Virtual Skinny: Friday Alert!


Good to Know: The U.S. FAA just hit the red alert button on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones. Don’t even think about turning it on during a flight on account of its explosive batteries.  Exhibit A.    



When You Make the Effort …

AirBnB is stepping its anti-discrimination policy game all the way up.  

When You’ve Been Exposed …

In Dec. 2015, Harvard University hosted its very own #ExposeParty when it dropped a bombshell of a report calling out some exclusionary behavior taking place on AirBnB.  The paper said that users with ‘African-American- sounding names’ had a hard time simply booking reservations. It’s the ole “we’re booked for those dates” excuse. #AirbnbWhileBlack

When You’ve Gotta Move Quick …

Can you say damage control? AirBnB brought in heavy-hitters like former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former director of American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office Laura W. Murphy to give their two cents on what it can do to reduce discrimination on its platform.

When You Want to Hear Solutions …

Murphy put together the 32-page report with some practical fixes. Starting Nov. 1, users must agree to treat others on the platform fairly and sans bias. Other things will happen like ‘instant booking’ so people can make reservations without first getting approval from the host. And, AirBnB plans to focus less on users’ photos and more on objective information on people’s profiles.

When You’ll Wait and See…

Verdict is still out on whether these changes will actually work. Mixed reviews from advocacy groups and even from founders of competing startups targeting people of color. But, it all raises a bigger question of Internet companies’ role in changing social attitudes and perceptions.


Out with the Old, In with the New …

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission wants to make your cable TV watching a little easier. This week, the agency put out its final proposal on those expensive cable boxes. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler doesn’t want your cable provider (think: Comcast) to force you to rent pricey cable boxes. He’d much rather the provider offer an app for people to stream content on their device of choice (Apple TV, Roku, etc.). Wheeler says the change would be good innovation. The agency is set to vote on the proposal later this month (Sept. 29). Who knows? The cable industry may finally catch up to 2016. #SorryNotSorry

Trying to Stop A Moving Train …

Fun Fact: For many years, the U.S. oversaw the basic operations of the Internet. But like most good things, that is coming to an end. The U.S. plans to transition its oversight duties to ICANN. Formally, known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The nonprofit group deals with the Internet’s daily operations. The transition is supposed to go down October 1st, but some Republicans aren’t having it. Four top Republicans just sent a letter to the Obama Administration basically saying that the switch won’t be going down on their watch. Reason for the opposition? They don’t want the U.S. to “giv[e] up control” of the Interwebs. The Internet and broader tech community says that’s not the case. The community sees it as a positive for the Internet’s global support. Republicans probably don’t have the votes to stop the transition, but it’ll at least make for good political drama heading into election season this fall.


The 90s comeback game is so strong. Super Mario is coming to the iPhone. mario

Alphabet (formerly known as Google) is teaming up with Chipotle to deliver burritos via drone. Virginia Tech will be the first test-site because it’s FAA approved. 

You can now hail a ride from Lyft or Gett directly from Google Maps

Norway is calling out Facebook for removing its Prime Minister’s post of the Pulitzer-prize winning ‘napalm girl’ photo during the Vietnam war.

Snapchat just hired Morgan Stanley to take out a new line of credit. The Information is reporting that the company’s gearing up for an IPO. Maybe, maybe not … 


While we’re on Snapchat, the company just hired former White House strategic communications advisor Rachel Racusen. Racusen is Snapchat’s new Director of Communications . 


IPO: Known as ‘initial public offering.’  The first time when a private company releases stock to the public. Reasons for an IPO vary (e.g., to raise money to grow the company more or to allow the company’s owners and employees to make money off of their company stock).

Virtual Skinny: Open Up!


Good to Know: Need to kill some time on a Friday? Google ‘solitaire’ or ‘tic-tac-toe’ and get your game on…Enjoy! 

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When You’re Doing An About-Face …

Messaging app WhatsApp was hell-bent on protecting its users privacy, but things change.

When You’re Not Selling Out Completely …

To be fair, WhatsApp isn’t completely going back on its word. It just announced that it’ll be sharing ‘limited data’ (including phone numbers) with Facebook, it’s parent company. In case you forgot, FB bought WhatsApp for a whooping US $22 billion back in 2014.

