Samsung Made a Stretchable Screen Because We Live in the Future

Remember in The Ring, when the creepy girl from the video crawled through the TV directly into the guy’s living room? We hate to break it to you, but that type of occurrence is much closer to becoming a possibility… sort of but not really. This week, Samsung unveiled the world’s first stretchable touchscreen display and, well, science fiction is closer to our world more now than ever (via Mashable).

The 9.1-inch “dynamic stretchable AMOLED display” is just a proof of concept at the moment, but the model shown at the Society for Information Display (SID) in Los Angeles this week was working well enough to show that the technology is the real deal. The screen is capable of stretching inwards out outwards of 12 millimeters, giving it a total range of 2.4 centimeters.

There’s a lot to be excited about here. Aside from thinking of ways you could use a curved screen (Mashable thinks that video game elements causing the screen to bump in or out could be neat, and we agree), a more flexible phone screen could possibly lead to stronger screens that are less prone to denting or scratching. Then, once the technology becomes more advanced, perhaps we could even be able to stretch the screen to make it larger. This sounds farfetched, but now it doesn’t seem like we can say it’s not in the cards anymore.

What other potential uses can you come up with for a stretchable screen? Leave a comments below and let’s speculate about what the (hopefully) not-too-distant future could hold.

Featured image: Movieclips/YouTube

Source: Samsung Made a Stretchable Screen Because We Live in the Future

Teens Think They're Really Good At Spotting Fake News

They think they’re a lot better at spotting it than they actually are.

83% of US teens are familiar with the term “fake news”.

We wanted to poll some actual high schoolers, and the social app After School verifies its users are actually in high school through their Facebook and other factors. Teens from all 50 states answered poll questions run in the app – just over 39,000 teens in total.

A study from Stanford last year showed that middle and high school students aren’t very good at determining fake news – especially more nuanced things like noticing bias in a source, or understanding the difference between sponsored content and a regular article. (If you want to test your own ability to sniff out fake news, try one of our quizzes to see if you’re actually as good as you think.)

After the 2016 election brought the scourge of fake news into the national conversation, some schools started teaching kids media literacy and how to spot false stories on social media.

The polling standards here are not exactly scientifically rigorous, considering this survey’s results came from a bunch of kids on an app answering a poll. So take this with a grain of salt.

Teens said that if they see something they think is a fake news story on social media, most of them will just ignore it.

But 31% actually will go ahead and call it out to the person who posted it. Bold!

View Entire List ›

Source: Teens Think They’re Really Good At Spotting Fake News

Is Shazam's Game Show The Future Of Unscripted TV?

Jamie Foxx with contestants on the new show Beat Shazam.

Michael Becker / FOX

On a recent afternoon at CBS’s Studio 36 in LA, at the center of a glowing teal and purple set lit up like the inside of a Poké Ball, the actor, comedian, and musician Jamie Foxx was whipping an eager game show audience into a froth. Rebounding after a commercial break, he leaned into a shopworn catchphrase, and the crowd, on cue, shouted back with glee.

“The money’s going!”


“The money’s going!”


Onstage with Foxx — who was loose and charismatic in a red, white, and black biker jacket, closely cropped haircut, and sculpted beard — were Christina and Steve, romantic partners and contestants on the game show, called Beat Shazam, which premieres tonight on Fox. They’d reached the final round of the game, in which teams compete — first against each other, and then against the titular name-that-song app — to rapidly identify popular songs. Only one song stood between them and the grand prize of $1 million — one song, that is, and Shazam, which is represented in the game by an enormous, circular, smoke-spouting monitor that looms over the stage like an angry deity, or a less-homicidal upgrade of HAL 9000, the sentient computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Christina, from Brooklyn, had tan skin and chest-length, wavy brown hair. Steve, from Nashville, was lanky with round cheeks and a goatee. As on any decent primetime game show, they faced a burdensome choice: take on Shazam and go for the $1 million, or walk away with what they’d earned up to that point in the game — a less transformative but still substantial $197,000. If they challenged Shazam and lost, their money would be halved.

