper and Romeo are the ‘reigning’ cats and dogs on Instagram

January 27, 2021

They think they are twins, but there are some obvious differences. People Magazine reports that Instagram’s newest odd couple is Casper and Romeo—a white and fluffy Samoyed dog and Peke-faced cat that have found love, despite their distinctive personalities.

The pet pair belongs to Rinsa Li from Christchurch, New Zealand. And despite what you would assume, the Casper of the pair is the smiley dog; Romeo is a gruff-looking two-yea-old feline with a heart of gold.

“Romeo looks grumpy but he is the sweetest cat I have ever met; he allows everyone to hold him and gives great cuddles,” Li first told Daily Mail about her kitty.

The animal lover always wanted a cat, but was worried about how Casper would react. After the six-year-old dog spent an enjoyable play date with a kitty belonging to Li’s friend, Li decided to take the plunge.

Casper and Romeo kept their distance at first, but soon curiosity got the best of both of them. It only took a few weeks of adjustment for the duo to become inseparable, People reports. Now, the pair spends two hours of each day outside exploring New Zealand with their owner, who also happens to be a professional photographer.

Li posts her shots of the pets to their Instagram #CasperAndRomeo, where they have over 43,000 followers.

When Casper and Romeo aren’t on road trips, they can often be found cuddling together on the couch at home.

“It warms my heart so much to see them as siblings and I enjoy waking up to the both of them every day; I can’t imagine a life without them,” Li said of her adorable Instagram celebrities.

Research contact: @people

After COVID, Bryan Cranston isn’t stopping to smell the roses

December 9, 2020

Bryan Cranston, 64—still celebrated for his memorable acting turn in Breaking Bad and now appearing in Your Honor—still can’t fully taste or smell after getting the coronavirus back in March, the actor shared December 4 on The Ellen Show.

Both Cranston and his wife, actor Robin Dearden, came down with the illness, Self Magazine reports.

As he told DeGeneres: “She got it first. She gave it to me because we share.”

Overall, Cranston and his wife had a mild experience with the virus. “We had a few days of achiness, but not enough to keep you in bed, and I had a temperature of about 99 [degrees] for about three hours. And then just exhaustion for a week after that,” he explained. “We were very lucky, in all seriousness.”

The majority of the couple’s symptoms lasted for about ten days, Cranston said. But his sense of taste and smell still aren’t what they used to be. “The only thing that lingered and still to this day is I lost a percentage of my ability to taste and smell,” the actor told DeGeneres. “I think about 75% has come back. But if someone was brewing coffee, and I walk into a kitchen, I cannot smell it.”

A loss of taste or smell is one of the strange but not uncommon symptoms of this novel coronavirus. One small study published by JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery last June surveyed 204 people who had been diagnosed with coronavirus and found that 55.4% of them reported a loss of taste, while 41.7% reported a loss of smell.

Then an August 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis by the Mayo Clinic looked at 24 studies with a collective 8,438 test-confirmed COVID-19 patients and found an average of 41% of patients had a loss of smell, while an average of 38.2% had a loss of taste.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 symptoms run the gamut. In addition to a new loss of taste or smell, symptoms can include fevercough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

The CDC continues to update the list as new symptoms emerge. If a person with the virus develops symptoms, signs of illness appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure, though asymptomatic people can and certainly do spread the illness as well. Experts also continue to look into “long-haulers” such as Cranston—who experience coronavirus symptoms weeks or months after first getting the disease.

Several other celebrities have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Neil Patrick Harris also experienced a loss of taste and smell back in March, which alerted him to the fact that he didn’t just have the flu. Hugh Grant sprayed his wife’s perfume directly in his face to try to trigger his sense of smell, but got nothing—and also struggled with a feeling of pressure on his chest. Rita Wilson initially thought her fatigue symptoms were just jet lag when she and her husband, Tom Hanks, were diagnosed.

“I was pretty strict in adhering to the protocols and still… I contracted the virus. Yep. it sounds daunting now that over 150,000 Americans are dead because of it,” Cranston wrote on his Instagram back in July. “I count my blessings and urge you to keep wearing the damn mask, keep washing your hands, and stay socially distant. We can prevail—but ONLY if we follow the rules together.”

Research contact: @SELFmagazine

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