When You’re Not Sure Why This Is Happening …

There are a number of reasons for the change. Better friend suggestions is one … Getting better FB ads and just having a better experience with the app generally are others … And, even helping businesses offer better customer service is also on the list. In other words, WhatsApp need to make money.

When You’re Trying to Be Open …

WhatsApp understands that this privacy policy change doesn’t look good, but it wants users to know that it’s encryption game is still hella strong. But if you’d rather be excluded from this narrative all together, you’ve got a couple of options. You can opt-out right away or within a month if you’ve already agreed to the app’s new terms.



Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

This week, rapper Frank Ocean released his long, looooooooong awaited album called, Blonde. Ocean released his latest work independently and got his work to the masses via iTunes and Apple Music. Turns out this is a nightmare scenario for record labels. If artists aren’t happy with their record label contracts, what’s stopping them from putting out music on their own then turning to music streaming services for distribution? Well, the answer is nothing (assuming the artist is no longer under contract). Record labels are shaking in their boots. We’ve even heard that Universal Music Group is banning ‘streaming exclusives’ for its artists. Ocean’s the first to break away from a major record label and do something like this. Now the question is … Who’s next? Bey? Drake?  How much longer before music labels are a thing of the past?  


See Something, Say Something …

Before we all started hating EpiPen maker Mylan for it’s ridiculously high prices for the live-saving allergy treatment, actress Mellini Kantayya learned about the whole thing via her Facebook friends back in July. Kantayya launched an online petition called ‘Stop the EpiPen Price Gouging, which went viral. Then, others jumped in on the ‘social’ discussion. Robyn O’Brien, founder of, started the ‘EpiGate’ hashtag. And just like that, the #EpiGate turned into one of the biggest news stories of the summer. Never underestimate the power of social media…


Presidents and Wanna Be Presidents …

Check out this 11-minute video and President Obama’s Yosemite National Park visit in VR (formally known as virtual reality). The video is courtesy of Facebook-owned Oculus and VR content studio Felix and Paul Studios. Or skip the video and check out the President watching himself in VR. 

President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

These days you gotta meet people where they are … That’s why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are forking over $$$ for ads on Snapchat. Video ads are where it’s at to reach America’s youth.

Cars You Drive and Those That Drive Themselves…

Somehow Uber managed to drain US $1.27 BILLION dollars in just 6 months. In Uber’s world, it’s literally a drop in the bucket. Price competition from Lyft and drivers’ subsidies are partly to blame. Speaking of Uber drivers, retirement plans are in their future (sort of). Uber’s linked up with robo-advisor Betterment to set up drivers with IRAs or Roth IRAs.

When you did it first … Singapore’s nuTonomy just became the first company to get the world’s first self-driving taxis on the road. Still in test mode but still a very big deal. Uber and Google are working on it but aren’t there yet. 

Add Amazon to the automotive list. It’s launched a new hub to help those in the market for new rides compare specs, prices, and get smart before making a purchase. It’s all about building that ‘automotive community.’

How to Avoid Being Hangry …

More on Amazon … It’s taking a cue from Walmart. Shop groceries with the online retailer and then pick up your loot at a nearby drive-in location. No more wasting time by waiting for those deliveries at your door. Yay! That’s the plan at least… Amazon’s still testing things out.  

Southern Global Hospitality…

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for home sharing service AirBnB as of late. It’s been dealing with some heavy subjects like racism and discrimination on the app. But, not every host on the app is a jerk. Over 300 hosts are taking in people for free that have been devastated by the natural disasters in Italy, Louisiana, and Cali. It’s all part of the company’s disaster response program. #GoodWork

Keep Me Entertained …

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. First Instagram, now Apple.  The iPhone maker is working on a video feature reminiscent of Snapchat.

Pandora just got a new partner, and it makes sense. The Root’s Questlove and the music streaming service are doing a lil collabo called “Questlove Supreme,” a weekly radio show. The ‘black nerd version of NPR’ kicks off on Sept. 7.

Introducing, a social network for all things concerts. 