In the audience, the air went thick and quiet with suspense. A sober look fell over Steve’s face, as if the weight of the world sat on his shoulders.

“Are you going to beat Shazam, or are you going to walk away?” Foxx asked Christina. She paused, and then declared, cocking her neck from side to side on each syllable, “I’m going to Beat. Sha. Zam!” The room erupted.

“Beat! Sha! Zam! Beat! Sha! Zam! Beat! Sha! Zam!”

Its existence underscores growing interest in franchises with appeal across platforms.

Since it launched in 2002, Shazam’s willingness to march to its own beat has helped the company navigate more than a decade of transformation in both the music and mobile app businesses. Its 300 million users, who use the app over 20 million times per day to identify songs playing in public spaces — bars, coffee shops, on the radio — at the touch of a button, have grown accustomed to seeing its curlicue logo pop up in unlikely places, including in Super Bowl commercials, on cases of Coke, and, as of last year, inside Snapchat’s camera function.

But Beat Shazam — the first primetime TV show based on an app (a play-at-home version will launch concurrently) — is by far the company’s strangest and most high-profile experiment yet. With backing from Foxx, Don’t Forget the Lyrics creator Jeff Apploff, and reality TV kingpin Mark Burnett, its existence underscores both Shazam’s unique cultural footing and a growing interest among tech companies and the entertainment industry in franchises with appeal across platforms. Last fall, The CW premiered a Saturday morning cooking show based on the popular recipe app Dinner Spinner, and a game show based on Candy Crush, hosted by Mario Lopez, will debut on CBS this summer.

“If you’ve got an app that has 300 million users identifying songs, it tells you right off the bat that you’ve got an audience,” Apploff told BuzzFeed News.

Shazam CEO Rich Riley (left) with Chief Revenue Officer Greg Glenday at Shazam’s NYC office.

Ricky Rhodes for BuzzFeed News

The first version of Shazam for iPhone — based on a pre-smartphone service where users could dial a number, hold up the mouthpiece of their phone, and receive a text message with information about whatever song was playing — was one of the mobile revolution’s original success stories. After it was released in 2008, the company became a verb, built a business by collecting affiliate fees from the sales it generated for iTunes (over 1 million downloads per day at its peak), and drew investment from blue chip venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which helped fund Amazon, Google, and Snapchat.

In 2012, at the height of the initial wave of interest in so-called second-screen experiences that linked mobile devices with television programming, Shazam began offering cast and episode information for TV shows — only to later roll back that functionality due to insufficient demand. Its push into advertising was more fruitful, and last year, Shazam turned its first profit, even as music sales continued to decline amid a broad shift toward streaming. The majority of the company’s income now comes from brand partners, who use Shazam’s in-house creative team and tech — including a new in-app camera that can recognize codes printed on packages and other surfaces — to make their promotional campaigns interactive.

The company continues to evolve. Shazam was an early mover on a trend that has now seized much of Silicon Valley, in which apps on your phone promise to make sense of the world around you. In roughly the past month, both Facebook and Google have announced “augmented reality” products that use your smartphone’s camera to recognize objects in your environment and overlay contextual information, like a restaurant’s Yelp ratings or the name of a flower species.

On a recent episode of the HBO comedy Silicon Valley, a startup providing such a service was described as “Shazam for food.” But the Shazam for food in the real world, or at least the Shazam for food brands, may well just be Shazam — the company unveiled its own AR capabilities at SXSW this year.

“We’ve never taken our eye off the ball in terms of the core of what we do, and that’s allowed us to extend our leadership and extend our brand and our capabilities,” said Rich Riley, CEO of Shazam since 2013 and an executive producer of Beat Shazam. “Fortunately for us, interest in music is always increasing, so I think we’ll continue to innovate and look for more big partnerships.”

