Posts tagged with "Insider"

Thousands of people get naked on Bondi Beach for a photo shoot to raise skin cancer awareness

November 29, 2022

A huge crowd of naked people filled Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, on Saturday morning, November 26, for photographer Spencer Tunick’s latest art installation, reports Insider.

 According to his own website,  Tunick has been documenting the live nude figure in public, with photography and video, since 1992. Since 1994, he has organized over 100 temporary site-related installations that encompass dozens, hundreds, or thousands of volunteers, and his photographs are records of these events. In his early group works, the individuals en masse, without their clothing, grouped together, metamorphose into a new shape. The bodies extend into and upon the landscape like a substance.

The November 26 photo shoot was organized by Tunick to raise awareness of skin cancer—with the 2,500-person crowd representing the number of Australians who die from the disease each yearThe Guardian reported. According to the news outlet, Tunick hopes to encourage regular skin checks among Australians.

“Skin unites us and protects us,” he told The Guardian. “I use the amazing array of body types and skin tones to create my work, so it feels perfectly appropriate to take part in this effort in that my medium is the nude human form.”

The artist used a megaphone to instruct the crowd during the shoot, as per The Guardian. “Put your arms out when you’re posing,” he called. “Don’t get naked yet.”

Tunick had the group pose in several different configurations before some took a morning dip in the sea, The Print added.

Nudity is usually banned on the beach, but special legislation was implemented to allow the photo shoot. Those taking part had to be fully clothed by 10 a.m. in order to avoid a fine, according to The Guardian.

Tamera Francis wrote about taking part in the shoot for The Sydney Morning Herald: “If I can be part of something that prevents unnecessary deaths, I will. Even if that means freezing off what little tatas I have and dealing with the logistical nightmare that is herding thousands of uncaffeinated naked people,” she penned.

“If I could have prevented my dad’s and my nan’s fatal cancer diagnoses with something as simple as a skin check or wearing sunscreen every day, I would,” she added.

Another naked model, Sarah Bowen, told the Guardian that her sister and father had survived melanoma. On her experience of the nude shoot, she said: “It was freezing, but also empowering to be with so many people supporting the cause and also just being like naked and seeing so many different people and shapes and sizes. Everyone just being comfortable being naked. It was wonderful.

Back in 2010, Tunick gathered 5,000 nude Australians in front of the Sydney Opera House in celebration of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Reuters previously reported.

Research contact: @thisisinsider

Yahoo takes minority stake in digital ad network Taboola

November 29, 2022

Yahoo is deepening its push into digital advertising, even as its competitors warn that the market is faltering, reports The New York Times.

The Internet pioneer, which was taken private in a $5 billion deal last year, is taking a roughly 25% stake in Taboola, the company known for serving up attention-grabbing links on websites, the chief executives of the companies said in an interview.

The deal is part of a 30-year exclusive advertising partnership that allows Yahoo to use Taboola’s technology to manage its sizable business in native advertising—ads that have the characteristics of traditional news and entertainment content.

Shares of Taboola have fallen nearly 80% over the past year, amid broader doldrums in the public and advertising markets—giving it a market capitalization of $455 million. Last January, when Taboola struck a deal to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, it was valued at $2.6 billion.

Executives at companies like Meta and TikTok have warned that advertisers skittish about the economy have pulled back on their spending. But Jim Lanzone, the chief executive of Yahoo, said in an interview that the deal with Taboola puts both companies in a good position for when the ad market revives.

“I’m thinking, you know, five, ten, 30 years,” Lanzone said. “Digital advertising has huge wind at its back over the long term.” He added that while the company will continue to try to bring in money in other ways, such as expanding its subscription business or investing in e-commerce, “we have hundreds of millions of people consuming news and sports and finance on market-leading properties that are heavily monetized through advertising — and will continue to be.”

Yahoo, a giant of the early internet, was eclipsed over the years by tech rivals like Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook. The company endured a messy power struggle and shaky leadership as it matured, leading to layoffs and shifts in strategy.

The company was taken private by the investment firm Apollo Global Management in the hopes that new leadership and a respite from the public markets would give it a chance to grow. Yahoo says it has about 900 million monthly users of its properties, which include AOL, TechCrunch, and Yahoo Sports, making it one of the largest destinations on the web.

oola, founded in 2007, specializes in native advertising, operating a sprawling advertising network over thousands of well-known websites, including CNBC, NBC News, and Insider.

The deal with Yahoo gives Taboola the exclusive license to sell native ads across Yahoo’s sites, and the companies will share revenue from those ad sales. The companies did not disclose the terms of the revenue split.

Yahoo, which will become Taboola’s largest shareholder, also will get a seat on the company’s board.

Research contact: @nytimes

Man charged with rape after uploading his DNA to Ancestry site

June 30, 2021

A man named Jared Vaughn was recently charged with rape by Florida police after he bought a consumer DNA kit, uploaded his genetic code to Ancestry, a genealogy tracing website—and, unbeknownst to him, matched to a DNA sample taken from when he allegedly assaulted a college student back in 2007, Insider reports.

“It has taken 14 years for resolution in this case, but it’s something that that was important to us and was important to the victim, to get some closure in this case,” Tampa Assistant Chief of Police Ruben Delgado told Fox 13.

The victim said that she was intoxicated walking back home to her dorm room at the University of Tampa when a man now identified as Vaughn, who was 30 at the time, offered to walk her home and assaulted her once they arrived.

DNA samples gathered at the time went unmatched until Vaughn’s code appeared on the Ancestry site, Insider notes, and the match was subsequently confirmed after police conducted a follow-up test.

“Our success depends on info found in public genealogy databases, where participants—and this is important—must opt-in for law enforcement matches,” Florida State Trooper Mark Brutnell told Fox 13.

