Facebook offering "vulnerable teens" to advertisers shows it is willing to be used as a weapon

Facebook was caught offering advertisers a direct line to psychologically vulnerable teens. Nitasha Tiku writes that this exposes the deeper danger of its insight into our lives: it's not the data that's the problem, it's how it could be "weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow."

The company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.” ...

If the users in question weren’t teenagers—or if the emotion wasn’t insecurity—Facebook’s public statement might have been sufficient; the uproar from privacy advocates may have been duly noted, then promptly forgotten.

Instead, as Kathryn Montgomery, a professor at American University and the director of the school’s communications studies division—who is married to Chester—tells WIRED, The Australian’s report served as “a flashpoint that enables you to glimpse Facebook’s inner workings, which in many ways is about monetization of moods.”

As Tiku points out: "It’s not a dystopian nightmare. It’s just a few clicks away from the status quo."

The fences you put up are meaningless if Facebook owns the land.

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Blackout curtains perforated with nighttime scenes

HoleRole created some nice blackout curtains using an age-old design trick: perforating them with patterns, in this case cities at night. Choose from London, New York, or night sky. Read the rest

Trailer for Blade Runner 2049

Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford star in Blade Runner 2049. Ridley Scott, who directed Blade Runner in 1982 (35 years ago!), is the exec producer. It was directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival).

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

(Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest

Parents buying black-market insulin for their kids as prices skyrocket

Three million Americans have Type-1 diabetes. If they don't get insulin every day, they will slip into a coma and die. The price of rapid-acting insulin, needed by diabetics who can't take slower-acting insulin, has increased 1,123 percent since 1996. Many insurance companies won't cover the costs, forcing desperate parents to look for insulin on the black market.

From NBCNews:

Gabriella is allergic to the kind of insulin her insurer covers at a $25 out-of-pocket cost. She can only take Apidra, but her insurance only covers 25 percent of the price, leaving the family to pay hundreds of dollars a month they can't afford.

So her mom has turned to the black market, trading for the medication with other families with diabetes she meets online, a tactic that regulators and health experts warn is a health risk. And she cut a back-end deal with a sympathetic drug rep: If she bought one vial he would give her 10 vials from his sample kit, nearly a one year's supply. Gabriella's grandmother covered the cost.

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How to draw dotted lines on a chalkboard

Mike Boyd is started a lecturing job, and he wanted to teach himself how to draw dotted lines on a chalkboard. He learned in just six minutes. The trick is pressing the piece of chalk at an angle so it skips across the board. Read the rest

RIP: Silence of the Lambs Director Jonathan Demme dies at 73

Director Jonathan Demme, best known for his horror-thriller movie Silence of the Lambs, has died in New York at age 73. He had been battling cancer.

My first introduction to Demme's work was his quirky 1986 film Something Wild, about a free spirited young woman (played by Melanie Griffith) who kidnaps an uptight yuppie (played by Jeff Daniels), who then are both held hostage by her creepy thug ex-boyfriend (played by Ray Liotta). I fell in madly love with this film, which turned me into an instant Demme fan.

Some of his other brilliant films include Married to the Mob, Philadelphia, The Manchurian Candidate, and his Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense. And the list goes on. He was survived by his second wife, Joanne Howard, and their three children, Ramona, Brooklyn and Jos. Our hearts at Boing Boing go out to his family.

For more on Demme, here's a write-up by Variety. Read the rest

Watch: nature documentaries are phony

Nature documentaries: the sound is fake, the scenes are concocted, some of the animals are computer animations, and the music is emotionally manipulative. But that's the only way we will sit through them, says Simon Cade, host and creator of this explainer video. Read the rest

Your squeezing hands outperform this $400 IoT juicer

Juicero is a self-parodying high-tech juicing machine that raised millions in venture capital on the promise of delivering a highly calibrated squeeze to a pack of mulch sold in expensive, DRM-locked pouches, for a mere $400. Read the rest

Shoelace knots fail catastrophically, thanks to 7 gees' worth of stress

Update: Whoops, David got there first!

In a new paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, researchers from UC Berkeley reveal that shoelace knots do not gradualy come loose, as was previously supposed -- rather, they fail catastrophically and suddenly, thanks to strange and surprising stresses that they must endure. Read the rest

Breitbart interviews Sean Spicer: "Oh no, we're live now."

New York Magazine shared Breitbart's interview with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. It's glorious.

So much went wrong. There’s the uncomfortable silence at the open, the grade-school-level production values, and the nauseous look on reporter Charlie Sperling’s face. But those things are obvious. The real joy here are the Easter eggs, such as two of the four White House TVs playing President Trump’s most detested “fake news” channel, CNN.

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Magical levitating gun or bad Photoshop?

BB contributor Jess Hemerly spotted this concerning image on the Bay Area's KRON 4 Morning News. Even more disturbing than a middle school student bringing a gun to school is that it was apparently a sawed-off handgun stashed in an invisible holster.

(Here's the story.)

UPDATE: Thanks to our commenters, I'm now convinced that this is a snubnosed revolver in a plastic belt clip holster. Read the rest

The Bat Bot, a new flying robot with silicone bat wings

In a beautiful example of biomimicry, researchers at Caltech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the Bat Bot, an autonomous flying robot with silicone wings that change shape as it flies, just like a real bat. From Caltech:

The Bat Bot weighs only 93 grams and is shaped like a bat with a roughly one-foot wingspan. It is capable of altering its wing shape by flexing, extending, and twisting at its shoulders, elbows, wrists, and legs. Arguably, bats have the most sophisticated powered flight mechanism among animals, which includes wings that have the capability of changing shape. Their flight mechanism involves several different types of joints that interlock the bones and muscles to one another, creating a musculoskeletal system that is capable of movement in more than 40 rotational directions.

"Our work demonstrates one of the most advanced designs to date of a self-contained flapping-winged aerial robot with bat morphology that is able to perform autonomous flight," (UIUC researcher Alireza) Ramezani says.

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Randy Rainbow sings the Alternative Facts song

I've not heard of Randy Rainbow until just now, but he is my new YouTube star idol. Read the rest

300 million Adultfriendfinder accounts breached

Adultfriendfinder, "the world's largest sex & swinger community," has suffered a major breach, leaking 300,000,000 accounts' worth of personal information, namely email addresses, passwords, usernames, IP addresses and browser information. Read the rest

Interactive clothing via dynamic projection mapping

Technically, cloth is a "deforming non-rigid surface," so projecting a stable image onto clothes is a big technological challenge. To solve it, Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory combined two new techniques that allow stable projection of an image onto clothes even as they move. Read the rest

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 went to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". From the New York Times:

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, “The times they are a changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.

"Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature" (NYT)

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English man spends 11 hours trying to make cup of tea with Wi-Fi kettle

The iKettle is advertised as “the world’s first Wi-Fi kettle.” Mark Rittman got one and said it took 11-hours to make a cup of tea.

From The Guardian:

A key problem seemed to be that Rittman’s kettle didn’t come with software that would easily allow integration with other devices in his home, including Amazon Echo, which, like Apple’s Siri, allows users to tell connected smart devices what to do. So Rittman was trying to build the integration functionality himself.

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