Virtual Skinny: Who Run The World?


WOD (Word of the Day): Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that focuses on creating ‘intelligent’ computers that have human-like reactions. Yup, just like you see in the movies. 



When You Need to Diversify …

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dropped a discrimination lawsuit against data-mining startup Palantir Technologies. Fun Fact: Palantir’s software helped track down Osama bin Laden right before the U.S. took him out. #TheMoreYouKnow 

When You Need to Know More …

Turns out that the DOL found that Palantir has been turning away Asian applicants from engineering gigs in droves. The agency says Asian applicants were ‘routinely’ weeded out during initial stages (i.e., résumé screening and telephone interview). #PlotTwist 

When This Isn’t What You’re Used To …  

Cisco exec Barry Gee says discrimination cases involving Asians in Silicon Valley isn’t the typical storyline (these cases usually involve black and Hispanic applicants) though he admits Asians do get shut out of management roles. 

When Things Are Unclear …

So far, specific numbers to back up the DOL’s allegations are unclear. In the meantime, Palantir is denying any wrongdoing. And, the company should hope things are on the up and up because any findings of wrongdoing could cancel its federal contracts worth US $340 millie.


When You Want to See Results …

The larger tech industry continues to struggle with diversity across the board (underrepresented minorities, women, etc). The industry’s taking a page from the National Football League’s (NFL) playbook. Tech and Internet companies are applying the ‘Rooney Rule’ to help up their diversity numbers. How does it work? Companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Microsoft are using the rule to make sure that at least one woman or underrepresented minority is interviewed for a position. Could help bring in a more diverse applicant pool, but companies shouldn’t get it twisted. It’s not just about getting people interviews. The issue runs much deeper. #UnconsciousBias  

How to Not See Results …

Investor and serial entrepreneur John Greathouse thought he was giving sound advice to women in tech when he advised that they ‘create an online presence that obscures their gender’ (e.g., use your initials for  job apps or when seeking startup funding). Greathouse said women should create a ‘neutral online presence’ to avoid gender-bias.  Studies apparently show that men are less likely to find female names likeable. Greathouse learned very quickly what happens when a good deed goes wrong. Many women and some men were not having it, and immediately responded with comments, posts, blogs, etc. See here, here, and here. Moral of the story: Not a great idea to suggest workarounds a problem without making suggestions to solve the actual problem. Greathouse has since apologized. We gotta ask: Despite the backlash, does Greathouse have a point until the larger problems are fixed? Sound off in the comments!


Who Run The World?

Melinda Gates wants girls to run the tech world. She’s now turning her attention to the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math). Gates, who earned a computer science degree from Duke and previously worked at Microsoft for a decade, is concerned that the percentage of women in computer science has plummeted from 37 percent to 18 percent since the ‘80s. Her plan is to assess the problem before deciding where resources should go to bring solutions. #StrengthInNumbers  

Switching Gears …

First India and now Germany.  If you’ll remember, people were not happy when WhatsApp announced that it would start sharing its users’ data with Facebook. German regulators just threw a flag on WhatsApp’s play. They say German users didn’t give the go ahead on any of it, which violates its data protection laws. The regulators want Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp data and to hit the delete on all German users’ data collected already. Facebook plans to fight Germany on this. The company probably keep its defenses up because Italy is giving the company major side-eye on the same issue. 


Looks like folks aren’t sold yet on self-driving cars. New Kelley Blue Book survey found that 80% of survey participants said we should “always have the option to drive themselves;” 64% need to be in control of their own vehicle; and 62% just enjoy driving.


Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have partnered up to make moves on artificial intelligence and come up with best practices for it. #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork 

Salesforce just threw a wrench into Microsoft’s plan to buy LinkedIn. The company is asking European regulators to put the kibosh on the deal. Something about the deal will be a threat t’o future innovation and competition.’

Snap, Inc. formerly known as Snapchat is out with its ‘Snapchat Spectacles’ complete with a wearable camera. They’re going for US $130. Add that to your holiday gifts list. 


