Final Four teams meet this weekend


By now, everyone has seen the year’s Final Four in the March Madness tournament: Michigan, Villanova, Kansas and Loyola-Chicago. For many brackets, the first three were not a surprise at all. Michigan has been hot for the past month, beating Michigan State and Purdue to win the Big 10 Tournament. Kansas and Villanova have been consistent powerhouses and consistent No. 1 seeds during the past five years.

Loyola-Chicago on the other hand is the Cinderella of the year, being the No. 11 seed and still making it to the Final Four, beating several good teams to get there, including University of Miami with a buzzer-beater in the first round.

Coverage of the tournament as a whole has been heavy and consistent for the past two weeks. Stories have been put out by each school’s own newspaper about their chances and their performance in the tournament.

Coverage has been heavy on TV as well, especially in the last week leading up to the tournament. ESPN has been talking about the final four a lot, especially “First Take” the sports talk show with analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman. The two have talked all week about who they think will advance to the championship and who will come out on top.

The two have also talked about if Cinderella teams like Loyola-Chicago are helping or hurting the tournament. Stephen A. Smith made it well-known that he did not want Loyola-Chicago to be in the final because he wanted the best to be in the championship. He is fine with Cinderella teams because they are good stories, but when it comes down to the final, he would prefer a match-up between big schools.

USA Today put out an article at the beginning of the week previewing the game between Villanova and Kansas. The article talks about what each team needs to do in order to win the game. It also talks about each team’s path to the Final Four and how it will affect their play in this game.

An article was put out on this morning on how each Final Four team can be beat. It goes one by one for each school and gives details about their weakness and how their opponent can exploit that.

An article came out about three hours ago talking about how Loyola-Chicago was staying in the same hotel as Russell Westbrook in San Antonio, where the Final Four is this year. NBA star Russell Westbrook told the team to go win it since they already made it this far.

Overall, the coverage for the Final Four has been great and the reporting for the Final Four as a whole as well as each specific team has been great for reporters across the countries. The Final Four starts on Saturday and we will see who advances to the national championship game.

Google, Facebook store private data


What does privacy mean in a social media-infused world?

Not much, as it turns out. Most people are aware that big tech companies, like Google and Facebook, harbor a good chunk of data on its users, but the extent to which they do so might surprise and frighten some.

Dylan Curran, a web developer from Ireland, decided to reach out to these companies and ask them for all the information they had on him. What he saw prompted him to launch a firestorm of tweets this past Sunday, and it gets creepier the further you venture into it.

As one might imagine, this discovery proved to be quite the bombshell. Curran appeared on CBS News today to discuss.

Curran found that Facebook alone stores all information that comes from users of their service. Naturally, that makes sense, it’s their platform and they would want to collect data from their users.

The truly scary part comes when Curran says that Facebook stores your contacts, call records and text messages from your phone, not from the Facebook app. This means that even though they don’t have permission, this huge corporation has all your private information.

Google’s freakiest privacy breach is likely their location tracking. While it’s amazing to be able to drive somewhere you’ve never been before without using a map, you may not realize that when you use a service like Google Maps, your location stays on unless you manually turn it off.

According to Curran, every time you turn on your phone, Google receives your current location and the time you were there.

That’s just scratching the surface. Curran’s exposure of how these tech companies keep tabs on us is going viral. Facebook has already responded, saying that they will “update” their privacy settings “in the coming weeks”.

While that sounds nice, many critics have highlighted how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made these types of promises before, only to back away from the situation after the controversy of the time dialed down.

Here’s to hoping that this newest storm will actually create something better.

UM’s Brown declares for NBA draft


In the middle of Thursday afternoon, Bruce Brown broke the Internet when he put a post on his Instagram page declaring for the NBA draft. Brown is a sophomore guard who could’ve left after his freshman campaign last year, but decided to stay an extra year. Despite being injured for most of the second half of the year, Bruce had a stellar sophomore campaign and is still projected to be a first round pick in the upcoming 2018 NBA draft.

As soon as Bruce posted on his Instagram, social media were buzzing about his announcement. Miami reporters were tweeting heavily about what this meant for both Brown and the Miami’s team next year. The Miami reporters also talked about where Brown could be selected and if there’s still a chance that Brown returns next year.

A few hours after the announcement, The Miami Hurricane, the school newspaper put out an article covering Brown’s declaration for the draft, saying that there is still an opportunity for him to return to UM as well.

The Boston Globe, serving the area where Bruce is from, also put out an article within a few hours of his declaration. They talked about how he has not yet hired an agent, which gives him the opportunity to come back to college.

