Posts tagged with "Facebook group"

No ‘Joshing’: Armed with pool noodles, hundreds battle to be rightful owner of the name ‘Josh’

May 26, 2022

At the peak of pandemic boredom, an absurd idea popped into Josh Swain’s head.

The 22-year-old University of Arizona student was in the midst of a Zoom lecture last April, “staring into the abyss,” he said, when he spontaneously decided to start a Facebook group with a bunch of strangers who share the same name, reports The Washington Post.

“You’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here today,” he wrote to nine fellow Josh Swains. One person promptly responded by stating the obvious: “Because we all share the same names?”

Swain replied with an unusual request: “Precisely, 4/24/2021, josh, meet at these coordinates (40.82223286, -96.7982002),” he wrote. “We fight, whoever wins gets to keep the name, everyone else has to change their name, you have a year to prepare, good luck.”

The Facebook message was purely intended as a joke, Swain said, but to his astonishment, his name twins—and thousands of others on the Internet—didn’t think he was just joshing. They actually took his request somewhat seriously.

Indeed, one year after he sent the original message—on April 24, the exact date specified—hundreds of people gathered at a field in Lincoln, Nebraska, near the random coordinates Swain picked out, both to spectate and participate in what later became known as “Josh

“When I first made the post, I thought zero people would actually show up,” Swain said. He was mistaken.

He originally shared screenshots of his Facebook message on Twitter a year ago, with the caption, “there can only be one.” It went viral, garnering thousands of shares and likes across multiple social media platforms. Some strangers took things a step further, starting a number of Josh Swain Reddit pages, which feature countless memes.

“It was so weird when it blew up,” Swain said. Eventually, though, the buzz died down, and he assumed that was the end of the “Josh Fight.”

But the name battle, he soon learned, had yet to truly begin. Two months ago, out of nowhere, “people started to remember,” Swain said. Panic set in after he spotted a post online of someone outlining plans to drive across the country for the event.

Swain’s reaction: “Sorry, what?!”

Not only did his original post suddenly resurface, but the mock event somehow evolved from only being intended for Josh Swains, to an all-out Josh battle —sans surnames.

According to data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, the name Joshua is the 21st-most-popular name for men. Naturally, Joshes from every part of the country who saw Swain’s original message got amped up for the battle.

“I never intended to follow through with the fight,” said Swain, who studies civil engineering and is graduating in May.

Things got serious when someone created a dedicated website with a countdown. Swain decided he had no choice but to book a flight from Phoenix to Lincoln for the event.

 It got to a point where he knew “people were going to show up, regardless of whether I was there or not,” he said. Given that he inadvertently started the viral, unplanned event, he felt compelled to help control it.

So he took the reins, and in the week leading up to April 24, he hashed out some details. Swain started by contacting the Lincoln Police Department to notify them of the event, and enlisted local help to scout out an appropriate location, because it turned out the original coordinates are actually on someone’s private property.

He also decided to use the occasion to collect money for a good cause, he said. Swain started a fundraiser —which has raised nearly $12,000—for the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation in Omaha.

“I thought it would be a good way to give back, and I think everybody can get behind children’s health care,” said Swain, who also encouraged attendees to bring nonperishable food for the Lincoln Food Bank.

Finally, he laid out some ground rules in a Reddit post, under the username “ACTUAL JOSH.”

Mainly he emphasized that “there will be no physical violence,” writing: “Joshs, I am calling on you to uphold the honor that the name possesses and to be good stewards of this event.” He went on to outline the rules for what he called a “Pool Noodle Battle Royale,” which only people with the first name Josh would be permitted to participate in. He also urged everyone to wear masks. Then, after much anticipation, it was finally time for Josh Fight—also known as the Josh

By noon on the designated date, the field was flooded with hundreds of Joshes and their supporters. “There was upward of 1,000 people,” Swain estimated, adding that attendees ranged in age from 4 to about 40, and some arrived from WashingtonSstate, Florida, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas and elsewhere across the country.

