New Age Thievery

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When someone tells us they were robbed, we usually imagine they got their wallet, phone, or even car stolen. In this case, yes, a car was broken into. Though, this burglar did not cause the loss of just one person’s belongings, but instead, 29,000 Facebook employees.

The robber used their conniving little hands to steal a Facebook payroll employee’s unencrypted hard drive, via car break-in. On this hard drive contains thousands of Facebook employees’ personal information that’ve been hired since 2018, including their “bank account numbers, employee names, the last four digits of their social security numbers, their salaries, bonuses, and equity details” (Lee, 2019).

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Despite the hard drive’s absence of Facebook user data (lucky for us), this still raised the question as to how safe is this company keeping our private information? We’re not so hopeful, based on previous privacy scandals (it even took them over a month to alert employees of this incident in particular).

In order to alleviate concern, Facebook is offering its affected employees a 2-year subscription to an identity theft protection service. Though, we are still left in the dark about are few things. 1) What is the robbers’ intention for stealing the hard drives? 2) Why was this hard drive in an employee’s car in the first place? and 3) Why was the hard drive unencrypted?

Facebook claims we have nothing to worry about but considering their history of carelessness with their users’ private information, I believe alarm is warranted. This story reminded me that any of us who use the internet have much more at stake than just what we carry on our person. Maybe we should practice the same diligent protection we have over our private information as we do with our phone and wallet.

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The Disintegration of Information

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According to a new report, the disintegration of local news in the United States is causing communities to fall apart and be severely uninformed.

As we all know, the digital age has forced newsrooms to cut costs, let go of staff, and adapt to the online world. If a newsroom can’t manage to keep itself afloat with these methods, then they simply go under, and we see this happening rapidly.

Though, if you’re reading this, you’re privileged enough to have access to any form information you’re looking to received. You can tailor your feed to reporting from sources you trust, set notifications on from news outlets so you’re always up to date, and overall have a unique information consumption experience of your own, on a device that fits in your pocket.

Sadly, this is not the case for every American. Underserved individuals are left in the dark. The New York Times cites a fascinating, and also unsettling statistic from a Pew survey earlier this year, which states that 71% of Americans believe that their local news outlets are doing well financially, with only 14% of Americans donating some amount of money to local newspapers.

People aren’t even aware that their source of information is suffering and is under serious threat. And this can spark a variety of problems.

One of which being the Flint, Michigan water crisis, as The New York Times also cites, where the community had voiced their concerns to their local paper long before national media reported on the issue.

I think it’s important for us to recognize how fortunate we are to have access to the world wide web without a second thought, and at the very least, use our resources wisely and support the communities who need it the most in any way we can.

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Aibo, vacuum the rug. Good boy.

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Sony has launched a new API (application programming interface), which is a set of functions and procedures that allows software components to interact.

They’re calling the developing program Aibo. Sony is welcoming developers and their innovation to utilize this system to create products of services.

The company has already developed an irresistibly cute mechanical dog, and it has more tricks than just sitting and fetching.

In the concept video above, you can gain a fuller understanding of what this all means and what is possible for the future. Aibo was able to assist with monitoring the microwave, turning on a robot vacuum, reminding a human that they left the fridge open, and even act as a surveillance camera for mothers.

Sony notes that this program has the ability to teach the robotic dog new tricks, but there is no way of manipulating its emotions or mannerisms. Good thing it seems happy all of the time.

As Aibo made its way from Japan to the U.S., its current price is just shy of $3,000. Very pricey, but obviously over time, the price will naturally drop once devices like this become ubiquitous in all households, similar to the television now.

I think we all saw this new wave of the future coming. One day, robots like these will be commonplace. In ways they already are. Take Roomba or Alexa for example. I view these as steppingstones to the advancement of what’s to come. But as always, there could be serious consequences to relying on technology to complete daily tasks for humans. I would hope we don’t pull a WALL-E.

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Podcast meets Netflix

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Netflix continues to employ media disruption with its fictional podcast launching this November 7th. The global streaming enterprise is branching out beyond their original series, and concurrently, expanding their own novel programs further with extra content. Daybreak, a new apocalyptic zombie show, launched just a couple of weeks ago as a Netflix original. Now, this podcast will further add to the world the creators have built by depicting a group of teens who make a podcast in the same universe Daybreak takes place in.

This serves a variety of benefits, especially for huge fans. It’s also once again an avant-garde direction no streaming service (at least that I know have) has shot for before. I believe this move, if successful, will motivate Netflix and other streaming services alike to add similar bonus content in other media forms as well. This could possibly be a way for show makers to add more context to their shows which in turn will enrich the original narrative.