Loads of content plus a social platform could equal a potential Disney acquisition of Twitter. The social media platform lost a controversial user. Venture capital investor Marc Andreessen decided to call it quits on the Twitterverse. He’s apparently feeling ‘free as a bird.’ #PunIntended 

Music streaming service Spotify has also got buying on its brain. Soundcloud could be it’s next target. If it works out, it’s music to Soundcloud’s ear since the company’s been struggling and looking for a way to exit stage left. Meanwhile, Spotify’s finally saying hello to Japan, the world’s second largest music market (worth over US $2.5 billion). #BetterLateThanNever 

Queen B (aka Beyonce) just made her first foray into tech with a US $150,000 investment in Sidestep, an app for buying concert ‘merch’ that also helps you head straight to the counter to pick up your new swag. 

What Was Trending This Week … 

Mary J. Blige can add host to her resume. Mary’s hosting ‘The 411’ on Beats 1. This week, she interviewed Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton then the R&B singer sang to Hillz about police brutality. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but check out the full interview here. Happy Friday!


Virtual Skinny: ClickBait…


Good to Know: It’s #InternationalCatDay. BTW, over the weekend, the hashtag #FirstSevenJobs was trending thanks to @mariancall. People shared their first seven jobs. Did you? If not, it’s not too late! Take a min, reflect a little, and tweet at us (@virtual_skinny)!

world cat day


When You’re Just Looking Out (For clickbait)… 

Facebook doesn’t want its users to deal with ‘clickbait’ articles in your newsfeed.

When You Need To Use It In A Sentence …

Clickbait aka articles with headlines that leave you feeling misled, tricked, or underwhelmed after clicking the link (e.g., Headline: You won’t believe what XYZ celeb did! The Actual Content: [Insert uninteresting, mundane activity like a grocery story run].

When They’ve Heard You Loud & Clear …

Facebook users aren’t amused and complain about these annoying clickbait articles. So, FB decided to put some brainpower behind solving the problem. FB employees have narrowed down types of click bait into two groups. Category 1: ‘Curiosity gap headlines’ (see example above) and Category 2: Flat out misleading headlines.

When You’ve Found A Solution … 

FB’s changed up its algorithm so that publishers who dabble with the worst type of clickbait just simply won’t reach the number of FB users they’d like. But no need to go to basic, boring, and bulky headlines just yet. FB’s only going after the worst offenders.

When Others Chime in…

Last night, John Oliver dug deep into journalism and even talked ‘clickbait’ and what that means for the future of journalism.


Didn’t They Tell You That I Was a Savage?

In case you haven’t heard, Instagram hit ‘copy and paste’ on Snapchat’s Stories. That’s right … Insta pulled a boss move and copied Snapchat’s Stories feature. The basic concept is that you can post pics at the top of your newsfeed, but it’ll “disappear” after a day. Insta’s version is called ‘Instagram Stories.’ #ShockerButNotReally Turns out people seem to like it better. And business wise, Snapchat should be worried. Instagram’s got a larger audience (its 350 million daily users v. Snapchat’s 150 million users) and possibly better tools. Uh Oh!


E-commerce site tried to take on e-commerce giant Amazon. But, it didn’t work. Walmart stepped in and paid $3 billion in cash money for Now, it’s back to the Wal-Mart v. Amazon matchup. Advantage, Walmart? 

Back on! Online fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings can now legally operate again in New York. But, there’s a catch. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo says the sites’ contests are now considered a “game of skill,” which basically means NY regulators will be watching. And, the sites will have to pay new fees.  

Google is off to the races in India. The company’s winning the emerging market (ahead of Facebook and Microsoft) with its free Wi-Fi program, and that’s major! #NextBillion  

Yahoo’s going through things right now. But, it’s still got its eye on the prize. It’s launching Yahoo View, a TV watching site, with the help of Hulu. 

In more TV watching news, Comcast, Time Warner, Disney, etc. have all poured money into online companies to reach younger audiences. But not Viacom. The company hasn’t gone down the digital investments road yet. Rumor has it that Viacom has its eye on BuzzFeed. Unlikely, but anything’s possible…

Speaking of not making investments, Chinese Internet giant Alibaba has no plans to get involved with U.S. streaming service Netflix. 


