Posts tagged with "Instagram"

Popular Instagram photographer confesses that his work is AI-generated

March 1, 2023

As more and more AI-generated images flood the Internet, you might start thinking that it is easy to tell what is real and what isn’t. For instance, too many fingers or the appearance of random limbs is one obvious giveaway. But, the work of popular Instagram photographer Joe Avery drives home the point that the line between AI imagery and work created by actual photographers is becoming more and more blurred, reports My Modern Met.

Avery’s admired “portrait photography” has recently unraveled with the photographer’s own admission of his work being entirely AI-generated. His confession also brings up questions of when and how to disclose the use of AI in content creation.

A ‘portrait’ by Joe Avery. (Photo source: My Modern Met)

Avery opened his portrait photography account on Instagram last October. And in just a few short months, his stunning black-and-white photographs amassed a following of about 12,000 people. But what his followers, who wrote enthusiastic comments about how much his work inspired them, didn’t realize is that Avery hadn’t picked up a camera at all. All of his images were created using Midjourney and then retouched by him.

In early January, feeling “conflicted” about deceiving his followers, he came clean to the online publication, Ars Tecnica, via email. “[My Instagram account] has blown up to nearly 12K followers since October, more than I expected,” he wrote. “Because it is where I post AI-generated, human-finished portraits. Probably 95%+ of the followers don’t realize. I’d like to come clean.”

Avery went on to clarify that while his original intent was to fool his followers and then write an article about it, he’d come to enjoy the process of creating these AI images and saw it as a creative outlet that he wanted to share openly. Though Avery’s account now clearly states in the bio that the images are AI and that he is creating digital art, that was not always the case.

In fact, prior to his confession, Avery remained vague about the origins of the images and frequently replied to comments by followers praising his work. The account has now deleted all user comments, but PetaPixel published screen captures of these interactions.

Under one image, a portrait photographer who followed the account wrote, “Thank you for the inspiration you provide day after day with your wonderful portraiture. I stop, take a long look, reflect, and most certainly learn from every post you share.” Avery simply replied, “Thanks very much for taking the time to share that. It means a lot.”

In another instance, someone outright asked Avery what equipment he used to shoot his photos and, instead of stating that they are AI-generated, he answered that he uses Nikon. However, Avery told Ars Tecnica that as his following grew, he started feeling guilty about the deception.

“It seems ‘right’ to disclose [AI-generated art] many ways—more honest, perhaps,” Avery shared. “However, do people who wear makeup in photos disclose that? What about cosmetic surgery? Every commercial fashion photograph has a heavy dose of Photoshopping, including celebrity body replacement on the covers of magazines.”

Of course, techniques to hide certain things or create illusions have long been part of most art forms; but, as Ars Tecnica points out, “misrepresenting your craft is another thing entirely.” Now that he’s come clean, Avery will find out how the public views his deception.

For his part, Avery does see his work as a form of creativity. In explaining his creative process, he stated that he generated nearly 14,000 images using Midjourney in order to arrive at the 160 posted to Instagram. He then combines the best parts of the generated images and retouches them in Lightroom and Photoshop to achieve a realistic look.

“It takes an enormous amount of effort to take AI-generated elements and create something that looks like it was taken by a human photographer,” Avery shares. “The creative process is still very much in the hands of the artist or photographer, not the computer.”

These works of digital art certainly do look like real photos. Given what we’ve seen in terms of unedited AI imagery, a lot of hours were surely spent to make sure that certain aspects like the eyes and hands look real. Many of Avery’s images are also accompanied by a short fictional story about the person pictured. These words certainly enhance the imagery and were likely part of why his account gained popularity.

But now that he’s confessed that these images are digital art and not his own photography, the question is what will the response be? Will people not care and will his following continue to grow? Or will people, particularly other photographers, turn their back on this form of deception?

Currently, he has nearly 28,000 followers and continues to post frequently. While his Instagram biography refers to AI and digital art, he continues to use popular photography hashtags like #peoplephotography on his images, with no hashtags mentioning AI, Midjourney, or digital art.