This reminds me of the podcast series that spawned from Xbox’s staple series Halo 5. I’m not quite sure of its success, but I know a good number of dedicated fans tuned in for the episodic series that accompanied the video game.

Though, I could see a potential downfall with one company trying to do too much. The reviews aren’t looking super great at the moment for Daybreak, with a 6.8/10 on IMDb. A potential problem would be if Netflix dedicated too much time to try and have both the show and podcast working well concurrently, and ultimately delivering a lackluster product on both ends.

However, I’m optimistic for their future, and Netflix continues to prove its ability to be original in a digital age saturated with derivative content.

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Starring: a Hologram

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AI technology has progressed society in vast, dynamic ways. Self-driving cars, marketing automation, virtual assistants that detect voice recognition and accept commands right on our phones—you name it.

And its role in the entertainment industry is changing, so much that it has the potential to change the way the film industry functions forever.

A-listers in Hollywood are being digitized. Their bodies, voices, mannerisms, and all things of life that make them human are able to be stored on a hard drive. We’ve consumed this in small doses, such as the seemingly resurrection of Seymour Hoffman in the Hunger Games series, as well as Carrie Fisher in Star Wars‘s eight episode.

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I personally didn’t think too much about this, considering these actors passed away during the filming of their final works. Though that changed after the release of Gemini Man, where Will Smith battles against his younger 23-years-old self. But director Ang Lee didn’t hire a lookalike to play young Smith, but instead had Smith play both roles, and let AI tech handle the rest, de-aging Smith by nearly three decades. Audiences around the world were exposed to what AI technologies are really capable of, and it’s fair to say it alludes to the future we are entering.

Charles Bramesco, a writer from The Verge, is concerned that this “commodification of identity and the degradation of the real” will severely hurt talent in the film industry. Production companies already exploit their talent’s brand in any way possible to make them more money, but imagine if the actors themselves weren’t necessary? Imagine if a company didn’t have to deal with the disputes, hesitations, and potential lawsuits from an actual human. Saves lots of time and lots of money, something all thriving business adhere to.

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Andrew Niccol warned us in the early 2000s of the power that can come with artificial intelligence as a celebrity commodity with his drama sci-fi, S1m0ne. As society progresses into this new medium, we can only hope the craft of acting is valued as superior to that of a computer, and like in S1mone, we stay grounded in reality and do not become all consumed with the artificial.

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The game that could change everything

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Death Stranding is one of the most anticipated video games this holiday season. The game, launching November 8th, garners mass attention on a daily basis. Though, what’s most interesting is that, even months after it’s trailer debut in the summer and it’s consistent online buzz, people are still piecing together what its actually about.

Watch the trailer below to see what I mean:


Game Radar summarizes it best:

“‘Death Stranding’ is a completely new type of action game, where the goal of the player is to reconnect isolated cities and a fragmented society. It is created so that all elements, including the story and gameplay, are bound together by the theme of the “Strand” or connection.”


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Hideo Kojima, the mastermind behind Kojima Productions, has produced other mind-bending, anxiety-inducing horror games such as Silent Hill. But something about Death Stranding is eerily different, possibly due to it’s immersive qualities that early game players claim has riddled them with fear every second they roamed the post-apocalyptic landscape.

Here’s what one previewer had to say…

“Death Stranding’s environment is one of the scariest and immersive I’ve ever experienced in a videogame. Although the world may seem barren and void of life, it never feels like you are truly alone… and it is terrifying… It feels like Hideo Kojima took the Silent Hills vibe and injected it with steroids.”

I believe this game is one to pay attention to and has the potential to be one of the most influential games of the year, maybe even the decade. Or it could totally flop in every way imaginable and be super confusing and underwhelming. Who knows? Though it looks like a refreshing take that has yet to be seen before; especially in an era where developers are just recycling their staple series, releasing remastered editions, or monotonous prequels, instead of creating original content.

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And it stars Normas Reedus as the lead protagonist. Means nothing to me, but just thought that was important to add.

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In Hong Kong, tens of thousands of people share a gripe towards their government and its allowance of ever-growing Chinese presence in their region. Since June, Hong Kong’s people have relentlessly protested an extradition bill their chief executive was ready to sign off on. Basically, this bill would allow the Chinese government to try Hong Kong citizens who’ve committed a crime in their jurisdiction.

