GoFundMe Will Remove Anti-Vax Campaigns Spreading Misinformation

Anti-vax campaigns have entered the conversation around misinformation on the internet, with false theories about the harms that come with vaccinations spreading on platforms like Facebook and Youtube. The role fundraising sites play in this has mostly gone unnoticed, until now.

Recently, GoFundMe shared it will remove anti-vax campaigns on its website, as reported by The Daily Beast. A spokesman for GoFundMe told the outlet, “Campaigns raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and will be removed from the platform.”

According to The Daily Beast, fundraisers by anti-vax groups have raised at least $170,000 in the last four years on GoFundMe. That’s a significant amount of money. Removing their ability to use GoFundMe may not completely defund anti-vax groups, but it’ll definitely make things harder for them moving forward.

Anti-vax campaigns can be dangerous not only because some of them use bad science, but also because they have real-life consequences. Health officials in New York partly blamed the anti-vax for a recent measles outbreak that have infected mostly children.

Last month, Pinterest announced it was halting search results on vaccines and combating anti-vax messaging. It was surprising to see Pinterest make that decision, but it made sites like Facebook share their own plans for combating anti-vax misinformation as well.

It’s unlikely that GoFundMe is the only crowdfunding site that the anti-vax movement uses. Hopefully, others will be motivated to follow GoFundMe’s lead and stop the spread of misinformation.

How to Rekindle Your Passion for Your Job

Sometimes when you have been working somewhere for a while, your passion for a job tends to waver. Getting out of bed can become a chore, you feel unmotivated, and every day seems to feel the same. This feeling of dread and lack of motivation cannot only impact your mood, but your productivity as well.

As Maya Angelou once said “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

Being passionate about what you do is important not only for your career but your overall mental health. Sometimes you need to make time to help yourself and figure out ways to rekindle that passion you once had for your job.

Here’s some tips to help you learn how to love your job again:

1. Take some time to reflect on what made you choose this job in the first place.

When you first found this job and applied, what intrigued you most about the position? Did you apply just for the experience, or did the position description genuinely interest you? Sometimes figuring out what made you go to a job in the first place can help reignite that spark you once had, or help you decide whether to consider applying for a new position. 

2. Go outside your comfort zone.

If you find you’re feeling like you’re doing the same thing over and over again, chances are you usually are. When your daily tasks become more of a habit that you can do without thinking about it, it’s time to switch things up. Take on new responsibilities, volunteer for other projects, or join an company specialty group. Going outside of your normal confines can often give you a jolt. It is also important to note that going out of your comfort zone can benefit your career in the long run. 

3. Think about the long term benefits of the job.

Think about what makes the job worth staying there long term. Does staying at this job for another year increase your chances of getting your dream position or at least a higher paying one? What skills are you learning to help you reach your long-term goals? Asking yourself these questions can help you become more focused on what you want to get out of your current position and what you want next. 

4. Give yourself a mindful break throughout your workday.

Consider taking a 5–10-minute break throughout the day to reset. This activity can not only give you a fresh boost of energy in the middle of the day but can also make you feel more confident and recharged to finish your tasks. If you make a habit of doing this daily, you can significantly improve your overall mental health, and that can result in increased productivity and overall happiness at work. You can find much good mindful meditation like this on Youtube, which is a free and easy way to get some mindfulness throughout your day.

5. Work on changing your negative perspective.

Our mood can project out into our work. Sometimes, your attitude can be part of the reason you are not motivated at work. Take an inventory of how you are feeling. Are you happy? Are you stress-free? Do you surround yourself with other positive people? It’s so easy to take on the negativity around us and from other people in the workplace. Don’t let the negativity consume you. Give yourself some time to create a list of about ten things that are great about your workplace. Writing down the positive traits of your workplace can help you change your perspective on how you view it and your life in general. If you can’t find any positive aspects, maybe it’s time to move on. 

The Tech Connection is a recruitment platform that helps companies make meaningful connections to empower and engage diverse talent for their open job opportunities. Are you hiring diverse talent and need a hand? We are happy to help! Reach out to us at www.thetechconnectioninc.com

Former Amazon Worker Claims He Was Fired For Union Organizing

Justin Rashad Long — a former worker at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bloomfield —  has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing the company of unfair labor practices, as reported by Silive.

Last month, Long was fired by one of his managers for a “safety violation.” However, in his complaint, Long claimed that the real reason for his firing was that he was involved in organizing around Amazon’s poor working conditions.

An Amazon spokeswoman maintains that Long’s allegations are false, according to Silive, stating, “His employment was terminated for violating a serious safety policy.”

Amazon is no stranger to allegations regarding unsafe working conditions. In May of 2018, Business Insider reported the “horror stories” of Amazon workers. Some claims included workers urinating in trash cans because they didn’t have time to go to the bathroom.