Avery’s case is an interesting one and could understandably instill fear in photographs who look at AI as yet another way they could lose work. If Avery’s Instagram followers couldn’t tell the difference, that means that advertisers and other paying clients probably also would not have. It’s not difficult to see how we might not be too far away from digital art replacing photography in some scenarios.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

These dogs ride a bus like people ‘and now, the Internet is in love’

January 12, 2023

Amaru, a five-year-old rescue dog, waits patiently on his family’s front lawn in Skagway, Alaska, watching for the bus to arrive each morning. “He got used to sitting in that spot. He even looks in the direction he knows they’re going to come,” says his dad, Gary Hisman—who typically does yard work while Amaru awaits his daily transport. “He’s a very smart guy.”

Amaru, along with about 40 other dogs, is part of a play group organized by Mo Mountain Mutts a local dog walking and training business, run by husband-and-wife duo, Mo and Lee Thompson, reports The Washington Post.

The Thompsons lead off-leash pack walks up to three times a day, but what has captured the attention of people worldwide are hilarious videos showing how they collect their canine clients: A recent TikTok video of several dogs confidently boarding the bus on their own with big wagging tails was viewed more than 50 million times.

It documents the Thompsons’ regular pickup routine. At one point, the minibus stops in front of Amaru’s home, where he is seated in the front yard—clearly expecting them. From inside the bus, the Thompsons open the doors for the pup, and he happily leaps in.

Once entering the bus, the dogs typically sniff around and greet the other canine passengers, before climbing onto their assigned seat — which the Thompsons have trained them to do. Then, their harness gets secured, and the same process is repeated as the rest of the pack, about 12 dogs, is picked up.

The seats are carefully selected based on factors such as a pup’s personality, age and manners. Most dogs head directly to their designated seat without being guided.

“Specific areas of the bus are better suited to the dogs,” Mo, 31, explained—adding that senior dogs tend to be assigned seats closer to the front, while rowdier youngsters ride in what she calls the “licky puppy corner,” because they tend to lick each other for most of the journey.

When the dogs board the bus, Mo does a small obedience drill, and passes out treats to reward good behavior. Once they’re settled and buckled in, Mo said, “they have to stay on their seats”—just like humans—while being transported to the trailhead.

Mo and Lee regularly film portions of their bus rides and walks and share videos on social media. Lately they’ve been going viral. Mo Mountain Mutts has around 237,000 followers on Instagram, and 1.3 million followers on TikTok, but they reach far more people than that on social media.

“I originally started posting on social media for my clients,” Mo said, adding that she often shared “class photos” for dog parents.

“Somewhere along the line,” she said, “the puppy bus just took off, and now the Internet is in love.”

In the videos, Amaru has emerged as a fan favorite. “All my friends tease me that he’s going to leave home and go to Hollywood,” Hisman joked.

People often call out the dogs by name in the video comments, to the delight of the pet’s owners. “Otis is all business… straight to his seat. Amaru wants to socialize,” one person observed.

“Jake hopping on his seat is always my fav,” another commented.

Fans of the dog bus say the videos are a guaranteed mood boost. “Can we all agree that this video heals all sadness? Cause I was crying two minutes ago. I am not anymore,” one person wrote.

“It’s bringing me so much joy,” another user commented.

Just as the Thompson’s social media stardom was unexpected, so, too, was the couple’s canine-focused career path. They never set out to start a dog walking company, Mo said—or move permanently to Alaska, for that matter.

The Thompsons both grew up in Michigan and were high school sweethearts who traveled to Alaska in 2014. They initially intended to only spend the summer there, but they ended up staying. About six years ago, Mo was working as a bartender, server and hostess at a hotel restaurant, while her husband worked at the same restaurant as a server, as well as at a local school as a special education paraprofessional, and later, an athletic director.

At the time, Mo, whose parents were dog breeders, had some flexibility in her work schedule, and “it just started with my co-worker and I walking each other’s dogs,” she said. “I ended up having more time available to get them out.”