Why is this problematic? China’s government has a very ambiguous ruling system, where criminals often go missing, or are tortured, among other unjust punishments. The possibility of interacting with this heinous judicial system was the final straw for many Hong Kong residents. And thus, weeks of protesting­–often violent on both sides­–proceeded.

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Apple recently allowed a mobile application,, for the use of Hong Kong protestors. This application allows protestors to track the location of polices forces. The developers created this in efforts to keep protestors alert and safe when exercising their right of free speech. Though, only days after Apple gave the OK for its launch, was taken down due to strong opposition from the Chinese, who believe this was an attempt to mobilize violence against their people.

The billion-dollar corporation claims protestors were using the app to attack police; therefore, they are taking it down permanently. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, says he received credible information that proves the validity of these claims, directly violating the company’s policy.

Though it should be noted that Apple has more at stake in China than any multinational country, because Apple “assembles nearly all its products there and counts the country as its No. 3 market after the United States and Europe”–which left people drawing their own conclusions as to the real reason why Apple took down the app so suddenly.

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Tim Cook has no problem speaking on other political issues, such as gun control and immigration. However, he has been particularly silent on China’s politics, which directly effect tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents. It’s fair to assume that Cook may be prioritizing the future of Apple’s relationship in China, before aiding the people of Hong Kong.

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One incel forum down

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Many more to go. Reddit is cracking down on problematic reddit groups, employing a rule change policy in efforts to eliminate groups who promote hatred and violence against certain populations. For the most part, these forums consist of sad white straight men that have wet dreams about a white supremacist nation where women and minorities are subordinate, because it seems they have nothing better to do.

The policy plans to ban any groups that adhere to these behaviors:

“Anything that works to shut someone out of the conversation through intimidation or abuse, online or off.”

Which includes:

“menacing someone, directing abuse at a person or group, following them around the site, encouraging others to do any of these actions, or otherwise behaving in a way that would discourage a reasonable person from participating on Reddit.”

Reddit is plagued with incels (abbreviated from “involuntary celibate”) forums.

What are incels? They are men that claim they cannot find themselves a partner, romantically or sexually, and resort to misogynist ideology as a scapegoat for their incompetence. But it’s not just ideology. These groups promote violence, and just recently got the attention of military troops.

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There plans taking place on these forums to shoot-up movie theaters during the Joker premiere tonight, copycatting the tragic The Dark Knight Rises mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado back in 2012.

Clearly, this comic book character is not to blame, but unintentionally, Joker serves as role model to incels. The storyline boils down to a misunderstood man named Arthur who lives in city that treats him like shit every day.  Instead of considering some change in life choices, Arthur believes he should take these matters into his own hands by creating a band of anarchists to revolt against society and all it’s cruelty. Naturally, incels live vicariously through this persona.

Reddit’s efforts have good intentions, and I hope regulation only further progresses to abolish hateful rhetoric and behavior in online space. Though, many users had questions as to how effective this policy will be. Issues of bullying and threatening need to be handled on a case by case basis, creating ambiguity to Reddit’s rule change.

There still is a lot of work to be done, but the best solution now is to keep enforcing stricter policies and for developers to pay diligent attention as to what is being posted and shared on their platforms.

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YouTube and its fleeting glory days

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According to YouTube pioneers, the platform just isn’t what it used to be.

“YouTube relies on creators to differentiate itself from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, it tells creators it wants to promote their original content, and it hosts conferences dedicated to bettering the creator community. Those same creators often feel abandoned and confused about why their videos are buried in search results, don’t appear on the trending page, or are being quietly demonetized.” – Alex Castro

And Danny and Michael Philippou, better known as the twins from the YouTube channel RackaRacka, are angry about it.

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Danny and Michael Philippou of RackaRacka
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Recently they released a video in which they reenacted Mortal Kombat fatalities (ICYDK, they are extremely brutal and gory killing moves in the aforementioned video game). Shortly after being posted, YouTube declared it violated their content guidelines, leaving the video hidden from users. Meanwhile, other accounts are creating their own copycat versions, where they can all be easily found with a simple search. None of these videos are hidden, despite contravening the same exact violence policy YouTube enforced onto RackaRacka. This naturally directs all the attention and views to these copiers, leaving no recognition for the original artists.

For the twins, this is merely one taxing component of YouTube’s flawed, life-draining business model.

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YouTube heavily relies on advertisers to market their creators in order to make money, and these artists need to create content that is in competition with other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. The flaw in the system, the twins claim, is their continuous use of household names for marketing purposes instead of “creative amateurs” looking for their start.