So, North Korea’s apparently working on a Netflix-type service called ‘ManBang.’ Interesting move since a ton of North Korean citizens aren’t even allowed to access the InterWebs. Things that make you go hmmm…

So Not Entertaining …

Internet trolls truly outdid themselves this week. If you remember, not too long ago the Cincinnati Zoo had to unfortunately take down Harambe (one of its gorillas). People were outraged and started trolling not only the zoo but it’s director on social. Things got so bad, the zoo said ‘screw this, we’re out.’ It got off of social.  

Things went from bad to worse when we learned that also this week, Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was hacked. It’s been a rollercoaster summer for the celeb who was the target of vicious racist attacks on Twitter. We thought things calmed down, but that was a mistake. Hackers got access to some explicit pics of Leslie and her passport info then posted them to her official website (complete with racial remarks). The website’s been taken down, other celebs rallied behind Leslie, and the Department of Homeland Security is investigating. #DoBetter 


Tech magazine Wired is losing another exec. Mark McClusky turned in his two-week notice and will be heading back to Sports Illustrated to run its digital division.

Virtual Skinny: Extra, Extra!


Good to Know: Extra, Extra! Read all about it … The Virtual Skinny is happy to announce a brand new section called ‘Guide Me! We know tech and Internet stuff can be a lot so we want to help you dig a little deeper.  Check out our latest infographic. If there’s something you want to know more about, drop us a line at or “at” us (@virtual_skinny).


When You Need to Have A Difficult Conversation …

Turn to Twitter. According to a Pew Research Center study, A LOT of tough conversations about race have happened on Twitter over the last year.

When Things Are Changing …

Social media (Twitter in particular) has really shifted how people engage in ‘big cultural conversations.’ No more water cooler talk. Social platforms are the new hot spot for intimate chats.

When Everyone Needs to Engage …

The numbers show that black people (1 in 4) are more likely to engage in discussions about race than white people (1 in 12) on social. Subjects where race comes up ranges from the presidential election to major current events. Remember Freddie Gray, Charleston Church Shooting, Sandra Bland, and even this year’s Grammys?

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When You Gotta Sound Off…

To what extent do you think these tough conversations on social media will have an impact on race relations and culture in America? Let us know what you think in the comments!


When You’re being extra … 

Internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel isn’t letting up on the whole Gawker scandal. ICYMI, Thiel was pissed at the online media company for outing him before he was ready to publicly come out as a gay man. They say revenge is best served cold … or by later secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker for releasing some explicit footage of the former wrestler. Hogan, bankrolled by Thiel, won the case and forced Gawker’s bankruptcy. Thiel then gave a speech at this year’s U.S. Republican National Convention. And now, he’s put pen to paper for a New York Times op-ed on the importance of maintaining individual privacy in a digital world. He’s even touting a new bill in U.S. Congress called the ‘ Intimate Privacy Protection Act’ aka the ‘Gawker Bill.’ Thiel says the bill, which would make it illegal to share private, illicit images of someone online (aka revenge porn), is supported by both parties. He says it’s all about maintaining ‘individual dignity online.’ But, Recode thinks otherwise. They say Thiel is trying to be the judge and jury of what journalism is and should be. #JournalismWars    


Apple is throwing money at China and wants to do more research and development in the country. 


AirBnB’s got the whole home rental thing down. Now, it’s moving into new territories for your traveling needs; namely – restaurant reservations and city tours. Say hello to ‘AirBnB Trips.’ It’s just in test mode for now. But, expect the new app to be ‘off-isch’ this November. 

Speaking of trying out new things… Snapchat wants to get into Google’s original biz of search. The ‘disappearing chats’ app just bought search and discovery app Vurb that let’s you figure out what’s around you. Vurb relies on things like Yelp reviews to help you make decisions. The purchase price? About US $100 milli. #ChumpChange

The bad news is Google’s finished and done with Hangouts on Air. Other than President Obama and Pope Francis, who knew Google had a live streaming service? #KanyeShrug The good news? It’s hit to ‘restart’ button on its approach to messaging with ‘Google Duo,’ a new video app alternative to FaceTime. Works with both iOS and Droids.

Amazon’s got plans for its original content. Jill Soloway, creator of award-winning Transparent, is working on a musical comedy for Prime. The company’s tapped the Office’s John Krasinski to play Jack Ryan for an upcoming original series. And, Amazon’s giving its original shows away for free via Facebook and YouTube.

