Yes, she's judging you: Luvvie Ajayi on writing a bestselling life
Q: When money started coming in, how did you handle that? A: I didn't start balling out in any way. I did buy my first place this year, in Chicago. But I'm trying to be responsible, and think about things like retirement. I have a team around me to …
Shopify Inc. tumbled the most ever after Citron Research said it was shorting the stock and alleged that the Canadian e-commerce company’s rapid user growth was based off customers who would never become sustainable businesses.
In a tweet, video rebuke, and post on his website, Citron founder Andrew Left called Ottawa-based Shopify a “get-rich-quick” scheme and “dirtier” than Herbalife Ltd., which has been targeted by regulators for deceptive business practices.
Shopify helps small merchants set up online stores. Citron’s report alleges the vast majority of them are recruited by promoters promising the website is an easy way to make money without doing much work, and that eventually the company’s growth will crumble when these merchants fail. Shopify fell 12 percent to $103.30 at the close of trading in New York, its biggest one-day drop since going public in May 2015.
A spokeswoman for Shopify declined to comment on the report. Citron’s allegations raise a key question: how sustainable is the rapid revenue growth that has propelled Shopify into one of the most highly valued software companies in North America?
The company has always celebrated the fact that most of its users aren’t established businesses, but instead regular people inspired to start selling online by how easy it is to set up a Shopify store.
In an interview in August, Shopify Chief Operating Officer Harley Finkelstein readily admitted that many businesses on the platform fail, but said the point of the company is to make it easy and cheap for merchants to experiment with new ideas and eventually find success.
“We’re not changing physics here, some small businesses simply don’t work,” Finkelstein said. “But the ones that do succeed will stay with us for a very long time.”
Left, who’s perhaps best known for his unsparing assessments of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., said marketing material on Shopify’s website that called it “the online store for someday millionaires” was a violation of U.S. Federal Trade Commission rules that say a company must back up exactly how a customer can become a millionaire with its products.
Nutrition company Herbalife agreed to pay $200 million and make sweeping changes to its businesses after the FTC prohibited the company from claiming that “members can ‘quit their job’ or otherwise enjoy a lavish lifestyle.”
A spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment on Shopify.
Left also accused Shopify of paying bloggers and influencers to promote the company.
“This is an $11 billion company that loses money, trading at over 20 times sales, that also is marketing illegally,” Left said in an interview on Bloomberg Television, adding that Shopify has “violated every FTC rule imaginable.”
“I’m still short the stock and I’ll stay short the stock,” he said. “This has got a lot more way to go on the downside.”
Citron’s report is “largely off-base” and the falling share price creates a buying opportunity, said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co.
Sebastian said he surveyed Shopify sellers and more than 90 percent said they hadn’t seen an ad claiming they could become millionaires, and a survey of Shopify ads found only 1 of 20 contained the world “millionaire.”
“We view the short call as a new overhang on shares, but also a buying opportunity for investors as we view the report as perhaps significantly overstating the impact of ‘millionaire’ ads as a driver of Shopify’s business,” Sebastian wrote in a note.
There’s no doubt a vibrant online community has sprung up to encourage more people to use Shopify. Dozens of groups exist for discussions about best practices, and motivational speaker-type figures put on seminars about how to build a profitable business on the platform with the least amount of work necessary.
Entire companies have been created around Shopify, from advertising agencies who help users promote their products to Printful.com, which custom-prints T-shirts, posters and mugs for people to sell on Shopify stores.
The question of how and when Shopify pays third-party promoters to get people to sign up for its stores does need more transparency, but it’s not an existential risk for the company, James Cakmak, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., said in a phone interview.
“This is going to be something where the results will speak for themselves in the coming quarter,” said Cakmak, who has the equivalent of a hold rating on Shopify. “I’m not worried about that.”
If you get your news from social media, as most Americans do, you are exposed to a daily dose of hoaxes, rumors, conspiracy theories and misleading news. When its all mixed in with reliable information from honest sources, the truth can be very hard to discern.
Many are asking whether this onslaught of digital misinformation affected the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. The truth is we do not know, although there are reasons to believe it is entirely possible, based on past analysis and accounts from other countries. Each piece of misinformation contributes to the shaping of our opinions. Overall, the harm can be very real: If people can be conned into jeopardizing our childrens lives, as they do when they opt out of immunizations, why not our democracy?
As a researcher on the spread of misinformation through social media, I know that limiting news fakers ability to sell ads, as recently announced by Google and Facebook, is a step in the right direction. But it will not curb abuses driven by political motives.