DNA evidence was collected at the time but did not find any matches, and the case remained unsolved for more than a decade. In 2020, however, detectives revisited the case and began to search genealogy testing databases, including GEDmatch and FamilyTree—two services often used by people who are researching their ancestry, to find potential matches.

According to Insider, a lab identified Vaughn, now 44, as the possible suspect, so police officers traveled to West Virginia, where he now lives, to conduct another DNA test, which brought a one-in-700-billion match. 

Florida was the first state to establish its own forensic genealogy unit in 2018. Similar units have since been created in California and Utah to solve cold cases.

Special Agent Mark Brutnell of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement urged people to allow their DNA to be accessed by law enforcement.

DNA testing for law enforcement presents a thorny challenge. In this case, the suspect uploaded his own samples and seemingly accepted that it could be used by police — or at least failed to opt out. But suspects can also be implicated in crimes after their relatives upload their own samples, subjecting them to genetic surveillance without their consent.

Research contact: @Insider

Goodbye, Beanie Babies; Squishmallows are taking over

March  18, 2021

Although Ty’s Beanie Babies were a smash hit with children in the 1990s–and continue to be traded as valuable collectibles—over the past couple of years, another line of bulbous and brightly colored plush toys has sparked the interest of a new generation, The New York Times reports.

Made by Kelly Toys of Los Angeles since 2017, Squishmallows now are available as more than 800 characters and are sold in 40-plus nations worldwide.

Squishmallows—a line of larger soft, huggable toys created in 2017—has exploded in popularity during the pandemic, thanks to social media and in particular TikTok (or “SquishTok,” as fans call it). Collectors say the stuffed animals have given them comfort in a painful year, and that hunting for them has fostered a much-needed sense of community during an extended period of isolation.

“Even though the craze was coming before the pandemic, it certainly hit a fever pitch in the past year, and this craving for comfort is a big part of it,” Kelly Deen, senior vice president of marketing at Jazwares, the parent company of Kellytoy, which created Squishmallows, told The New York Times.

Jazwares said in early March that it has sold more than 73 million toys. (In February 2020, The Toy Book, a trade publication, reported that the company had sold 50 million Squishmallows.) According to the company, sales of Squishmallows have tripled in the past six months.

Avid collectors own dozens if not hundreds of them. Melissa Whittaker, a 35-year-old cashier in New Hampshire, has more than 70 Squishmallows, each with a tag stating its name and unique traits. “I love their cute little faces,” she said. “They’re very nice to hug, and you can double them up as pillows.”

Ilana Wiles, 46, a mother and Instagram influencer in New York City, said that she and her husband often take their 11-year-old daughter, Mazzy, on Squishmallow scavenger hunts around the city and on Long Island.

“It’s a fun activity, and they’re not that expensive if you’re buying them at a retail store,” Ms. Wiles said. “It’s a very big reward for not a lot of money.” Most of the toys are priced between $10 and $40, depending on their size.

Some that have become hard to find are fetching big prices at resale, though. According to Insider, Squishmallows are being resold for hundreds of dollars on sites like Mercari.

“The success of Squishmallows comes from the exclusivity, which helps drive collectibility, Jonathan Kelly, co-president of Kellytoy told the Times. He said that the company is increasing production to keep up with demand.

“It’s created a lot of issues finding them in stores,” said Rebecca Brown, 21, a college student in Huntsville, Alabama, who has 325 Squishmallows. “There’s a lot of scalpers now that go out and buy an entire store’s stock.”

Ms. Brown said Squishmallows have become particularly popular among students during the pandemic. Some position their Squishmallows in frame during their Zoom classes as a conversation starter or to show off their collections. Ms. Brown’s school, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has its own local Squishmallow Instagram page, where fans can meet online and in-person and connect with each other.

Research contact @nytimes

Bow-WOW: A white shepherd takes Instagram followers on virtual hikes through Switzerland

May 5, 2020

For many of us, taking a pet dog for a walk is the highlight of the day during the COVID-19 lockdown. But others among us also are recreating the experience remotely—and fantastically— each day, as we watch a white Swiss shepherd dog named Rasta and his owner, Sylvia Michel, head out on a hike to a nearby waterfall, lake, or mountain in Switzerland.

“We look left, we look right, we look up. Everywhere is so beautiful,” Michel told Insider. And Rasta’s Instagram followers are lucky enough to tag along. Over the years, Rasta’s account has gathered more than 280,000 followers.

Now that a majority of the world is staying at home, Rasta’s videos have become a way for people to escape virtually to the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland.

“I recognize that many people aren’t that lucky to go outside,” Michel said. “People are very thankful that we show them something beautiful.”

The duo hikes through Switzerland’s blossoming flower fields, across mountains, and around lakes for hours each day. “It’s paradise,” Michel said.

Michel brings along her camera and snaps pictures and videos of Rasta exploring the scenery.

While Rasta’s daily schedule hasn’t changed during the lockdown, Michel said this time has been challenging because she’s lost a majority of her paid work.

“I decided to do more,” Rasta’s owner said. “More videos. More stories. More life.”

Michel can go out for hikes as long as she abides by Switzerland’s social distancing guidelines, which isn’t hard in her area, she said.

The photographs are beautiful. Michel has caught the bright white dog midair eating dandelions, posing in front mountain ranges, and waving to the camera. 

“It goes right into your heart when you see Rasta,” Michel said. “You have to laugh. It’s just, laughing is so, so important, especially in a crisis.”

Rasta is Michel’s favorite subject, she said.

“I think there is nothing more authentic than a dog,” the photographer told Insider. 

Research contact: @this isinsider