It grew from there. Given that Skagway has a population of less than 2,000 people, word spread about Mo’s dog walking services, and people reached out to inquire about her availability.

“I just started picking up dogs slowly, to the point where I needed to make a second group,” said Mo, who left her job at the restaurant in 2016 to make more time for dog walking. “It really just evolved out of that.”

Her husband, meanwhile, continued focusing on his own work, until he lost his job in 2021 after the school was closed due to COVID. He started tagging along on Mo’s daily pack walks for fresh air.

The timing, it turned out, could not have been better: During the height of the pandemic, “people were adopting dogs like crazy,” said Mo.

Business began booming, and Lee took on Mo Mountain Mutts as his primary job, too. Eventually, they swapped their van for a bus to keep up with the growing doggy demand.

Now, the couple—who have an eight-month-old son named Vern, as well as three dogs and a cat—often divide and conquer the business. Mo usually handles the morning walks, while Lee tackles the afternoon trails. They also offer training (virtually and in-person), solo walks, socialization lessons and other services.

When it comes to pack walks, “there’s a lot of thought that goes into where we’re going and what we’re going to do,” Mo explained. For instance, “if it’s hot, we need to find a water source. If it’s icy, we’re not going to do an incline. If I have a puppy, we need to be on flat ground. If I have a large group, we can’t go places where there’s tight corners and blind spots.”

She does temperament testing and trail training in advance to ensure she feels comfortable letting a dog go off-leash.

“All the dogs that go on my pack walk need to know my rules and expectations,” she said. “We try to encourage good doggy citizens.”

She added that although she prioritizes obedience and safe behavior, she also encourages playful, messy fun. “My business has been built around dogs being dogs,” she said. “The dogs come first. The dogs are always the priority.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Washington family with six sons erupts in excitement during gender reveal of seventh child: ‘Pure shock’

December 12, 2022

A family’s surprise and tears of joy were captured in a now-viral moment when the gender of their seventh child was revealed. Sarah Molitor, 35, a mom to six boys from Central Washington State, learned last month that she’s due to give birth to her first baby girl, reports Fox News.

The family’s gender reveal party happened on Friday, November 11, at approximately 10 a.m., Molitor wrote in an email to Fox News Digital.

Molitor was joined by her husband, Tim, 34, and their six sons, Jude, 10, Hudson, 8, Chase, 6, Crew, 5, Beck, 3 and Griffy, 1, as they set off handheld confetti cannons.

“We are honestly just so thrilled to be having another baby,” Molitor wrote to Fox News Digital. “We fully thought and expected it to be another boy.”

“My heart has been very set on the thought of seven boys and the uniqueness of that,” Molitor continued. “When the pink confetti shot out, we were just in pure shock. Absolutely couldn’t believe it.”

Molitor said her family got to take a look at their newest member’s ultrasound image after the reveal. Her sister had enclosed the image in an envelope.

When Molitor saw the pink confetti, the expectant mother jumped and fell to her knees.

“After the whole reveal, I jokingly asked everyone, ‘Why did anyone let me hold Griffy?’” Molitor told Fox News Digital. “None of us expected the surprise.”

“In my shock, [I] definitely surprised [Griffy], too, I’m sure,” she continued. “Thankfully, I caught myself and he was totally happy playing with confetti within seconds of it all.”

The video of the Molitor family’s gender reveal celebration was shared on Instagram by Modern Farmhouse Family, which is the account where Sarah and Tim share family updates and lifestyle tips.

The clip has been liked by more than 2.3 million Instagram users at the time of publication. Molitor is due to deliver her first baby girl in March 2023.

Research contact: @FoxNews

A beginner’s guide to Mastodon, the Twitter alternative that’s taking off

November 10, 2022

If you’ve heard the word, “mastodon,” a lot since Elon Musk took over Twitter in late October, here’s why: The extinct mammal is also the name of a relatively small, formerly little-known social network that has skyrocketed in popularity, as many Twitter users try it out as an alternative for connecting with others online, reports CNN.