Michael Becker / FOX

Whether Beat Shazam can match the popularity of its namesake remains to be seen. Apploff said he took the idea from a long-running parlor version of Name That Tune that guests play at his annual New Year’s Eve party. He first approached Riley with the concept over two years ago at the behest of Fox, which, at the time, was working closely with Shazam on the hit music industry drama Empire.

Knowing that viewers could dismiss the show as a corporate cash grab, or simply superfluous, the producers doubled down on entertainment value, luring Foxx — an Grammy and Academy Award winner — and promising A-list special guests and life-changing prize money. They ran through hundreds of iterations of the game before settling on the format, with three teams of two competing against each other until one is left standing to face Shazam. Test versions that featured more teams, or brought in the Shazam character earlier on, felt flat.

“We taped for nine hours one Sunday and threw everything against the wall,” Foxx, who said he last used Shazam to identify a “Bad and Boujee” remix at a nightclub in Budapest, told BuzzFeed News. “The good was really good, but the bad was really bad. I said, ‘Guys, I fucked up. We all fucked up.’ We were thinking, Is this the right thing to do?

The first hint that they’d found a winning formula came from trial contestants, who’d volunteered to help work through the kinks. “They started saying to us, ‘We’ll stay the whole day! We don’t wanna leave! Let’s play more!’” Apploff said.

Foxx, who figures heavily in ads promoting the show, said he’s already met at least one fan of the concept. On a recent drive in LA, he was startled by a man who pulled his car next to his and started screaming his name. “I thought this dude was trying to harm me or something,” Foxx said. “But the first thing he said was ‘I can beat Shazam!’”

Source: Is Shazam’s Game Show The Future Of Unscripted TV?

A Senator Just Introduced The First-Ever National Gig Economy Bill

Mheim3011 / Getty Images

If you’ve ever taken a paid sick day, collected worker’s compensation, or contributed to an employer-backed retirement plan, you’ve taken advantage of benefits that are accessible only to traditional employees. But millions of working Americans who aren’t classified as employees — whether they work in the gig economy, or as temp workers, or some other precarious work situation — don’t have these benefits.

On Thursday, the first piece of federal legislation aimed at addressing on-demand workers’ lack of benefits will be introduced by Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner. The bill would create a $20 million fund that organizations across the country could use to build and evaluate portable benefits programs for independent contractors.

The idea behind portable benefits is that contract-based workers should, along with the company or companies where they work, pay jointly into a fund that can be used to cover health care costs and lost pay in case of injury, or even fund retirements. They’re called portable benefits because rather than being tied to a single worker with a single job, the fund can travel with workers from gig to gig, platform to platform, part-time job to full-time work, and back again.

Warner, who estimates that currently a third of the US workforce falls outside traditional employment and predicts that figure will increase to 50% by 2020, said his goal is to get people to break out of the “mindset that … the only way you got benefits was if you’re a full-time, permanent employee.”

“[Portable benefits is] that emergency fund,” Warner told BuzzFeed News Wednesday. “It might be a fund to take care of a disability if you get hurt. It might work with some existing retirement programs. Part of it would be, depending on what happens with Obamacare, an ability to help deal with health care expenses. I think there will be a variety of models.”

Warner’s fund, if approved, would allocate $5 million in grants to organizations already conducting portable benefits experiments, and $15 million to encourage new programs, according to a draft of the bill reviewed Wednesday by BuzzFeed News. He said a wide range of organizations, from nonprofits to startups to labor unions, are encouraged to apply. The grants made available in 2018 will be awarded by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and reviewed by the Government Accounting Office in 2020.

The notion of creating portable benefits funds for on-demand contractors has broad support, including from Princeton economist Alan Krueger and former labor secretary Robert Reich.

“There’s no question we have to move toward portable benefits,” Reich wrote via email to BuzzFeed News. “It’s not just gig economy workers who need them, but the large and growing number of people working part-time on any number of jobs. One way to structure it would be for workers to pay into a joint fund that would spread risks and also gain them economies of scale. I also think companies that employ contract workers should be required to pay into the fund on the basis of how many workers they contract with.”

