Posts tagged with "Social media"

Why Facebook may know when you last had sex

September 11, 2019

Did you think that you and your partner or spouse were the only ones who knew (maybe, aside from your next-door neighbors) when you two last had sex? Wrong. Facebook may know, too, according to a September 9 report in The New York Times. And they also may know when it’s “that time of the month.”

How is that possible?

According to the UK-based privacy watchdog, Privacy International, at least two menstruation- and ovulation-tracking apps, Maya and MIA Fem, have shared intimate details of users’ sexual health with Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, as well as other entities.

In some cases, the data shared with external social media (which are self-recorded by users in the app) included:

  • When a user last had sex,
  • The type of contraception used,
  • Her mood, and
  • Whether she was ovulating.

The Times notes, “The findings raise questions about the security of our most private information in an age where employers, insurers, and advertisers can use data to discriminate or target certain categories of people.”

The information was shared with the social media giant via the Facebook Software Development Kit, a product that allows developers to create apps for specific operating systems, track analytics, and monetize their apps through Facebook’s advertising network. Privacy International found that Maya and MIA began sharing data with Facebook as soon as a user installed the app on her phone and opened it, even before a privacy policy was signed.

Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne told the new outlet that advertisers did not have access to the sensitive health information shared by these apps. In a statement, he said Facebook’s ad system “does not leverage information gleaned from people’s activity across other apps or websites” when advertisers choose target users by interestBuzzFeed first reported the news.

However, the fact is that today, many apps still are not subject to the same rules as most health data.

Some of the apps even have come under scrutiny as powerful monitoring tools for employers and health insurers, which have aggressively pushed to gather more data about their workers’ lives than ever before under the banner of corporate wellness. Plus, it appears the data could be shared more broadly than many users recognize, as flagged by the Privacy International study.

Several period- and pregnancy-tracking apps have been called out for sharing health data with women’s employers and insurance companies, as well as for security flaws that reveal intimate information, the Times reports.

Deborah C. Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of the nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights, based in Austin, Texas,  told the Times that people expect their health data to be protected by the same laws that protect their health information in a doctors office, but that many apps aren’t subject to the same rules.

“Most people would want to make their own decisions about what’s known about their sex life, about whether it’s shared or not,” said Peel. “Right now we have no ability to do that.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Cheap thrills: Dollar General’s new $5 beauty brand is going viral

September 10, 2019

Fashionistas, take note: There’s a new brand in the beauty business—and it’s not sold at swanky cosmetics counters for big bucks, or at drugstores, either.

Launched last spring, Dollar General’s humble, $5-and-under Believe Beauty cosmetics line is available at the chain’s 15,000 locations nationwide—and it has gone viral, thanks to the raves of social media beauty bloggers.

According to a report by CNN, Dollar General partnered with a beauty manufacturer on the private-label line of lipsticks, eye shadows, foundations, nail polishes, and skin care essentials; and is giving it prime real estate at stores: It’s displaying the 150-product collection in dedicated sections at the end of store aisles, making it easy for customers to find.

The aspirational brand is “an important part of our strategy,” CEO Todd Vasos told the network news outlet.

Dollar General executives say they developed the brand to bolster the company’s hold on existing customers and improve its thin profit margins. Dollar General also hopes to draw Millennials with the brand. Millennials probably won’t post online about snacks or a new mop they bought at Dollar General, but they love showing off their new makeup online, CNN notes.

Dozens of Believe reviews on by beauty vloggers on YouTube already have racked up hundreds of thousands of page views. One 16-minute YouTube review from a beauty vlogger has 125,000 views. Instagram is flooded with more than 3,000 posts using “#believebeauty.”

All that social media attention means free advertising for Dollar General. It boosts the company’s image with younger shoppers and is helping lift the dollar-store empire.

“People like those kind of videos because it’s something different,” Taylor Horn, a blogger who reviewed Believe on her YouTube channel, told CNN Business. Her channel has more than 750,000 followers.

“It’s cool when lines like Believe Beauty launch, where it’s accessible,” she said. “I think it’s more achievable and the things that your everyday consumer can afford.”

Dollar General is following a similar strategy to Walgreens, Target, Zara, Forever 21 and even 7-Eleven, CNN points out. These companies have all added their own in-house cosmetics lines in recent years.