In general, the sports media and especially coverage in Miami and his home state, did a good job getting stories out as soon as possible as well as going into detail on his current status and his potential to come back to school. In the end, this may or may not be the last we see of Bruce Brown in a Miami jersey.

Zuckerberg responds to privacy scandal


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has found himself under immense pressure to address the safety of Facebook users after The New York Times and The Guardian published an investigation into Cambridge Analytica’s supposed breach of privacy against millions of unknowing Facebook users in 2013.

According to The New York Times, voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica, which engaged in work for the Donald Trump campaign, bought the data of millions of Facebook users under the pretext of “collecting it (data) for academic purposes,” while in reality the company used the information to tailor individual content, with the intent of influencing 2014 midterm elections.

Despite the clear breach of user privacy and unethical use of information, the controversy remains heated in that, technically, Cambridge Analytica was not, in fact, a breach of any Facebook privacy policies at all. It was intentionally deceiving, but its actions were within Facebook’s privacy rules.

Facebook gave permission to University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan to access information of users who downloaded his app “thisisyourdigitallife.” Kogan then turned the information over to Cambridge Analytica, which used this information to allegedly tamper with midterm elections.

Former contractor for Cambridge Anayltica Christopher Wylie exposed the company to The New York Times and The Guardian.

The scandal has raised great concern over Facebook’s seeming lack of privacy regulation and account for user safety, as it is unclear whether Cambridge Analytica’s actions technically broke Facebook’s privacy policies or simply duped the company within its own allowances.

The news media, therefore, has turned to public figure and founder Mark Zuckerberg to respond. Though it is not uncommon for major CEOs to remain behind the scenes in such incidences, Mark Zuckerberg’s public presence and personal branding demands a response from him directly.

Five days following the exposure, Zuckerberg has finally issued a response via Facebook, claiming that user security is of the utmost importance, stating “…if we can’t (protect your data), then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

The statement has been met with mixed responses, most focusing on his line, “The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago.”

The line contradicts itself; if the steps were taken years ago as he claims, the whole incident would not have occurred in the first place. Supposedly, Facebook began refining its policies in 2014, which would have been just after the incident occurred.

As the speculation into Zuckerberg’s claims continues, the media questions how much the company knew about the information leak, when they knew it and how safe the trailblazing social media platform really is.

UMBC pulls off historic upset


Well, it finally happened. For the first time since the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament moved to a 64-team format in 1985, a 16-seed toppled a 1-seed.

The UMBC Retrievers became an instant sensation as they pulled off what will go down as the biggest upset in NCAA basketball history, blowing top overall seed Virginia out of the gym in a 20-point thrashing.

It was shocking to watch, as a UMBC team that had lost to Albany 83-39 in January made UVA—a team that made mincemeat of its home Atlantic Coast Conference with just one  loss, a team with one of the best defenses in college basketball history, a team that ground far better squad than UMBC into dust look like it didn’t belong in the tournament.

Unsurprisingly, the Retrievers’ notoriety ballooned nearly as quickly as their second half lead did. The UMBC Athletics Twitter account became just as big a star as the team itself, as the account lobbed clever insults and pure bliss into the world. Any analyst who wrote off the Retrievers became a target, as CBS’s Seth Davis did before the game.

Even the man behind the account had a swell in popularity.

Everyone’s general reaction to the upset was disbelief and happiness. It was hard not to get behind UMBC, sports fans love an underdog, and you couldn’t pick a more unlikely David to topple the Virginia Goliath.

UMBC became everyone’s new favorite team for the weekend and UMBC went from “Who’s that team that’s going to get destroyed by Virginia?” to an acronym that sports fans will remember for decades, and whose highlights will pop up every time a 1-seed is on upset alert for years to come.

More than that, it was obvious that the stars of the team, like Jarrius Lyles and K.J. Maura, were playing their hearts out, even as the odds overwhelmed them.

This was especially evident in their second match-up, a loss Kansas State. The game itself was truly a slog to watch, and the Retrievers looked every part of the 16-seed they had earned. However, even as they struggled mightily to score, their effort and hustle never waned, particularly on a remarkable series of saves to retain possession in the contest’s closing minutes.

The scrappy underdog vibe was played up considerably by the game’s commentators, who acted like the UMBC players had dunked from the free throw line every time they dove for a loose ball, but they deserved it.

Like others have said, a champion is crowned every year, but nobody else can claim to have accomplish what the kids from UMBC have, and that’s something that deserves to be celebrated.

Is Snapchat’s time up?


