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Zuckerberg’s Dilemma: When Facebook’s Success Is Bad for Society 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with entrepreneurs and innovators at a round-table discussion in St. Louis on Nov. 9.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with entrepreneurs and innovators at a round-table discussion in St. Louis on Nov. 9. Photo: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Facebook’s chief has signaled he will do what it takes to curb the social network’s negative effects—but how far will he go?

reports: When scientists started linking cigarettes to cancer, the tobacco industry silenced them—only acknowledging the extent of the truth decades later, under legal duress.

Imagine if, instead, they had given these researchers license to publish papers, or even taken the information to heart and crippled their own moneymaking machines for the good of their addicted users.

No one has accused Facebook FB 1.37% of causing cancer, but Mark Zuckerberg now stands at a similar crossroads.

In the face of pressure brought by a growing roster of Facebook investors and former executives, many of whom have publicly stated that Facebook is both psychologically addictive and harmful to democracy, the Facebook founder and chief executive has pledged to “fix” Facebook by doing several things, including “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

Mr. Zuckerberg has also recently told investors he wants his company “to encourage meaningful social interactions,” adding that “time spent is not a goal by itself.”

Facebook researchers have acknowledged that while direct sharing between individuals and small groups on Facebook can have positive effects, merely scrolling through others’ updates makes people unhappy.

Facebook researchers have acknowledged that while direct sharing between individuals and small groups on Facebook can have positive effects, merely scrolling through others’ updates makes people unhappy. Photo: ISTOCK

So here’s the multibillion-dollar question: Is he willing to sacrifice revenue for the well-being of Facebook’s two-billion-plus users?

Mr. Zuckerberg has already said the company will hire so many content moderators to deal with fake news and Russian interference that it will hurt profit, but whether he will go further and change the basic fabric of Facebook’s algorithms in the name of users’ mental health, he has yet to say.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Clearly, Facebook, a company Mr. Zuckerberg started when he was in college, has changed so much that even its creator is playing catch-up to the reality of its globe-spanning power.

In June, he changed the company’s mission from “connecting” the world to bringing the world closer together. He said he used to think giving people a voice would make the world better on its own, “but our society is still divided. Now I believe we have a responsibility to do even more.”

In December, Facebook researchers surveyed the scientific literature and their own work and publicly acknowledged that while direct communication and sharing between individuals and small groups on Facebook can have positive effects, merely lurking and scrolling through others’ status updates makes people unhappy. Read the rest of this entry »

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McDonald’s Hits All-Time High as Wall Street Cheers Replacement of Cashiers with Kiosks

Cowen believes McDonald’s digital ordering upgrades will drive the fast-food chain’s sales higher.

McDonald’s shares hit an all-time high on Tuesday as Wall Street expects sales to increase from new digital ordering kiosks that will replace cashiers in 2,500 restaurants.

Cowen raised its rating on McDonald’s shares to outperform from market perform because of the technology upgrades, which are slated for the fast-food chain’s restaurants this year.

McDonald’s shares rallied 26 percent this year through Monday compared to the S&P 500’s 10 percent return.

Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald’s calls “Experience of the Future,” includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery.

“MCD is cultivating a digital platform through mobile ordering and Experience of the Future (EOTF), an in-store technological overhaul most conspicuous through kiosk ordering and table delivery,” Charles wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “Our analysis suggests efforts should bear fruit in 2018 with a combined 130 bps [basis points] contribution to U.S. comps [comparable sales].” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Oklahoma Teacher Arrested for Doing an Underwear-Free Cartwheel in Class

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Katherine Rodriguez reports: Lacey Sponsler, 34, allegedly exposed herself in front of students in the junior choir room of Pawhuska High School in Pawhuska after she did a cartwheel in front of students wearing a long dress without undergarments, KOTV reported.

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A 17-year-old female student told police that Sponsler announced to the class that she was not wearing any underwear before she performed the cartwheel, talked about using drugs, and said that “14-year-old boys were like men,” Newser reported.

The student also told police that she saw Sponsler’s vagina “open and close, as her legs were in the air.”

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A student reportedly captured a Snapchat video of the incident, which police got a hold of and prompted police to arrest Sponsler. Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconceived Opinions

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“You can’t just accept everything you see online, which is why I always take a closer look at the claims that are made in every article and make sure that each one of them is backed up by my existing assumptions and personal feelings about the world.”

