Starbucks launches new season of short films about ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things

By Tuesday, October 10, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Howard Schultz wants to introduce you to a better side of America.

The Starbucks executive chairman (and former CEO) believes the country isn’t just the one you see on TV or in your social feeds. It’s not just the dark times we’ve treaded since the 2016 presidential election, or the hate churning in and out of Washington.

It’s also the ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help others in their communities. And that’s exactly what the new season of Upstanders, Starbucks’ original series of short films, hopes to document.

SEE ALSO: How your morning cup of coffee can help save the world

Starbucks announced Upstanders Season 2 on Monday, which features 11 “stories” about Americans showing acts of courage and humanity across the country. From the executive chef who quit his job to start a restaurant staffed by former juvenile detention inmates, to the entrepreneur addressing poverty in his hometown, Upstanders offers little vignettes that will (hopefully) inspire you to give back, too. Read more…

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Why everyone is so convinced Facebook is spying on their conversations

Bipul Lama believes Facebook is spying on him. ;

And he’s got proof, sort of. Lama performed a test. For two days, all he talked about was Kit-Kats. ;

“The next day, all I saw on my Instagram and Facebook were Kit-Kat ads,” Lama said. ;

After his Kit-Kat experiment, he successfully repeated it with chatter about Lysol. The 23-year-old musician is now more convinced than ever that Facebook is listening to his conversations through his phone’s microphone. ;

“It listens to key words. If you say a word enough times, the algorithm catches those words and it sets off targeted ads,” Lama theorized. ;

Lama is far from alone. The belief that Facebook is actively listening to people through their phones has become a full-on phenomenon. Facebook has, of course, denied it does this. That has done little to dampen the ongoing paranoia around the theory. Read more…

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Here’s 27.6 billion reasons why Facebook wants to regulate itself

By Friday, September 22, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Facebook spent most of 2017 promising to do better.

The social network has been in hot water ever since last year’s historically nasty presidential election laid bare how its ultra-precise ad targeting can be used for nefarious political means.

Yet for all the company’s tough talk now, Facebook categorically denied this problem existed until less than a year ago. So how much stake should we put in its assurances that it will be able to hold itself accountable in the future?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered his latest mea culpa in a speech this week in which he finally agreed to hand over to Congress thousands of propaganda ads placed by a Russian troll farm to sew political strife. ; ; Read more…

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Blocking hate speech from ads isn’t hard — tech companies just need to care more

By Saturday, September 16, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Facebook, Google, and Twitter are facing a lot of difficult questions over their ad policies after it came to light this week that all three companies allowed advertisers to run targeted ads based on hate speech.

Though the circumstances around each case were slightly different, each one was the result of a mostly-automated system that allowed advertisers to buy ads targeted toward people likely to respond to hate speech and other offensive language. ;

And, in each case, the companies claimed that it wasn’t supposed to happen. Yet the fact that media outlets were able to buy ads for these terms so easily, and in such quick succession, highlights how little these companies — who count themselves among the biggest tech giants — were doing to prevent this from happening in the first place. ; Read more…

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Teens, you deserve a life free from phones and social media. Here’s how to get it.

By Thursday, August 31, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Anyone with a smartphone lives in fear of missing out at some point. ; ;

I’ve personally watched my Boomer parents’ eyes glaze over as they sit at the dinner table and scroll through Facebook. As a Gen X/Millennial Cusper (a Xennial, if you will), I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone, but still compulsively update Apple News. ; ;

SEE ALSO: Why Lady Gaga and her mom want you to take this ‘mental health first aid’ class

The truth is, we feel drawn to our mobile devices because they deliver an exciting emotional rush every time we hold those shiny little computers in our hands and reveal what’s new in the world. ; Read more…

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The future of Snapchat is in the dancing hot dog’s hands

By Tuesday, August 29, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Is Snapchat dying? You’d think so, given the tenor of recent reports about everything from its dipping stock price to its supposed non-essentiality with teenagers. ;

But everyone giving up on Snapchat is missing something right under their noses: a breakdancing rod of pink slime. If there’s a star of the summer, it’s the dancing hot dog.

SEE ALSO: I redownloaded Snapchat for the dancing hot dog, and I am not ashamed

“Value” on social media is hard to quantify. Facebook has 2.01 billion monthly users, but its News Feed has long been a morass of untrustworthy news links, viral videos, and bad opinions from distant friends and relatives. How valuable is a service that users resent and fear? For now, it’s worth about $500 billion, but eventually the scale can tilt too far in favor of crap, and users can flee. Facebook does too much to do much of anything well. ;Meanwhile, Snapchat has a dancing hot dog. It’s silly, it’s brilliant, and it says basically everything about the app and its possible future. ; Read more…

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Facebook is finally purging annoying fake videos from your News Feed

By Thursday, August 17, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Say goodbye to annoying fake Facebook videos.

The social network is tweaking its algorithm so you’ll see static memes disguised as videos and images with fake play buttons way less often. ;

Spammers have been flooding the site with these trick formats to take advantage of Facebook’s fanatical focus on promoting video above other types of content. Uploading single images as videos can earn the poster advertising money, and photos made to look like videos can lead users to sketchy sites with malicious ads.

An example of a photo with a fake play button that leads to a sketchy website.

Image: facebook Read more…

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From 4chan to Gab: Where hate speech is thriving online

By Thursday, August 17, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Gab launched almost exactly a year ago with a definite ethos: Free speech at all cost. ;

That’s proving to be an attractive proposition for far-right elements that are now flocking to the platform after being driven out of the internet’s biggest shared spaces. ;

The Twitter-like service has received an influx of users—and money—in the past few weeks as internet companies have cracked down on hate speech following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s just one of the places on the internet that are becoming a haven for far-right individuals and groups, as well as a growing population that sees Silicon Valley companies as abusing their positions of power. Read more…

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Facebook is finally ready for its next big move: Taking on TV

By Wednesday, August 9, 2017 0 Permalink 0

Updated Aug. 9, 2017, at 4:23 p.m. PDT with more information from Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg has been preaching video as our future for the last couple years. On Thursday, he’s launching the next big step in the company’s quest to dominate every last second of your waking life.

Facebook is set to debut original shows made by media partners exclusively for the social network, marking the company’s official entry into the high-end online video world that already includes rivals Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Apple.

It is also a product update, meaning the video tab in Facebook’s mobile app will feature a new section called “Watch” to highlight the initiative. “Watch” will also appear on desktop and Facebook’s TV apps. Read more…

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