Exploiting social media
About 10 years ago, my colleagues and I ran an experiment in which we learned 72 percent of college students trusted links that appeared to originate from friends even to the point of entering personal login information on phishing sites. This widespread vulnerability suggested another form of malicious manipulation: People might also believe misinformation they receive when clicking on a link from a social contact.
To explore that idea, I created a fake web page with random, computer-generated gossip news things like Celebrity X caught in bed with Celebrity Y! Visitors to the site who searched for a name would trigger the script to automatically fabricate a story about the person. I included on the site a disclaimer, saying the site contained meaningless text and made-up facts. I also placed ads on the page. At the end of the month, I got a check in the mail with earnings from the ads. That was my proof: Fake news could make money by polluting the internet with falsehoods.
Sadly, I was not the only one with this idea. Ten years later, we have an industry of fake news and digital misinformation. Clickbait sites manufacture hoaxes to make money from ads, while so-called hyperpartisan sites publish and spread rumors and conspiracy theories to influence public opinion.
This industry is bolstered by how easy it is to create social bots, fake accounts controlled by software that look like real people and therefore can have real influence. Research in my lab uncovered many examples of fake grassroots campaigns, also called political astroturfing.
In response, we developed the BotOrNot tool to detect social bots. Its not perfect, but accurate enough to uncover persuasion campaigns in the Brexit and antivax movements. Using BotOrNot, our colleagues found that a large portion of online chatter about the 2016 elections was generated by bots.
Creating information bubbles
We humans are vulnerable to manipulation by digital misinformation thanks to a complex set of social, cognitive, economic and algorithmic biases. Some of these have evolved for good reasons: Trusting signals from our social circles and rejecting information that contradicts our experience served us well when our species adapted to evade predators. But in todays shrinking online networks, a social network connection with a conspiracy theorist on the other side of the planet does not help inform my opinions.
Copying our friends and unfollowing those with different opinions give us echo chambers so polarized that researchers can tell with high accuracy whether you are liberal or conservative by just looking at your friends. The network structure is so dense that any misinformation spreads almost instantaneously within one group, and so segregated that it does not reach the other.
Inside our bubble, we are selectively exposed to information aligned with our beliefs. That is an ideal scenario to maximize engagement, but a detrimental one for developing healthy skepticism. Confirmation bias leads us to share a headline without even reading the article.
Our lab got a personal lesson in this when our own research project became the subject of a vicious misinformation campaign in the run-up to the 2014 U.S. midterm elections. When we investigated what was happening, we found fake news stories about our research being predominantly shared by Twitter users within one partisan echo chamber, a large and homogeneous community of politically active users. These people were quick to retweet and impervious to debunking information.
Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, CC BY-ND
Our research shows that given the structure of our social networks and our limited attention, it is inevitable that some memes will go viral, irrespective of their quality. Even if individuals tend to share information of higher quality, the network as a whole is not effective at discriminating between reliable and fabricated information. This helps explain all the viral hoaxes we observe in the wild.
The attention economy takes care of the rest: If we pay attention to a certain topic, more information on that topic will be produced. Its cheaper to fabricate information and pass it off as fact than it is to report actual truth. And fabrication can be tailored to each group: Conservatives read that the pope endorsed Trump, liberals read that he endorsed Clinton. He did neither.
Beholden to algorithms
Since we cannot pay attention to all the posts in our feeds, algorithms determine what we see and what we dont. The algorithms used by social media platforms today are designed to prioritize engaging posts ones were likely to click on, react to and share. But a recent analysis found intentionally misleading pages got at least as much online sharing and reaction as real news.
This algorithmic bias toward engagement over truth reinforces our social and cognitive biases. As a result, when we follow links shared on social media, we tend to visit a smaller, more homogeneous set of sources than when we conduct a search and visit the top results.
Existing research shows that being in an echo chamber can make people more gullible about accepting unverified rumors. But we need to know a lot more about how different people respond to a single hoax: Some share it right away, others fact-check it first.
We are simulating a social network to study this competition between sharing and fact-checking. We are hoping to help untangle conflicting evidence about when fact-checking helps stop hoaxes from spreading and when it doesnt. Our preliminary results suggest that the more segregated the community of hoax believers, the longer the hoax survives. Again, its not just about the hoax itself but also about the network.
Many people are trying to figure out what to do about all this. According to Mark Zuckerbergs latest announcement, Facebook teams are testing potential options. And a group of college students has proposed a way to simply label shared links as verified or not.
Some solutions remain out of reach, at least for the moment. For example, we cant yet teach artificial intelligence systems how to discern between truth and falsehood. But we can tell ranking algorithms to give higher priority to more reliable sources.
