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There’s Something Disturbing Going On Online And Every Parent Needs To Know About It

When it comes to keeping kids entertained, sometimes the only thing a parent can do to get a moment of peace is put on a video.

While no parents would advocate letting television or online entertainment be a “babysitter,” the truth is that many parents rely on the stolen moments they gain when their child is watching Peppa Pig, even if they limit screen time. That’s why apps like YouTube Kids are so popular. Theoretically, a child can sit down with the app and watch content that’s appropriate for them, featuring the characters they know and love.

Unfortunately, the reality is much more complex. Parents have started to notice that their children have been exposed to inappropriate content on YouTube Kids, and what’s even scarier is that it’s disguised to look like the videos your kids watch on a regular basis.

Just so you know, this article will be covering sensitive topics, and some may find the images below disturbing.

A few weeks ago, the writer James Bridle published a post on Medium detailing the disturbing trend he’s noticed among children’s entertainment on YouTube Kids. The first videos he explores aren’t necessarily upsetting, but they do reveal that channels are using largely automated processes to create videos designed to game the YouTube algorithm to get a huge number of plays and thus ad revenue. This isn’t particularly shocking because YouTube channels are designed to make money. But it does get into some weird territory.

Bridle explains that these automated, algorithmic approaches to creating content for kids feel off, and they result in crazy mashups that use nursery rhymes, songs, and characters from across shows, movies, and genres. There’s nothing inherently bad about the video below, but it’s kind of weird and unsettling. But this odd use of copyrighted characters is what starts us down the path of the truly evil.

Youtube / BABYFUN TV – Latest Finger Family Songs & Rhymes

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Some of the most upsetting content on YouTube Kids is disguised as a regular episode of, say, Peppa Pig. Whether it’s right away or several minutes in, these videos then turn violent, sexual, or sometimes both, exposing children to things they shouldn’t have to see. As Bridle points out, it’s easy to understand how content like this slips through the YouTube filters, but we have no idea who is creating this disturbing imagery and why.

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In addition to animated content, there are also live action channels, some of which have been removed since Bridle’s article. YouTube has responded, saying it has demonetized more than 2 million videos, removing more than 150,000 of them for having inappropriate content. Still, it’s shocking that so many videos were allowed to remain up for so long, and some parents are saying this move is too little, too late.

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Youtube / Philip DeFranco

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This is what a vegan looks like…

More people than ever are moving from steak to seitan. Four recent converts tell us why they switched

The number of vegans has been rising in the UK up by 360% over the past decade. At the moment there are more than half a million in this country, and as ever more disturbing information proliferates regarding the costs of meat and dairy production to the environment, many more look set to switch from steak to seitan. With vegan foodstuffs now commonplace in supermarkets and chefs getting creative with animal-free offerings, whats stopping the remaining 99% of us? Well, it might just be the reputation. Who wants to be labelled a sanctimonious tofu tout or a clean-eating vanity case? Which is how vegans still tend to be perceived, despite the likes of Brad Pitt and Ellen Page flashing their credentials, Emma Watson going to the Met Ball in an animal-friendly dress and Beyonc investing in a vegan meal delivery service. Its time the lifestyles profile got a make-over.

Sean OCallaghan

42, London, Fat Gay Vegan blogger and PR. Founder of the Vegan Beer Festival

I was driving along a freeway on a hot summers day in Sydney and got stuck behind a truck taking chickens to be killed. I went to KFC all the time then and it made me realise what I was empowering with my money. A few days later, there was a cattle truck accident, some died and some were staggering around hurt, and I thought, OK, Im vegetarian. Later I moved to London and my sister, who teases me about everything, was living with me. She wasnt vegetarian, but would say: Youre going on about how you are ethical, but youre drinking milk and you know what happens to dairy cows, dont you? One day I was like, Actually, youre right, Ive been a hypocrite. I changed overnight. When I switched I realised I hadnt really done anything. And this was back in 2000 when it wasnt as easy as today. Now youve got almond milk, hemp, soya, even in places like Iceland. I was in Chelsea earlier and there are two vegan ice cream shops just on the Kings Road.