Research contact: @CNN

Fat cat finds foster family

September 3, 2019

There’s just more of him to love. Mr. B., a 26-pound cat who was surrendered to the Morris Animal Refuge in Philadelphia, finally has found a foster home.

The shelter received more than 3,000 adoption applications after it posted Mr. B’s plight on social media—tweeting, “OMG, big boi…is a chonk of a chonk. He redefines the term. …Can you give him a home?”

In fact, MSN reports, the tweet was shared more 14,000 times and became the subject of numerous headlines as people fell hard for the chunky Mr. B.

After the two-year-old feline was placed in a loving home, the shelter sent its thanks on August 22, tweeting, “Sweet chunky Mr. B’s amazed by the huge outpawing of interest in him.”

The shelter said on its website that it will continue to work with Mr. B’s new foster family to help resolve the cat’s health and behavioral issues so that they might eventually offer him a permanent home.

“While the goal is to make this Mr. B’s forever home, the family will be able to provide him with a safe and comfortable environment while we learn more about him and his needs,” the Morris Animal Refuge website said.

The shelter also revealed that Mr. B’s viral post helped bring in over $1,800 in donations and the shelter has sold more than 400 Mr. B CHONK shirts.

Morris Animal Refuge has not divulged either the name or location of the foster family, in order to allow them some privacy and the opportunity to bond with Mr. B.

Research contact: @MorrisAnimal

Last licks: Woman caught on social media licking store ice cream and putting it back faces years in jail

July 8, 2019

A woman who licked more than her lips at a Walmart store may find herself in the “cooler” soon. The “mystery shopper” (who has not yet been identified by authorities) went viral on social media recently for licking a tub of ice cream and returning it to the frozen food display.

Now police say that, when they find her, she faces up to 20 years in prison for the prank, according to a July 4 report by NBC News.

The footage of the escapade—which already has been viewed more than 11 million times— shows the so-far unnamed woman opening a container, running her tongue across the ice cream; then laughing as she places the violated dessert back in the freezer, in a branch of Walmart in the city of Lufkin, eastern Texas.

She could face a second-degree felony charge of tampering with a consumer product, the Lufkin, Texas, Police Department said in an email statement to NBC News. The charge comes with a two- to 20-year prison term and up to $10,000 in fines, according to Texas state penal code.

Police also want to speak to the man she was with, who is thought to have filmed the incident and can be heard encouraging the woman to “Lick it, lick it.”

According to NBC, investigators also are in discussions with the FDA and additional federal charges could be made.

“Our detectives are working to verify the identity of the female suspect before a warrant is issued for her arrest on a charge of second-degree felony tampering with a consumer product,” a police spokesperson said.

“As that portion of the investigation continues, detectives are focusing on identifying the male (in the green shirt) behind the camera seen in images of the two entering the store together.”

Blue Bell Creameries, the local manufacturer of the ice cream brand the woman licked, has called the incident a “malicious act of food tampering.”

All tubs containing the mix of creamy vanilla ice cream with swirls of chocolate fudge and dark-chocolate-covered roasted peanuts have been removed from the store’s shelves as a precaution, the company said. The specific carton believed to be compromised was found among the lot.

In an earlier statement, the company explained that its cartons are frozen upside down in production, which creates a natural, tight seal by freezing the lid to the tub, meaning consumers would notice if any tampering occurred upon opening a fresh tub.

Research contact: @NBCNews

If this optical illusion seems to be moving, you are stressed out

June 20, 2019

Many of us remember mood rings, which peaked in popularity in the 1970s. When worn, the rings purportedly revealed your state of mind by turning colors—from violet for happy and romantic, to blue for calm and relaxed, to yellow/amber for tense and excited, to brown/gray for nervous and anxious.

Now, an optical illusion that is trending on social media supposedly serves the same purpose.

Some say that the image was created by a Japanese neurologist; others claim that Ukranian artist Yurii Perepadia revealed the secret optical illusion and posted it on Instagram.

Whomever the progenitor may be, India Today made the image famous, and it also has appeared on MSN, as well as on the sites of thousands of obsessed social media fans.