Twitter just lost a member of its Comms team. Jim Prosser is heading over to marketplace lending company SoFi.

Everyone’s trying to be a tech company, including healthcare and consumer goods company Johnson & Johnson. J&J is kicking of its new tech business with the help of former Dropbox exec Marc Leibowitz.

After almost 8 years on Google’s self-driving car projects, Chris Urmson is peacing on account of he’s ‘ready for a fresh new challenge.’ 

And now that Verizon is buying Yahoo, the Internet company’s VP of global PR & Communications Anne Espiritu is ready to dip. She’s going the startup route and is joining health-care company Oscar Insurance Corp.

Microsoft and LinkedIn Get Together

Tech Giant and Professional Network Say “I Do”

Microsoft and LinkedIn just announced that they have decided to become one. According to reports, Microsoft plans to buy the professional social network for a cool US $26 billion in cash money.

So, why is this happening?LinkedIn, Microsoft

The merger is a win-win situation for both companies. Linking up with LinkedIn allows Microsoft to dive into enterprise social media services. While LinkedIn can have some peace of mind in an increasingly competitive market.  In other words, LinkedIn can now be more competitive when matched up against other companies using their social graphs to potentially compete against the professional network.

What does it mean for us – the average LinkedIn user?

Not to worry, even though LinkedIn will become part of Microsoft’s productivity and business processes segment, it will still keep its branding and product.

Is the deal finished or is it done? 

The short answer is “no.” Both companies’ boards have given the go ahead.  LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman led the deal. In a statement, he said “Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business. I fully support this transaction and the Board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it.”

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner also had positive things to say about the new partnership. Weiner penned a blog post where he said that this merger is simply just the next phase in the company fulfilling its mission.  Read the full post here.

But, there is still more to do. More hoops to jump through to finish the deal. Regulators in the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Brazil still need to give LinkedIn and Microsoft their blessing.



Virtual Skinny: When Life Hands You Lemons …


Good to Know:  Make Lemonade aka the title of Beyonce’s latest album released exclusively on Tidal over the weekend and nearly broke the Internet. It’s coming to iTunes soon. Side note: Know the difference between Rachael Ray and Rachel Roy before making the decision on whether to fire off emojis of lemons and bumble bees. 


When You’ve Got A Brilliant Idea …

Frustrated with public transportation? Not to worry, Tesla founder and all-around genius Elon Musk says he’s got a solution.


Please, Tell Us More …

At a conference in Norway, Musk hinted at autonomous vehicles aka self-driving cars as the answer to curbing cities’ density problem.  Think a hybrid between Uber and public buses.

When Mums The Word…

Musk didn’t want to spill too much tea but did say that these new vehicles would take people to their intended destination rather than bus stops.  Cities around the globe like Lausanne, Switzerland, and Zhengzhou, China are already testing out something similar.


When You Throw Out the White Flag …

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is stepping away from its fight with Apple.  Late last Friday, the DOJ backed out of its NY suit against the iPhone maker. Apparently, it no longer needs the court’s help in forcing Apple to break into the iPhone involved in a drug-related investigation. It simply got the passcode from someone else. This comes after the U.S. government paid over US $1 million to unlock another iPhone in the San Bernardino situation. And, that’s what we call being resourceful, folks. #MondayMotivation

When You Want to Make Peace, Not War …

Beyoncé’s hubby, Jay Z, isn’t the only one looking to make peace. Rivals Microsoft and Google are calling a truce. Both companies agreed to stop throwing regulatory shade at each other. Moving forward, they’d like to compete on their products and not by legal complaints. Microsoft has even withdrawn existing regulatory complaints. #FairEnough

When You Don’t Quite Have the Numbers …

Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper piped up to some reporters and put us on notice. His team is looking into just how many innocent people are getting swept up in the government’s Internet surveillance aimed at foreign suspects. Clapper’s comments aren’t unprovoked. A group of 14 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Reps put in the request.