While we’re on things to watch, we’re looking forward to the release of Hidden Figures, a film about three black women mathematicians who broke barriers at NASA in the 60s. It stars Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer. #HistoryLessons

Virtual Skinny: Play It Live …


Good to Know: Amazon Prime Day is almost live … July 12 – Save the date to get your deals.


When You Need Time for Self-Care …

The unjust killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers amplified America’s old struggle with racial injustice but raised new questions too. What to do about violent live videos on social media?

fb live

When Real-Life Tragedy is Live …

Castile’s fiancee, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the immediate aftermath of Castile being shot in the arm by a cop on Facebook Live.  But, within a couple of hours of courageously streaming her personal tragedy, Facebook took the video down.

When Something Is Not What It Seems …

Facebook claims the video was taken down because of a ‘technical glitch,’ but put it right back up complete with a “graphic content” label. But, since the launch of Facebook Live, we’ve seen hours of footage containing violent content ranging from a terrorist hostage situation to a man threatening police. Those images remained on the site without warning. #SideEye


When You’re Not Sure How to Handle It …

Facebook and Twitter’s Periscope are trying to figure out live video as they go. Social media platforms usually have community standards to uphold but are unsure how to honor those standards with live, real-time video. Both companies are testing out ways to monitor videos for offensive content.

When You Need to Think On It …

How graphic is too graphic? Should social media platforms draw the line in what types of content should be live streamed? Sound off! We want to know your thoughts.


Time for Some Relief …

Noticed anyone talking about catching Pokemon? Well, that’s because Pokemon Go is now all the rage. Nintendo is making a huge comeback and delving into the mobile gaming space with its latest game.  The game relies on your phone’s GPS and clock to turn you into a “Pokemon hunter.”  The game is well on its way to surpassing Twitter with its number of daily active users (at least on Droids). So, go ahead – download the game on your iPhone or Droid device and see what the fuss is about … Just make sure not to get robbed or find any dead bodies.  


Does fasting leading to increased work productivity? Employees at San Francisco-based startup Nootrobox seem to think so. Looks like “biohacking” is the new thing.

AirBnB is getting ready to clean up at the Rio Olympics thanks to less than ideal conditions in Brazil, the home sharing site already has 35,000 active listings and 55,000 scheduled guests just for the Games. #NotBad 

Back to live streams … Twitter (with the help of the CBS network) plans to live stream the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions. Fire up your Twitter feed and get your popcorn ready … 

Virtual Skinny: Diamonds and Pearls…


Good to Know:  Let your life shine bright like a diamond by spring cleaning with these organizational apps


When We’ve Lost Another Great One …

STUNNED is what we all were after learning that 57-year old, legendary pop star Prince passed away yesterday. No official word yet on the cause. So far, reports are citing his recent hospitalization for flu-like symptoms Regardless, it was a sad day for not only music lovers but the world.  Insanely private, Prince was incredibly humanitarian. #YesWeCode, an initiative to teach people of color how to code, is just one of his many social contributions.  #RIP #Prince


When It’s Time to Pay Tribute …

Pretty much everyone, including celebs, took to social media to share their condolences.   Hit Broadway shows, namely Hamilton and the Color Purple, paid special tributes. But for us regular folks who wanted to stream his music, you probably had a hard time finding his work online.

When You Want To Stream “Diamonds and Pearls…” 

It’s no secret that Prince was no fan of YouTube and Spotify. In 2015, he pulled most of his work from streaming services and decided to work exclusively with Tidal, a streaming service owned by rapper turned mogul Jay Z aka Beyoncé’s hubby.  Tidal’s mission is to be more artist-friendly by giving them more money for each music stream and allowing artists to have more control over their work on the service. Prince, being protective of his image, was on board.

When Not All Hope Is Lost …

Even if you’re not a Tidal subscriber, you can still find ways to stream some of Prince’s music. Check it out here.


Ugh, Not This Again …

The European Union doesn’t play when it comes to Google and alleged antitrust violations. It has officially charged the company with “abusing its power” with the Android operating system.  Apparently, Google requiring phone makers to pre-install some of its apps like Google Search and Google Chrome is no buneo. Kind of a big deal since Android is a monkey maker for the company, bringing in $11 billion in ad sales alone last year.