CLARKSVILLE, TN—Explaining that people need to be critical of the news stories that circulate on social media these days, area Facebook user James Wheatley, 44, reportedly took the time to verify the truth of an article he came across Thursday by carefully checking it against the opinions he already holds.

 “There are all kinds of bogus news stories out there, so it’s important to take a step back and hold each article up against my personal convictions to find out for myself whether what I’m reading is true or not. It’s pretty sad, but once I got in the habit of looking at articles this way, I could see just how many awful sites there are on the internet that don’t even adhere to the most basic tenets of my individual worldview, so now I just disregard them completely.”

“You can’t just accept everything you see online, which is why I always take a closer look at the claims that are made in every article and make sure that each one of them is backed up by my existing assumptions and personal feelings about the world,” said Wheatley, who told reporters he had to correct several friends on Facebook earlier this week after an investigation of his beliefs and individual political perspectives proved the articles they had posted to be entirely false. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Public Education

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[WARNING: GRAPHIC] Meredith Powell’s Misdeeds: Amended Probable Cause Documents in Teacher Sex Case

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The money shot.

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UPDATE: Boy-Crazy Tacoma Math Teacher Meredith Powell: FORTH Student Comes Forward to Allege Sexual Misconduct

powell-with-dog According to the updated charging documents, Powell engaged in a sexual act with a then-17-year-old student in her classroom after he expressed a desire to raise his math grade.

“…he needed help getting his grade up and she asked what he would want to do. He said he would do anything. ‘You’ll do anything?’ …and reached over and unzipped his pants…” 

[Flashback: Meredith Powell in Custody of Her Mother: Boy-Crazy High School Teacher Accused of Rape Resigns]

TACOMA, Wash.KOMO News‘s  reports: A fourth student has come forward alleging sexual abuse at the hands of a 24-year-old former math teacher at Lincoln High School, according to new charges filed Thursday with Pierce County Superior Court.

[VIDEO] Libido Update: Boy-Crazy Teacher Meredith Powell Arrested [See also – Exclusive: Controversial Female Teachers’ Group Dedicated to “Woman-Boy Love” Pledges Legal Support to Meredith Powell]

Lincoln High School teacher Meredith Claire Powell walks into Pierce County Superior Court for her arraignment for two counts of rape of a child in the third degree on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. Powell was released on personal recognizance to her mother in Sequim Photo/LUI KIT WONG

Lincoln High School teacher Meredith Claire Powell was released on personal recognizance to her mother in Wa. Photo/Lui Kit Wong

Meredith Powell was arrested in February and charged with two counts of child rape and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. According to the original charges, Powell engaged in sexual activity — often in her classroom — with three students between the ages of 15 and 17 and sent inappropriate text messages and photos. Powell’s alleged misconduct came to light when she wrote a letter apologizing to the girlfriend of one of the abused students, according to the charging documents. [NSFW Powell court document detailing confessed abuse] She now faces a fourth charge, sexual misconduct with a minor. According to the updated charging documents, Powell engaged in a sexual act with a then-17-year-old student in her classroom after he expressed a desire to raise his math grade. [The girlfriend letter: “Obviously nothing physical or emotional ever happened between (the boy) and I, nor would it ever…”]

Scene: Meredith Powell is alleged to have engaged in oral sex with two of her students in her classroom here at Lincoln High School in Washington

Meredith Powell is alleged to have engaged in oral sex with two of her students in her classroom here at Lincoln High

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The Meredith Powell Letter: “Obviously nothing physical or emotional ever happened between (the boy) and I, nor would it ever…”

Technology and social media feature prominently in the sexual misconduct allegations against Meredith Powell, top, and Michael E. Allen. News Tribune Staff Photo Illustration

Technology and social media feature prominently in the sexual misconduct allegations against Meredith Powell, top, and Michael E. Allen. News Tribune Staff Photo Illustration

Crossing the line online: When teacher-student exchanges become improper

Technology, social media provide easy pathway for inappropriate teacher-student relationships — underscored by the cases of two Pierce County educators charged recently with sexual misconduct

[See more: [VIDEO] Libido Update: Boy-Crazy Teacher Meredith Powell Arrested]

The News Tribune‘s Debbie Cafazzo writes:  Texting takes just a few seconds. Maybe a tad longer if you’re tapping a tiny phone keyboard while drunk.

