You can’t hide from Facebook

Facebook has filed for a patent for tech that allows it to tell who you live with in the same household, reports BuzzFeed News. Titled “Predicting household demographics based on image data,” the patent describes how Facebook can use its facial recognition technology on your photos to identify people in them, then correlate those people with the captions a user writes when they post a photo, as well as cross-referencing everyone’s device information, such as shared IP addresses to discover who lives in your household.

It would note the people identified in a photo, and how frequently the people are included in your pictures. Then, it would assess information from comments on the photos, captions, or tags (#family, #mom, #kids)–anything that indicates whether someone is a husband, daughter, cousin, etc.–to predict what your family/household actually looks like.

According to the patent application, Facebook’s prediction models would also analyze “messaging history, past tagging history, [and] web browsing history” to see if multiple people share IP addresses (a unique identifier for every internet network).

Facebook uses pictures from both its main site and Instagram in this process.

Why it’s hot

Well, this seems like a great idea *wink*

Facebook obviously has access to a lot a lot a lot of ohotos, but it doesn’t really do very much with them. This is the type of thing no one knows about until it’s auddenls controversial and then Facebook has to make a lot of security changes and apologise.

How Instagram and Snapchat helped get out the vote

Both Instagram and Snapchat added new features to prompt increased voter participation in the US mid terms – and with statistics showing that younger people are less inclined to get out and vote, their efforts likely had a significant impact.

Instagram added a new set of stickers which enabled users to share that they’ve cast their vote and a story at the top of users’ feeds called “We Voted” highlighted all your friends’ stories if they used the “I voted” feature.

Snapchat also got in on the action, rolling out a range of election day stickers and Lenses to encourage users to share their activity, and added polling locations to their Map.

Why its hot

 

From a voter participation perspective, this form of peer sharing can be highly effective in encouraging others to vote.

Facebook has conducted a test of the same previously – back in 2010, around 340,000 extra voters turned out to take part in the US Congressional elections because of a single election-day Facebook message which, essentially, used a similar form of peer pressure to prompt increased participation.

3D printing of body parts helps reduce surgery length

Formlabs has created a new 3D printing process for modeling real human organs and body parts before surgery.

“The use of 3D printing in medicine allows us to pull the patients’ anatomy off of a computer screen and put it into the physician’s hands,” says Todd Goldstein, director of the 3D Design and Innovation Center at Northwell Health, the hospital network. “This type of technology is a game changer for all parties involved, as it allows for physicians to better visualize the pathology, allows for patients to truly see what treatment is needed, and allows for more precise, patient-specific treatments across almost all specialties.”

The new system, which combines 10 smaller printers with robotics so the process can happen automatically with less involvement from medical staff, can help the hospitals scale up the use of 3D printing. With a 3D model, a surgeon can look at a specific tumor or deformity, for example, and plan exactly how a surgery should proceed before cutting a patient open. That can make an operation safer and also make it shorter; less time on the operating table also means that patients can recover more quickly afterward.

The system, called the Form Cell, takes data from CT and MRI scans and translates them into a replica of a specific body part, which can be used both prior to and during a surgery. “We’re talking about hours saved before a surgery, and even hours in the OR,” says Gaurav Manchanda, director of healthcare at Formlabs. One 2017 study of children’s surgeries found that surgeries were as much as 45 minutes shorter with the use of the models. A study using Northwell data, not yet published, found that using models in complex cases reduced the length of surgeries by about 10%.

Why its hot

3D printing is becoming more and more mainstream thanks to its increasing accessibility. People have more power than ever before. Wearables give us insights into our health that previously could only come from a doctor. With 3D printing, we can download plans straight from the web and create items right in our homes. Maybe one day we can decorate an entire apartment with furniture by downloading the plans from IKEA. This example is just another of many that show how 3D printing is making once complex processes easier, even advanced surgery.

Facebook Killed News

Seriously. Facebook killed news.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

The current suit stems from an earlier, more narrow lawsuit filed in 2016, after Facebook admitted its error. The issue, which Facebook has since addressed, involved Facebook’s calculations for the average length of time a video was being viewed. Instead of dividing the total watch time by every user who played a given video, Facebook only factored in users who watched for more than three seconds. That yielded watch times that, the Journal reported at the time, were 60 to 80 percent higher than reality.

It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become known as the “pivot to video.” Long story short, news rooms began to heavily invest in video, hiring tons of producers and content creators at the expense of firing journalists.

