Snapchat Rolls Out New Location-Sharing Safety Feature

Snapchat is set to roll out a what some are calling a “buddy system” feature that will let users share their location with a friend for a time.

The safety feature comes as young people return to campuses, traveling, dating and perhaps going back to work in the office, according to Snapchat. The feature is not unlike Apple’s Find My app which allows users to share their phone’s location in real time with friends for varying, pre-determined amounts of time (from 15 minutes, 1 hour or even 8 hours). Snapchat found a partner in It’s On Us which is a nonprofit created in 2014 whose goal was to combat sexual assault on campuses.

Snapchat, since 2017, has let users share their location with Snap Map, however a user’s location only updates when the app is open. Snapchat claimed that 250 million people use Snap Map each month. In May 2021 Snapchat had 500 million monthly active users. An internal survey revealed that 78% of users had no problem using Snap Map to share their location with friends as a safe way to connect with other people.

Like Snap Map, the new safety feature is not turned on by default but can easily be found by users. Smartly, Snapchat has limited with whom and how long users can share their instant location to reduce the risk of the feature being used for stalking.

 

 

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Popular Personal Care Brand, Lush, To Go Dark on Social Media This Black Friday

In a somewhat surprising move trendy personal care brand Lush Cosmetics is quitting TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to draw attention to how these social media platforms can be damaging to people’s mental health, especially young people.

The accounts will be deactivated on Black Friday (6 Nov. 2021) when other retail brands will weaponize their marketing to win those holiday dollars from shoppers.

Lush, which has more than 900 locations worldwide and 240 in the United States and Canada stated that their social media channels will go dark until the platforms are make changes to protect users.

Lush is well known already as both supporting social causes like Black Lives Matter and environmental causes like sustainability and deforestation while initially gaining popularity among Millennials and Gen-Z for being a cruelty free and organic personal care company.

They will be giving up access to 659,000 Instagram followers, 275,000 Twitter followers and over 1 million Facebook followers.

Yet, this isn’t he first time they’ve tried quitting social media. In 2019 went dark on their UK accounts saying they no longer wished to fight social media algorithms and would rather speak directly to their customers.

Of course this new and worldwide black out of most of their social media accounts comes at a time when all social media has come under fire for contributing to both physical and mental health issues.

The company hopes their efforts will convince these platforms to enact better practices. Lush will continue to use its Twitter and YouTube account.

 

 

Instagram Puts Brakes on Instagram for Kids

Facebook’s Instagram social media platform is pausing development of a new version of Instagram for children under 13 amidst pressure from lawmakers as they had questions about the impact such photo sharing platforms have on teen girls.

Instagram stated that they stand by the development of the app but will pause development. Their reasoning being it will give them a chance to work with parents, policymakers, and experts to listen to their concerns and to demonstrate the importance of developing the app.

This decision comes on the heels of a US Senate hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram and Mental Health Harms.” This hearing was inspired by a investigation by the Wall Street Journal investigation that delved into what Facebook knows about how Instagram affects teen users and their mental health.

Instagram acknowledged the investigation by the WSJ and admitted that people sometimes have “negative experiences,” but that the app also gives a voice to marginalized people and helps friends and family stay connected.

Instagram says they are working on some tools to address mental health issues. One includes a “Take a Break” feature that allows users to temporarily leave the platform and other users won’t be able to message them or comment on their posts. They also claimed they were working on parental controls for teens users over 13.

 

 

Facebook Doubles Down on Creating “Instagram Kids” Amid Criticisms

Despite concerns and criticisms from lawmakers and others, Facebook restated its intention to create a special Instagram platform just for children under 13 but also announced new updates to take care of concerns about the safety of young users on its social media platforms.

In one blog post Facebook claims it is developing the new platform to reduce the chances of children under 13 lying about their age to use the current Instagram platform. The new Instagram for kids, Facebook says, will allow parents and guardians to heavily manage their children’s use of the new platform.

Facebook wrote that kids this age are already online and using social media platforms and there simply isn’t yet a foolproof way to stop them. According to an internal memo obtained by BuzzFeed Instagram identified youth work as a priority.

Earlier this year 44 attorneys general signed a letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) to scrap the Instagram for kids project. They cited concerns over privacy and mental health. Child safety groups and Congress expressed similar concerns just weeks before this letter.

Facebook and Instagram have made a lot of promises about safety with their new platform and reiterated steps they’ve taken to help protect young users on their existing platforms.

Airbag Infused, Rip Resistant Jeans for Motorcyclists Coming Soon?

Riding on just two wheels without any kind of protective shell, motorcycles are far more dangerous than driving a passenger vehicle. In the US one riding a motorcycle is 28 times more likely to die in an accident.

Believe it or not innovations in airbags for motorcyclists are coming.

16 years ago and in collaboration with Harley-Davidson Sweden Moses Shahrivar designed a pair of motorcycle jeans that included a protective leather lining. Now Shahrivar is advancing things further—his company Airbag Inside Sweden AB has come out with a prototype pair of anti-rip jeans that have airbags inside the legs!

The riding connects the jeans to their bike and if they fall from their motorbike the airbags will be triggered. Then they will fill with compressed air which will take part of the impact away from the lower body.

Shahrivar says that the air bags can be deflated, re assembled and filled with more compressed air.

Safety tip for handling bar and QR codes

Don’t throw away items such as boarding passes, driver’s licenses, credit cards, or anything that has a bar code, QR code, data matrix, or postal code. They should be shredded. There are all kinds of shredders available, even those that will shred credit cards. They may hold more information than you realize. So what? Someone could use this website to decode the information and learn more about you.

This article tell about the information someone found from his boarding pass. It showed his name, frequent flyer number, other personal info, and his record locator. Using this, the account with the airline can be accessed. Future flights were seen as well. Seats can be changed, a PIN number reset. If someone really wanted to get into it they can figure out more of your information. They would have your address and know of a future flight so your home could be robbed.

Smartphone Kill Switch

In 2015, smartphones will start coming equipped with a “kill switch.” This will allow users to remotely disable their smartphones and wipe the data. Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft with the five largest cellular carriers in the US have signed on voluntarily to the program.

All smartphones manufactured for sale after July 2015 must have this technology. This would deter thieves from taking mobile devices as they are rendered useless. HTC, Motorola, Nokia are among other makers who have signed up.

Users can erase contacts, photos, email and other personal information and lock the phone so it can’t be used without a password. The data will be retrievable if the owner recovers the phone.

Critics have accused cell phone carriers of being reluctant to do this as they would lose revenue from replacing and activating stolen phones.

Jody Victor