But writing an old-fashioned letter of apology about those texts takes considerably more time — and 10 pages of neatly lettered notebook paper.meredith-power-perp

“Obviously nothing physical or emotional ever happened between (the boy) and I, nor would it ever, but the fact that we ever text at all about non-school related things, or that we ever sent inappropriate messages, under joking pretenses or not, was completely unprofessional, inappropriate & wrong.”

— Former Lincoln High School Teacher Meredith Powell, to the girlfriend of one of her students

Such a letter, from former Lincoln High School teacher Meredith Powell to the girlfriend of one of her students, is contained in documents released by Tacoma Public Schools as part of its investigation into the 24-year-old math teacher’s alleged misconduct.

[See also: Meredith Powell in Custody of Her Mother: Boy-Crazy High School Teacher Accused of Rape Resigns, Surrenders Teaching Certificate]

In it, Powell wrote she was sorry for behaving badly: “Obviously nothing physical or emotional ever happened between (the boy) and I, nor would it ever, but the fact that we ever text at all about non-school related things, or that we ever sent inappropriate messages, under joking pretenses or not, was completely unprofessional, inappropriate & wrong.”

Michael E. Allen, a 33-year-old Curtis High School teacher, was charged with five counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor. DEAN J. KOEPFLER — Staff photographer

Michael E. Allen, a 33-year-old Curtis High School teacher, was charged with five counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor. DEAN J. KOEPFLER — Staff photographer

Pierce County prosecutors allege Powell was doing far more than drunk texting with some of her male students.

Hers was one of two back-to-back cases in February in which Pierce County teachers were charged with sexual misconduct.

In both cases, technology didn’t directly cause the alleged inappropriate behavior but may have abetted it.

Court documents accuse Powell of misconduct with three boys, ages 15 to 17. The allegations range from kissing, groping and oral sex in her Lincoln classroom to sending out pictures of herself in the bathtub and in bed through an application called Snapchat, designed to deliver images that disappear from a recipient’s electronic device in seconds.

She pleaded not guilty last month to two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. She quit her job and surrendered her teaching license.

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Libido Update: Boy-Crazy Teacher Meredith Powell Raped Tacoma Teenagers, Police Say

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[See update: Meredith Powell in Custody of Her Mother: Boy-Crazy High School Teacher Accused of Rape Resigns, Surrenders Teaching Certificate]

[See also [VIDEO] Libido Update: Boy-Crazy Teacher Meredith Powell Arrested]

Robert Stacy McCain writes:  A 24-year-old Lincoln High School math teacher was charged Thursday with “two counts of third-degree child rape and communication with a minor for immoral purposes via electronic communication,” and on Friday she pleaded not guilty:

Meredith Powell performed oral sex on a 15-year-old student in her Tacoma classroom last month and sent him nude photos of herself taking a bath using the application Snapchat.
Documents said she also admitted to exchanging inappropriate texts with and having sexual contact with a second student, 16, during a Jan. 17 assembly in which they stayed behind and met in her classroom.  A third student, age 17, who was in her class during a prior year said he and Powell exchanged sexual text messages but did not have sexual contact.

According to an arrest affidavit, however, Meredith Powell admitted her crimes to Tacoma Police detectives:

On February 6, 2014, detective interviewed the victims. [He] disclosed the following: The day of the MLK assembly [Jan. 17, the boy] went to the defendant’s classroom. They kissed, he touched her breasts, and she touched his chest under his shirt. [The boy] then digitally penetrated her vagina. On the day of the assembly, [the boy] sent her a text asking if she wanted to stay behind and she agreed to.

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Why Texting Is Dying Out

This guy probably isn't sending a text message.(ANDREW BURTON/Getty Images)

This guy probably isn’t sending a text message.   (ANDREW BURTON/Getty Images)

  writes:  For the first time in two decades, the number of text messages sent has declined—at least in the U.K.

A Deloitte study shows that SMS (standard messaging service) messages declined by 7 billion last year, to 145 billion. Meanwhile, messages sent by instant-messaging apps have spiked dramatically. Roughly 50 billion IMs were sent in 2012, which grew to exceed 150 billion last year. IMs are expected to total nearly 300 billion this year.

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