The Bloomfield is the first New York-based fulfillment center in Staten Island. Months after it opened, workers announced a union push. Their concerns were also based around working conditions, according to the Guardian.

They received assistance from the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, whose president Stuart Appelbaum told The Guardian that Amazon has a record of “routinely mistreating and exploiting its workers.”

Retaliation from corporations is a major concern for labor organizers, and Amazon is aggressively anti-union. For example, the company sent a 45-minute union-busting video to Whole Foods managers after hearing rumors of potential organizing.

With that in mind, Long’s claims aren’t far-fetched. The RWDSU plans to continue supporting Long and other Amazon workers, according to Silive.

If Amazon workers across the country unionize, it will certainly mean big changes for the company, and if past complaints around working conditions carry any weight,  it seems that change is long overdue.

Facebook Allowed Several Neo-Nazi Pages To Remain Up Because They “do not violate community standards”

A report found that Facebook allowed various Neo-Nazi groups to remain on its platform, citing that they “do not violate community standards”, according to recent reporting from The Independent.

The Counter Extremism Project, a nonprofit combatting extremist groups, reported 35 pages to Facebook, according to The Independent. Although the company said it’d remove six of them, the other requests were met with this response:

“We looked over the page you reported, and though it doesn’t go against one of our specific community standards, we understand that the page or something shared on it may still be offensive to you and others.”

  •  – The Independent

The groups reported included international white supremacist organizations, with many making racist or homophobic statements. Some groups also had images of Adolf Hitler and other fascist symbols.

Although this is particularly troublesome following the Christchurch shooting — which broadcasted on Facebook Live — this has been a long-standing issue for Facebook. The platform is notorious for allowing hate speech to flourish while poorly applying its own community standards.

At first glance, Facebook’s definition of “hate speech” seems fine. Under its guidelines, Facebook bans hate speech that “directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or, serious disabilities or diseases.”

However,  Facebook ignores power imbalances in determining what’s hate speech.

On Facebook, for example, users can be banned for saying “men are trash”. The power imbalance between men and women in a patriarchal society tells you that, even if someone’s feelings might be hurt, saying “men are trash” doesn’t harm men on a societal level.

But, while it was banning users for “men are trash” commentary, Facebook took far longer to ban Alex Jones, the host of InfoWars who incited harassment and spread misinformation, as reported by Mic.

Along with Facebook ignoring power imbalances, it has also — intentionally or unintentionally — found a way to monetize hate.

Earlier this year, The Los Angeles Times reported that Facebook actually allowed advertisers to target users based on their interest in Nazis. Advertisers were able to hone in on topics like “Josef Mengele” and “Heinrich Himmler”.

By allowing advertisers to target people based off their interest in Nazism, Facebook essentially allowed a violent ideology — that has led to actual genocide — to become a method for profit. Doing so curbs any desire to take proactive action in order to tackle this type of violent speech that has led to consequences for oppressed people.

Facebook is under a lot of pressure now, especially from New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has remained unimpressed by the company’s responses to its broadcasting of the Christchurch shooting.

By allowing Neo-Nazis and other hate groups to remain on its site and even allowing them to use their dollars to pay for advertisement, Facebook laid the online seed that allowed things like the broadcast of the Christchurch shooting to happen on its platform.

Nothing occurs in a vacuum. Increasing Islamophobic rhetoric from all major political parties made Muslims an easy target. But, it’s online platforms like Facebook saying Neo-Nazis don’t violate community standards that helps to embolden their actions.

New Zealand Officially Bans People From Sharing Christchurch Shooter’s Manifesto

On Saturday, New Zealand’s Office of Film & Literature Classification officially banned the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto. By labeling it as “objectionable,” the government is considering its ban as a justifiable limit on freedom of expression.

Under the ban, it’s now illegal to have a copy of either the video or the document and to share it with others — including online links. The New Zealand government urges people to report social media posts, links or websites displaying the video or manifesto here.

If someone is found to have the manifesto, they can face up to ten years in prison, and those distributing it could face up to 14 years, as reported by Business Insider. The consequences for owning or sharing the video, though, are unclear.

Although the full video is banned, it doesn’t mean any screenshots or other still images from it falls under that. The Office of Film & Literature Classification website notes images from the video “depicting scenes of violence, injury or death, or that promote terrorism may also be illegal.”

It’s likely that the New Zealand government will consider still images on a case by case basis, so there’s no sweeping proposal to make them all illegal.

During the aftermath of the shooting,New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that assault rifles would be banned. It was simultaneously a win for New Zealanders but frustrating for those in the United States. In the US, people regularly see calls for gun control after violent shootings, but little in the form of legislation or actual changes to policy.