Before becoming a vegan I was a primary school teacher, then I started blogging and putting on events and it got so busy that I stepped away from teaching. It was hard, but I believed in what I was doing. I want non-vegans to see that they can do everything they do now as vegans, but also support and celebrate those who have made the choice. Weve just put on the fourth London Vegan Beer Festival and 1,000 people came. It was beautiful. Im going to hold it in Manchester and Glasgow soon, too.

Diana Pinkett

44, London, Vegan Peasant Catering

There is the stereotype of the granola-eating hippie. Thats not me. I became vegan for environmental reasons which really resonated with me. The amount of grain that has to be produced to feed cattle and other livestock doesnt make much sense when, with all that arable land, you can feed people directly while using less water. You then also have less methane and other polluting waste ending up in the atmosphere and waterways.

Many vegans are not necessarily foodies, especially animal rights people. Their food choices can be made solely on whether something is vegan or not, whereas my chef partner and I are both very interested in food. Some of what we make can be healthy-ish, but it doesnt come under the health-blog banner, and not the vegan junk food banner either, as its a bit more formal. We cater for events like weddings, 60th birthday parties and fundraisers, like the one we just did for Greenpeace.

Joseph Sheridan-Ruddy

32, Preston, engineering buyer and trainee counsellor

People are always saying, I bet you miss steak dont you? But I dont. I miss Dairy Milk and Nike Air Max more than meat. When I was 28, a friend turned. He didnt push me, but a couple of things he said prompted me to think about it. One being that he didnt like the fact that a cow was being raped for its milk almost a feminist perspective. Cows are artificially inseminated to keep them lactating and then their babies are taken off them so theres a growing part of the vegan community who see it as rape because humans are aware of the concept of consent so we hold that responsibility. That started me thinking about the meat and dairy industry. But I was never sold on the meat is murder thing. It was the word livestock that struck me.

Back then I was working in stores and stock is something that you put on a shelf and sell. I felt so uncomfortable that an animals life was being used to make money for a human. I had a fridge full of meat at the time and couldnt bring myself to eat it. It was the classic eureka moment.

Denai Moore

22, London, musician

I grew up in a Jamaican household, where the diet is heavy on animal protein and I was obsessed with pizza, but I started to get tonsillitis often and it always seemed to be after Id eaten lots of dairy. I celebrated a tour by eating loads of chocolate and immediately became ill so I stopped eating dairy for my voice; the rest followed out of curiosity. Its been a life changing experience as its made me question everything. I had no idea that meat and dairy consumption affected the environment before watching the film Cowspiracy and Earthlings literally destroyed me, its very blunt and took me several weeks to watch.

Its amazing having access to so much information online which is why I think so many teenagers are becoming vegan. Also, theyre being introduced to veganism without feeling judged. Seeing people blog and post pictures and youtubers living it shows how accessible and inexpensive it can be to be vegan. And you can still enjoy a lot of the foods you ate growing up, like Oreos. Creating vegan Jamaican food is what Im all about at the moment so I can do my own supper club. And theres loads of exciting vegan restaurants, too. Fed By Water in Dalston make amazing vegan pizzas with their own mozzarella thats a massive thing for me.

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Find out how to launch your side hustle by taking this online class – Mashable


Mashable

Find out how to launch your side hustle by taking this online class
Mashable
Topics: amazon-fba, blogging, Business, consumer-tech, earn-extra-money, ebay, home-business, how-to-makemoney-online, market-niche, mashable shop, Mashable Deals, e-commerce, profit, selling-online, shopping-onlinelearning, shopping-solo, Side Hustle

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Logging into the blogging culture – Oherald (blog)


Oherald (blog)

Logging into the blogging culture
Oherald (blog)
And while it can be said that the blogging 'culture' exploded about half a decade ago in the Indian metros, Goa has finally woken up to this phenomenon and the rising number of bloggers is a testament to this. While the top bloggers in India across

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He Let Kids On The Beach Play With His Pet…Which Turned Out To Be A Crocodile

When we hear about crazy and dangerous things happening in Russia nowadays, not much surprises us anymore. However, what one man let children pet is still pretty shocking.

In the town of Anapa, beach goers were delighted when a man took his pet into the water and allowed them to touch the animal. The only problem? Well, said pet was a six-foot crocodile on a leash, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone there one bit.