In the U.S., it’s illegal to take a pic of your election ballot. Snapchat wants to make “ballot selfies” a legal thing. In official court docs, the company told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit that states banning pics in the election box is a First Amendment violation. In other words, a “ballot selfie” is simply free expression.

Speaking of elections, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is taking his campaign to California. First stop? The Bay Area where he’ll talk business, trade, and economic growth. Trump should expect a tough crowd.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.45.11 AM

Area 120 is Google’s soon to be in-house, startup incubator, intended to stop entrepreneurial employees from peacing out on it.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn’t want you to text and tweet, and it’s going after Twitter users that brag about doing just that.

Tweeting and Uber-ing is just fine, but you’ll probably soon have to tip your Uber driver.

Virtual Skinny: Run That Back …


Good to Know:  Reminder, if you haven’t gotten your U.S. taxes done, you’ve got until Apr., Run


When You Swear It’s Déjà Vu …

Now that the Apple v. U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) court battle has died down, Microsoft’s got next.

When You’re Like Hold Up! Run That Back …

The company wants to give you a heads up when the U.S. government is getting all up in your online biz. But, the government allegedly won’t let Microsoft put you on notice so the company’s fired shots with the lawsuit it filed earlier this week. 

When You Need The Details …

Microsoft’s argument comes down to the information you store in the “cloud.” For years, tech companies and privacy advocates have been calling out the U.S. government for using an old-school law (Electronic Communications Privacy Act aka ECPA) to gain access to people’s personal information stored in the cloud. They want the law changed.

When You’re Like, But How?

Well, look at it this way. If the government wanted access to information you’re keeping in your house or mailbox, it would need a search warrant under the 4th Amendment.  But, when it comes to your online stuff, less is required of the government to gain access.

When Things Are Backwards …

Even though it makes a ton of sense to change the law, not much has happened (sigh, politics).   The latest development is that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved its version of an amended bill to keep up with the times.  #SmallVictories


Try Take Over The World …

Mark Zuckerberg is legit on ‘Pinky and the Brain’ status. This week, Facebook put on F8, its annual developer conference. Per usual, FB’s got a lot on its “to do” list.  The Zuck kicked things off by not missing a chance to throw shade at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Then, he kept the zingers coming (in a good way) by unveiling his company’s 10-year plan.  Basically, it comes down to chat bots, virtual reality, and sponsored messages (in case you were wondering why you may have gotten a FB message from Lyft).  Looks like FB Messenger is going to be kind of a big deal. We’re talking potentially being able to use Messenger to interact directly with businesses to meet our needs (i.e., pizza).

Baby Steps …

While Facebook’s on that world domination tip, Google’s taking a local approach. According to reports, Google – now known as Alphabet – is using one of its subsidiaries called Sidewalk Labs to build out a “digital district.” The company’s allegedly got big name consultants and urbanists on its team to “create an area in the U.S. that serves as a testbed for new technologies from super fast Internet to autonomous cars.”


In honor of Equal Pay Day this past Wednesday (Apr. 13), Facebook and Microsoft said they’re progressive because they basically pay men and women equally for the same job (for every $1 a man makes, a woman makes 99.8 cents).  Not quite equal pay, and the gender pay gap is still a major problem.


Twitter has its work cut out for it.  It’s been on a take-down rampage of tweets and accounts related to terrorism. But, a good thing has turned into a never ending battle. As soon as Twitter takes a tweet or account down, similar ones pop right back up. Enemy #1 is Abu al-Walid. He’s now on his 464th Twitter account. Oy …

While we’re on Twitter, can we talk about the Jack Dorsey- Azealia Banks connection? Let’s get into it. In 2015, Banks sent out tweets to promote Square Cash, the Venmo-like feature of Dorsey’s other company Square. Banks said she only did it because Dorsey promised to promote her mixed tape in return. He didn’t. She claims that he instead sent her his hair samples to “make him an amulet for protection.” Ok so, two things: (1) What TF is really going on? And (2) Watch your back, Jack. Yikes!