It all started with a tweet from Kylie Jenner. The 20-year-old influential social media user tweeted on Feb. 21 asking her followers if they still use the app anymore and claiming it is “so sad.” Jenner is one of Snapchat’s most popular users and after that tweet, Snapchat’s market value dropped $1.5 billion. A day before, there was a 1.2 million-signature petition on to bring the old version of the app back.

Jenner was most likely informed of the damage she had done, so she rebutted her tweet with “still love you tho snap.” It was too late, and the downfall continued. Jenner has millions of followers on all of her accounts; this negative feedback from a popular user is horrific news for an app that tried to update itself.

Users all around the world commented on the app’s “upgrade.” The complaints seemed valid, as the upgrade switched around the order of friends on one’s friend list, which made it difficult to see people’s post on a daily basis.

To top it off, Snapchat has been added to another celebrity’s bad list. Rihanna was recently a victim of an ad that users were to see on the app. Just a few days ago, the famous singer posted on her Instagram handle about an offensive advertisement that used her domestic violence incident in 2011 as a game for users.

The ad was called “Would You Rather” and featured an image of Rihanna and Chris Brown, offering users to choose to “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown.” Rihanna responded to the advert and said, “I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb!” Snapchat claimed the ad was approved in error and apologized to Rihanna, saying Snapchat supports the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the VP sits on the Snapchat Safety Advisory Board.

The news media are not covering who approved this message and what the consequences are. This shows negligence as to what Snapchat allows to advertise on the app. Since this incident, “Would You Rather” has been blocked. However, what about who monitors these advertisements as well as who reads through reviews of the upgrades. It is evident that the update was unsuccessful, yet Snapchat has neither made any notice of it nor offer to change the app back to normal.

Rihanna made her point that she could care less about her personal feelings, but worries for other domestic violence victims who see this and feel post-traumatic stress from their experience. Stock continues to fall, at nearly five percent as of now. It doesn’t look too good for Snapchat.

Facebook is the blue-collar LinkedIn


LinkedIn was designed to offer high-skilled jobs, so Facebook decided to offer low-skilled jobs. Facebook is expanding to 40 more countries to help people get jobs as well as help businesses get the needed extra labor.

Partnering with ZipRecruiter, Facebook hoped to bring more job openings to its social media platform. The feature has expanded to Britain, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. There will be a Jobs tab on Facebook for all information on job offerings. There will also be a Jobs dashboard, Facebook Marketplace, and the News Feed that the business owners can promote with ads, additional information, ways to contact, and any other news they wish to share about their business.

Facebook will offer similar ways of searching for jobs by offering specific filters, such as industry, part-time or full-time, salary and proximity (just like LinkedIn).

The media is focusing on the most amazing part: how more people will have access to more job opportunities right at their fingertips. Facebook is just like LinkedIn, but with so much more. Job applicants who need the chance to grow their resume and educational level will be able to do so while also earning an income and improving the quality of their lives.

Facebook is just getting started, but what about LinkedIn? The news covering this information does not seem to mention the overlap it could potentially bring. Facebook has been to known expand on every endeavor the company chooses to conduct.

For example, Facebook became the new YouTube by posting videos on users’ newsfeeds, even when they weren’t searching for any. This new alternative has caused YouTube celebrities to post more on Facebook to increase viewers and feedback. So what if it suddenly wants to offer a range of white-collared jobs as well?

The news media need to mention how this could potentially lead to a bigger problem, regarding LinkedIn users and the site in general. However, for now, Facebook is enjoying the publicity and corporate social responsibility to help its users enhance their lives.

Pepe the Frog creator sues ‘InfoWars’


Matt Furie, creator of Pepe the Frog, is suing Alex Jones’ “news show” “Infowars” after a poster featuring the character showed up for sale on the site’s merchandise page.

“MAGA” poster for sale on the Infowars website

Though it started out as an innocent comic character in Furie’s comic “Boys Club” in 2005, the image and its various versions such as “Sad Pepe” or “Smug Pepe” quickly spread across the web as a popular meme.

Many consider it to be the first major meme and was used by Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and was the most retweeted meme on Twitter in 2015.

However in 2016, as the presidential election began, Pepe was adopted by the republican party after candidate Donald Trump retweeted a version of “Trump Pepe” that featured his blonde hair, suit and stance at the presidential podium.

His son, Donald J. Trump Jr. also retweeted a parody of the movie poster for “The Expendables” that featured Pepe as part of the Trump family on the poster and other popular right-wing and conservative figures.