Supporters of portable benefits at the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative have argued that rather than sweeping change, the best way to figure out how to update the social safety net is through experimentation on the local level.

Warner, who worked in the technology industry prior to his career in politics, has been talking about creating laws to rein in the gig economy for years now. In 2015, the senator talked about creating a new classification of worker, a legal status that would ideally have blended the protections that employees receive with the flexibility and independence that contractors enjoy.

For now, the idea of creating a new type of worker in the US economy is pretty much dead. But, with Warner’s help, the idea of creating a portable benefits fund has taken its place. “[Portable benefits] could evolve into a third worker classification,” Warner said. “I think it will more likely evolve into a much more flexible benefits system that would be complementary to a traditional benefits system.”

While Warner’s bill is the first federal legislation to directly address the on-demand economy, a couple of states have proposed portable benefits bills. In Washington state, legislators are considering a bill that would require on-demand companies to contribute 25% of the money they make per transaction and put it toward a benefits fund. And in New York, a similar (though less generous) piece of legislation was recently tabled while Gov. Andrew Cuomo assembles a task force to investigate the issue further.

Meanwhile, some on-demand companies have already started introducing experimental programs around benefits for their workers., which matches caregivers with families, announced last fall that it would be offering workers $500 a year to cover expenses associated with health care and transportation. More recently, Uber raised its rates in eight states by 5 cents per mile and said those funds would be made available to drivers, who have the option of using the money to buy personal injury insurance.

But while funds for portable benefits would help fill a crucial gap in coverage, not everyone thinks it’s the best solution to the dilemmas that on-demand workers face. In the case of the proposed New York bill, the creation of a portable benefits fund would mean codifying in law gig economy workers’ status as independent contractors. If the law was passed, the workers would never be classified as employees.

Workers across the gig economy have sued companies including Uber, Lyft, Handy, Instacart, and Postmates for misclassification, arguing that they should have been hired as employees and are owed back pay for minimum wage, overtime, and unpaid benefits. Some, including Harvard Law’s Maia Usui and former NLRB chair Wilma Liebman, see the whole concept of creating portable benefits funds as a potential way for the tech industry to sidestep its legal obligations to workers. It’s worth noting that on-demand cleaning startup Handy helped write the New York portable benefits bill, which was supported by lobbying firm Tech:NYC, an organization that counts Uber among its members.

Dan Teran is CEO of Managed by Q, an on-demand office management startup that’s notable for hiring its workforce as employees, providing them with benefits, and even offering stock options. “The idea that we would create a framework to provide employer-paid benefits to people who can’t currently access them is a net positive. However, it shouldn’t be a trap door into deregulating labor,” Teran told BuzzFeed News regarding the portable benefits debate. “As these new frameworks are being built, government agencies should continue to enforce existing worker protections.”

Warner said he’s familiar with these criticisms, but said focusing on the benefits and protections that have been lost won’t help address the immediate problems people are facing in the 21st-century economy.

“We can’t just wave a magic wand and say, ‘Everyone is going to work the same job for 35 years again.’ There were a lot of good things about the 20th-century economy. Even if you didn’t have that much money, you had predictability,” he said. “We don’t have that now. This tries to meet the workforce where it’s at, and where it’s headed.”

Source: A Senator Just Introduced The First-Ever National Gig Economy Bill

The Trump Administration Wants To Hack Your Drone

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty Images

The Trump administration wants Congress to let it surveil, hijack, or strike down any drone in US airspace.

Trump’s team has published a 10-page draft of legislation requesting authority for the federal government to develop countermeasures and take action against any drone over US soil deemed to pose a threat. The proposed bill focuses on commercial drones, such as small quadcopters like the DJI Mavic or Phantom that are easy to purchase online. The New York Times first reported the news.

What kind of threats do drones actually pose?

Drones pose a rising security risk as their technology advances, their range improves, and they’re able to bear heavier payloads.

