Posts tagged with "Facebook"

Facebook, Instagram will allow political ads that claim the 2020 election was stolen

November 17, 2023

Meta will allow political ads on its platforms to question the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election—part of a rollback in election-related content moderation among major social media platforms over the past year ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential contest, reports CNN.

The policy means that Metathe parent company of Facebook and Instagramwill be able to directly profit from political ads that boost false claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. While the company will allow political advertisements to claim that past elections, including the 2020 presidential race, were rigged, it will prohibit those that “call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election.”

The change is part of a year-old policy update but has not been widely reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta’s ads policy had changed on Wednesday, November 15.

Meta says the policy allowing 2020 election denialism in political ads was part of an August 2022 announcement about its approach to last year’s midterm elections, when the company said it would prohibit ads targeting users in the United States, Brazil, Israel, and Italy that discourage people from voting, call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election, or prematurely claim an election victory.

That same month, Meta told The Washington Post that it would not remove posts from political candidates or regular users that claim voter fraud or that the 2020 election was rigged.

Meta’s broader electoral misinformation policy continues to prohibit content that could interfere with people’s ability to participate in voting or the census, such as false claims about the timing of an election, according to the company.

“We wish we could say we were surprised Meta is choosing to profit off of election denialism, but it seems to be a feature of theirs, not a bug,” TJ Ducklo, a representative for the Biden campaign, told CNN in a statement about Meta’s ad policy. “They amplified the lies behind the ‘stop the steal’ movement. Now they’re coming for its cash. Joe Biden won the election in 2020 clearly, unequivocally, and fairly—no matter what Meta choose to promote.”

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Biden campaign’s statement.

Seprately, Meta said earlier this month that it would require political advertisers around the world to disclose any use of artificial intelligence in their ads, starting next year, as part of a broader move to limit “deepfakes” and other digitally altered misleading content.

The company also said it would prohibit political advertisers from using the its new artificial intelligence tools, which help brands generate text, backgrounds, and other marketing content.

Research contact: @CNN

Police fine a car owner after a speed camera appears to show a dog behind the wheel

October 3, 2023

A photograph taken by a speed camera in Slovakia appears to show a dog behind the wheel of a car. Police said the 31-year-old vehicle owner claimed that his dog suddenly had jumped onto his lap. Officers found no evidence to support his claim —no visual of abrupt movement in the car—and issued the “real” driver with a fine for violating traffic regulations. It is not clear how much he was fined, reports Business Insider.

The vehicle was traveling 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) an hour over the speed limit in the village of Šterusy, in western Slovakia. The image captured by a speed camera appears to show only a dog in the driver’s seat.

Slovakian police said in a post on Facebook on Friday, September 29, that the image showed a brown dog “sitting obediently behind the wheel of a Škoda,” per an English translation.

Following the strange incident, police urged drivers to properly secure all pets when traveling, as even small animals can endanger vehicle safety.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

Llama is brought to a wedding dressed as a groomsman—and steals the spotlight

September 22, 2023

When planning a wedding, inviting the guests is one of the main things on which a a couple must agree. But sometimes, even the most thorough planning can’t foresee whether one of the attendees may steal the spotlight at the party—especially if said guest happened to be a fluffy llama.

Recently, a llama named J joined a wedding in upstate New York, and its uniquely designed tuxedo made him look less like a cute animal and more like a dapper groomsman, reports My Modern Met.

J’s handlers are Llama Adventures, a farm dedicated to “bringing the joy of llamas to everyone.” And what better way to bring joy than with a cute creature dressed up as a party guest? To make it look like J is standing on two feet and elegantly donning a tuxedo, the llama’s costume features a pair of elegantly crossed hands and neatly ironed pants. When viewed from the perfect angle, the llama’s rear becomes hidden, creating the illusion that he is calmly posing for photos, getting smooches from the bridesmaids, and chatting with fellow groomsmen, all while standing like a hybrid human-llama.