Mastodon is a decentralized social network that enables users to join a slew of different servers run by various groups and individuals, rather than one central platform controlled by a single company like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

While all of these social networks are free to use, Mastodon is also free of ads. It’s developed by a nonprofit run by German software developer Eugen Rochkov, who created Mastodon in 2016. The site is supported via crowdfunding, as well as by individuals and groups who operate servers.

Users have been fleeing Twitter for it in recent days—or at least seeking out a second place to post their thoughts online during a time when the much more well-known social network faces layoffs, controversial product changes, an expected shift in its approach to content moderation, and a jump in hateful rhetoric.

In a Mastodon post late on Sunday, November 6, Rochko said the social network gained 489,000 users in the less than two weeks, and now boasts over one million active monthly users. (For perspective, Twitter reported in July that it had nearly 238 million daily active monetizable users.)

“That’s pretty cool,” Rochko said of the milestone.

But while it can be exciting to seek out a new social network, it can be tricky, too. Mastodon and Twitter have some similarities, yet they’re quite different — both in how they work and how they’re operated. Whether you’re interested in leaving Twitter or just want to check out something new, read on to find out how to sign up and thrive with Mastodon.

Things are the same, but also very different

A lot of Mastodon’s features and layout (particularly in its iOS and Android apps) will look familiar to current Twitter users, with some slightly different verbiage. You can follow others, create short posts (there’s a 500-character limit, and you can upload images and videos), favorite, or repost other users’ posts, and so on.

Mastodon is quite different though, and the sign-up process, in particular, can trip up new users. That’s because it’s not as simple as opening an app or webpage and setting up a username and password. You also need to choose a server where your Mastodon account will live.

First, don’t panic: There is no technical knowledge required to sign up, but you will have to follow a few steps to create your account—and you may have to be patient, as the influx of new users has put a strain on many servers.

Go to this webpage, and, if you want to get started quickly, click the little drop-down menu that says “sign-up speed” and set it to “instant” to see servers you can sign up with right away.

Then, pick a server. There are general-interest servers such as; regional servers like, which is aimed at people in the San Francisco Bay Area; and ones aimed at various interests, too (many servers review new sign-ups before approving them—such as by asking potential users why they want to join—so you may need to wait if you want to join one in particular).

You’ll also need to decide how you want to access Mastodon—on a smartphone, you will want to try the iOS or Android app, but there are also many other free and paid apps that will do the trick. On the web, I can access Mastodon via the server I’m signed up with.

Finding friends

One of the trickiest aspects of joining Mastodon could be finding people you know and discovering people you want to follow. In part, that’s because there are no algorithmically generated suggestions of who to follow, no scanning your contacts for people you know, and you may not know who among the people you follow on other social-media networks is already using Mastodon (or what handle they’re using if they’re already there).

Similar to Twitter, you can use hashtags on Mastodon to seek out topics and people (“#TwitterMigration” is currently popular for newcomers). There are also some tools you can use to find Twitter friends on Mastodon, such as Twitodon.

Once you’ve settled in with a server and a handful of people to follow, you’ll want to start reading others’ posts and posting yourself. You’ll quickly notice many subtle differences from Twitter. For instance, users’ updates are sorted chronologically, rather than algorithmically as they are on Twitter and many other social networks.

There also isn’t a Mastodon equivalent to Twitter’s quote-tweet feature, where you can repost another user’s post and append your own thoughts to it. The closest you can get is copying and pasting a link to a user’s post into a new post and adding your own comments—although anyone seeing your post will have to click that link if they want to understand what you’re talking about.

These differences aren’t bad, and some of them actually may be good: It can make posting on Mastodon feel a little less reactive than Twitter, which is great for anyone prone to getting fired up by other people’s social media posts. And many of the people trying out Mastodon seem ready for a change.

Research contact: @CNN

An Apple Watch for a five-year-old child? Many parents say yes!