The man, a local photographer, was arrested after police saw the footage below on social media. He’d apparently been using the creature to make money.

The crocodile, which the man had been cruelly keeping in a tiny aquarium in his home, has since been removed and taken to a zoo in Novorossiysk. Share if you can’t believe people were so willing and unafraid to touch it!

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Africa travel blogger: South Africans 'are spoiled, mostly ungrateful' compared to other Africans – News24


News24

Africa travel blogger: South Africans 'are spoiled, mostly ungrateful' compared to other Africans
News24
Cape Town – South Africa's Katchie Nzama has travelled to so many countries across the African continent. News24's Africa editor Betha Madhomu speaks to her about her experiences and future plans. When and how did the idea of travelling around Africa

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Where have the Cowboys improved since Dez Bryant caught it at Lambeau Field? – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Where have the Cowboys improved since Dez Bryant caught it at Lambeau Field?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Thursday marked an anniversary of sorts for Dallas Cowboys fans, that is, assuming you associate the word “anniversary” with a terrible event you wish never happened. January 11th, 2018 served as the three-year anniversary of when Dez Bryant, in all

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With SoundCloud Go, SoundCloud is angling for a business model

SoundCloud Go is here, Australia.
Image: Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

There’s another digital horse in Australia’s online music subscription race.

On Thursday, SoundCloud Go launched in Australia and New Zealand where it will face off against market incumbents like Spotify and Apple Music.

For A$11.99 or NZ$12.99 a month, users will get access to more than 135 million tracks. Like its rivals, SoundCloud Go offers offline, ad-free listening and a free trial period.

SoundCloud’s free service, long beloved by independent and emerging musicians, will now also be supported by ads and promoted profiles. The company is building a local sales team to manage Australian ad sales.

Already up and running in the U.S., the UK, Ireland and France, the new SoundCloud subscription service can be seen as an attempt by the company to find some kind of business model to satisfy the big end of town, without annoying fans.

Launched in 2008, the platform gained a reputation for being user-generated and artist-friendly, and did little to make money of its user base besides minimal ads. The “YouTube for Music” had become the target of legal action in recent years, however, thanks to hosting a fair portion of copyrighted music uploaded by users.

CEO of SoundCloud Alexander Ljung speaks during the Digital Life Design conference in Germany.

Image: Getty Images

Shortly before it launched SoundCloud Go in the U.S. in March, the company signed a major agreement with Sony Music. The studio had yanked the catalogues of artists like Adele and Miguel from the platform in mid-2015 amid a breakdown in negotiations on its way to a subscription deal.

According to Billboard at the time, the collapse had something to do with “a lack of monetization opportunities” on the platform. Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group had previously signed up.

With SoundCloud Go, the company can now presumably pay per stream like Spotify. And on the free version, “Each time an ad is heard on SoundCloud, an artist will get paid,” according to Sonia Flynn, SoundClouds Vice President of International. That should make the studios happy.

In a nod to the ongoing controversy about how little Spotify, Apple Music and the like pay artists per stream, Alexander Ljung, SoundCloud cofounder and CEO, said in a statement creators were “at the centre of everything we do.”

“The launch of SoundCloud Go and the introduction of ads to the free service enables us to continue to build the most progressive artist remuneration system in the world,” he added. “While offering listeners everything from emerging creators, new tracks from indies, global hits as well as hits in the making, all in one place.”

The company declined to provide further information to Mashable, saying it does not disclose specifics on the deals it has in place with the record labels or around artist payments.

Since anyone can upload songs to SoundCloud, it has an army of fans who love the depth of music discovery it allows. But for free. Whether its subscription play works out remains to be seen.

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Why governments should protect us from barely-taxed tech monopolies

The health of our democracy demands that we consider treating Facebook, Google, and Amazon with the same firm hand that led government to wage war on major monopolies

In our day, we can’t quite see anything wrong with monopoly. We’re certain that our tech giants achieved their dominance fairly and squarely through the free market, by dint of technical genius.

To conjure this image of meritocratic triumph requires overlooking several pungent truths about the nature of these new monopolies. Their dominance is less than pure.

They owe their dominance to innovation, but also to tax avoidance.