After ISIS used small quadcopter drones like ones you’d buy at Radioshack to surveil and drop explosives in Iraq and Syria, it stoked US officials’ fears that the group will attempt to use drones to carry out terrorist attacks. And in 2015 when a drone evaded the White House’s radar system and mistakenly crash landed on its lawn, the incident prompted a Secret Service investigation.

More and more people also have drones. Sales are expected to go well beyond $1 billion this year, up sharply from around $800 million last year. An estimated one million drones were sold in the 2015 holiday season alone.

So here are powers the government wants to have over drones:

  • Surveil them: “Detect, monitor, identify, or track, without prior consent, an unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, payload, or cargo, to evaluate whether it poses a threat to the safety or security of a covered event or location.”
  • Hijack them: “Redirect, disable, disrupt control of, exercise control of, seize, or confiscate, without prior consent, an unmanned aircraft system.”
  • Strike them down: “Use reasonable force to disable, disrupt, damage, or destroy an unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, or unmanned aircraft’s payload or cargo that poses a threat to the safety of a covered facility.”
  • Research them: “Conduct research, testing, training on, and evaluation of any equipment.”

“Threats” in this case are defined as anything that could interfere with a wide range of government activities: disaster rescue or emergency services, prisoner detention, the safety of military or government personnel, transportation of nuclear materials, and other processes.

The document does say that the Federal Aviation Administration would still hold sway over the regulation of the general national airspace, so the Trump administration’s power wouldn’t be limitless if the new legislation passed as it is right now. But the regulation is likely to change as the administration consults the Department of Transportation, the FAA, and Congress.

The reason the Trump administration is having to ask Congress to give it this control over drones is because current privacy protection laws technically prevent the government from interfering with drones. As noted in the bill’s draft, “some of the most promising technical countermeasures for detecting and mitigating [unmanned aircraft systems] may be construed to be illegal under certain laws that were passed when [drones] were unforeseen.”

The Trump administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What are the privacy concerns?

The administration is asking for a broad swath of powers that may trouble drone owners. According to the draft, any drone that the government disables is immediately considered US government property, and its communications as well as its hardware may be dissected to develop more defenses against drones. That kind of research would subject all the digital records of your drone to government investigation.

The act does, however, stipulate that the privacy implications of any new measures must be reviewed by the Secretary of Homeland Security, a position appointed by the president. A recent court decision struck down the regulation obligating consumers to register their recreational drones with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The draft says that the government would have to take action against drones while respecting “privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties,” but it also says that US courts would have no power to hear lawsuits over the federal government’s actions against drones, which means drone owners would have no recourse to recover their forfeited equipment. The information gathered under the legislation would also be exempt from information disclosure laws, according to the draft.

DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer and seller, declined to comment, saying it was still evaluating the impact of the proposed legislation.

Source: The Trump Administration Wants To Hack Your Drone

Tesla Replaces Head Of HR Amid Allegations Of Poor Working Conditions, Harassment

Tesla employees work in the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Thursday, May 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Jeff Chiu / AP

Arnnon Geshuri, the high-profile VP of human resources at Tesla who oversaw its 2011 hiring spree, is leaving the company, BuzzFeed News learned earlier this month and Tesla confirmed in a blog post Tuesday evening. His departure is the third in a string of HR exec exits from Tesla, which has recently been beset by allegations of unsafe working conditions, discrimination and harassment, and potentially illegal mishandling of a union drive at its California manufacturing plant.

Geshuri follows two other HR executives who have left Tesla this year. The first — Jennifer Kim, director of HR for engineering — left Tesla this spring. The second — Mark Lipscomb, who served as VP of HR under Geshuri — left the company earlier this year for Netflix.

“Arnnon helped transition Tesla from a small car company that many doubted would ever succeed, to an integrated sustainable energy company with more than 30,000 employees around the globe,” reads Tesla’s blog post on the matter. “As Tesla prepares for the next chapter in its growth, Arnnon will be taking a short break before moving on to a new endeavor.”