If the image remains firmly fixed in place, you are calm; if it moves slightly, you are stressed—and it it moves like a carousel, you are very stressed.

Research contact: @yurrii_p

Postpartum support: It takes a village—or a ‘rubber corset’

May 31, 2019

Recently, a photo surfaced on Jessica Simpson’s Instagram page of the singer—who gave birth to her third child, daughter Birdie May Johnson, a little less than two months ago—relying on a novel “support system,” as she starts to get back into shape.

In the post, Women’s Health reports, Jessica shares a picture of herself hitting the street to exercise wearing black leggings, a black top, and something else that’s apparently not visible onscreen: a corset.

 “Just stretching it out in my rubber corset,” Jess captions the photo, adding, “The joys of postpartum.”

In my what? This looks like something we would read about on Goop!

The rubber corset to which Jessica refers is most likely a type of postpartum or belly wrap—a product that, for generations, women have worn for support after childbirth, according to What To Expect.

Such wraps not only offer new moms the opportunity to look a little more “streamlined” after the birthing experience, but they also serve a medical purpose: to help support the muscles and abdominal organs postpartum, according to What To Expect.

In fact, a study conducted in 2010 and published in Physiotherapy Canada found that postpartum wrapping could help women walk farther and get back on their feet sooner. Another study, published in the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, found that some women who wrapped themselves experienced less pain and bleeding after having a C-section.

Postpartum wraps come in all kinds of materials and sizes: As What To Expect notes, they can be made of an elastic material that’s closed with Velcro, or they might be made of latex or other stiff materials, like the one Jess wears in her photo. The amount of compression a wrap provides can vary, too: While some are gentle, others can aggressively cinch the waist, with the purpose of changing its appearance (in Kardashian fashion).

A word to the wise:  Get a thumbs-up from your doctor before wearing any such gear—and to make sure the device is also approved for pregnant women (i.e., not just a standard corset to wear underneath formal wear).

Research contact: @WomensHealthMag

Mutt shots: Snapchat offers lenses for dogs

December 27, 2018

The Internet already is a dog-eat-dog world, with pooches worldwide vying for “top dog” (and top money) on such sites as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Now, Snapchat has introduced special lenses that will help proud owners to digitally dress up their hounds for the holidays in reindeer ears, eyeglasses, pepperoni pizzas, and even butterflies.

To try them out, PC Magazine advises, simply open the Snapchat camera and press on the screen to open the lens carousel, as usual. Scroll through the carousel until you find a lens with a little blue pawprint icon on it, aim your camera at your dog, and prepare to say “aww.”

Dog lovers have been “barking mad” since October, when Snapchat brought cat-friendly lenses to its platform, but left out filters for Fido. With both available as of this week, we can expect more varieties (and maybe a few filters for our iguanas and parrots?).

Appealing to dog and cat owners might just help Snapchat offset declining user engagement on the platform, PC Magazine reports. The company also recently introduced Snap Originals, five-minute exclusive shows that feature new episodes everyday. Originals can be found in the “Discover” section of the app or via Snapchat search.

Research contact: @Snapchat

Who are ‘influencers’ and how do they get paid?

December 17, 2018

If you enter the hashtag #influencer on Instagram, you’ll quickly navigate to a page with nearly 10 million posts. But that’s only the tip of the influencer iceberg, so to speak. According to Mediakix, there will be 21.7 million brand-sponsored influencer posts on Instagram by the end of the year—and 32.3 million by the end of 2019.

From micro-influencers making $50 per post to Instagram superstars like singer Ariana Grande , who command half a million dollars per post, the Instagram influencer market runs the gamut in terms of following, audience, and engagement; and it has even the biggest brands buying in. AdidasSamsungAmerican ExpressMicrosoft, and many more are finding ways to partner with Instagram influencers to reach their audiences and create new ones.

But how do you get started? In the case of Amber Venz (#venzedits), who spoke to CNN for a December 12 report, by the time she was in high school, she was designing and selling jewelry. And by the time she was 23, Venz was running a website that showcased her work as a personal shopper

 “I posted three times a day, and it was like trend stories and sale alerts,” Venz told the network news outlet.