Of course, every big American corporation tries to limit the tax bill. Armies of accountants are a staple of capitalism; the manufacture of new deductions is one of our country’s greatest showcases of innovation. But the tech companies are especially slippery with the tax man. They have hatched schemes that their competitors – brick-and mortar firms, media companies – couldn’t dare attempt.

When Jeff Bezos first conceived of Amazon, he originally wanted to locate the company on a California Indian reservation, where it would pay hardly any tax. Authorities rejected that gambit. But Bezos understood that internet commerce challenged traditional ideas about taxation. Thanks to a court ruling, rendered just as he launched his company, Amazon could get away without paying sales tax to the states to which it shipped its goods.

Google has the same sort of unpatriotic accounting schemes. Google has also shifted assets to Bermuda, that famous mecca of high tech. By the end of 2015, it had “permanently reinvested” $58.3bn of its profits in foreign tax havens, earnings on which it pays no US tax.

The tech companies maintain every shred of data, yet seem to want to purge every bit of taxable earnings. The year Facebook went public, it recorded $1.1bn in American profits, but didn’t pay a cent of federal or state income tax. Indeed, it earned a $429m refund. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Facebook bilked the treasury by taking a single deduction: it wrote off the stock options it gave to its executives.

These companies can afford to push the limits of acceptable behavior, because they have paid such care and attention to Washington. While the tech companies are hardly the image of corpulent K Street, they have built massive lobbying operations that pace the halls of the regulatory agencies and Congress, stacked with skillful hacks.

Google executives set foot in the Obama White House more often than those of any other corporation – its head lobbyist visited 128 times. Google spread its money across Washington with joyous ecumenicism. Google spent about $17m on influence peddlers of both partisan varietals. By one count, Google poured more into its DC apparatus than any other public company. An investigation by The Intercept concluded: “Google has achieved a kind of vertical integration with the government.” Somehow Google managed to overcome the recommendation of staffers on the Federal Trade Commission who found Google’s monopolistic machinations worthy of a lawsuit.

Lobbyists for the companies have preserved a blissful state of barely regulated, barely taxed monopoly. They have played the politics brilliantly. Obama spent his presidency cheering on the tech companies, even pleading with the Europeans not to collect the taxes owed to them. In return, the tech companies have sent their best brains to work for the Democratic administration and its political campaigns.

The tech companies have so mastered Washington, they have acquired such cultural prestige, that it’s hard to imagine the system ever restraining them. But we know that politics doesn’t repose in a steady state, and the companies have one gaping vulnerability – they aggressively surveil users. Thus far, the public has tolerated these invasions, but that won’t last forever.

Barack
Barack Obama spent his presidency cheering on the tech companies. In return, they sent their best brains to work for the Democratic administration and its political campaigns. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Hackers are constantly testing security cordons, and constantly bursting through them. Everybody has tolerated this as a fact of digital life, a minor price to pay for its wonders. With the exception of Russian interference in our election, these have been relatively minor breaches. They will prove throat clearing compared with the Big One, the inevitable mega-hack that will rumble society to its core.

The Big One might be an exposed cache of intimate information that disrupts marital relations en masse, as the Ashley Madison hack did on a small scale. It might disrupt our financial system, so that fortunes disappear in an unrecoverable flash. Or it might trigger an actual explosion of infrastructure that kills. If we could predict, we could prevent, but we can’t.

The tech companies can see the Big One coming, and they are bracing for the fallout, which is a perfectly reasonable posture. Their companies have created devices and code that enable omnipresent surveillance; their pack-rat servers hoard personal data. These companies could logically carry the blame for a massive attack.

The best analogy is the financial crisis of 2008. There was nothing that the banks could do to gain political traction in the face of the catastrophe that they unleashed. When the Big One arrives, the tech companies will be vulnerable to the regulation that they have skillfully avoided. (Shamefully, there’s no modern law governing the
use of data.) Just as the financial crisis triggered the creation of Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the rare launch of a new agency – the Big One has the potential for creating a sizable regulatory infrastructure.