When You’re Ready to Settle …

A bunch of Uber drivers in Massachusetts and California sued the company over their employment status. The drivers wanted to be considered employees, but Uber was like nah, they’re just independent contractors. The employee v. independent contractor status matters when it comes down to benefits. But, looks like a judge won’t have to decide either way. Uber settled the case for US $100 million, of which $84 million is reserved for the drivers. That amount could increase depending on whether the company’s value continues to grow. Uber agreed to change up some of its practices and help set up a drivers’ association in each state. Copy cats, anyone?


The FBI shelled out US $1.3 MILLION to crack that San Bernardino iPhone. That’s more than the FBI Director James Comey’s total compensation for the remaining seven years of his tenure. Yikes!



Feel more like a local on your next trip with AirBnB’s “Guidebook.”

Twitter users came for Snapchat after the company released its Bob Marley filter in honor of 4/20 aka the unofficial weed “holiday.” They weren’t here for virtual blackface. So, Snapchat put out a factual statement claiming that it works with Bob Marley’s estate on the feature. No apology needed.

While we’re talking Snapchat, looks like MTV Cribs is coming back via the app.

The Shade Room thinks Facebook (FB) is being shady. The popular gossip publisher, a place where people can “go in” on the latest pop culture news, had its fair share of drams this week. It was booted off FB for alleged copyright violations. The publisher, which got its start on Instagram and now has over 4 million followers, says it had no warning.  #TheShadeOfItAll

In other FB news, the social media platform could soon allow you to cash in on your posts with “tip jar.”

Wedding season is upon us. If you’re getting married (Mazel!), HoneyFund is here to help you get those coins together for your honeymoon.

Virtual Skinny: We Can Be Your Motivation…


Good to Know:  Does your LinkedIn profile bring all the recruiters to the yard? If not, you’ll need three things: a strong headline, a well-written summary, and keywords. #MondayMotivation 



When Presidents Are Just Like Us … 

It’s his last year in office, and President Obama is telling us how he really feels. This time, he’s talking cable set-top boxes. Obama is not here for providers forcing you to rent old-school cable boxes from them.

When You Want to Know More…

Last Friday, he went on the record and made a public statement about the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s pending proposal to increase competition in the cable set-top box market.  Obama thinks consumers are spending billions of dollars every year to rent those damn boxes and don’t even have a say in what they get. He’d like to see the market open up to innovative players like Internet and tech companies (e.g., Google, Amazon, and Apple).

When People Come For You …

The U.S. cable market is not happy with Obama’s latest revelation. Given Obama’s close ties to the tech industry, companies like AT&T say that Obama is simply giving a little shine to his political squad.

When You Let Your Haters Be Your Motivator…

While the cable market cries over spilled milk, the Obama Administration has filed its official comments re the FCC’s proposal. The Administration wants a “measured and balanced” plan to get the market competitive again. Based on the president’s 2016 State of the Union address, this is all part of the course.


If You Stay Ready, You Never Have to Get Ready …

Looks like Verizon is prepping for the new cable set-top box market. It’s coming out with “Mallard,” a new device (complete with new interface features) to change-up how it offers cable and Internet services to FIOS users.

The European Union’s Back At It Again …

With an antitrust probe into Google.  The company’s coming under fire in a couple of different ways. First, News Corp is the latest to question whether the Google machine’s search and news services are legal. And, EU regulators are gunning for mobile operating system Android. The EU thinks Google should let phone makers and operators do what they want. In other words, EU regulators are not cool with Google requiring phone makers to pre-load Google apps rather than allowing them to choose their own “app” adventure.


Amazon v. Netflix v. Hulu: Which Streaming Service Should You Got With? Check It Out …

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In 2005, Mark Zuckerberg was just another “bro.” At the time, he described Facebook as “an online directory for colleges.”  He’s come a long way …

IRL, Brazil’s government is getting ready to impeach its president Dilma Rousseff for cookin’ the country’s books for her 2014 re-election.  The government’s lower chamber had no problem saying yes to Rouseff’s ousting. The Senate is up next. Meanwhile, Netflix is prepping for an original series based on Brazil’s political drams. The new show will be created by Jose Padilha, formerly of another Netflix original, “Narcos.” #MentalNotes #AddtoQue

What’s the Amazon version of “Netflix and Chill?” While you’re thinking about that, Amazon’s becoming more open. It’s going with a $9/month video-only subscription to compete with the ‘Flix.