As the right wing became more and more extreme and radicalized up to and following

A common use of the original Pepe and “Sad Pepe” meme on Twitter.

the election, so did the causes, groups, and alt-right news sources Pepe was associated with, to the point where the Anti-Defamation League, a watchdog group opposed to antisemitism, added Pepe to its hate symbol database.

The image became deeply associated with hate groups and white supremacists and the Trump campaign did not distance themselves from it.

“Infowars,” a sensationalized “news source” hosted by extreme conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, is yet another outlet taking Furie’s image and continuing the misconstrued message now associated with the character.

A screenshot from the ADL website with examples of the hijacked Pepe images

Jones called the lawsuit “frivolous” and insists the suit is part of a larger attempt by news media outlets to make Infowars “public enemy number one.”

This will not be the first time Furie has had to sue over the depiction of Pepe however. A children’s book that used the Pepe promoted “racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes,” according to a federal lawsuit filed by Furie, and the out of court settling required the removal of the book from sale.

Furie also killed off Pepe from his comic as a reaction to the corruption of his character.

This issue brings into consideration the way a meaning can be attached to an image and how quickly it can be propagated as such. Social media’s speed with condemning or supporting an image and inventing the unspoken meaning behind them is a powerful one and is frequently carried over into real life.

Even in the earlier days of Pepe’s alt-right association, news outlets struggled with dividing the comic character frog from the hate symbol he had been painted over as and they raised the unspoken question of where to draw the line between the creators intent and the current usage. I consider it similar to the swastika.

Though it was created and used across many eastern religions as a symbol of good luck, awareness, and even the footsteps of Buddha, today we know it as the symbol of the Nazi party and their acts of hate and genocide. However, Furie’s quick rebuttal to all attempts to use his character and hopes to redefine him could change how we see Pepe five years down the road.

Newton buzzer beater drops UNC


Tuesday night was a moment to remember for Canes fans around the world. Through a struggling year for the men’s basketball team, senior guard Jaquan Newton pulled off some magic to upset No. 9 North Carolina on the brink of ACC play.

After Joel Berry from UNC made a game-tying three with four seconds left, Newton got the ball and dribbled up to half court. He made a desperate heave at the buzzer, a one-legged runner, that hit nothing but net. The bench erupted and the crowd was stunned as Miami dog-piled Newton right in front of the UNC crowd.

The Miami Hurricane, the school’s newspaper, had a story up on its website the next morning. The story included a link to footage of Newton’s shot on twitter. The story also covered the game well and talked about this was a must win for the Canes going into the ACC tournament and March Madness. The team had been up and down for a majority of the season, so this was a good confidence booster for them.

Overall, the school’s newspaper did a great job of not only covering the game, but also talking about what this big win means for the team going forward.

The same night, on SportsCenter, the game winning shot from Newton was featured on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays and actually made it to No. 1. SportsCenter did a great job of getting the play out as quickly as possible so that everyone around the world could see it.

Video footage of the play was put all over the Internet, including Twitter, Youtube, and on several different websites. By the next morning, the play could be viewed virtually everywhere and at any time.

This what a great preview for what is to come during March madness. The ACC tournament is set to start in a few days and the Madness begins soon after.

Overall, the news media did a great job covering this, especially the school’s newspaper. They were able to get the story up quickly and link the game winning shot so that it was easy for the reader’s to see it as well.

James Harden ‘breaks’ NBA Twitter


When NBA fans discuss who should be named MVP in a given season, one main argument is “MVP moments.” This means that beyond the numbers, beyond the team success, did a player have signature plays that we will remember ten years from now when we look back at the season?

In the 2017-18 season, James Harden of the Houston Rockets has been the leader in the MVP discussion for most of the season, ahead of challengers LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) , Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) , Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors).

Harden already had the strongest case, posting unreal numbers on the team with the league’s best record. However, Wednesday night may have locked up The Beard’s first MVP trophy.

It was a pretty typical possession for the Rockets, with Harden working one-on-one against Los Angeles Clippers forward Wesley Johnson while four shooters dotted the three-point line. Harden regularly cooks poor saps in these isolation plays, possessing an endless array of moves to get to the rim or knock down a three off the dribble.

What happened next will go down in NBA Twitter history. He drove on Johnson, unleashed a wicked between-the-legs crossover and stepped back to the three-point line. Now this would have been impressive no matter what, but as it turned out, when Harden got back behind the arc, Johnson had crumpled to the ground. And, to be honest, he probably should have just laid there and refused to get up because Harden proceeded to hold the ball, stare at Johnson’s pathetic body— and this is the best part— wait for him to stand back up, before ending his misery and drilling a three in his face. He was fired up, his teammates lost their minds, and NBA Twitter was off and running.