As his cool demeanor shows, this is not J’s first rodeo—or wedding, to be more precise. “He also regularly attends birthday parties, nursing homes, school events, etc,” the Llama Adventures team tells My Modern Met. However, being part of Tara and Adam’s wedding as something closer to a best man than a curious critter was truly especial for both his handlers and the guests.

On top of the cool sight of a llama, his visit held a much deeper meaning. “It was the bride’s mother who contacted us about bring a llama to the wedding. It was a surprise for the bride,” Llama Adventures recalls. “Apparently it is her life dream to own a llama farm.” As the pictures show, Tara seems thrilled to share her special day with the llama, not only cheekily posing for family pictures, but even having it stand as part of the groomsmen during the ceremony.

As for the llama—whose full registered name is BC JJ’s Hallelujah—he seems to be having a blast. “J takes it all in stride and enjoys the attention,” his handlers add. “It’s always fun to take J (and/or other llamas) to events. In most cases it’s people’s first up close and personal experience with llamas. As our tag line says, we love sharing the joy of llamas with others. J in particular is a great ambassador.”\

To learn more about J and stay up to date with his party adventures, visit Llama Adventure’s website and follow them on Facebook.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Meta launches web version of flagging Threads app

August 25, 2023

Meta has launched a web version of its “Twitter killer” social media platform, Threads, that can be used without an app, as it attempts to revive itself after a recent drop in usage, reports The Guardian.

The parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp launched the microblogging site in July—widely understood to be an alternative for users disillusioned with Elon Musk-owned Twitter, which has since rebranded as X.

Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announced the release of the desktop version on Tuesday, August 22 with a photo of his younger self in his dorm room posted on Threads, captioned: “Actual footage of me building Threads for web. Rolling out over the next few days.”

The web browser functionality takes it a step closer to matching what X offers.

Threads experienced an initial boom in sign-ups after it was first launched on July 5, with 100 million new users registering within a week.

However, just three weeks later, the number of users who engaged with the site on a daily basis had dropped significantly. It had a peak of 49 million users shortly after its launch, but on July 22 that had fallen to 12 million active users, according to the Internet traffic analysts Similarweb.

Threads was launched during a period of instability on the then Twitter platform,  during which Musk instituting massive staff cuts, and changes to moderation enforcement and functionality that have prompted a backlash from users and advertisers.

Meta’s answer to Twitter was launched shortly after one of Musk’s widely criticised moves as owner—his decision to cap the daily number of tweets users could view on the platform.

Zuckerburg launched Threads as a new space for real-time updates and to have public conversations, and the interface is similar to X—where users can engage, repost, and like each other’s content.

Research contact: @guardian

Mark Zuckerberg shuts door on cage fight, saying Elon Musk ‘isn’t serious’

August 15, 2023

Mark Zuckerberg has said he is moving on from a rumored cage fight with Elon Musk, claiming the Tesla boss “isn’t serious,” reports The Guardian.

The rival billionaire tech bosses seemingly agreed to a brawl in June when Musk tweeted that he was “up for a cage fight.”

Zuckerberg, who manages Facebook and Instagram, took a screenshot of Musk’s tweet, replying “send me location.” However, on Sunday he said on his other social media platform, Threads: “I think we can all agree Elon isn’t serious and it’s time to move on.

“I offered a real date. Dana White (Ultimate Fighting Championship boss) offered to make this a legit competition for charity. Elon won’t confirm a date; then says he needs surgery, and now asks to do a practice round in my backyard instead.

“If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me. Otherwise, time to move on. I’m going to focus on competing with people who take the sport seriously.”

Musk, the owner of Twitter which he has renamed X, appeared to suggest the fight would be held in an “epic location” in Italy. He outlined streaming options and an ancient setting for the proposed event, claiming he had spoken to the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Tensions have been high between the two tech billionaires’ companies after the launch of Threads, a text-based conversation app, by Zuckerberg’s Meta in July.

Twitter sent a cease-and-desist letter to Zuckerberg after the launch—claiming Meta had made “unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property”.

Zuckerberg is trained in mixed martial arts, posting about completing his first jiu jitsu tournament earlier this year.