All of this attention is turned towards the names we see over and over again, such as Logan Paul and Tana Monogeau. Left behind is those working hard to be different in an age where YouTube’s top performers funnel out the same recycled material on a daily basis.

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YouTube used to be a place where young artists could build a platform and make a living off of their content. I remember Smosh, Fred, Jenna Marbles, Shane Dawson, Ray Johnson; users with millions of subscribers that would publish daily/weekly original sketch comedies, commentary and roundups of viral videos.

Now, most of these names are just a memory. Why? YouTube’s interests changed.

In October 2012, their algorithm became more interested in longer length videos as opposed to the amount of views it receives, leaving viral videos like “Charlies Bit My Finger” a thing of the past. And some users capitalized on this method. Take Shane Dawson for example: once a 3-6-minute short comedy sketch creator with a myriad of wacky, eccentric characters, to a producer of multiple television worthy docuseries, some that lengthen over an hour per video.

As time went on, YouTube only furthered prioritized the value of their advertisers. By 2016, their ever-changing algorithm deprived original artists of funds and essentially demonetized their channels.

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Flash forward to 2017, Viners infested YouTube, in hopes of leaching on to a new host. Upon Vine’s demise in January 2017, the 6-second video creators migrated to the other biggest platform in the world to share videos.

Though, instead of original content, Viner-turned-YouTubers, such as the Paul brothers, no longer needed to post good content. Alternatively, they published the most dangerous, stupid shit they could do in order to get views. And it worked.

Come 2018, YouTube is riddled with immense amounts of controversies from their biggest creators, such as antisemitic comments from their then most subscribed content creator, PewDiePie.

Now in 2019, YouTubers, whether forthright or otherwise, recognize the platform’s cultural and algorithmic shift, and know YouTube is no longer their home.

As for what’s next, Michael Philippou of the RackaRacka Twins has a solution:

“We leave. We find somewhere else that wants our videos. That used to be YouTube, but it’s not anymore. And I don’t think it ever will be again.”

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MoviePass: The popcorn has gone stale

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MoviePass is going out of business and it looks like for good. If you’re not familiar, MoviePass is a company that provides a service that allows users to pay a monthly fee and purchase up to 3 movie tickets per month, saving movie goers a whole lot of money. The company has been around for years, but didn’t get much attention until the summer of 2017, where MoviePass announced their too good to be true monthly fee of $9.95.

Imagine that. Less than $10 for three showings a month, where nowadays just one show costs over $12 per ticket, especially if you’re purchasing online (which seems to be the norm as reserved seating makes a greater presence).

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Unfortunately, the competitive market ate this company alive. Instead of theaters such as AMC and Regal partnering with MoviePass–as their mission intended–the theaters created their own subscription services, leaving MoviePass scrambling for financial support.

Come summer of 2018, only a year after gaining public attention, the company runs out of money. In efforts to save their demise, MoviePass mustered up as many new pricing schemes as possible, which only landed them with morally suspicious business practices.

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MoviePass’ termination was effective last Saturday, September 14th, coming just months after their rival company, Sinemia, went under.

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Ted Farnsworth, former MoviePass chairman
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Though, hope is not lost. Reports today are saying that former MoviePass chairman, Ted Farnsworth, is trying to purchase the company. He stepped down from his role to avoid any conflict of interest and had this to say to justify his decision:

“‘I believe there is great unrealized value in MoviePass, and we want to rebuild and make sure it reaches its full potential,’ Farnsworth said in a statement. ‘I have always believed in the business model and the brand [former MoviePass CEO] Mitch Lowe and I built at MoviePass. There’s tremendous appetite for movie theater ticket subscription.’”


Which I agree with.  Yes, he was part of the team that executed the company’s underwhelming arrival, which led to their predictable end, but I respect how much it changed the game.

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We know streaming services are the mainstream now, people are cutting out cable and sticking to online monthly subscriptions. Naturally, this affects cable television networks/companies/investors, but the ease of watching thousands of content options from your couch concurrently affects the box office. There’s less of a reason for people to go out to the movies. With endless options that services like Netflix and Hulu provide, why drive a half hour to see a movie that will eventually end up online anyway?

I love going to the movies with my friends, it’s about the whole experience: Traveling there, sharing predictions, concessions, the act of enjoying an experience with dozens of others, and then, of course, discussing our verdict. MoviePass, and companies alike, aim to keep this culture alive. Who knows what will happen now, but I think this service’s history served as a stepping stone to a greater evolution. Movie theaters need to consider how they will progress if they are ever going to save the box office.

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