Twitter isn’t always the greatest thing in the world, but there’s no better place to go when something great happens in basketball. Instantly, video of the move was up on the site, various people were giving their flabbergasted thoughts on how absurd the play was, and within 20 minutes or so the video was dubbed over with Titanic music (a staple of great highlights), among other fun videos. Here’s a photo of the great injustice, and a link to a Bleacher Report article compiling many of the best tweets:

James Harden stares Wesley Johnson down after destroying him with a crossover (Courtesy NBA on ESPN)

Anybody on Twitter who remotely follows NBA hoops weighed in on what was quickly proclaimed the most disrespectful move of the season (in an awe-inspiring way).

THAT is exactly the type of moment people remember, one that will be turned into a meme and be joked about for at least a few days. When voters for the MVP award sit down to fill out their ballots, what do you think will be the first think they think of? Probably the best player on the season’s defining team that reduced another professional athlete to rubble. So, congrats to Harden on his first MVP, and stay tuned to see if he thanks NBA Twitter in his acceptance speech. He might owe a lot to it.

Tweet costs Snapchat $1.3 billion


Kylie Jenner, one of the most influential people in the world today and the wealthiest of the Kardashian-Jenner family, can now add making an impact in the stock market to her list of accomplishments.

Kylie Jenner tweeted on Feb. 21, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me … ugh this is so sad.”

Exactly one day later, Feb. 22, Snapchat’s stock dropped six percent, which was about $1.3 billion.

Kylie’s tweet referred to Snapchat’s newest update, which made it harder for people to view their friends’ stories in the app. In the past week, Snapchat users have started a petition to get it changed back to the original layout. CNN interviewed Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights, who stated, “with roughly 25 million followers, Kylie Jenner carries a loud mouthpiece that speaks to today’s knee-jerk reaction in shares.”

In response to this petition, Snapchat released a statement saying, “We hear you, and appreciate that you took the time to let us know how you feel. We completely understand the new Snapchat has felt uncomfortable for many.”

The Kardashian-Jenner clan has an influence among millennials that many other celebrities don’t possess. They are at the top of their game.

However, Fast Company, a progressive American magazine, disagreed that Kylie Jenner had any impact at all on Snapchat’s downfall. Fast Company‘s most recent blog post titled, “No, Kylie Jenner didn’t kill Snapchat” talked about how a week before Jenner tweeted about Snapchat, Wall Street wasn’t fond of the company because of the recent changes in design. This prompted analysts from Citi to lower Snapchat’s stock from “neutral” to “sell” which could have had a large impact on their stock price falling rather than Kylie Jenner’s input.

So the question still begs, which do you think it was?

More companies cutting ties with NRA


In the wake of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., many companies have cut ties with the NRA.

Gun control activists have been increasing the pressure on companies to end their relationships with the NRA. The list of companies that have done so includes major airlines such as United and Delta and rental car services such as Hertz.

Much of the pressure being put on companies is happening on Twitter. Twitter users have been tweeting at companies asking them to publicly state their stance on the NRA and to reevaluate their relationships with the NRA in light of the NRA’s pushback on strengthened gun control legislation.

Many of the companies have been using Twitter to make these announcements, which makes sense given that much of the pressure to cut ties is happening on Twitter. Many articles covering this developing story have included screenshots or links to tweets from the various companies that have cut ties.

I find that including the tweet is more visually appealing than simply copying and pasting the company’s statement into quotes for the text of the story. Including the screenshot also allows readers to see if the tweet was in response to a user or a stand-alone tweet, which is a detail that some readers want to know.

NBA All Star format shakes up game


The National Basketball Association had its annual All Star weekend and All Star game this past weekend. Instead of having a traditional East vs. West match up, the commissioner decided to change the format of the game. The two players who received the most fan votes, Steph Curry and LeBron James, drafted their teams from the pool of NBA All Stars and created their teams with both Western Conference and Eastern Conference players.

The All Star game had been receiving criticism over the past few years because of lack of competitiveness and lack of intensity from the players, so a change needed to be made. However, as soon as the format was announced back in the winter of 2017, CBS Sports stated in an article.

CBS Sports was reporting on the format change and criticizing it. CBS talked about how the game had always been West vs. East and they shouldn’t change the tradition. CBS also argued how it didn’t even think changing the format in this way would help the players compete harder.

After the game this past Sunday, the league and reporters thought the game was a success. Not only was the game competitive, but it was also close and came down to the final possession.