Why Its Hot

Would this have happened without Facebook’s ridiculously inflated video stats? Maybe. People do watch a ton of video on online even without Facebook. But when your business relies on advertising, and your ads are performing at the levels Facebook was reporting, you’ll probably think twice about who you’re hiring.

 

Do you know where there’s a bathroom?

Find a public bathroom can be difficult. Especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. And even more so when you’re with a disabled person or disabled yourself.

Enter MoDE’s Restroom Map, a web-based app that allows people to plot the address of gender neutral or single occupancy public restrooms on a map so that others can plan trips around them. Created by David Nykodym and Christina Ingoglia, the app went live with Missouri-specific destinations in August and expanded nationally in September.

It is designed on Esri’s Crowdsource Reporter, a mapping platform hosted on ArcGIS, and allows users to add geographic markers that appear in different shapes and colors depending on the type of facility. There’s Unisex (orange dot), Family (blue diamond), Family with Adult Sized Changing Table (green star), and Other (yellow dot) for some spot that might have equally important but non-standard benefits.

So far, the public has designated 260 spots around the country. To expand the list, Ingoglia is in early discussions with several state public transportation departments to add their own rest-stop information.

Why its hot

This app solves an obvious problem that is actually a big issue for a lot of people. Able-bodied people find themselves running around looking for a bathroom, but imagine needing a very specific bathroom. It must be so frustrating. This app is such a simple design, relying on crowd-sourced data, with a familiar interface. I can see this catching on for anyone traveling, or even just in areas they know, whether they’re able-bodied or not.

Do you know where there’s a bathroom?

Find a public bathroom can be difficult. Especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. And even more so when you’re with a disabled person or disabled yourself.

Enter MoDE’s Restroom Map, a web-based app that allows people to plot the address of gender neutral or single occupancy public restrooms on a map so that others can plan trips around them. Created by David Nykodym and Christina Ingoglia, the app went live with Missouri-specific destinations in August and expanded nationally in September.

It is designed on Esri’s Crowdsource Reporter, a mapping platform hosted on ArcGIS, and allows users to add geographic markers that appear in different shapes and colors depending on the type of facility. There’s Unisex (orange dot), Family (blue diamond), Family with Adult Sized Changing Table (green star), and Other (yellow dot) for some spot that might have equally important but non-standard benefits.

So far, the public has designated 260 spots around the country. To expand the list, Ingoglia is in early discussions with several state public transportation departments to add their own rest-stop information.

Why its hot

This app solves an obvious problem that is actually a big issue for a lot of people. Able-bodied people find themselves running around looking for a bathroom, but imagine needing a very specific bathroom. It must be so frustrating. This app is such a simple design, relying on crowd-sourced data, with a familiar interface. I can see this catching on for anyone traveling, or even just in areas they know, whether they’re able-bodied or not.

$1,500 to turn your bedroom into a fitness studio

A startup called Mirror wants to reclaim your living spaces and bring those sought-after boutique classes, from yoga to strength training and Pilates, to your home all via–you guessed it–a single full-length mirror hung on your wall.

The responsive connected device has an LCD panel, stereo speakers, camera, and mic and offers a range of fitness classes and one-on-one training. And when you’re done, it  returns to a simple mirror. The entire system is controlled by a companion app, keeping the mirror fingerprint-free.

A mirror on the wall is definitely a space-saver for people in tiny, cramped apartments.

Mirror launched yesterday with more than 50 new streaming workouts each week, produced in part with instructors across categories. This includes cardio, yoga, strength training, barre, boxing, Pilates, and stretching classes, with levels ranging from beginner to expert. Live classes are available every hour, and members are free to access the digital archives.

Of course, such luxury doesn’t come cheap. The Mirror equipment costs $1,495, while the monthly content subscription is $39.

 Each program can be personalized depending on stamina, weight loss goals, and personal metrics. It can even monitor heart rate via bluetooth or Apple Watch. In the live environment, instructors are able to see your movements, monitor your progress, and even offer real-time instruction. A dashboard provides them with all your info, should you want a more personalized touch.
Why its hot
Customizable, at-home workouts already exist via a variety of apps and equipment like Peloton. But many of those require more space in your home, or even a gym membership, to utilize. A $1,500 price point, plus $39 monthly subscription, is very steep for the average shopper. It doesn’t seem like Mirror offers any other services. Perhaps if it also included other useful skills, like cooking recipes or DIY, it could expand in value.

