(not) picking up the tab

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Over 50 prominent men want a stimulus plan for moms — which we see as just the right energy for kicking off Women’s History Month. Started by 50 prominent women, the Marshall Plan for Moms calls on the Biden administration to provide direct payments to mothers and address long overdue policies such as paid family leave, affordable childcare, and pay equity.

The initial letter was signed by female celebrities, business leaders, and more, such as Amy Schumer, Alexis McGill Johnson, Julianne Moore, Ai-Jen Poo, and Eva Longoria. The latest men to jump in and support include Andrew Yang, Steph Curry, and Craig Newmark.


Dine and dash has gone digital
Tue Feb 23

Restaurants just can’t seem to catch a break. On top of a pandemic-driven struggle, customers have been placing large food orders through food delivery apps… and then disputing the charges as fraud with their credit card providers.

Some of these orders are over $700 and have already led at least one LA restaurant to shut down from lost revenue. How are they pulling off these scams?
  • Instead of using their phone, fraudsters place orders on laptops/desktops where they can easily run automated scripts and mask their identity.
  • Given food delivery is relatively new, restaurants don’t have online fraud detection in place. Further, extra precautions can be trying as restaurants are given a short window to accept or reject an order through the delivery apps.
  • And banks often side with their customers (the cardholder), forcing restaurants to take on the burden of disputing the disputes with both banks and delivery apps. It can take up to months for banks to respond — with no guarantee the money would even be returned.
  • On top of all that, some fraudsters use messaging app Telegram to market heavily discounted food. While customers do receive their food, the fraudsters use stolen credit cards to place the order which almost guarantees the restaurant will ultimately lose that revenue.
So what can be done?
Restaurants should remain wary of large orders from first time customers or from billing zip codes far outside their delivery area.

Some additional resources... 
→ For more on these dine and dash scams, turn to the LA Times or Hospitality Tech.

→ To dig more into the emergence of new digital fraud tactics, turn to Wall Street Journal or InfoSecurity Tech.


Australian legislation leads to Facebook news ban
Sat Feb 20

Facebook chose profits over access recently, blocking Australian users from being able to see or share news on the platform in mid February. The Facebook 'blackout,' which cut off millions of Australians from access to news, was a protest against new Australian legislation that gave publishers a way to demand more from the ad revenue their content generated on such platforms.

Essentially, the proposed law would force Facebook and Google to pay local publishers when their content is shared on their platforms. The amount itself would be negotiated between the tech companies and Australian news outlets, with an arbitrator stepping in only if the two parties cannot reach an agreement. Beyond payments, the law also requires Facebook and Google to:
  • Inform media outlets about algorithm changes that affect how publisher content appears on the platform
  • Share how they use consumer data pulled from the news content posted on their platform
While Google began making deals with the publishers, Facebook took its own approach — and didn’t stop with just news. Facebook’s blanket-ban also blocked pages and links related to charities, government health sites, and outdoor activities. While active Australian news readers and reporters continued their regular consumption through news apps downloaded on their phones, passive and geographically isolated readers (such as the indigenous people on the Torres Strait Islands) were majorly impacted and unable to access critical weather and COVID-19 updates.

Last week, Facebook restored access to news after the Australian government agreed to adjust the new policy. In short, the changes made the forced payments a last resort, first taking into account commercial deals Facebook or Google already have with news companies as well as giving the tech platforms more time to strike those deals. Ultimately, Australia is now the testing ground for how digital platforms are regulated and whether we should rely on them as much as we do, potentially setting the tone for future policy around the world. .

Some additional resources...

For more on Facebook’s ban, turn to Vox and the Guardian

To catch up on how Australia’s media law has evolved, turn to former reporting from Al Jazeera, Below the Fold, and Reuters


Smart tattoos are lit — literally 
Fri Feb 26

Look out smart watches, smart tattoos may be on the horizon. Through the use of the same light-emitting technology used in TVs and smartphone screens, scientists from the Italian Institute of Technology have created a smart, temporary tattoo that lights up.

What is so smart about these tattoos? While being able to light up is cool, the potential applications of the technology could include:
  • Real-time health monitoring. For example, observing changes in a medical patient or alerting an athlete if they’re dehydrated.
  • Replacing “sell by” stickers on fruits with a tattooed expiration date.
  • Working with existing light-sensitive therapies to better target cancer cells.
That said, the scientists' proof-of-concept is still just a first step. These temporary tattoos still need iteration to create one that will last longer and integrate with some form of a battery. Currently they can be applied by the same wet transfer process used by kids tattoos — and washed off when no longer needed with soap and water. Older versions from other research and design institutions have yielded similar tattoo circuits that act as buttons and sensors.

Some additional resources...

Turn to our sources for reporting: Gizmodo and Science Daily

Want to read more interesting, non-political articles, videos, or even Twitter threads? Turn to The Breads, a newsletter surfacing non-news stories worth having in your random facts arsenal. 


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What do you mean I can’t read the news? I have all the koalifications!
Art Credit: Joan G. Stark


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