Geshuri will be replaced by Gaby Toledano, an industry veteran who comes to Tesla from Entertainment Arts (EA).

In recent months, a growing body of evidence suggesting that, for workers, Tesla’s state-of-the-art factory in Fremont, California hasn’t always been the safest or most comfortable place to work. In fact, from 2013 to 2016, Tesla’s incident rate in that facility that was higher than the industry average, the Guardian reported and the company acknowledged earlier this week.

Today, a group called Worksafe published a report that pokes holes in Tesla’s argument that the company has successfully lowered its incident rate for the beginning of 2017 to a number that’s below the industry average. Worksafe said its independent review of public health and safety data shows Tesla’s injury rate has “changed significantly since the company’s recent claims of success in reducing injuries in the first quarter of 2017.”

Allegations about working conditions at Tesla first arose on February 9, when factory employee Jose Moran kicked off a union drive with a blog post in which he points to long hours, repetitive stress injuries, and lower than competitive compensation as reasons why Tesla workers should unionize. Tesla recently staved off threats of a strike at its German factory over similar issues by offering workers there a pay raise.

The United Auto Workers — the union trying to organize Tesla’s Fremont, CA plant — filed charges against Tesla with the NLRB last month, alleging illegal coercion, surveillance and intimidation against workers who distributed information about the union effort. Geshuri is listed as the “employer representative” in those charges.

In addition to issues with the union, Tesla has faced broader allegations of discrimination. In March, a video surfaced in which Tesla employees repeatedly used the n-word and threatened violence against an African American colleague, a man named DeWitt Lambert who later sued the company. At the time, Tesla rebutted Lambert’s allegations, saying Lambert had accused his fellow employees, with whom he was friendly outside of work, out of retaliation when he mistakenly believed they had reported him to HR. But Tesla also acknowledged that an error in its investigation process caused the company to lose track of its initial HR investigation into the video.

“We don’t feel that we met our standard in terms of how we handled the people involved in that situation,” said Tesla managing counsel Carmen Copher in an interview with NBC. “We also, pointedly, don’t believe we met our standard in terms of how the investigation was handled.”

Geshuri’s departure was unrelated to this incident, according to Tesla.

Meanwhile, another Tesla employee, AJ Vandermeyden, is also suing Tesla for discrimination. Vandermeyden, who still works as an engineer for the company, alleges that she is paid less than her male peers, was passed over for deserved promotions because of her gender, and has endured “inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls” on the factory floor. Vandermeyden’s suit, which was filed in 2016, is currently in private arbitration.

According to his LinkedIn, Geshuri had been with Tesla for over seven years; previously, he was senior director of staffing and human resources at Google, where he was involved in the high-tech antitrust litigation scandal.

Geshuri did not respond to request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

Source: Tesla Replaces Head Of HR Amid Allegations Of Poor Working Conditions, Harassment

The Man Behind The Seth Rich Private Investigation Has A White House Connection


Ed Butowsky, the Dallas wealth manager and frequent Fox News guest who facilitated a private investigation into the murder of Seth Rich, is friends with and claimed on his website to serve on the board of an organization started by White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

“I consider him a friend and a very nice man,” Butowsky told BuzzFeed News of Bannon.

According to his website, Butowsky “serves as a Board Member for Reclaim New York, a non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to advancing a grassroots conversation about the future of New York.” Per tax filings, Bannon was Reclaim’s vice chairman. (The group’s secretary and treasurer are Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, the powerful daughters of right-wing moneyman and Trump champion Robert Mercer.)

A spokesperson for Reclaim told BuzzFeed that Butowsky “has never had any formal involvement with the organization.” Furthermore, per the spokesperson, Steve Bannon left the organization’s board in August 2016.

Butowsky and Bannon know each other through Breitbart News, of which Bannon was executive chairman and to which Butowsky has contributed articles. In 2015, Bannon interviewed Butowsky for a Breitbart radio program.

Both Butowsky and a White House official deny speaking about Seth Rich.