Roaming Animal Crackers

Since 1902, packages of Animal Crackers have featured various animals in cages, but not any more.

Now Nabisco–makers of Barnum’s Animal Crackers–has teamed up with PETA to release a new design of its cracker box, and it will make your heart feel as warm and fuzzy as when you’re watching Planet Earth. On the new box, the animals roam free–nay–the zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe, and gorilla are strutting free along the Serengeti with serious attitude and a golden-hour hue.

PETA actually flagged the box to Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco. Rather than shooing PETA away, the company entered a discussion with the animal rights group. PETA even submitted a new box design for consideration–taking a proactive stance on developing new branding that could work for the company. It was spiritually similar to what Mondelez ultimately went with, showing Africa’s animals midstride in the wild.

PETA’s mockup:

“The new box for Barnum’s Animals perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates caging and chaining exotic animals for circus shows,” writes the organization. “PETA is celebrating this redesign just as we’ve celebrated the closure of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and an end to the use of wild animals in many other circuses.”

Final design:

Why its hot

Addressing cruelty in products will almost always result in goodwill from consumers, but it’s interesting that a brand that hasn’t changed their packaging in since 1902 didn’t think of it sooner. “Animal crackers” is a ubiquitous term nowadays, and people forget it’s an actual brand. This story will likely give Nabisco a nice little sales boost and some positive press coverage, but maybe not as much as a larger rebranding might.

Super Smart A-Eye

Researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital have teamed with UCL, a subsidiary of Google’s DeepMind, to show off an AI system capable of identifying more than 50 eye diseases with incredible accuracy and then refer patients to a specialist.

The system uses deep learning to create algorithm-driven software that can identify common patterns in data culled from dozens of common eye diseases from 3D scans. The AI can even explain why a diagnosis was made.

A study published in Nature Medicine says the AI system made the right referral recommendation in more than 94 percent of cases based on a review of historic patient scans. It performed as good, or better than, top eye specialists who examined the same scan.

“Doctors and patients don’t want just a black box answer, they want to know why,” Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor at MIT, told Stat. “There is a standard of care, and if the AI technique doesn’t follow that standard of care, people are going to be uncomfortable with it.”

Why its hot

Would people be as comfortable going to an AI for medical diagnosis as they are with human doctors? Many people don’t see doctors because they’re uncomfortable, but perhaps they’d be more willing to get a diagnosis from an AI that they can then take as a referral to a specialist. Systems like this that give people more access to personal health information can only help increase access to healthcare, especially in countries where a lack of specialists is an issue.

 

Do you even lift?

“Across the board, across all industries, you see about $96 billion in worker compensation costs,” says Benjamin Kanner, CEO and founder of Worklete. “About 64% of those are related to musculoskeletal injuries–your back injuries, your shoulder injuries, your knee injuries.

“If we can teach these folks basic rules for human movement, and say, ‘Yes, there is a better and a worse way to move,’ that’s really how we win. That’s how we help blue-collar, underserved populations stay injury-free so they can work hard all day long and then go home and enjoy their lives outside of work, too.”

Worklete trains workforces to move in better, smarter, and safer ways, whether that’s teaching the proper driving posture when operating a forklift or the best technique for lifting a five-gallon water jug. Today, 20,000 frontline workers use the smartphone app, which runs each employee through 10 two-week training modules. The first week of each module is centered around movement “basics,” with photo- and video-based lessons followed by short quizzes. The total time commitment is about five minutes per week.

The second part of each module involves in-person practice sessions with partners or teams. These trainings are led by “champions,” unofficial leaders on the ground. Champions, typically shift managers, are selected during new client onboarding. For Worklete subscribers, an admin dashboard allows managers to monitor employee progress on training modules on an individual basis, evaluate performance at the city or regional level, and review team rosters, including new hires (marked with red), who might benefit from extra attention.

Why its hot

This is great on multiple levels. Not only does it solve a problem (workforce injuries from heavy lifting/general stress), but it also creates brand evangelists within the companies themselves, keeping employees engaged and using the service. Throw in the cost savings from keeping your employees healthy and it’s a no brainer for any company with a lot of physical labor. I would love to see companies with even less physical stress, where people mainly sit all day, use something like Worklete as well.

When You Shop Online, This Chrome Extension Suggests Ethical Alternatives

A Google search for “men’s dress shirts” yields a list of ads and results from the most expected brands. But if you install a new Chrome extension called DoneGood, you’ll also get a lesser-known suggestion: Tuckerman, a startup that makes organic cotton shirts in a union factory in Massachusetts.