Studying the spread of fake news
We can make our fight against fake news more efficient if we better understand how bad information spreads. If, for example, bots are responsible for many of the falsehoods, we can focus attention on detecting them. If, alternatively, the problem is with echo chambers, perhaps we could design recommendation systems that dont exclude differing views.
To that end, our lab is building a platform called Hoaxy to track and visualize the spread of unverified claims and corresponding fact-checking on social media. That will give us real-world data, with which we can inform our simulated social networks. Then we can test possible approaches to fighting fake news.
Hoaxy may also be able to show people how easy it is for their opinions to be manipulated by online information and even how likely some of us are to share falsehoods online. Hoaxy will join a suite of tools in our Observatory on Social Media, which allows anyone to see how memes spread on Twitter. Linking tools like these to human fact-checkers and social media platforms could make it easier to minimize duplication of efforts and support each other.
It is imperative that we invest resources in the study of this phenomenon. We need all hands on deck: Computer scientists, social scientists, economists, journalists and industry partners must work together to stand firm against the spread of misinformation.
28-year-old who paid off $38000 in 7 months: This is the first step to take to pay down debt
Next, Schroeder-Gardner focused on making more money: "The biggest reason for why I was able to pay off my student loans is because I earned as much money as I could outside of my day job. I mystery shopped and got paid to take surveys, but the biggest …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Dak Prescott throws for first time since Thursday, gives his analysis of hand injury
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Cowboys QB finally throws for the first time after injuring his hand on Thursday and offers an update. By Dave Halprin Dec 6, 2017, 3:30pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. There was a moment in last Thursday's …
Imagine earning a living by pointing a camera at yourself and chatting with people who then send you valuable gifts
Would you livestream every aspect of your life? If you’re not a pop star or reality TV wannabe, the answer is probably no. But if you could earn more than £100 an hour for sitting in your bedroom talking to strangers around the world, would that tempt you to turn the camera on yourself?
As an estate agent, Josh Day spends hours on his phone speaking to property buyers and sellers. But when he’s finished for the day the 22-year-old flicks on his camera and chats with some of his almost 37,000 fans on the livestreaming platform Live.me. Whether he’s playing games or just chatting, for every session that he’s “entertaining” his bank balance increases thanks to people sending him virtual gifts, which he can later redeem for cash, in a bid to attract his attention.
Day lives in Huddersfield and started livestreaming in August last year after stumbling across the app one evening. In his second session he attracted 7,000 views and a stranger gifted him a virtual castle worth $200 (£150). “It was unreal,” he says. “I was just in my bedroom talking day-to-day stuff and having a prat around. I screamed and ran to tell my mum! From there it just went from great to amazing.”
On another occasion a stranger sent him gifts worth $1,400. “I kind of freaked out – it felt like winning four numbers on the lottery. I never expected to make money from it.”
Day typically spends 10-12 hours a week on the platform, earning an average of about $2,400 a month after Live.me takes its cut. While he generously spends a chunk of his virtual currency on gifts for other broadcasters, he often cashes in. The extra income has helped him save for a deposit for a house. “It’s helped me get on the property ladder – I wouldn’t have done so otherwise. I also bought my girlfriend a Mulberry bag.”
Following the rise in popularity of livestreaming platforms such as Facebook Live and Periscope, more millennials are choosing to share private moments of their lives for a slice of mini-stardom. But can it really prove to be a money-maker, too? For every Day there are thousands of others who come away empty-handed. For most it takes time and effort (and perhaps a flash of the flesh helps, too: a cursory tour around Live.me seems to indicate that more skin equals more viewers) for the dollar signs to start rolling in. But for those who can command huge audiences, perhaps livestreaming will be the latest internet moneyspinner following the rise of blogging and vlogging as professions over the past decade.
“Live broadcasting is becoming a digital career in the same way YouTube and Instagram are platforms for influencers,” says Live.me chief executive, Yuki He. “We have broadcasters earning $20,000 a week or more from virtual gifts, and have heard from many people that they have quit their jobs in order to put more effort into broadcasting and work on it full time.”
A regular YouTuber with more than 100,000 subscribers, Emma Jacobs*, a 29-year-old from London, was recently chosen to become one of the YouNow platform’s 4,000 “partners” – someone able to earn money from fans sending virtual gifts via the app. YouNow claims its top broadcasters rake in up to $200,000 a year. Jacobs entertains her audience by livestreaming herself with exotic animals such as meerkats and crocodiles, and her own pets which include snakes and giant cockroaches.