Musk said last week he was training for the fight by lifting weights. He wrote on X: “Don’t have time to work out, so I just bring them to work.”

Research contact: @guardian

Meta to join the conversation—launching Threads app to rival troubled Twitter

July 5, 2023

Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, is set to launch a new “conversation app” called Threads on Thursday, July 6. It is expected to compete directly with Twitter, reports NBC News.

The launch comes after a chaotic weekend, during which Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced a limit to the number of tweets users can view in one day.

A newly-launched website shows a countdown to Thursday’s launch and a listing on the Apple App Store describes Threads as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app.”

“Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow,” the app listing said.

“Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things—or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.”

The screengrab images show a text-based platform apparently similar to Twitter. The images also suggest users will be able to keep their Instagram username on the app. IPhone users will need to install iOS 14 or later to use it.

A spokesman for Meta declined to comment.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted a picture of the data Threads will require users to share, to which Musk simply replied: “Yeah.”

Twitter users have been dismayed by the tweet-viewing limits. On Saturday, Musk said unverified users would only be able to read 600 tweets a day, which he then revised upwards to 1,000.

Verified users, who have paid up to $11 a month for access to the Twitter Blue subscription service, can see up to 10,000 posts a day.

Musk said the move was to deter “extreme levels of data scraping,” the automated collection of large amounts of data.

Twitter now charges as much as $5,000 per month for startups; and at least $42,000 a month for businesses and scaled commercial projects for access to its API, which allows developers to make products using tweets and was previously free.

Next month, Twitter will also make Tweetdeck—a web application with advanced search and posting functions—available to Twitter Blue subscribers only. Users must buy a subscription within 30 days to continue to use it.

Tweetdeck was built by a London-based entrepreneur using the open API, before the service was purchased by Twitter in 2011 for an estimated $40 million.

The choice of name for Meta’s new app is a significant nod to its main rival. A thread, or a linked series of tweets, has become one of the key features of Twitter since it was introduced as an official feature in 2017.

Since it launched in 2006 as one of several “microblogging” services in the social media explosion of the web 2.0 era, Twitter has become a standard part of daily life for many. Governments, businesses, sports teams, think tanks, journalists, and many other organizations use Twitter to communicate with audiences—giving it huge importance globally, even though its daily users are far fewer than those on Instagram and Facebook.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Bodycam video shows Wisconsin deputies responding to driver’s ‘curious’ 911 call about ‘bobcat in my car”

April 24, 2023

Deputies in Wisconsin responded to an unusual call on Tuesday night, April 18, after a driver reported that a bobcat was inside his car and refused to leave, reports Fox News.

“Numerous deputies were curious” when they heard the radio dispatcher describe the call and responded to the driver’s location, Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas wrote on Facebook.

Lukas said that the three deputies were “shocked” when they arrived and found a live bobcat wedged inside the vehicle’s front grille.

“My deputies are really good at solving problems but this one baffled them, so we called in reinforcements with Conservation Warden Bryan Lockman,” Lukas wrote.

The Sheriff’s Office shared a two-minute bodycam video showing the warden and deputies working to remove the big cat from the driver’s car.

“That is a big paw,” one of the responders can be heard saying.

The warden eventually wrangled the bobcat with his catch pole and—with the help of a deputy who drew back the broken grille—pulled the feline out.

The bobcat did not appear happy about getting dragged out of its hiding place. The big cat twisted, turned, and flipped through the air as the warden, in one swift motion, pulled the animal from the car’s grille and into the bed of a pickup truck.

The bobcat was then safely returned to the wild, the Sheriff’s Office said. “All in a day’s work at the Portage County Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin [Department of Natural Resources],” Lukas wrote.

Research contact: @FoxNews

A pet cockatiel escaped. A Billy Joel song helped return him to his owner.

March 23, 2023

Christine Iturrino got home from the supermarket in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was about to bring her groceries into her house when she suddenly and unexpectedly saw Joel, her pet cockatiel. He flew out of her open front door and landed on her shoulder as she stood outside.

She gasped.