DoneGood uses independent certifications, from B Corps to Rainforest Alliance, to screen companies, along with independent research.

The company also makes an app that lets customers search for companies more directly, by choosing a product and selecting values–like “women-owned” or “green.” DoneGood piloted an early version of the app in Boston while the startup was incubated at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Both the extension and app were released nationally on November 28.

Why it’s hot

I think people always want to make ethical choices when shopping for things like good and clothing, but lack of knowledge and price point are the biggest hurdles. Extensions and apps like this, that can alleviate one of those issues, is very helpful for people looking to make a change.

Major League Baseball tickets are going biometric in 2019

Clear, the company that lets people skip the TSA pre-check lines at airports, has announced it is teaming up with Major League Baseball and Tickets.com to introduce biometric ticketing at participating ballparks in 2019. A pilot program will arrive at select venues later this season.

The partnership will make use of the API of MLB’s ticketing technology company, Tickets.com. Clear members can link their profiles with their MLB.com accounts, entering Comerica Park or Yankee Stadium or AT&T Park with just the tap of a finger. There is also potential for more advanced tech like facial recognition. Lines would certainly move faster if all you had to do was walk right in!

The company is also planning to pilot biometric concessions in the state of Washington, meaning instead of getting carded for beer, fans can simply show a finger to prove their age. Clear is already at 13 stadiums across the nation, and while it charges air passengers to make use of the service, it will be free for sports fans.

Why Its Hot

Anything that makes lines move faster is ok by me! Right now, tickets on your phone is about as advanced as it gets, so it will be interesting to see how quickly new forms of tech can catch on.

Theater with an AR Twist

This week, his Israeli startup, ARShow, announced the launch of a new AR platform and operating system aimed specifically at theaters. The system allows theater producers to incorporate fantastical AR elements and characters into live shows, creating visually stimulating group experiences that are part stage play, part 3D movie.

“This is the ideal tool we’ve been waiting for,” theater artist, Sasha Kreindlin says. “It’s not a 2D projection behind the actor, but it’s 3D objects in the virtual space. The entire venue is my platform.”

Theaters have been experimenting with AR for a while now, but the technology usually requires audience members to peer through their smartphones to see the AR elements. ARShow goes a step further, equipping each audience member with an AR headset and integrating the operating system into the theater’s sound system, lighting, and projector. The live actors on stage use monitors to help them seamlessly interact with the show’s AR components.

Kreindlin says he’d like to debut the system on a mid-size stage off-Broadway, and would ultimately like to move to a larger Broadway venue. That might prove to be tougher than it sounds. Broadway producers are notoriously risk-averse, and most shows already don’t earn a profit, even without the added production expense of retrofitting a theater with unfamiliar technology.

Why its hot

Technology like this might be enough to get non-theater goes to try out a show, but it’ll probably be too off putting to the theater junkies in cities like New York. If it actually hit the big time, like a serious Broadway production, it would go a long way toward proving its value.

Twitter Is Definitely Making an Edit Button Now

So Twitter is definitely going to make an edit button because Kim Kardashian corned Jack Dorsey at some party and made a case for one.

So that means it’s definitely happening. Probably

This is actually the second time Kim K has brought this up to Twitter’s CEO. The last time was in 2015.

So what’s different now? Well, probably not much. But Twitter would certainly love a quick win given how often they’ve been hammered in the press for how they handle banning abusive users, cleaning out phony bot accounts, and handing out verification check marks.

Maybe an edit button will be some easy positive press.

There’s also the power of Kim K. If she doesn’t get the edit button she wants, maybe she just tweets something negative about Twitter, delete her account, and tank their stock. Kim’s sister Kendall Jenner did it to Snapchat already!

Why it’s hot

Personally, I don’t want an edit button, but I think I am in the minority and people would rather have it than not. Threading tweets makes it possible to add context to amend previous tweets, but to be able to go back and change things you’ve tweeted could cause a lot of problems trying to hold powerful people responsible for their posts (ahem, Donald Trump). Perhaps the edit ability expires after 5 minutes or something like that. Could be a good compromise.

Drones Doing Good in the Rainforest

The Peruvian Amazon has already lost over 1 million hectares of forest in the last 15 years, and indigenous communities are seeing their water grow more polluted by the day and their lands dry up.