A sea of people named Josh wielding colorful foam pool noodles dueled for more than 10 minutes, until finally there was only one Josh standing: four-year-old Joshua Vinson Jr., from Lincoln.

Once it was clear that he was the victor, “I ran over with the megaphone, and I was like, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is your champion,’” Swain said. “It was this incredible moment.”

The crowd cheered as the boy—whom everyone called Little Josh—was hoisted into the air wearing an oversize Burger King crown and clutching his weapon, a red pool noodle.

His father, Joshua Vinson Sr., said it was something his son will never forget.

“We had a blast. Little Josh came out victorious,” Vinson Sr., who stumbled upon the event on Facebook, said. “He got hit a couple times, but he didn’t go down.”

“It’s been a hard year, and I think everybody needed something like this. It was such a wholesome event, there’s nothing negative about it,” Swain said. “That’s what made it so spectacular.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he continued. “We might have to make it an annual thing.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

‘Fuzz cut’: Toddler is diagnosed with rare uncombable hair syndrome

February 28, 2022

A couple from Roswell, Georgia, recently told People magazine about their “brush with fate.”

When Katelyn and Caleb Samples celebrated the birth of their second child just 16 months ago, baby Locklan arrived with jet-black hair similar to his mom’s color. But by the time he was six months old, that dark hair was being replaced by what his parents affectionally called “peach fuzz.”

“We were like, huh, what is this?” she tells People of Locklan’s (nicknamed Lock) newly-blond, soft hair. “We knew it was different, but didn’t know exactly how. And then it kept growing and growing.”

By nine months, Lock’s hair was white-blonde, super soft and sticking straight up out of his head. It matched his 3-year-old brother Shep’s hair in color, but could not be more different in texture.

“People we’re definitely noticing it,” Katelyn, 33, says with a laugh. That’s also when she got a message on Instagram from a stranger who asked if Lock had been diagnosed with “uncombable hair syndrome.”

“I was like, oh my god, what is this? Is something wrong with my baby?” she says. “I went into tailspins on Google.”

Katelyn called their pediatrician, who said they had never heard of the syndrome and directed her to a specialist at nearby Emory University Hospital.

“We went to see her and she said she’d only seen this once in 19 years,” Katelyn recalls. “She didn’t think it was uncombable hair syndrome, because of how rare it is, but they took samples and a pathologist looked at it under a special microscope.”

And after looking at the structure of Lock’s hair, they were able to confirm that, indeed, it was uncombable hair syndrome—an extremely rare condition that causes the hair to grow with a very soft and easily breakable texture. Lock is one of just 100 known cases of the condition.

Hearing that Lock had this syndrome was a shock at first. “You’re just going about your day thinking everything’s fine and that your kid might have curly hair, which does run in the family. And then to hear that there’s a rare syndrome associated with your kid — it was crazy,” Katelyn says.

Thankfully, the syndrome only seems to affect Lock’s hair. “They said because he was developing normally in every other area of his life, that we didn’t need to be worried about anything else being a concern,” she says.

Katelyn tried to learn more about the syndrome, but with so few cases, there’s very little information online or among specialists. She did, though, find a Facebook group of parents of kids with the syndrome or people who have it themselves.

“That’s been a great source of comfort, and we share pictures and talk about different things,” she says. “It’s cool to see how the older kids’ hair has changed over the years: For some people it does not go away, and for others it becomes a little bit more manageable.”

Research contact: @people

Into the unknown: 400,000 UFO enthusiasts who met on Facebook intend to invade Area 51

July 15, 2019

On Friday, September 20, from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. (PDT), a huge group of alien enthusiasts—close to half a million—who found each other on a Facebook fan site has agreed to “meet up at the [U.S. government’s off-limits, fiercely guarded] Area 51 … and coordinate our entry.

“If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens,” one of the members of the Facebook site resolves.

Located 80 miles outside north of Las Vegas, Area 51 is one of the most famous military installations in the world—known more for its cloak of absolute secrecy than for the flight testing that the government insists happens at the base.