“Please silence your phones.” We’ve all heard that gentle reminder to not be that annoying person on their phones in the middle of a movie. Turns out AMC Theaters is admitting defeat. The CEO gets that millennials can’t part with their phones for too long so they want to make it acceptable for people to text and watch at their theaters. #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm …

Amazon’s trying to get knee-deep in the fashion world so it’s looking to buy up startups like Everlane, Le Tote, Rent The Runway, ThirdLove and PreeLine.

Old things are becoming new again.  While the 90s are coming back with a vengeance, so are vinyl records. Startup ReplyYes wants to help you get your hands on the right vinyl records with its daily text recommendations.

Drone racing. Coming to ESPN in August 2016.

Virtual Skinny: Monday Motivation


Good to Know:  “You’re not normal. You’re you. You’re awesome.” – @thekidpresident #mondaymotivation



When You’re Still Working Out the Kinks …

Over the weekend, a deadly bombing happened at a children’s park in Lahore, Pakistan,
taking the lives of 69 people and leaving about 300 injured. So, Facebook launched its “Safety Check” to let people “check in” as safe.  But, it didn’t work as expected. 

When Something Is A Major Fail … 

The “Safety Check” is intended to be avail for people close to the event, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday, March 27.  Instead, FB asked people all over the world (South Africa, Nepal, Canada, and U.S.): “Are you okay?”

When You Need to Apologize for Your Behavior …

Before it was too late, Facebook said “sorry.” The company copped to its mistake and blamed it on a bug that is “counter to the product’s intent.”  Safety Check’s been giving FB some issues since its debut, but those issues have been more along the lines of FB alleging playing faves on when and where to launch the features.


What’s your motivation?

By now, you’ve probably heard a lil’ something, something about Apple’s rumble with the U.S. government over encryption. Now, the issue is going global.  With the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, France wants to act quickly. French lawmakers are seeking to make it easier for intelligence bodies to have more power in getting people’s personal data. A similar proposal allowing governments to “snoop” has cropped up in Britain. But, German and Dutch officials aren’t here for any of it and oppose “back doors” in encryption services. In the meantime, all eyes are on Britain since it’s a big market for American tech companies.


Ride-hailing app Uber is using its “Code on the Road” game to recruit engineering talent.  Fun Fact: Some people who have played already work in engineering.  Uber says it’s not playing the “targeting” game when it comes to who can play.  Rather, the company says it’s launching the game in cities where there are tons of tech jobs.  Hmmm … We’ll go along with that … for now. BTW, $10K is on the line for people who play and find bugs, which could threaten privacy and security.

Yahoo is putting its core Internet business (think search, email, etc.) up for sale. And, the latest word on the street is that Microsoft is chatting with Yahoo’s investors about a private equity deal.

You’re a lucky man, Ross Martin!  He’s the first customer to receive the first Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Virtual Skinny: Friday!


Good to Know: Happy Friday! Focusing on others isn’t just the key to leading a happier life. It also helps when trying to get a job, allegedly


When You Have Nothing But Good Intentions …

Microsoft thought it was doing a good thing when it introduced “Tay,” an AI chatbot, to the world earlier this week.  The company built Tay to mimic stereotypical millennials’ “caszhh” speak aka casual speak by learning from 18-24 year olds Twitter and messaging apps Kik and GroupMe.

But, Then Things Went Left VERY Quickly …

Things started innocently enough with Tay responding with playful comments. But in just half a day, Tay transformed into your racist, homophobic, xenophobic, politically incorrect relative that you are forced to see at least once a year. Tay was spewing things like: “WE’RE GOING TO BUILD A WALL. AND MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT.”  We’ve heard that somewhere before …

When It’s Not Really All Jokes …

People could write this off as a joke. But can’t help but wonder, is this really a reflection our society? And, how much filtering safeguards are needed to avoid these offensive comments with the next AI chatbot? Tay went to bed (i.e., Microsoft shut it down” around midnight last night.


When You’re Not Sure How To Feel …

Online streaming service Netflix took to its blog and dropped a major truth bomb on us. The company’s admitted that it’s been decreasing the quality of videos for users watching via telecom providers AT&T and Verizon Communications wireless networks for five years. Turns out this is what a telecom company gets for non-consumer friendly policies. Meanwhile, if you’re in the U.S. and can’t find anything to watch on your account. You’re not alone.  AllFlick’s new report says Netflix’s catalog has shrunk by about 32% in the last two years. 