Last year, residents of the indigenous northern Peruvian communities that populate the Amazonian rainforest between Yurimaguas and Lagunas noticed the beginnings of a new highway running through their lands. New roads through the Amazon often mean that logging and mining companies are preparing to move into the region.

The Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), an indigenous rights organization, recently partnered with Oxfam to deploy a drone to indigenous communities facing land rights infringements. The drone enables community members to track changes to their land and provide precise location data for where these changes are occurring.

The drone program, says Oxfam program manager Neal McCarthy, is still very much in the pilot stage. AIDESEP holds the drone at its main office in Lima, and deploys it out for use when one of the 109 indigenous communities it coordinates with detects an invasive development to document. (AIDESEP has operated another independently funded drone since 2015, but its capabilities and scope were more limited.) With around $25,000 in funding from Oxfam, AIDESEP sourced the drone and hosted trainings through the Amazonian rainforest to instruct community leaders in how to use it.

Why its hot

Drones can deliver packages and drop tear gas on protesters, but what good can they do. It’s good to see noble uses of drones and given that they are a relatively cheap technology, they should be more accessible to under-served communities.

The Saddest Metaphor for Online Dating

No one likes online dating.

A recent social media post presented the best possible metaphor and it turned into a funny moment for Bumble. Writer Hannah Murphy posted the below tweet:

Never wanting to miss an opportunity to commiserate, Twitter users were quick to pile on:

Bumble eventually responded, trying to do a little damage control, but apparently people are so jaded they actually liked it.

Bumble often hosts pop-up spaces with yellow themed activities, which is probably where the sad, desolate machine came from. Most recently, a three-month event known as the “Bumble Hive” took place in Los Angeles, inviting active Bumble users to stop by for drinks, networking opportunities, and chance to win a prize from Bumble’s claw machine.

Bumble hasn’t responded to requests for comment yet — hopefully the company has a more positive outlook on their dating app than this claw machine shows.

Why its hot

Not every brand fail has to be an embarrassing social media moment. And if you can’t look at online dating, even as the company trying to profit from it, with a sense of humor, why bother?

The (Physical) Book Was Better

Despite all of the advances of on-screen entertainment, from Netflix to Kindle, there are a lot of people who prefer to buy physical books. But Ambient Literature wants to change that and get people turning to their screens to read books.

The project, a collaboration between the U.K. universities UWE Bristol, Bath Spa University, and the University of Birmingham, Ambient Lit uses GPS and weather data to adapt to the user’s environment. The goal is to create an immersive experience that books just can’t match (apparently).

“We’re living in a phase where visual media is so readily available to us and visual media is so seductive for us,” says Kate Pullinger, an author who worked on a mobile-first ghost story called Breathefor Ambient Lit. “Part of what I’m interested in is what does it mean to read on screen in this world we live in that’s dominated by visual media. What kind of reading experience might be native to the smartphone in a way that just sticking an e-book on your phone isn’t?”

Open up the link to Breathe–which recommends you use a smartphone to read it–and the page will ask for your permission to use information like your location and your camera. When you agree, it uses three different data sets to personalize the story to your setting every time you read it: location, weather, and season. When you read the story on a rainy Monday in New York City, that’s referenced in the story.

Ambient Literature commissioned two other stories besides Pullinger’s, both of which take the form of apps. One, It Must Have Been Dark by Then by Duncan Speakman, combines a physical book with audio–which people listen to via an app–and incorporates the reader’s geographical surroundings into the story. The other, The Cartographer’s Confession by James Atlee, can only be experienced in London, and combines audio with historical photos. Both utilize location data to create different kinds of stories that adapt to the reader–a stark contrast to traditional novels that ask readers to engage in their fictional world.

Other features of the smartphone besides location data can find their way into the story, too: Another thriller Pullinger wrote (outside the Ambient Lit project), called Jellybone, pulls out all the stops, utilizing vibrations, video, audio, and even pinging notifications.

Why its hot

This is certainly a cool use of technology to make reading more interactive and engaging for the reader, creating unique experiences. It might be more interesting to younger readers and I’d love to see how they could adapt the technology to pre-existing books to make them more engaging. But I’ll stick with my old person physical books, small NYC apartment be damned!

Facebook Is Blocking Foreign Ads in Ireland During Abortion Vote

Facebook might have finally recognized that letting foreign countries advertise during important political moments is a bad idea.

Facebook announced Tuesday that it would not be accepting ads related to the upcoming Irish referendum on abortion laws from sources outside Ireland. The country is set to vote on May 25 on whether to ease abortion restrictions, currently considered some of the strictest in the world.