CBS Sports published a second article almost immediately after the game stating how the new format worked and how it could keep getting better over the next few years. The article went into heavy detail about why the format worked and the reporter did well on explaining the pros and the cons of the format to the reader.

Sports Illustrated also put out an article on Monday morning talking about how the new All Star game was good for the sport overall and how the NBA players’ symbolic value is what’s important to the fans. So, the players needed to play hard in order to show the fans that they do care about their voices and their opinions.

A reporter named Ben Golliver tweeted a graph showing that the 2018 All Star game was the lowest scoring since 2013 and the closest margin since 2012, which means there was a lot more defense being played the players really cared about winning.

Overall, reporters did a good job analyzing and reporting this game especially after all the anticipation and expectations from this new format.

NRA uses Leslie Knope in pro-gun tweet


Former stars of the hit NBC show “Parks and Recreation” are furious at the National Rifle Association for tweeting a GIF of a scene from their series.

After the tragic events that happened at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School, students, faculty and parents of victims gathered at CNN Town Hall on Wednesday. They gathered for questions and answers with Florida lawmakers.

The NRA tweeted a message of support to the official spokesperson, Dana Loesch, who was at the event.

“Thank you for begin the voice of over 5 Million #NRA members.” read the tweet. A GIF showing one of the main character of the show, Leslie Knope was put as an attachment.

It demonstrated Knope pointing and saying, “Thank you.” Knope is famously played by Amy Poehler who did not mince words when she heard about the tweet.

Moments later the co creator of the show Michael Schur tweeted, “Hi, please take this down. I would prefer you not use a GIF from a show I worked on to promote your pro- slaughter agenda.”

Poehler does not have a Twitter account, but requested Schur to post a message for them. “Can you tweet the NRA for me and tell them I said f**k off?”

The news media covered this story in a very honest and raw way providing the facts about the situation and how it was a chain effect. Tensions are very high right now in regards to anything involving guns because of the high school shooting.

Although, the news media did manage to keep their coverage respectful and honest.

Fergie bashed for national anthem effort


Fergie’s performance at the NBA All-Star game has received so much negativity and has been described as “cringe worthy, laughable, and my friends drunk mom acting sexy.” Roseanne Barr also mocked her saying her own rendition of the song in her 1990 performance was “low key better.” The singer took the responsibility into her own hands by sincerely apologizing for her artistic risks and explained she tried her best.

Even the NBA players were unable to contain themselves, as it was evident during the performance. Players including Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Matt Dollinger, were ones who proved their problems with the performance, as they laughed and made faces throughout. Fergie has always been known to put her own kick into her music, making her stand out as an individualistic artist who has proven to sing from her own soul. Apparently, this was not good enough for everyone.

Every report of this performance has been nothing but disgraceful and hurtful towards Fergie. She has been respected as not only a performer but also a person. She is real, successful, and different. Singers are ridiculed for being too bland and for being too “risky?” The backlash of her performance can be understandable to a certain point, but the coverage of the situation is unnecessary.

Albeit it is the national anthem, but if the NBA is all about respect, how is it that the players are allowed to laugh during the performance of this “sacred” anthem? The players are free to laugh, talk, and ridicule the performance and performer of the national anthem? Reports need to also focus on the mutual respect between the performer and the players. What needs to be done is for whatever incident occurs, it needs to be taken seriously and in a fair manner. For players to be tweeting and mocking Fergie as she apologizes for the incident, just seems like the system is rigged and the players are bullies.

It is 2018, crazier things have happened. Having such a well-liked and respected woman perform the national anthem, should be the automatic point made to not ridicule her. However, if there are going to be rude comments given, they should come from both sides.

Mass shootings lead to difficult choices


On Feb. 14, a gunman entered Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and started shooting. There were 17 fatalities, making it one of the top 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

The gunman, identified as 19-year-old expelled student Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15, the weapon of choice for many mass shooters. His motives are still unknown. He confessed in court to the shooting.

Much of the early information around this shooting came from social media posts by students trapped inside the school. Students barricaded in classrooms would tweet out safety updates or videos of the chaos. This ability to get live updates from inside a situation was unthinkable just a few years ago and allows for reporters and the rest of the outside world to have more information sooner.

However, there are many possible problems over reporting from these social media posts.

One possible problem is in regards to fact-checking. Much of what a student tweets could potentially be based off of incorrect assumptions or limited knowledge of the situation. In a situation such as this shooting, a news reporter needs to take extra care to not cause panic by disseminating false information, especially since social media allows for that false information to make its way back to other students in the same situation.

There is also the question of whether news media coverage is over-exposing people to violence.