“In a panic, I tried to grab him, which you’re not supposed to do with birds,” said Iturrino, 58. “That freaked him out and he flew away toward the ocean, screaming all the way. I was heartsick,” she told The Washington Post.

Iturrino had adopted Joel from a bird rescue group 18 months earlier and loved having him as her sidekick around the house. The two got along quite well and were happy in their routine of sharing breakfast and listening to ’80s pop music, she said.

Iturrino spun into action, quickly printing colorful LOST BIRD notices emblazoned with “Parrot alert” and REWARD REWARD REWARD. She tacked them up all over her beachside neighborhood that weekend, Feb. 25.

She took two days off from her job as a regional transit bus driver to dedicate her time to finding Joel. She posted photos of the bird on social media, handed out additional fliers and looked tirelessly around the neighborhood for him.

Joel was a rescue cockatiel, and she didn’t know how old he was, but she figured he had many more years to live as her bird companion. Cockatiels in captivity typically live up to 20 or 25 years.

Joel has the run of the house, she said, and usually only spends time in his cage at night.

“He loves music, especially [Billy Joel’s] ‘Uptown Girl,’ and whistling,” Iturrino posted on Facebook, explaining how she believes the rescue bird acquired the name Joel.

“Most important, please, please keep him safe,” Iturrino added in her post. “I had promised him that and I’ve let him down.”

She was kicking herself for not being more careful as she brought in her groceries.

“He’s very people friendly, so I had a lot of hope,” Iturrino said. “But I was still pretty upset, especially as more time passed. I began to worry I’d never see him again.”

Then on March 6, nine days after Joel flew away, Iturrino was driving a bus when she took a quick break at a stop and glanced at her phone.

She had a text from an employee at SkyWheel Myrtle Beach, a 200-foot ferris wheel with 42 enclosed gondolas. The SkyWheel is a popular tourist attraction on Myrtle Beach’s boardwalk and is located about two miles from Iturrino’s house.

The text said: “I work at the beach — I think we found your bird.”

The employee, Theresa Glazer, added a photo of Joel perched on her shoulder inside the SkyWheel ticket booth.

Iturrino could hardly believe it. “I started shouting out to the passengers, ‘They found my bird!’” she said.

Glazer said she’d keep Joel with her for the day, then bring him to Iturrino’s house that evening. When Iturrino came home from work, Glazer came over with Joel wrapped in a towel. It was an emotional reunion for Iturrino, and perhaps for Joel as well, but a bird’s emotions are harder to assess.

“He squawked at me, then flew over to my shoulder,” Iturrino said. “I kept telling him how much I’d missed him, and what a brave boy he was. It really was a series of miracles that brought him home.”

Glazer told Iturrino the story of how her cockatiel was found: Glazer’s co-worker, Gavin Scire, was about 100 feet up a ladder attached to the Ferris wheel for a morning safety check on March 6 when he heard some loud chirping and noticed Joel hopping around on the bars in the middle of the wheel.

“Everyone at SkyWheel calls [Gavin] their Spider-Man because of all the climbing he does,” Iturrino said. “When he held out his arm, Joel flew right to him.”

It was unclear how much time he’d been there.

“There’s no telling how long Joel was up on the SkyWheel, but he definitely wanted to come down,” she said, explaining that the cockatiel was likely frightened to fly down from such a high perch.

Because cockatiels can survive only 24 to 48 hours without food, Iturrino said Joel probably found some nuts, seeds and greens to eat during his flyaway adventure.

Scire and Glazer declined to be interviewed for this story. But Sean Bailey, marketing manager at SkyWheel Attractions, said Scire told him that the bird seemed happy to see him and walked up his arm to nestle inside the hood of his sweatshirt.

“Joel was clearly happy to see Gavin and wanted to be rescued,” Bailey said, noting that it took about five minutes for Scire to climb down the ladder with the bird inside his hoodie.

At some point, Iturrino said she hopes to get a harness for Joel and take him back to the SkyWheel to personally thank Scire and the others for rescuing him.

“I’ve joked that I should come by and pay for all of Joel’s free rides,” she said.