“Today, as part of our efforts to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence, we will begin rejecting ads related to the referendum if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Ireland,” Facebook’s Dublin office wrote in a blog post.

Facebook’s move to block outside advertisers comes as the platform continues to implement new rules about political advertising. The company has been criticized for allowing foreign entities to buy ads targeting voters in other countries without disclosing the source of those ads.

In the U.S., Facebook is launching a “view ads” tool, which lets users see all the ads a particular source is running, as well as a verification process to make sure advertisers are from the country where an election is taking place.

Why its hot

This is the first time Facebook is proactively taking steps to block foreign advertisers from trying to influence and election. I think this is a good step for Facebook to take in order to try and preserve some sense of safety around their platform.

What the heck is GDPR?

The European Union is about to roll out sweeping regulations governing how companies collect, use, and share people’s data. And it doesn’t matter where your business is based–if you deal with E.U. residents online, you’re going to be affected too.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect May 25, is designed to give users more control of their information. In total, there are 99 articles in the new GDPR laws. The law will require companies to obtain consent from users before collecting any data. GDPR also requires companies to notify regulators and affected individuals of any breaches of security within 72 hours. Companies that don’t comply with the new rules can be fined as much as 4 percent of their global annual revenue.

To date, the GDPR is one of the broadest and most comprehensive laws devised by a Western country to regulate the Internet and personal data privacy, according to Trevor Hughes, president of the New Hampshire-based International Association of Privacy Professionals. (The United States has only sector-specific laws to protect personal data.)

While the crux of GDPR is about putting the power of data back in the hands of consumers, giving users a better understanding of where our data is and what it’s being used for, for large companies it has resulted in a big bill. British firms have spent over $1 billion dollars getting ready, and for American companies that bill is over $8 billion. And for many, that money is being spent on legal fees trying to navigate the vague regulations.

But what about smaller companies? As of January, only about 40 percent of businesses had heard of GDPR, and of those that had, only a quarter were prepared for it, according to a survey conducted by the University of Portsmouth and a U.K. market research firm.

Why its hot

GDPR is a big, complicated mess. Large companies like Google and Facebook, who make most of their money outside Europe, won’t have much to worry about. But smaller companies are already starting to shut European countries out rather than comply. It’s just easier. Looking specifically at Facebook, their year-over-year revenue growth is more than Europe’s percentage of Facebook revenue. Companies can either dump all their data or stop doing business in Europe.

One thing GDPR may do is kill the targeted ads business in Europe. That’s a big deal to smaller firms who cannot handle the drop in CPM. Facebook won’t have that issue. If anything GDPR may only further entrench giants like Google and Facebook in our every day lives.

The Golden State Killer and Your DNA

In an astonishing bit of work, police were able to track down the man they suspect of being the Golden State Killer after matching his DNA with the DNA of distant relatives thanks to a commercial genetics testing company. As StatNews reports:

Investigators took DNA collected years ago from one of the crime scenes and submitted it in some form to one or more websites that have built up a vast database of consumer genetic information.

 

The results led law enforcement to the suspected killer’s distant relatives, who were presumably among the millions of consumers who have paid up and mailed in a spit kit to track down long-lost family members, learn more about their ancestry, or gauge their risk for medical conditions. That created a pool of potential suspects under the same family tree that investigators eventually narrowed down to 72-year-old former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, the Sacramento Bee and other news outlets reported.

Genetic testing companies 23andMe, MyHeritage, and Ancestry have all denied they were the company involved in the investigation.

The case of the Golden State Killer has been in the news a lot lately. Written by the late Michelle McNamara, the book was finished after her death and her husband, Patton Oswalt, has spent months promoting its release.

Privacy advocates have long been concerned that consumers are unaware that by submitting their DNA to these companies they are agreeing to let the companies share their DNA with law enforcement. There is also concern that the imperfect tests could put innocent people at risk. All the major commercial genetic testing companies’ policies state they will turn over your DNA to law enforcement when required to with a subpoena or warrant.

Why its hot

For all the discussions around privacy on social media, that’s still just a bunch of “likes” and “shares;” some companies actually own what makes you…YOU. Obviously solving cold cases is extremely important, and DNA evidence regularly helps do just that. But mistakes can be made and companies like Ancestry are not trained law enforcement professionals. In this case, the investigators took DNA from a crime scene and basically asked a company if it matched anyone on record, and it did. From there, law enforcement could probably obtain a warrant. But is it unethical for a company to store your DNA results after your business with them is concluded, and then give your DNA away to some other entity? And if so, is there a line to be drawn somewhere?