Since the Parkland shooting, many people have questioned how necessary it is to see every dead body and puddle of blood. Some worry that it’s a violation of privacy and an act of disrespect to victims and their families. Many psychologists raise concerns that over-exposure to graphic images could worsen cases of acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. There is also concern over people becoming desensitized to horrific violence.

However journalists decide to handle the inclusion of social media posts and graphic images in their reporting of mass shootings, I feel that the most important thing is to balance the need for truth and facts with respect for the tragedy.

Can AI stop extremists on social media?


A few days ago, the United Kingdom government unveiled a new, $843,834 (600,000 British pounds) technology that would detect and flag videos with extreme jihadist propaganda.

An image from Isis’s Dabiq propaganda magazine.

This is the first major step into improving the automated flagging of inappropriate videos which has become a major concern for both viewers and content creators.

This issue was first brought to light in 2016 which jihadist videos reached hundreds of thousand of views on YouTube.

At this point, the platform would trust viewers with flagging content, which would then go under individual review by YouTube employees. But since the content creation has spiked in recent years, the review process has become inefficient and has fallen to criticism.

In response, the program set up an imperfect algorithm which flagged anything relating to violent acts, tragic events, or inappropriate content in general. As a result, many news-focused pages lost their funding and creators became unable to speak on tragedies or even curse in videos without the risk of losing their income.

ASI Data Science’s new artificial intelligence has proven to accurately flag videos and has only flagged 0.005 percent non-IS related videos and major giants like Facebook and Google are meeting with the developers to see about implementing the technology onto their platforms.

With the reveal of this technology also came British government’s willingness to pass legislation to make this a mandatory part of online technology. Many social media sites have had major issues with violent, terrorist-focused pages and videos using them as a host and even as a place for group recruitment.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have worked to create blanket solutions but still come under fire for the inaccurate and ineffective results produced by algorithmic solutions.

UK man Shafi Mohammed Saleen, a prolific ISIS supporter, who was convicted of spreading terrorist group propaganda on Twitter.

‘Social media companies continue to get beat in part because they rely too heavily on technologists and technical detection to catch bad actors,’ says an expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in the use of the internet by terror groups.

As the popularity of social media continues to grow so does the untraveled “Wild West” of the internet and we continue to question how we should handle it. The improvement in AI recognition seems like a step in the right direction, especially with the compliance of internet giants like Facebook and Google.

Kick Logan Paul off YouTube?


The past few weeks, Logan Paul, 22-year-old YouTube sensation, was attacked on social media after he found a suicide victim in Japan’s “suicide forest” and taped his reaction to it, tasering rats on his YouTube channel, joking about tide pod incidents, and making racist comments/gestures on his trip to Japan.

After he broadcasted his finding of a suicide victim in Japan, Paul got an immediate backlash of “How could you do this?” “You’re sick.”

Paul put out a public apology on both Twitter and YouTube within a day.
(Logan Paul YouTube Account)

Paul’s net worth is $12.5 million. He gets paid $150,000 per Facebook post, $80,000 for sponsored Instagram content, and for his “apology video” after countless demeaning actions, he was paid $12,000.

A lot of people are asking, “What do we have to do to get Logan Paul kicked off YouTube?”

Paul has lost all of his sponsors for Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. However, he is still making videos and updating his fans daily. He has been on “Good Morning America” to state,

“I am a good guy who made a bad decision” 

Yet, one week later Paul is posting videos on his Youtube channel of him tasering rats and joking about tide pod incidents that have sent many to the hospital.

So, the world is asking themselves, is Logan Paul a good guy? And is it one bad decision or one after another?

Tweets have started to surface contacting Logan Paul about deleting his Youtube account and never making another video again.

These are the questions we must ask ourselves when Logan Paul is a social media influencer.

With young children watching and learning, with this spotlight on him at all times, comes great responsibility. One he needs to earn back in the eye of the public.


The rising #Churchtoo movement


The #metoo movement has now inspired a new movement that is gaining traction called “#churchtoo.”  The campaign was launched over Twitter by Hannah Paasch and Emily Joy, who are both survivors of sexual assault.

The mission of #churchtoo is to bring to light the rampant sexual abuse occurring in churches and among the Christian community.

Unlike the #metoo campaign, coverage of the #churchtoo movement has been very minor by secular news networks, if it is even covered at all.

However, the Huffington Post ran a lengthy online article written by Paasch.  In her article, Paasch shared Joy’s story, told her own story and described the campaign.