Bailey said no payment is necessary.

“We’ll give them both a ride,” he said. “And we’ll be sure to play ‘Uptown Girl’ for Joel, so he can rock out to it.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Instagram’s founders are back with a new app called Artifact

Febraury 6, 2023

More than four years after Instagram’s co-founders left the company, they’re back with a new app, reports CNN.

On Tuesday, January 31, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced the launch of Artifact, an app that promises “a personalized news feed” powered by artificial intelligence.

In an Instagram post, Krieger said he and Systrom “have been working with a talented team” for more than a year to launch the service. “We’re gradually letting people in as we scale up,” Krieger wrote. A wait list to join opened to the public on Tuesday.

Unlike Instagram, the app is more focused on articles rather than photos. Artifact will recommend content based on interests and allow for discussion with friends, according to Platformer, which was first to report the launch. A main feed will display popular articles from large media organizations down to smaller bloggers; and a user’s feed will grow more personalized, based on what they click on.

Artifact did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on more details.

The launch comes at a time of renewed activity in the social media world. In the wake of upheaval and uncertainty at Twitter under new owner Elon Musk, a number of newer services have found traction helping users get news and personal updates in a feed. Meanwhile, TikTok’s rapid rise continues to push numerous apps, including Instagram, to copy its features.

Platformer described Artifact as “TikTok for text” and possibly “even a surprise attack on Twitter.”

After launching Instagram together in 2010, Systrom and Krieger sold the app to Meta for $1 billion in 2012. The pair left Instagram in 2018, with reports at the time suggesting the departure was due to tensions with CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the app’s direction and a desire to further incorporate it into Facebook.

“One of the key hallmarks of Instagram has been its independence and uniqueness from Facebook. The founders closely guarded that,” Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, said to CNN at the time.

Systrom and Krieger have since created a venture focused on social apps of the future, according to Platformer. Artifact is the first product from that venture.

Research contact: @CNN

Man photographs a real-life ‘Angry Bird’ right in his own backyard

January 31, 2023

Scott Taylor recently got more than he bargained for while photographing birds snacking on seeds in his family’s backyard in Nebraska. While there were many birds in the yard that day, one particularly determined northern cardinal made a beeline for the bird feeder. And that’s when Taylor was able to capture the image that he captioned, “playing a quick game of ‘Angry Birds,’” reports My Modern Met.

After posting the photograph to Facebook, Taylor was amazed by the attention the image received. “I am from a town of 960 people where everyone knows pretty much everyone,” he tells My Modern Met. “So to receive the amount of attention that I received was absolutely crazy to me. People from all over the world started contacting me.

Taylor, who has been passionate about photography since he was a teenager, is particularly fond of nature and wildlife photography. So, when his parents called him to let him know that their bird feeders were full of birds, he went right over to test out the camera that he’d recently received as a gift from his wife. The home has a large window in the kitchen, where he had the perfect view of the birds flying back and forth from a blue spruce tree to the bird feeders, where they were feasting on black sunflower seeds.

“I grabbed my camera and joined them at the kitchen window, and I was amazed at how their colors popped out from the white snow and the cloudy sky. The feeders and the tree were filled with house finches, American goldfinches, red-bellied woodpeckers, nut hatches, ladder-back woodpeckers, and, of course, the northern cardinals,” Taylor recalls. “I opened the kitchen window and instantly started snapping pictures of all of the birds. I was taking pictures of the cardinal when it decided to fly to the feeder to grab a sunflower snack from the feeders—not knowing until I arrived at home that I captured that bird completely focused in flight looking right at me.”

The cropped version of Taylor’s photograph shows just how determined this cardinal was to get a snack. And, as Taylor perfected said, the bird does look almost angry. The photo is truly reminiscent of an iconic Angry Bird from the eponymous game, with the furrowed brow we’re so used to seeing.

For Taylor, it’s been a wonderful, and unexpected, treat to see his work so well received. “I was amazed,” he admits. “It was a one-in-million shot that was pure luck that I captured it.”

Research contact: @mymodernmet