Home-sharing service AirBnB is already in India, but now it’s taking market domination more seriously. Turns out India’s travel market could be worth a whopping US $40 billion within 5 years.  How do we sign up?

When will this whole ordeal come to an end? Verizon may be the likely buyer of Yahoo. #OverIt

Virtual Skinny: Consistency Is Key


Good to Know: Consistency is the name of the game for the Obama Administration when it comes to nominating someone to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court (like previous Administrations). In a slight departure from tradition, the Administration created an account (@SCOTUSnom) just to announce President Obama’s nominee. Congrats, Judge Merrick Garland. Now, good luck getting Senate approval. 

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You Came In Like A Wrecking Ball …

Is the Internet partly responsible for giving the American people Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz … and even Donald J Trump for the 2016 presidential election? It could be the case since they’ve all gained traction despite the fact that the establishment isn’t here for any of them.

What Used to Be …

Historically, Republican presidential nominations came down to media and political powerhouses … But that was then. Now, thanks to online fundraising, presidential candidate no longer need to rely on political and media insiders but can rake in tons of online donor cash to support their campaigns.

Role Reversal …

These days, Internet users are driving content. And, it’s no different when it comes to politics. Case in point? Online media sites like Vox and others picked up on stats that articles about Bernie Sanders generate heavy traffic. So, they do what any savvy biz person would do … Give the people what the want – more articles of Sanders.

Bottom line …

Some of you guys on social media are partly responsible for Sander’s popularity and the unexpected rise of Donald J Trump (to which DJ Khaled would say, “Congratulations, you played yourself.”) Moving forward, the Internet’s shake up of the media’s influence in U.S. politics is just starting.


When Consistency is Overrated and You Need to Change Strategy … 

Apple filed its latest response yesterday in its ongoing beef with the U.S. government. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its own documents with the court and fired (more) shots.  The DOJ alleges that Apple is only making a thing out of the entire situation for its marketing purposes. In response, Apple took a more measured approach to dispel the government’s characterization of its position. With its filing, Apple’s trying to change the convo from marketing chatter to more serious things like privacy and security.

It’s Not As Easy As It Looks …

There’s been a lot said about what’s going on in this very heated debate.  Late last week, President Obama even weighed in at tech and music festival South by Southwest. Obama basically said there has to be a middle ground.  But, no so fast … John Oliver’s got the illest 18-minute long explanation of the whole issue. Definitely worth a looksy

Not This Again …

Online streaming services have been going through it. Last year, Taylor Swift piped up to pen an open letter about how she won’t be putting her work on streaming services like Spotify because they don’t properly compensate artists the way they should … U.S. music licensing laws are insanely complicated, and Swift’s argument isn’t exactly accurate. While that’s still an ongoing issue, music streaming services now have a new problem: Click fraud. Turns out it’s pretty easy to defraud streaming services into forking over royalties even if you aren’t a legit artist. You basically need three things to pull it off: (1) fake artists, (2) auto-generated tunes, and (3) “bots” that’ll click all will nilly on songs by real and fake artists.  Things that make you go hmmmm…


Some of you guys in the U.S. aren’t paying up for Netflix.  A recent study found that about 31% of Americans who have access to the service aren’t actually paying for it. On a related, here are tips to sharing your account the right way. You’re welcome …

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Instagram’s going rogue … The platform plans to start showing posts not in chronological order but based on what people want to see. While we’re on Insta, Pope Francis is getting ready to make his debut.

AirBnB just announced in Tokyo that neighbors of AirBnB hosts will soon be able to put the hosts and their properties on blast via an online form.

If you’ve got an MBA, e-commerce giant Amazon may just be interested. The company’s got a thing for business school grads. While it’s recruiting MBAs, Amazon is putting its lawyers to work. The company just filed a patent application on the process that would allow people like you and me to pay for things via selfies.

Internet veteran Yahoo is still trying to figure out the best way to move its business forward.  But no matter what happens, its current CEO Marissa Mayer wants to stay put for at least three years.