Paasch wrote, “#ChurchToo is a platform not only where survivors can out their abusers — yes, names and all — but also where Christians, ex-evangelicals and agnostics alike can ask one another: How can we do better? What would a theology of consent and autonomy look like? How would we build a world in which that sort of church was not the exception?”

Time magazine was the only other well-known publication to run a story about #churchtoo.  Their article was only a few short sentences and then a series of screenshots from fiery Twitter posts using the hashtag.

Many Christian publications have written about the campaign such at CBN, Relevant Magazine, and the Christian Post.  All show support of the victims and are in favor of the campaign.

How the story of the campaign is told has varied greatly across Christian publications.  I believe this is likely due to Paasch’s blatant criticisms of the Christian church.

Paasch fervently condemns what she calls, “purity culture” preached in churches and the widespread ideology of sexual restraint in the Christian community.

“That theology of abstinence that singles out women and slut shames everyone who engages in any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage.  Purity culture is the religious antecedent to rape culture, as it lays the bulk of the responsibility for maintaining the sexual purity of both genders on women’s attire and behavior,” wrote Paasch in her article for the Huffington Post.

In her Huffington Post bio, she refers to herself as an “ex-Christian blogger.”

In CBN’s coverage of the #churchtoo campaign, Paasch’s name is not mentioned once.  Instead, their coverage focuses on pastors and prominent Christian leaders who are advocating for churches to address the issues of sexual abuse.

CBN interviewed Jimmy Hinton, who is a pastor of Someset Church of Christ in Pennsylvania and consultant for the nonprofit GRACE on sexual abuse issues occurring in churches and faith-based groups.

Hinton reported his father, who had pastored the church for years, to the police.  Hinton’s father confessed to multiple crimes against children and is now in jail, according to CBN News.

“Survivors are ready to fight for what’s right and they’re ready to fight to have their voice,” Hinton told CBN News.

CBN, a more conservative Christian network, did not quote any of the Twitter posts for the campaign or any survivor’s fiery condemnations of the Christian faith.  Nor did CBN mention anything about “purity culture.”

Conversely, the Christian Post and Relevant Magazine, ran stories about the campaign where the majority of the text was direct quotes from survivors’ Twitters.

The Christian Post and Relevant Magazine both mentioned the oppression of women in churches and told the stories of people who have left the church as a result of sexual abuse.

This raises the question, is coverage of the #churchtoo campaign another way of suppressing the voices of victims?

In my opinion, the CBN story did not suppress the voices of survivor’s.  They quoted prominent Christian U.S. gymnast, Rachael Denhollander, who was the first U.S. gymnast to publically accuse USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

“I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so you may some day experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me, though I extend that to you as well,” Denhollander told Nassar in her impact statement in court.

I personally enjoyed reading CBN’s story about the campaign because it focused on church reform and the big strides being made to put an end to sexual abuse in the church and faith-based organizations.  The CBN article did not dwell on the horrific crimes of the past, but rather spoke of optimism for the future.

Surprise, chaos at NBA trade deadline


Usually the trade deadline in the NBA is filled with moves from teams all over the league, but with 24 hours left before the deadline, no significant moves had been made besides Blake Griffin trade bout a week ago.

The Cavaliers made a lot of moves in the last 12 hours before the deadline, essentially revamping their entire team. They traded Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Dwyane Wade was also traded back to the Miami Heat for a second round pick. Several other smaller moves were made by the Cavaliers later on in the day.

Emmanuel Mudiay was traded from the Nuggets to the Knicks and Elfrid Payton was traded from the Magic to the Suns. Rodney Hood and George Hill were included in deals to Cleveland and will make their debuts for the Cavs in the next few days.

Throughout the shocking chaos during this year’s NBA trade deadline, SportsCenter and other NBA sportswriter did an excellent job following all the action and getting it out to the public almost immediately when deals were finally made. Writers such as Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein utilized social media very well, especially Twitter.

They both tweeted early in the day on Feb. 8 which teams were in trade talks and how likely it was that the talks would turn into agreements. They then broke the news immediately about all of the Cavaliers moves, starting with Thomas, the most significant trade deadline move.

Within the afternoon, SportsCenter had covered the trades on broadcast, bringing on Stephen A. Smith within an hour of Isaiah Thomas’ deal. Smith talked about how the trade would effect the Cavaliers and what the future is like for Thomas in Los Angeles. SportsCenter also used Twitter to share the news about the trades around the world.

Articles were posted online as early as 12:45 p.m. on Feb. 8 with analysis and coverage of the trades, almost as soon as they were announced. Overall, reporters utilized social media very well during this hectic time and also getting analyst on SportsCenter as soon as possible.