Conspiracy theorists and UFO spotters believe that the government hid an alien spacecraft, as well as the alien pilot who did not survive the flight, at the high-security superstructure over 50 years ago—and has gone to great lengths to protect its plunder.

For the uninitiated, “Naruto running” refers to the unique running style of the Naruto Uzmaki, the lead character in the Japanese anime series of the same name. He often is depicted sprinting with his head forward and his arms stretched behind him.

The Facebook-spawned event—called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us—may not end well for those who signed the petition and actually show up, according to writer Michael Grothaus of Fast Company magazine.

It may be more dangerous than they participants think, he says. Indeed, some believe the United States uses the site to develop such technology as sci-fi energy weapons, weather control options, and even time travel..

“Since 2013 the U.S. government has acknowledged that Area 51 is a military site, but has never revealed what types of operations go on there,” Grothaus comments. “Still, even if you have 400,000 people who are supposedly willing to overrun a U.S. military installation, it’s probably not a good idea to pre-announce your attack. And man, if they really do have those secret sci-fi energy weapons there, you guys are screwed.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

Don’t trust that online product review!

May 11, 2018

Do you habitually check Amazon’s product reviews before you place your orders? If so, BuzzFeed has a cautionary tale to tell—and although the names have been changed, the alleged “fraud” is all too real, the website claims.

It involves manufacturers/merchants that will pay for five-star ratings—and sellers such as Amazon that cannot root out or thwart fake product evaluations.

As BuzzFeed reports, one morning in late January, “Jake” picked up a shipping box, tore through the packaging, found the enclosed iPhone case, snapped a photo, and uploaded it to an Amazon review he was busy composing.

The review raved about the case’s sleek design and cool, clear volume buttons. He finished it off with a glowing title (“The perfect case!!”) and rated the product a perfect five stars. Click. Submitted.

There’s just one problem: Jake had never tried the case. He doesn’t even have an iPhone, BuzzFeed notes.

He then copied the link to his review and pasted it into an invite-only Slack channel for paid Amazon reviewers. A day later, he received a notification from PayPal, alerting him to a new credit in his account: A $10 refund for the phone case he will never use, along with $3 for his efforts.

“Jake” and four other reviewers who spoke to BuzzFeed for the story asked to remain anonymous for fear Amazon would ban their accounts.

They are part of an underground network—a complicated web of subreddits, invite-only Slack channels, private Discord servers, and closed Facebook groups—and, according to BuzzFeed, the incentives are simple: Being a five-star product is crucial to selling inventory at scale in the intensely competitive online marketplace — so important that manufacturers and merchants are willing to pay thousands of people to review their products positively.

And it works, time after time: In a 2011 Cone survey, 87% of consumers said that a positive review confirmed their decision to purchase a product; online customer reviews are the second most trusted source of product information, behind recommendations from family and friends. But only 3% to 10% of “real” customers leave reviews.

It’s not that Amazon and other marketplaces haven’t tried: In October 2016, Amazon banned free items or steep discounts in exchange for reviews facilitated by third parties.

But , already, they are back. Tommy Noonan, CEO of ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes Amazon product ratings, said what he calls “unnatural reviews —that is, reviews, that his algorithm indicates might be fake—have returned to the platform. In June 2017, Noonan noticed an uptick in unnatural reviews along with an increase in the average rating of products, and the rate of growth hasn’t slowed since.

Amazon won’t reveal how many reviews—fraudulent or tota—it has, BuzzFeed says. But based on his analysis of Amazon data, Noonan estimates that Amazon hosts around 250 million reviews. Noonan’s website has collected 58.5 million of those reviews, and the ReviewMeta algorithm labeled 9.1%, or 5.3 million of the dataset’s reviews, as “unnatural.”

A word to the wise: An unnatural review doesn’t necessarily mean a product is substandard. But the problem with paid-for reviews is that they make it difficult for consumers—even savvy ones (and we know you are)—to determine whether what they’re buying is actually good or bad.

Research contact: nicole.nguyen@buzzfeed.com