Facebook Live Makes the Met Museum More Accessible

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is now using Facebook Live to make its museum even more inclusive. The Met started putting tours on Facebook Live a few months ago with an art historian and lecturer taking viewers on a tour of the Rodin exhibit in ASL. It was a success, with more than 52,000 views proving demand for such a program is huge. The ASL tour of Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art was viewed by 18,000 people, many of whom were stumped by the lack of audio on the tour. (It’s in ASL, which doesn’t require audio.) Meanwhile, the live-streamed ASL program on Umberto Boccioni’s “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” reached 17,000 views in just 24 hours.

In addition to programs for visitors who are deaf, many museums, the Met included, offer programs to make their art accessible to visitors who are blind or partially sighted. For example, in addition to braille guides, the Museum of Modern Art offers tours where specially trained guides give detailed visual descriptions of the works and touch tours where visitors can feel the art.

Why Its Hot

See, Facebook can be used for good too! Increasing access to otherwise inaccessible locations is one of the best uses of social media. So often we see videos on Facebook without captions, so using the popular format and in such an inclusive way is great to see.

Facebook’s Implementing Disclosure on “Issues Ads”

The changes keep coming at Facebook.

You’re Going to ‘Dig’ This App

I recently took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico and along the way I read “The Great Quake” by Henry Fountain. The book details the 1964 Good Friday earthquake that struck southern Alaska and how its subsequent study helped confirm the long-debated theory of plate tectonics.

The book made me think a lot about geology and while flying over New Mexico, I found myself looking down at the geography of the land and wishing I knew more about it.

Well, like all things, there’s an app for that.

Flyover Country was developed by geologist Shane Loeffler and it provides information about the ground below as you fly over it. Following the information in the app’s UI, you can learn about everything from extinct volcanoes, fault trails, and even where dinosaur bones have been discovered. It even works in airplane mode!

Flyover Country is part of an initiative called EarthCube. Created by the National Science Foundation in 2011, it’s a loosely defined coalition to fund “community-created cyberinfrastructure” that makes huge stores of data about the natural world more accessible to everyone–through technology like Flyover Country. “Creating content for the entire world of potential flight paths would be impossible, but right now is an amazing time for open access to geoscience data thanks to initiatives like NSF’s EarthCube,” Loeffler says.

Loeffler hopes to add AR to the app so you can simply hold up your phone to look at the data overlaid on the world below.

Why Its Hot

I love apps that seamlessly integrate with the world around us to teach us things. Night sky apps are another example. This could also be great for kids in search of things to entertain themselves on flights…or adults who hate flying and need a distraction.

Warby Parker and Arby’s Team Up for April Fool’s

Eyewear purveyor Warby Parker is teaming up with the meat lovers at Arby’s for an April Fool’s launch–WArby’s

“Arby’s has an eye for meat. Warby Parker has meat for eyes. The result? A new partnership sandwiched somewhere between vision and at least eight different kinds of meat,” the companies say in a joint statement.

Beginning Friday, WArby’s will be piloting several locations in New York City—at Warby Parker’s 121 Greene Street store, and at the Arby’s at 32 E. 23rd Street. Those locations will offer the WArby’s Onion Ring Monocle, which is described as “a crispy yet corrective product that’s positioned at the intersection of food and fashion, encompassing the ideals of WArby’s in a single offering.”

There is also a set of limited-edition WArby’s-branded apparel (of course there is), featuring shirts, hats, sandwich-inspired lens cloths, tote bags and even a pair of “beef-hued glasses.” As part of the project, Warby Parker will make a donation to VisionSpring, whose mission is to ensure affordable eyeglasses are available to every individual to live a productive life. Arby’s will donate to No Kid Hungry, a national campaign aimed at ending child hunger.

Facebook Opened Its Instant Games Platform to All Developers

Developers can now create games for Facebook’s Instant Games product, which launched to all Messenger users in May 2017. As part of the change, Facebook’s Ad’s API is also now available to all developers, meaning we can integrate interstitial and rewarded video ads, powered by Audience Network, into games.

In a Facebook Newsroom post, product manager Michael Weingert said, “Monetization Manager will help Instant Games developers maximize revenue with advanced optimization tools, simplify management of ad placements across apps and provide enhanced analytics functionality and deeper reporting. We also added Instant Games-specific reporting into Facebook Analytics to help developers understand and optimize the unique social contexts of the platform.”