September 2, 2022

lorian Fangohr waffled for about a year over whether to buy an Apple Watch SE as a gift. The smart watch cost $279, and he worried that its recipient would immediately break it or lose it. In May, he decided the benefits outweighed the costs and bought the gadget.

The beneficiary: his eight-year-old son, Felix, reports The New York Times.

Fangohr, a 47-year-old product designer in Seattle, said he was aware that many people were pessimistic about technology’s creep into children’s lives. But “within the framework of the watch, I don’t feel scared,” he said. “I want him to explore.”

Felix, a rising third grader, said he actually wanted a smartphone. “But the watch is still really, really nice,” he said.

Across the United States, parents are increasingly buying Apple Watches and strapping them onto the wrists of children as young as five. The goal: to use the devices as a stopgap cellphone for the kids. With the watch’s cellular abilities, parents can use it to reach and track their children, while the miniature screens mitigate issues like internet addiction.

Children and teenagers appear to have become a disproportionately large market for smart watches. In a 2020 survey of American teenagers by the investment bank Piper Sandler, 31% said they owned a smart watch. That same year, 21% of adults in the United States said they owned one, according to the Pew Research Center.

The use of smart watches as a children’s gadget shows how the audience for a consumer technology product can morph in unexpected ways. It has also given new life to the Apple Watch, which was unveiled in 2015 and has been variously positioned as a fitness tracker, a style statement, or a way to free yourself from an iPhone.

Apple has deliberately turned the watch into a device that can be attractive for children and their parents. In 2020, the company released the Apple Watch SE, which had fewer features than a premium model and was priced $120 cheaper.

Apple also introduced Family Setup, software that enables parents to track their children’s locations, manage their contacts list, and limit their notifications.

The Silicon Valley company’s moves to make the Apple Watch a child-friendly cellphone took about three years, said two people involved with the project, who were not authorized to speak publicly. A chief concern was battery life, since the watch used more power when it functioned independently from an iPhone, they said.

Apple plans to compete more aggressively soon for young smart watch customers. The company’s COO, Jeff Williams, said, “For family members who do not have an iPhone, Apple Watch offers a remarkable set of features that can help them keep in touch with loved ones, [and help them to]be more active and stay safe.” The company declined to comment on the new watches at its coming event.

Apple does not break out sales of the Apple Watch. To date, there are at least 120 million Apple Watch users—most of them in the United States—according to estimates by Counterpoint Research.

In China and South Korea, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Samsung also have rapidly increased wearable sales among young people.

Any technology used by children raises questions of risks. Social media platforms, in particular, have faced scrutiny in recent years—with lawmakers holding Congressional hearings on the issue in 2021 and homing in on whether sites like Instagram have led to poor self-esteem among teenagers.

But smart watches are inherently limited in their abilities, said Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that reviews media and technology for families. Since smart watches have minimal apps and no web browser or camera, children are less likely to be exposed to distracting games, sexting and other adult content, he said. Not owning a smartphone also encourages children to continue learning how to do things independently, like completing homework assignments without looking up answers online, he said.

“You want to be able to contact them, but you don’t want them spending all day on a screen,” Steyer said.

Jean M. Twenge, who writes books on how tech contributes to generational differences, added that the longer that parents could hold off on providing children with a smartphone—and increased accessibility to social media and other internet wormholes—the better.

Receiving a smartphone later means children “will be older, more mature, and more able to handle the challenges and potential dangers of having their own smartphone,” she commented.

Research contact: @nytimes

His emotional support animal is an alligator. They sleep in the same bed.

August 30, 2022

Joseph Henney’s emotional support animal WallyGator goes with him almost everywhere—from the grocery store to walks in the park. They hug each other and sleep in the same bed. WallyGator is an alligator, reports The Washington Post.

“When he turns his nose toward you, that means he expects a kiss,” said Henney, 69, who goes by Joie (pronounced “Joe”) and lives in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, about two hours from Philadelphia. “He’s super sweet-natured.”