The response of New Zealand’s government after the Christchurch attacks proves that proactive steps can be taken to combat these shootings. The ban of the video and manifesto is just one step towards fighting the Islamophobic rhetoric that could embolden future attacks.

The manifesto’s ban has raised questions around free speech but the Chief Censor, David Shanks defended the office’s position in a statement, saying, “There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech’, which may be rejected by many right-thinking people but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism. It crosses a line.”

It’s also important to interrogate why people feel the need to read a manifesto obviously intended to help the attack go viral. To be frank, not much in the manifesto is “original.” The uncomfortable truth is that the shooter named online inspiration for his attack. The individuals and websites he named can still be found online.

One potential issue here is that banning the manifesto may further entice people to want to read it or turn the shooter into some kind of martyr for free speech or white supremacist ideology. We may not get a sense of the impact — positive or negative — of the new law until much later down the road.

The manifesto itself is a continuation of white supremacist violence, and that can be unpacked without giving the shooter more attention. Instead of trying to read the manifesto, people can listen to scholars, organizers, and community members, who work to understand and halt this specific type of violence and the rhetoric that follows.

The ACLU is Suing the FBI for Information On Its ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Report

The ACLU and the Center for Media Justice are suing the FBI for records related to a controversial 2017 report that cited a rise in Black extremism following police-involved shooting deaths of African Americans.

The report, titled “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated To Target Law Enforcement Officers” claims that law enforcement officials were being targeted as protests against police violence erupted around the country.

In 2014, the ACLU submitted a public records request asking for all documentation since 2014 that used the phrases “black nationalist,” ”black identity extremist,” and “black separatist,” according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit is happening because the FBI is withholding these documents and in some cases, refusing to search entire categories, according to the ACLU.

“The FBI’s baseless claims about the fictitious group of ‘Black Identity Extremists’ throws open the door to racial profiling of Black people and Black-led organizations who are using their voices to demand racial justice” Nusrat Choudhury, deputy director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, said in a statement.

Surveillance of Black people is nothing new and foundational to the United States. As times change, though, surveillance has shifted from its early roots –like the slave pass — to tactics like the ones the ACLU is fighting back against.

Online monitoring seems to play a key role in the identification of supposed-‘Black Identity Extremists.’ Within the document, the FBI noted that reporting was primarily derived from things like police investigations and “subjects’ posting on social media.”

“As a Black activist and member of the Black Lives Matter Network, I am concerned that the FBI is deploying high-tech tools to profile, police, and punish Black people who stand up for racial justice,” said Malkia A. Cyril, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice, noting the programs similarities to COINTELPro.

So far, one arrest has been made due to the surveillance efforts of the ‘Black Identity Extremist’ program. In December 2017, Rakem Balogun was arrested due to Facebook posts, as reported by The Guardian.

As technology changes, so do the ways in which surveillance is carried out. Social media has become a playground for surveillance, especially when it comes to targeting movements. Although it’s unclear just how much the FBI’s identification of ‘Black Identity Extremists’ relies on online surveillance, it’s been a problem for years.

For example, ACLU documents showed the Boston Police Department used a program called Geofeedia to conduct online surveillance between 2014 and 2016 (notably, the same program used by the Chicago Police Department in the same time span). The BPD monitored hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #MuslimLivesMatter, and the use of basic Arabic words.

This obvious inclusion of anti-Black Islamophobia in these programs used by local police departments is important to note because the FBI’s made-up designation also puts Black Muslims at increased risk. The language used in the FBI’s report is reminiscent of the entrapment and surveillance based program Countering Violent Extremism, notorious for targeting Black Muslims.

The full extent of social media monitoring and how deeply the FBI is looking into the groups mentioned in its report are unknown, but it’s clear that it exists. Obtaining more information will allow the public to fully understand just how the culture of surveillance has adapted to a digital era. It will also give people insight into how the FBI is monitoring certain groups of people and how they choose whom to keep an eye on.

Whatever the documents show, it’s important to remember that this type of surveillance is not exceptional. Black people have been watched and tracked since they were forcibly displaced. The surveillance of Black people is the United States’ norm.

‘The Last Black Man In San Francisco’ Trailer: Watch The Poetic First Visual For A24 Film On Gentrification And Friendship

A24 has released the very first trailer for The Last Black Man in San Francisco. 

From filmmaker Joe Talbot, the film stars newcomer Jimmie Fails and rapidly-rising star Jonathan Majors, who will topline Jordan Peele and Misha Green’s Lovecraft Country on HBO.

The film is based on a short Talbot and Fails made in 2017, which is inspired based on true events in Fails’ life. He portrays a fictionalized version of himself in the film.  Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover, Mike Epps, Rob Morgan, Jamal Trulove, Finn Wittrock and Thora Birch also star.