Within a few months, the site was generating so much buzz around her hometown of Dallas that The Dallas Morning News ran a full-page story about her site. “It said ‘Meet the Blogger… She is now doing all these services online for free.’ My blog actually became quite famous,” she says.

But the “for free” part irked her. According to the CNN rags-to-riches tale, Baxter Box (who was her boyfriend at the time and is now her husband) got her thinking about how she could make money from the “free” fashion and style tips she was offering on her site. That’s when they came up with RewardStyle, an invitation-only platform that allows fashion and lifestyle bloggers and influencers to make money from the content they post.

Created in 2010, the company website says, “RewardStyle influencers have exclusive access to an innovative ecosystem of monetization tools, a global network of 4,500+ retail partners, and tailored growth services-all designed to power the monetization of your content.”

Today, the website has formed a global community of more than 250 team members, 30,000 top-tier influencers, and 1 million brand partners across more than 100 countries.

“With a proprietary ecosystem of innovative technology, strategic growth consulting, global brand partnerships, and expansive consumer distribution, we’re doing more than just monetizing the industry—we’re defining it,” Venez claims.

Here’s how it works, CNN reports: Bloggers write a post or post a photo on social media and hyperlink to a particular brand or retailer’s web site. If a person clicks on the link and purchases the featured product, then the blogger gets a commission. Venz says the commissions vary depending on the brand, but are typically between 10% and 20%.

RewardStyle gets a cut as well, but Venz wouldn’t disclose how much the company makes each time an influencer helps make a sale. “Everyone only gets paid when a consumer actually makes a purchase and the retailer is paid. It is all commission-based,” she said.

“These are primarily women who love fashion or interiors or talking about their family or their fitness routines and they have attracted an audience that loves their point of view and comes to their content on a daily basis,” says Venz. “We’ve given them a way to monetize that.”

And 4,500 brands, including Walmart, CVS, Amazon and Gucci, also use the platform, which has racked up $3.8 billion in total sales since it was founded.

Despite the company’s success, Venz told the news outlet that wants to keep innovating. “We are not low on ideas. So the thinking that we’ve peaked early is honestly not something that’s crossed my mind,” she says.

In 2017, for example, the business introduced a consumer shopping app called LIKEtoKNOW.it. The app lets users take a screenshot of content anywhere on the internet created by an influencer. RewardStyle will then send them links to buy the products that appear in the screenshot. The app has 2 million users and has generated $210 million in sales for its retail partners so far.

“One of the things I love about RewardStyle is that it is empowering thousands of women to do the thing I always wanted to do, which was work in the fashion and media industry,” says Venz.

Research contact: @rewardStyle

JOMO: The joy of missing out

July 31, 2018

On Facebook and other social media channels, we find out that our “friends” are travelling to exotic places, seeing their children graduate from school, visiting with adorable grandchildren, going to rock concerts and museums, spending the day at the beach, taking selfies with the stars, or starting a new job. Many of us scroll down obsessively, in order to find out what the rest of the world is doing while we are sitting at our computers. Indeed, social media inevitably fosters fear of missing out (FOMO)—although (if we are honest with ourselves) we actually would avoid many of the activities in which these friends are engaging.

Another driver of FOMO is the social pressure to be at the right place with the right people (like that awesome party everyone else enjoyed last weekend). This pressure from society combined with the fear of missing out can wear us down and can decrease our happiness.

Indeed, based on the findings of a recent survey on LinkedIn, 70% of workers admit that when they take a vacation, they don’t disconnect from work. Our digital habits—constantly checking messages and social media—have become so entrenched, that it is nearly impossible to enjoy “getting away from it all,” because we may be missing something.

However, LinkedIn suggests, there is an antidote: Instead of living in perpetual fear of missing out, many are embracing a new approach to our always-on, tech-dependent lives. They are taking the time to tune out. Call it JOMO, or the joy of missing out.

“JOMO is the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life,” says Kristin Fuller, M.D. in a recent issue of Psychology Today.