The two watch television together on the couch, and when Henney takes him to the farmers market, WallyGator gives hugs to shoppers—as long as they are okay with being that close to a 70-pound reptile with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth.

“Wally is definitely not your average crocodilian,” says Henney, explaining that most people in his community are familiar with his seven-year-old, 5½-foot emotional support alligator.

WallyGator has a following on TikTok and Instagram, and he made headlines on  Friday, August 26, after Henney took him to Love Park in Philadelphia.

“He’s a very special gator, but I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get one,” he said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get bit.”

Henney’s unusual relationship with WallyGator started in 2015, he said, when a friend called from Florida and asked if he could take in a few gators that had been found in a pond in Orlando. Henney makes a living in woodcrafting, but he has always enjoyed caring for reptiles as a pastime, he said.

Alligators are legal to own in Pennsylvania, and Henney has helped relocate unwanted alligators, snakes, and iguanas to wildlife sanctuaries as a hobby for about 30 years. He keeps his rescue reptiles in his home in separate indoor enclosures that he purchased for this purpose. He then finds sanctuaries or zoos that will take them.

He is usually called to rescue alligators when people take in cute baby gators as pets but they inevitably turn into large animals that can be difficult to handle, he explains. They are, after all, a species that has not changed since the time of the dinosaurs.

Henney told his Florida friend that he could take in three juvenile alligators. After a while, he sent two of the gators to reptile refuges in New York and New Jersey, he said.

But Wally stayed behind: “I bonded with him and was committed to caring for him,” says Henney.

“One of the problems when someone gets an alligator for a pet is they don’t realize they’re in for a long haul,” he said, noting that the reptiles can live 80 years or longer in captivity.

They breathe air and generally live in freshwater, but their skin does not need to stay wet for survival. It isn’t common for people to want alligators as pets, though it does happen more than most people realize, he admits.

“When they get to three feet, nobody wants them,” Henney said. “They can bite and they’re extremely hard to handle.”

Wildlife experts agree: Alligators generally don’t make good pets, and they’re illegal to own in many states. “The jaw pressure from an alligator’s bite force is incredibly strong, and their powerful tails can whip you,” adding, “They are also predators who are hardwired to believe that other creatures want to eat them, so they are defensive early on, he said.

“I definitely assume that [Henney] is an exception when it comes to caring for an alligator—he’s done a good job,” Diaz said. “But most people don’t have that kind of time to devote to a pet alligator’s care.”

The large reptiles require a special diet and enrichment such as logs or live plants to hide under; and running or spraying water to thrive under human care. They should never be handled by people who aren’t trained, said Matt Evans, assistant curator of Herpetology at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C.

“If you are interested in working with alligators, volunteer at your local zoo or nature center or get involved with citizen science,” Evans said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

He’s here! Cincinnati Zoo announces the name of adorable newborn hippo

August 22, 2022

On August 3, the Cincinnati Zoo welcomed an adorable male baby hippo. The zoo team held a fan vote to decide on the name for the newest member of the hippo family, and it came down to a decision between Fritz and Ferguson. After over 200,000 votes were cast, the zookeepers happily announced that the chosen name for the hippo is…Fritz, reports My Modern Met.

“We would have been happy with either name, but we really think the name Fritz fits this spunky little guy’s personality,” Cincinnati Zoo’s head hippo keeper, Wendy Rice, says. “We also thought it was funny that it was suggested because ‘Fritz’ is here due to Bibi’s birth control being ‘on the fritz.’

Bibi is a 23-year-old hippo who previously gave birth to a premature baby girl named Fiona, who required human intervention to survive. Due to this, the hippo keepers were nervous about Bibi’s second pregnancy.

Fortunately, all went well, and Fritz was born twice the weight of his sister. Currently two weeks old, he is already walking and exploring his habitat under the supervision of his mom.

“We will continue to expose Fritz to the habitat more and more in the coming days,” Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, Christina Gorsuch, shares. “Once we’re confident that he and Bibi are comfortable in all corners of that space, visitors will get a chance to see them.”