What we need is a Data Protection Authority to protect privacy as the government protects the environment. Both the environment and privacy are goods that the market would destroy if left to its own devices. We let business degrade the environment within limits – and we should tolerate the same with privacy. The point isn’t to prevent the collection or exploitation of data. What are needed, however, are constraints, about what can be collected and what can be exploited. Citizens should have the right to purge data that sits on servers. Rules should require companies to set default options so that citizens have to opt for surveillance, rather than passively accept the loss of privacy, a far more robust option than the incomprehensible take-it-or-leave-it terms of service agreements.

This is a matter of autonomy: the intimate details embedded in our data can be used to undermine us; data provides the basis for invisible discrimination; it is used to influence our choices, both our habits of consumption and our intellectual habits. Data provides an X-ray of the soul. Companies turn that photograph of the inner self into a commodity to be traded on a market, bought and sold without our knowledge.

It’s a basic, intuitive right, worthy of enshrinement: citizens, not the corporations that stealthily track them, should own their own data. The law should demand that these companies treat this data with the greatest care, because it doesn’t belong to them.

Possessing our data is a heavy responsibility that must come with ethical obligations. The American government has a special category for corporations that profit from goods that they don’t truly own: we call them trustees. This is how the government treats radio and television broadcasters. Those companies make money from their use of the public airwaves, so the government requires that these broadcasters adhere to a raft of standards. At times, they were asked to broadcast civil defense warnings and public service announcements; they were asked to adhere to decency standards and were required to provide equal airtime to candidates of both political parties. The government, in the form of the Federal Communications Commission, supervises the broadcasters to guarantee that they don’t shirk these obligations.

A
A display of Google devices during an event in San Francisco … ‘Data provides an X-ray of the soul. Companies turn that photograph of the inner self into a commodity to be traded.’ Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One of the most sacrosanct obligations of the data-driven firms is that they don’t abuse their power to undermine democracy. The government shouldn’t dictate the editorial policy of the platforms, but we should prevent our informational gatekeepers from suppressing criticism of themselves; we should insist that they provide equal access to a multiplicity of sources and viewpoints. I don’t deny that
this is a thicket of complex questions, which would require a legislative doorstop and many judicial rulings to untangle.

This is not, however, a novel interpretation of the government’s responsibilities. It’s exactly what the supreme court has demanded of the state, even its most conservative justices. In 1994 Anthony Kennedy intoned: “Assuring the public has access to a multiplicity of information sources is a governmental purpose of the highest order.”

Over the decades, the American state has done a first-rate job of limiting communications behemoths, allowing the oxygen for new technologies and new competitors.

In the earliest days of the republic, the postal service monopolized the flow of information. But with the advent of the telegraph, the government withstood the temptation to control the new medium, even though the postal service had ample opportunity to swallow it. The government allowed a period of rigorous private competition – which ended, as all such cycles do, with the rise of a monopoly: Western Union. Politicians, however, kept threatening to dismember Western Union, a threat that deterred Western Union from extending itself into telephony. AT&T emerged as the dominant firm in that new technology, but the government wouldn’t let it extend into radio. When NBC achieved a grip over radio, the government insisted that it divide into two – NBC and ABC. The Nixon administration encouraged a challenge to the Big Three networks that controlled broadcasting, by promoting the emergence of cable.

A Data Protection Authority would be the heir to this tradition. Unlike the Federal Trade Commission, which evaluates mergers to preserve low prices and economic efficiency, the authority would review them to protect privacy and the free flow of information. It would constrain monopolies as they attempt to carry their power into the next era, creating the opening through which challengers can ultimately emerge.

The health of our democracy demands that we consider treating Facebook, Google, and Amazon with the same firm hand that led government to wage war on AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft – even dismembering them into smaller companies if circumstances (and the law) demand a forceful response. While it has been several generations since we wielded antitrust laws with such vigor, we should remember
that these cases created the conditions that nurtured the invention of an open, gloriously innovative internet in the first place.

From World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer. Reprinted by arrangement of Penguin Press, part of the Penguin Random House company. Copyright (c) 2017 by Franklin Foer

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Make your money work harder – Kansas City Star


Kansas City Star

Make your money work harder
Kansas City Star
Just as it's recommended for you to exercise your body regularly, your money should be pumping iron in your savings account gathering interest like a champ. Let's face it — savings is so important, but the sacrifice is rarely easy. There's always a

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