Weingert also said Facebook will soon roll out the ability for developers to create user-acquisition ad campaigns that will take players directly into games after they click ads on Facebook.

Why its hot

Instant Games is quickly building its roster of games. There are currently nearly 200 games available, up from 70 last December. By leveraging Facebook’s huge user base, game developers are able to get their games in front of a lot of people right away. And these new ad features opens another channel as well. These games, and ads, are another way Facebook is trying to keep people on the site.

What even is social media anymore?

For the past 24 hours, Wendy’s and Little Debbie have been hosting a “talk show” on Twitter.

Denny’s was invited, but apparently was too busy, so Pop-Tarts stepped in. Moonpie also stopped by to talk about teens and their new interest, tweens.

Why its hot

Twitter is free, by the way! So much of the news around social media today is about Russian bots, toxicity, and fake news. But then, over here, brands are just throwing out the playbook and having fun. Strategy-scmategy. Just hop on Twitter, tweet some stuff, tag another brand, they respond with some more stuff, and so on. They’re not promoting a product, it’s not part of a campaign. Or maybe it is a strategy and the strategy is no strategy. Such is social media today.

Good Riddance Facebook Explore

RIP Facebook Explore feed.

Facebook has decided to end a test of their controversial “Explore Feed,” which separated publisher content from page content. The alternative feed was tested only internationally, in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia, as a response to user feedback saying they wanted to see more from friends and family.

But, unsurprisingly, users were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing in Explore and having two separate feeds made it harder for users to access important information. Publishers saw a decrease in traffic from Facebook during the test, and that decrease was especially large for smaller publications more reliant on Facebook for traffic.

Why Its Hot

For better or worse, people are turning to social media for their news, and anything that takes the news out is going to be a problem. Between live shows, news and information, buying and selling things, and soon job listings, Facebook is becoming less and less the site to go when you want to see pics of your friends.

“Snap” Up Those Jordans

Maybe “I need to snap those sneakers” will become a new thing people say. Young people anyway.

Snapchat launched its first brand collaboration, enabling users to purchase the latest paid of Jordan brand sneakers without leaving the app. The collaboration with Shopify and Jordan Brand launched during the NBA All-Star game. With Shopify facilitating the in-app check out process, the shoes sold out in 23 minutes. To take part, users scanned in a Snapcode, which linked them to the purchase process.

Of course, Snapchat is not the first to do this—Facebook Messenger and Instagram have similar partnerships with Shopify.

Why its hot

While this may have been a self-contained event during a prime moment for the intended audience (Jordans at the NBA All-Star Game!), this could be the way Snapchat grabs back some attention from Instagram Stories, giving brands a way in to that elusive millennial demographic. We could start seeing limited edition QR codes out in the world to discover through Snapchat.

Cuisine that can communicate

Graphene is the world’s only man-made 2D material. It is much stronger than steel and 100 times more conductive than copper, but so far there has been no breakout application for graphene.

But maybe we can just eat it!

Researchers at Rice University have created a commercial laser that can transform the carbon on the surface of foods into graphene. This can create an edible circuit, including fuel cells to store power, radio hardware to transmit data, all sorts of censors, etc.

“Very often, we don’t see the advantage of something until we make it available,” said the lab’s lead James Tour in a press release. “Perhaps all food will have a tiny RFID tag that gives you information about where it’s been, how long it’s been stored, its country and city of origin, and the path it took to get to your table.” via Fast Co Design.

Why its hot

The possibilities could be endless. An actual apple with 1,000 songs on it? Any bit of clothing is potentially a wearable.

Who Needs an Ad Budget When You Have a Rocketship?

On Tuesday, Elon Musk made history…twice.

Not only did his private space-flight company, Space-X, pull off one of the greatest feats of engineering in history when they launched and successfully landed the Falcon Heavy rocket, but they managed to turn it into an ad opportunity for Tesla.

Tesla famously has a $0 ad budget, but who needs money when you have your own rockets? Right now, you can go onto YouTube to watch a cherry red Tesla, complete with passenger, nicknamed Starman, floating appropriately through space. The original plan was to go nearly 250 million miles from Earth and approach Mars, according to Space.com. However, a rocket carrying the car overshot, meaning it’ll pass Mars’ orbit and enter the asteroid belt.

Watch Starman here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M 

Why its hot

No need for a green screen or Photoshop when you can literally launch your product into space!