You can keep up with baby Fritz by following the Cincinnati Zoo on Instagram.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Hungry pup on a train is hilariously desperate to get his human’s snack

Augsut 17, 2022

What would you do if you saw this sweet face peering back at you on the train? For ‘pawrent’ Ursula Aitchison, her pup Huxley’s desperation was not enough for her to give up her tasty snack, but it resulted in some adorably hilarious images, reports My Modern Met.

Aitchison recently shared photos of the Golden Retriever realizing that his mom was rudely refraining from sharing her Walker’s brand prawn cocktail-flavored chips—and trying to do something about it. In an image carousel on Instagram, the first photo shows him innocently peering through the narrow view between the train seats.

Then, Huxley uses an innocuous technique: just barely putting his paw through the opening. The following photos showcase a more distraught side, with the pooch shoving his muzzle in the gap, using all his might to get as close as he can. He tries angling his snout closer, then he uses his tongue. Once that proves fruitless, the determined pup bares his teeth and continues to push forward.

This mighty battle of canine versus upholstered seating sadly did not seem to end with a prize of crispy potato goodness, but it did make thousands online smile. Aitchison’s Instagram post has over 10K likes, and seemingly endless comments supporting the pup’s attempts to get closer.

Huxley’s antics recently went viral again on Twitter when four of the stills were posted with the caption, “A story about crisps in 4 parts.” Walker’s crisps ambassador, and former professional footballer, Gary Lineker even re-shared it.

Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Aitchison’s puppy has gotten such adoration and attention online. Back in 2019, a very similar situation happened on Huxley’s first flight from London to Ibiza. Huxley was seated next to her, until “he got in a mood which he often does when I don’t pay him enough attention,” Aitchison said. He then opted to trade his spot for the empty seat next to a nice man in the row in front of them.

Soon though, she said, “he quickly changed his tune when he heard me eating my crisps.” The images she captured garnered a lot of attention on both Instagram and Facebook.

It seems this golden has had a weak spot for snacks for years now, and the pattern will continue as long as there are moments of boredom on public transportation.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Meet Murph, NERF’s first-ever official mascot

July 21, 2022

Rhode Island-based Hasbro is expanding the NERF team with the brand’s first-ever mascot, named Murph, reports The Toy Insider.

 Made entirely of NERF foam darts from head to toe, Murph personifies the playful spirit that kids can unleash through NERF. Murphy is a natural athlete, an expert at surprise NERF Super Soaker ambushes, and a fantastic trick shooter with any NERF blaster.

 Hasbro is placing Murph in the center of NERF’s new advertising campaign launching this  summer  to drive the new brand mnemonic: “Unleash the Play in You.” The campaign encourages families to get up and get active with NERF and Murph to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

 During the multi-year campaign, fans will begin to see Murph appear more and more, including in stores where NERF toys are available, pop-up surprise moments, and on social media. Stay tuned for Murph’s next moves on NERF’s official social media channels on TikTokInstagramFacebook, and YouTube.


Research contact: @TheToyInsider

Shell game: Tiny pet turtle Sergio scoots around house on a speedy set of Hot Wheels

July 19, 2022

Turtles aren’t known for their speediness, but a cute one named Sergio has finally found a foolproof way to get past the hare. In an adorable Instagram reel, the tiny reptile can be seen zooming around his owners’ house on a little Hot Wheels car. And once you see him in action, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the endearing display, reports My Modern Met.

The way Sergio “drives” his car is both simple and ingenious. The turtle manages to attach himself to his “speed racer” by using non-toxic Silly Putty to stick the car to the bottom of his shell. And according to his human Kenny James, it’s one of Sergio’s favorite things to do.

Sometimes the turtle takes his Hot Wheels car for a spin with no hands. And once, he even brought one of his amphibian friends, Tubby the toad, along for a ride.

But when he’s not driving his car, Sergio can often be found taking a dip in his custom pool. What a life.

See Sergio the reptilian speed demon in action on Instagram and TikTok.

Research contact: @mymodernmet