If you need to connect with anyone between the ages of 13 and 24, e-mail is not the way. They’re 3.5x more likely to use messaging apps compared to 45+ year olds.



Apple’s  first TV series will be an unscripted show that’s centered on something it knows well – apps. Musician and TV producers Ben Silverman (former executive producer of The Office) and Howard Owens are in.

Snapchat reportedly dropped $100 mill Bitstrips, the company responsible for the Bitmoji app.

Google just made its Nik Collection, a collection of desktop plug-in, free. It would usually run you about US $149. #GoodDeal

Virtual Skinny: Super Tuesday!


Good to Know: Happy Super Tuesday! All eyes are on U.S. citizens residing in 12 states today. They are headed to the polls to vote on who could potentially be the presidential nominees for both the Republicans and the Democrats. While Democratic candidates Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders duke it out, Donald Trump is rumored to take the day on the Republican side. Btw, Trump is already winning on Twitter. 

super tuesday


When You Gotta Take the “L” …

Apple – 1; U.S. Government – 0 … In the midst of all the drams between Apple and the U.S. government over the San Bernardino attacks (remember?), the government wants Apple to hand over iPhone info related to a drug case in NY. The federal magistrate judge in the case said the government’s argument is no bueno.


If you want to get into specifics, the government is betting on a very old law (we’re talking written in 1789 old) called the All Writs Act, which the government says allows it to require things not already covered by existing law.  The judge wasn’t buying it and basically told the government to take it down several notches. In other words, the government doesn’t have that much power.

Kind of a Big Deal …

Even though the drug case has nothing to do with San Bernardino and what the judge said is limited to that particular situation, it still raises questions about what this could mean for the mega-blowout over San Bernardino. Hmmm….

Speaking of …

Since we’re on San Bernardino, here’s a quick update. Late last week, Apple met its court deadline and submitted its docs to dismiss the government’s case. This week, companies like Google, Facebook, and even Microsoft are stepping up to the plate to file their own court doc aka amicus brief aka a brief filed by someone with “skin the game” to support Apple’s position.  In the meantime, Apple’s top lawyer Bruce Sewell is at on U.S. Capitol Hill today to tell the nation’s lawmakers that they respect the victims and their families and have zero tolerance for terrorists. But, the government has put it in an impossible position when it comes to protecting iPhone users. Sewell and the company want Congress to discuss this issue before any decisions are made.


Devil’s in the Details …

Weeks ago, the U.S. and European Union agreed on how companies should protect Europeans’ info that U.S. companies shuttle back and forth across borders. Now, they’ve released the official text of the new framework called the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. Let’s just say that this framework ups the ante in what companies need to do when it comes to their privacy policies and sharing people’s info with third parties. If you happen to be a European resident that uses the Internet, turns out you’ve got more power to bring legal action against U.S. companies if you feel it’s necessary to do so.


Get it directly from the source. Google’s now selling cardboard virtual reality viewers on its online sore. US $15 for a single and US $25 for a double. No need to make that McDonald’s run for their limited edition of ‘Happy Googles.’

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told his investors that the app’s users are watching about 8 billion videos a day (same as Facebook!). But, the “Damn Daniel” vid is no longer one of them.   A group hacked into the creator’s Twitter account and hit the delete button on the viral vid. All we can say to that is … #Damn

Israeli startup Skyfi is trying to beat Facebook and Google to the punch on offering global web access. The company’s working on a “self-correcting antenna” to transform small satellites into transmitters around the globe.

When it comes to startups, we don’t hear much coming out of the Middle East. But, online e-commerce company Souq is changing that by raising major moo-lah, about $275 million and counting in funds.

Virtual Skinny: “Dislike” Would’ve Been Just Fine…


Good to Know: You can now react in more ways to your friend’s Facebook updates. FB globally released its reactions feature so people can express themselves in more ways than just “liking” stuff.  But, some people feel like FB did the most, when a “dislike” button would’ve done the trick: 

dislike button


Where Do We Start?