The genesis for The Last Black Man in San Francisco comes from Fails’ desire to retain his family home, which was built by his grandfather, against the backdrop of a rapidly-gentrifying San Francisco. Fails and his oddball best friend Montgomery, who both live in the city’s last black neighborhood, go on a search for a sense of belonging in a changing city that seems to no longer understand them.

Our Sundance review of the film called it a beautifully-shot arthouse film that is a Oscar-primed showcase for Jonathan Majors — and that it pushes the boundaries of how black male friendship is depicted on-screen. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco is worth seeing and provides thought-provoking and impactful performances audiences won’t soon forget.”

Watch the trailer below:

It will be released in theaters June 14 through A24, who acquired it ahead of its Sundance bow.

Walmart Could Be Diving Into The World Of Gaming

Retail giant Walmart is in talks of developing its own video game streaming service, according to reporting from US Gamer.

The service is set to compete with Google’s latest streaming release, Stadia.

Walmart has had an interesting history in attempting to build out its business with technology. In November, the company started using virtual reality headsets to train its employees.

Walmart has also toyed with the idea of a video-streaming service but has since tabled its discussions, according to reports from CNBC. Walmart began focusing on Vudu, a video streaming property it acquired in 2010 after distancing itself from its other streaming plans.

Walmart Labs — the Silicon Valley-based developer branch of the company — works to improve the company’s digital presence. Walmart has also constructed data centers in Missouri.

Walmart’s former chief technology officer Jeremy King led the labs for eight years before moving to Pinterest to serve as head of engineering ahead of its IPO.

As big tech firms and other businesses insert themselves into gaming — the trends may open more doors for minority game developers. According to a report by the International Game Developers Association, 84 percent of respondents felt that diversity in the game industry was very important.


Facebook Confirms It Stored Millions of Passwords In Plain Text. You Should Change Your Password Right Now

Facebook isn’t exactly well known for having the best security practices and now, another blunder has surfaced.

On Thursday, a report from Krebs on Security revealed the company had stored hundreds of millions of users’ passwords for Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram in plain text, making user passwords accessible to thousands of Facebook employees.

Usually, passwords are encrypted when they’re stored through a process called hashing, but Facebook had a “series of security failures” that left people’s password information wide open, according to the Krebs report.

Pedro Canahuati, Facebook’sVP of Engineering, Security, and Privacy, confirmed the breach in a blog titled “Keeping Passwords Secure”, writing, “As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems.”

This may not seem like a big deal, because the company said there’s no sign that the passwords were visible to anyone outside of Facebook. However, this just proves,  again,  that Facebook’s security is subpar.

For example, in November of 2018, private messages from 81,000 users were put up for sale, as reported by The Verge. And Facebook is still facing repercussions for the Cambridge Analytica scandal that resulted in Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress.

Facebook is notifying all the people who were affected. According to Krebs, that’s between 200 and 600 million users. The company isn’t forcing anyone to change their passwords, but you should, even if you aren’t notified.

There’s no sign of abuse, but it’s better to protect your account than to take any chances.

Paris Wants To Tax Bike And Scooter-Share Companies

E-scooters and bike-sharing docks are now amongst the many things tourists can see on the streets of Paris. According to city officials, there are about 15,000 free-floating modes of transportation in Paris. Now, the city is looking to tax operators like Lime and Bird.

“If these new modes of mobility are of interest – less pollution, non-noisy – they are not without posing real difficulties,” the Paris City Council said on its website.

There are 40,000 more vehicles set to arrive in the city and Paris officials are gearing up to push legislation that will solidify the tax on scooter and bike-sharing companies.

“The rise of cycling in the capital is a key issue for sustainable mobility, but it can not be done at the expense of sharing the harmonious public space,”  Paris City Council said in another post.

Paris is also set to create new legislation around parking e-scooters. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is currently pressuring the Prime Minister to create new regulations on the scooters, while the city is currently deploying parking lots for the scooters as a way to protect pedestrians on sidewalks.

Free-floating scooters and bikes have been an issue for Paris officials for quite some time. In August, the City Council highlighted issues and benefits with free-floating scooters and docked biking stations. The Council said that docked stations would merit tariffs and territorial network that meets public service requirements.

The Council warned that dockless bikes could cause crowding in public spaces.

“From this point of view, it is indeed imperative to ensure the comfort of pedestrians and in particular to fight against the clutter sidewalks,” the Paris City Council said in its August post. “Cycling, in general, should not be an obstacle, let alone a danger. ”

As of yet, there are no city taxes on e-scooters and bike-shares in the United States; however, Trump Administration tariffs on the Chinese government had adverse impacts on the booming e-scooter industry back in August.

It seems like Bike and Lime have recovered considering companies like Lyft and Uber have looked to acquire them in recent months. There have been no updates on the talks since Lyft and Uber have moved closer to their IPOs.