Ride-hailing service Lyft and GM are teaming up to make car rentals easy peasy for Lyft’s drivers.

Waffle anyone? No, we’re not talking the better alternative to pancakes. It’s Samsung’s new social network.

Btw, Twitter’s trying to make a comeback. Here are someways to make your account work for you.

The Virtual Skinny: Blurgh!


Good to Know: Use ride-hailing app Uber? Want that 5-star rating status? Just be a decent human being.  Sounds like general life advice to us. 


When A Crazy Idea Isn’t So Crazy After All … 

Wall Street is buzzing with news that Internet veteran Yahoo may actually consider selling off its core ad business to the highest bidder when its Board of Directors (board) meets this week. This is all according to the Wall Street Journal.

This Is How Rumors Get Started …

Thank activist investor Starboard Value for the suggestion. Last month, Starboard fired off a letter to Yahoo where it pitched the idea. The Internet vet has yet to respond publicly, but news reports triggered a 7 percent spike in Yahoo’s shares.

They Build You Up, Only to Tear You Down …

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer probably took on the role all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The former Googler seemed like the answer to Yahoo’s problems. However, after three years on the job, Mayer’s attempts to put Yahoo back on the map aren’t doing much good. Lately, some company execs have said “deuces.” Media reports are speculating that Yahoo’s board isn’t happy, and this could mean curtains for Mayer. Reports have even dropped Facebook Sheryl Sandberg’s name as a potential replacement. Highly unlikely but still!

Everyone, Calm Down … 

It’s true. Yahoo isn’t in a good place. But, talk about selling its core business and numbering the days of Mayer’s tenure as CEO could be all media hype. Re/code says that the meetings this week are business as usual. And, the board isn’t ready to ditch Mayer as it still has faith in her leadership.  We’ll wait and see …


Taking Things To The Next Level … 

#GivingTuesday happened, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan got the memo. First, they announced the birth of their first child, a daughter named Max.  Then, they stunned everyone by vowing to give 99% of their FB shares (worth about US $49 billion) towards making the world a better place. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative intends “to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.”  The initiative is set up as a LLC and not a charity. So over the course of their lifetime, the Zucks will still have control over how their money is spent via private investments. #Mazel

There’s A First Time for Everything … 

Home-sharing service AirBnB and New York City (NYC) haven’t exactly had warm and fuzzy feelings for each other. The New York State Attorney General’s (AG) Office has traditionally been anti-AirBnB and is convinced that most AirBnB rentals in the city are illegal. Things came to a head earlier this year when a court ordered AirBnB to share anonymized data about its hosts with the AG.  But, that was the past. AirBnB’s now trying to smooth things over with local governments and is voluntarily sharing hosts’ data with NYC. The company hopes being transparent will show that 99% of hosts’ rentals are legit, and people benefit financially. As they say, you catch more bees with honey …

When Big Brother UK Means Something Different … 

GCHQ, the UK’s digital spying agency or its version of the NSA, is owning up to its hacking activities. The agency basically confirmed things we learned through the Edward Snowden leaks.  GCHQ admits that it hacks into people’s devices and networks not only in the UK but abroad as well. Proper search warrants not needed…. Awesome! Cambridge University Professor Ross Anderson says this behavior could harm the public. The agency sees nothing wrong and credits hacking for scrapping 6 alleged terrorist attacks this year alone.


Professional networking platform LinkedIn just upgraded its app. You’ll notice the common theme is all about de-cluttering the user experience. The app’s new private messaging feature’s got that texting-type feel.  TBH, it looks more like FB, and we don’t hate it.

It’s a hard knock life for Jay Z’s music service Tidal. The service has been out for only 8 months and is already on its third CEO Jeff Toig, previously chief business officer at streaming service SoundCloud. Toig starts in January 2016.

Software company Adobe is officially ridding itself of web animation tool, Flash. Not that anyone liked it in the first place. Hopefully, Flash’s replacement, Adobe Animate CC, is a keeper.

Ride-hailing app Uber is still snatching up Google employees. The latest? Former Google Maps exec Manik Gupta.

The Virtual Skinny: Back At It …


Good to Know: In case you were wondering, the Internet has spoken and Justin Beiber > One Direction.  We try to keep you young, folks … 


What Is Going On With The World? 