Remember how the U.S. government asked Apple to unlock the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists? A ton’s happened since last week.

Oh Please…

The U.S. government said “BYE Apple” and dismissed its messaging as a mere marketing ploy – nothing more, nothing less. It just wants Apple’s help to get to the bottom of this specific instance by helping crack the phone’s passcode.  Apple stayed on message and said this whole thing is about protecting people’s civil liberties. The company refuses to create a special software to give the government access to its devices.

Where’s that “dislike” button when you need it? 

The government eventually found a way to reset one of the terrorist’s (Syed Rizwan Farook) iCloud password, which allowed investigators to see the dude’s backed-up data. Apple said wait a minute (or as the kids say “wayment”) and claimed that resetting the password only made it virtually impossible to get data straight from the phone. Now, there’s chatter that Apple’s been working on creating new security measures that would prevent any workarounds from being used to break into iPhone devices. Experts says if and when Apple creates these new measures, it’s pretty much game over unless Congress amends existing law to require companies like Apple and Google to make their data available to law enforcement.

When People Go Off-Script…

Silicon Valley regulars have rallied behind Apple but not everyone. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates added his two-cents, and he isn’t buying what Apple is selling.  Gates says what the government is asking the company to do is possible without compromising people’s general privacy and safety.

What Next?

Well, in the short-term, Apple still has to respond to the court order issued by a federal judge last week that set all of this into motion. The order requests that Apple give the government special access to the phone in question. The deadline is tomorrow.


Getting the Band Back Together …

Calling all for entertainment firms, tech companies, community organizations, social media companies! On Feb. 24, the White House invited a select few for an hours-long pow-wow. Why? Terrorists, of course. Apparently, they stay recruiting peeps online. The U.S. government isn’t afraid to admit that it’s out of its league on this one. So, it’s calling on the private sector for back-up. The goal? “[To] help communities and young people amplify their own messages.” Looks like a joint effort between Facebook and government agencies to fund a peer-to-peer college course to teach kids how to craft their very own anti-militant messaging could do the trick. A FB rep says we’ll know if its working by monitoring the number of shared messages and how people interact with them.

Watch What You Say on the Interwebs …

At least if you’re applying for a U.S. visa or seeking asylum in the country.  While the government is working with the private sector to help implement programs to curb terrorists’ online recruitment, it’s taking to social media itself to screen visa applications. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) isn’t messing around and plans to build tools so it can dig deep into applicants’ social media profiles for any red flags. Legislation has also been popping up in the U.S. Congress that would require DHS to screen pretty much anyone trying to make their way to the U.S. Those bills haven’t seen traction yet though.

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater …

Immigration advocacy groups feel like all of this social media talk to screen out potential immigrants could leave some people out who don’t deserve to be. Besides, a new study shows that innovators in the U.S. are actually well-educated immigrants and not necessarily young college dropouts. The study found that more than 1/3 of U.S. innovators were born outside the U.S.


Alphabet, formerly known as Google, wants you to meet Atlas, its 5’9”, 180 lbs, battery run humanoid robot.

Not sure where to go for your next vacation? Travel site Expedia is knee-deep in user-experience research to make sure your trip planning is as easy, efficient, and enjoyable as possible.  Happy Planning!

Grocer Whole Foods wants in on grocery delivery startup Instacart. Both companies also plan to partner up for at least the next 5 years.

Online personal styling startup Stitch Fix is getting into the men’s wear game.

Are the 80s making a comeback? Amazon’s working on a new show called Jean-Claude Van Johnson and starring Belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. It’s being described as a “comedy-thriller.” Oh and the e-commerce company turned content company also forked over $15 million for Woody Allen’s new movie.

First Paypal, now LinkedIn … The social platform is set to air its first ever TV commercial during the Oscars on Sunday. It’s space-themed and the message? LinkedIn believes in you. The platform is often described as “the FB for professionals.” But, the company wants people to know that it’s much more than that through a large-scale marketing campaign.  We’re sensing a trend here …