“You do not need to compare your life to others; but, instead, practice tuning out the background noise of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘wants’ and learn to let go of worrying [about] whether you are doing something wrong,” she says. “JOMO allows us to live life in the slow lane, to appreciate human connections, to be intentional with our time, to practice saying  ‘no,’ to give ourselves tech-free breaks—and to give ourselves permission to acknowledge where we are and to feel emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Instead of constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses, JOMO allows us to be who we are in the present moment, which is the secret to finding happiness. When you free up that competitive and anxious space in your brain, you have so much more time, energy and emotion to conquer your true priorities.”

She advises us to:

  • Be intentional with your time: Schedule something that is important to you, whether it is working out, meeting a friend for coffee, writing that book or completing a work project. Make your time your priority instead of wasting time worrying about what other individuals are doing or thinking.
  • Give yourself permission to live in the present: If you are having a bad day, be easy on yourself and treat yourself to a relaxing evening. If you just received good news, then take a moment to embrace it and celebrate. If you feel that you are in constant competition with someone on social media, then re-assess why you are feeling this way.
  • Embrace tech-free time: Unsubscribe from social media accounts; and un-follow individuals who trigger your FOMO, or cause you any type of negativity. Set daily limits to how long you can spend on social media or delete certain social media apps from your phone so you can only status scroll when you are at home on your computer.
  • Practice saying “no”: You do not always have to go to that event or take that phone call. Sometimes saying “no” is the best kind of self-love. Even if you want to help someone, but feel it will have a negative impact on yourself, say “no,” in order to protect yourself.
  • Experience real life (not social media life): JOMO allows you to have more free time by eliminating wasted time spent scrolling social media feeds. Instead of spending your free moments suckered into the drama of social media, disconnect and do the things that you enjoy—such as cooking, spending time outdoors, and spending time with your family.
  • Slow down: Take time to think before you speak, embrace the quiet, use time driving in traffic or waiting in lines to sit with your thoughts or listen to a book. Slowing down can increase our creativity, which we can harvest into other productive avenues and projects in our life.

Fuller notes, “Instead of having FOMO over silly experiences on social media, we should be wary about having FOMO over missing moments with loved ones, watching sunsets, laughing at jokes, traveling, walking barefoot through the grass, hearing the sound of the ocean, and enjoying good food with family and friends.”

Research contact: @gldnminded

Beauty shoppers spend 80% of ‘purchase experience’ looking at ads, articles, social media

July 17, 2018

A relatively self-serving study sponsored by Condé Nast—publisher of such magazines as Allure, Glamour, Self, Vogue, and W—has found that, in the beauty category, consumers spend 80% of their time in the “pre-search” or “influence” phase of shopping, with a spate of publications, social media, advertising, and celebrities affecting their final purchases.

The study, fielded by the research firm Tapestry and posted on Retail Dive on July 16, found that, similarly, fashion consumers spend 69% of their time in the pre-search stage and are most motivated by advertising; as compared to tech consumers, 65% of whom are influenced by ads “outside of their buying needs.”

Interestingly enough, both beauty and fashion buyers say a couple of brands are “top of mind”—even before they start looking. Fully 79% of respondents admitted they had brands in mind before their search—and 69% pay more attention to ads from sources they know and trust. In fact, more than half of shoppers (52%) spend their full decision time deciding between just two brands.

The outliers? Fifty-three percent of fashion consumers and 64% of 13- to 17-year-old shoppers purchase the brand they first considered.

With influential beauty and fashion publications in its inventory, Condé Nast found that its brands have three times more influence on consumer decisions than Google and Facebook, with three in four respondents saying they trust Condé Nast brands to recommend products. More than 90% trusted Glamour, GQ and Vogue for fashion recommendations; as well Glamour and Allure for cosmetics. Indeed, Consumers were 50% more likely to list a Condé Nast brand in the pre-search phase and think more highly of brands that advertise with Condé Nast, compared to Google and Facebook. Specifically, Condé Nast is 26% more likely to drive purchase intent than tech giants Facebook and Google, based on the study findings.

Other research has revealed that social media plays a major role in driving purchases, especially among younger consumers. A Yes Lifecycle Marketing report released last year found that 57% of consumers across different generations say social media influences their shopping decisions; while 80% of Gen-Zers and 74% of Millennials said social channels influence their shopping. Instagram was a key driver of fashion, beauty and style-focused purchase for 72%, a 2017 Dana Rebecca Designs survey found.

Research contact: @CondeNast