Last Friday, terrorists launched coordinated attacks (involving suicide bombs, shootings, and hostage situations) in and around Paris. Attack sites included Stade de France (a soccer stadium in Paris), a concert hall, and restaurants.  The horrible attacks took the lives of 132 people and injured hundreds more. ISIS, the Islamic State, claimed responsibility, and 23 people have been arrested.  France is still on the hunt for one of the attackers, 26-year-old French national and Belgian born Salah Abdeslam. Authorities believe he’s one of eight gunmen responsible for shootings at the restaurants.  While the search continues, France launched airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.

Rising to the Occasion … 

Internet companies stepped up to help out in their own way. Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature kicked in for those in Paris to mark themselves as safe via their profiles. It’s the first time the feature has been used for an event that’s not a natural disaster. Also, FB users were able to apply filters of the French flag over their profile pics to show solidarity. Soon, the hashtag “#PorteOuverte” (meaning “open door”) started trending on Twitter for people looking for a place to stay. AirBnB pitched in by launching its own disaster response effort by connecting those who needed shelter with hosts for “at little or no cost.”  … Google made international calls to France via Google Hangout free through the weekend so people could connect with loved ones.

What About Us? 

While many expressed their support for Paris, others, particularly those in Beirut, Lebanon, questioned why the same had not been done for the city, which had been the victim of similar attacks just two-days prior.  Those attacks claimed the lives of 40 people. One point of contention – FB didn’t activate “Safety Check” for Beirut nor was there an overlay option for the Lebanese flag available to users to show support.  FB said it chose to activate its “Safety Check” feature due to the high level of activity around the Paris attacks. One company rep said, “[t]here has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris…”

What Comes Next?

Well, FB has changed up its policy on “Safety Check.”  CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that the feature will be used for more human disasters moving forward.  Hacker group Anonymous is ready to rage against ISIS.  In terms of what governments are doing, it’s hard to say. The G20, an international forum with 20 of the world’s major economies and governments, meet this week in Turkey.  The topic of conversation during these summits are typically around economic policy and other global issues . G-20 leaders have already vowed to step their game up against ISIL aka ISIS aka the Islamic State.

How’s the Recovery? 

In the meantime,  Periscope and Snapchat users are documenting how Paris is getting back on track.


By Any Means Necessary … 

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, France is definitely going on the defensive.  The attacks come at an interesting time just shortly after the French Parliament passed sweeping, controversial reforms of its surveillance laws. The legislation passed in May, post attacks on magazine Charlie Hebdo. Basically, the law goes beyond just checking up on suspected terrorists’ calls and emails but also allows for Internet service providers (ISPs) to put in place “black boxes” to scoop up metadata on how millions of everyday folks use the Internet. The French governments says ISPs must hand this info over to intelligence agencies.  If things gets especially bad, then France reserves the right to launch “ISMI catchers” to monitor and track mobile phone communications.

When It’s not quite ‘out with the old, in with the new…” 

Workers love the “gig economy” model – a lot.  Thanks to on-demand companies like Gigwalk, traditional companies are relying on this model to upgrade their old biz processes. To keep things simple, rather than Gigwalk using its technology to compete with traditional companies like Crossmark (a sales and marketing company in consumer goods), it’s choosing to license its technology to would-be traditional competitors instead. As WSJ puts it, “[i[t is as if Uber had decided to sell its technology to taxi companies instead of driving them into oblivion. Meaning, traditional companies get to be more efficient with their operations, and workers get more flexible hours. Looks like a win for everyone involved.


Apple’s CEO Tim Cook says no chance on consumers seeing an iPad-Macbook hybrid.

Venture capitalist and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen is up to things … Over the past two weeks, he’s sold off a bunch of his shares in the company (1.5 million), bringing in about $160 Mill. No word yet on Andreessen’s motivations. #ShadyBoots

Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad is dismissing reports that his company is struggling. Conrad says the company is doing great and is snatching up new employees left and right. In other news, the company’s also coming out with its own payroll platform. 

Snapchat’s trying to offer users more variety.  It’s selling users new Lenses for added special effects to their selfies. The cost? 99 cents. Only problem is that users are not here for it! Translation: No one’s trying to pay for these filters.