“People love to see the animals,” she says. “I talk about whether they make good pets, how people can get over their fear of holding a tarantula, or how to tame their pet.” She earned £75 in half an hour on her first livestream. “I had no idea people could make money by doing this,” she says.
The YouNow founder and chief executive, Adi Sideman, says that while anyone has the potential to earn money, streaming live means broadcasters have to engage with viewers. “You don’t have to be especially outgoing, but the better broadcasters find interesting and unique ways to include the viewers in conversation and notice their fans.”
While livestreaming has exploded in popularity, it also has a sinister side. Platforms such as Facebook Live have seen police shootings and suicides played out live in front of viewers, while there have been reports of paedophiles using livestreaming apps to groom children. In August the Metropolitan police announced that a convicted paedophile from London who incited a young girl into sexual activity over Live.me had been jailed for four years.
The platforms say they are geared up to tackle this. “Live broadcasting is a newer way that people connect with social media, but all the same, best internet safety practices still apply,” says He. “Broadcasters starting out should be familiar with the multiple reporting and blocking functions which help keep broadcasts a safe and fun experience.”
Meanwhile, YouNow says its moderators work 24/7 responding to users who flag up any issues and adds that anyone has the ability to block others.
How to Turn Your Blog into a Moneymaker
Your blog can be your most powerful digital asset. It drives traffic, builds your reputation, adds value to readers, and â if you play your cards right â it can be a great source of revenue. How do you turn your blog into a moneymaker, and into …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Cowboys playoff rooting guide: Injuries and possible returns muddy …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Keeping up with the rest of the NFL helps to get a clear view of the Cowboys playoff chances.
Electric-car startup Lucid Motors Inc. has a team recruited from Tesla Inc. and a slick concept that boasts impressive performance. Now it’s going to need some money.
The nascent carmaker unveiled its Air prototype in December and had said it would start production of its all-electric luxury sedan in 2018. That timeline has slipped a bit — Lucid wants to secure Series D financing before breaking ground on a plant in Arizona, then debut the car in 2019, according to chief technology officer Peter Rawlinson.
“We don’t have the money in place. That’s why we need to secure Series D in order to execute this,” Rawlinson, who led engineering of Tesla’s Model S sedan, said Thursday at the New York International Auto Show. “It would be irresponsible to start moving earth or start anything until we have a financial runway to execute that professionally and with absolute integrity.”
Once funding is in place, it will take 24 months before Lucid begins production, Rawlinson said. In November, the company said it would break ground and begin hiring in the first half of 2017, with production beginning in 2018.
The extended timeline means Lucid will fall another year behind Tesla and other competitors in the race to bring the next generation of low-emissions vehicles to market. Still, Rawlinson said he’s confident in the car, partially because he says he’s hired most of his old team away from Tesla.
“I have secured many of my key players,” he said. “All my vehicle directors that report to me were with me at Tesla on Model S. So the team that’s doing this knows how to do it.”
The Lucid Air will start at $60,000, or $52,500 after federal tax credits. With the equivalent of 400 horsepower, the car will drive 240 miles on a charge, according to the company. A higher-end, 1,000 horsepower version that can drive 400 miles on a charge will be much more expensive, Rawlinson said, selling for “well north of $100,000.”
That’s how Lucid plans to make money where many electric-car programs have produced red ink. The base model will be profitable because battery costs are low, while the faster versions will compete with the top luxury cars and command loftier prices, he said. Lucid has signed battery-supply agreements with both LG Chem Ltd. and Samsung SDI Co.
Lucid has said it plans to build 10,000 vehicles in its first 12 months of production and ramp up to 130,000 annually by 2022. The Air model will come equipped with the hardware required for fully autonomous driving, though the software won’t be ready until 2021 or 2022, Rawlinson said.
“There are a lot of bulls; I’m a bit bearish about the software being available,” he said. “But having that sensor suite means we can collect the data, the big data, and that in itself will help accelerate the process toward full autonomy.”
The Air just completed its first high-speed stability test at 217 miles per hour. Its high performance will compete with German luxury manufacturers rather than just with other electric carmakers, Rawlinson said.
“To be credible there, we have to have a car which can run at Autobahn speeds and compete with that set and show its credibility,” he said. “It’s a bit like the diver’s watch. It has to go to 1,000 meters. Maybe the human body can’t take 1,000 meters, but to be credible that watch has to deliver what it says it can.”
Is Lori Alexander's Blogging Ministry Meek and Modest?
Lori Alexanders Brain I only have one q-uestion today. Does any of the below screengrab from Lori Alexander's blog The Transformed Wife at all sound like what she is doing with her blog posts. Is she meek and humble or fit any of the descriptors she …