Over the past week the Rich story has captivated conservative media, following a Fox News report that linked the murder of the 27-year-old Democratic National Committee Staff member with email hacks of the DNC that may have helped then-candidate Trump in his campaign against Hillary Clinton. Such a finding would contradict the view, widely held in the intelligence community, that Russian intelligence was behind the theft — a key point for those who believe there was an improper relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Fox’s report — a conspiracy theory with no corroborating evidence — was based on an interview with a private investigator, Rod Wheeler, who Butowsky introduced to the Rich family and offered to pay for. (Fox News yesterday retracted its story.) The Rich-as-leaker narrative’s rise is the clearest example yet of the way an insurgent pro-Trump media has been able to push dubious stories beneficial to the administration into the limelight.

And the news that their benefactor has ties to a key figure in the administration — and the godfather of the pro-Trump media — has left the Rich family stunned.

“The family is in shock to learn that Ed Butowsky is both friends with and served on a board with Steve Bannon,” Brad Bauman, a spokesman for the Rich family, told BuzzFeed News Wednesday. “We are very much trying not to rush to judgment in order to allow this story to develop.”

Bannon declined to comment for the story.

Butowsky has long said that he heard about the Rich case from a friend, though he can’t remember whom, and that he was motivated to connect the Rich family with Wheeler because he was moved by their story.

In an interview Tuesday outside Del Frisco’s Steakhouse in Manhattan, where he was feeding pigeons, Butowsky told BuzzFeed News that he had never discussed the Rich case with Bannon, and qualified their friendship as warm but not close.

“It’s not like I have a Steve Bannon teddy bear,” he said. “I’ve never eaten a meal with the guy.”

A photograph on Butowsky’s Facebook page shows him in the White House briefing room on March 22. Butowsky did not comment on the record why he was at the White House, but did clarify that he had not met with any White House officials.

Butowsky added that his association with Reclaim was distant and purely based on his wealth management expertise.

“Am I really on the board?” Butowsky asked when informed that his website claimed he was on the board. “I’ve never been to a board meeting.”

Prior to his career as a wealth manager — his clients include a number of athletes and celebrities — Butowsky worked for nearly two decades at Morgan Stanley, where, according to his LinkedIn, he ran one of the highest earning teams at the firm.

Source: The Man Behind The Seth Rich Private Investigation Has A White House Connection

US International Tourism Market Share Is Falling Under Trump, Foursquare Data Shows


The United States’ slice of the international tourism pie is declining, according to a new report from Foursquare that looks at data from millions of phones worldwide.

The US share of international tourism dropped 16% in March 2017 compared with the previous year. And it declined an average of 11% year over year in months spanning October 2016 to March 2017, according to the report.

The drop coincides with the final month of the US election, the Trump transition, and the early months of the Trump administration, which notably imposed a travel ban on people from several majority-Muslim countries in January 2017 that was eventually halted in court but is currently under appeal. Declines in tourism market share from people originating in the Middle East were more pronounced than the rest of the world, down 25% this January, along with a smaller decrease from South America, Foursquare found.

The data accounts for the percentage of international tourism coming to the US and not the absolute number of tourists, but Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck told BuzzFeed News that it’s unlikely tourist visits to the US increased while share declined. “I don’t think you’d see a 16% decline in international market share and absolute numbers being up. I don’t think that’s compatible,” he said. “The volume of tourism doesn’t change that fast.”

Foursquare’s data comes from approximately 13 million users who opted to share their locations with the company, much like the data collection methods it used to accurately predict iPhone sales in 2015 and a massive decline in Chipotle sales in 2016. Foursquare tracks where the people holding these devices go at all times, allowing it to identify types of behavior — including leisure and business travel — based on where they go and how often they visit these places. The data is anonymized. “We understand where phones sleep, generally over time where ‘home’ is,” Glueck said. “We’re able to see not just that someone traveled from Switzerland to Miami, but things like, did they walk into a mall, a museum, a restaurant; did they stay at a hotel?”


Other research seems to support Foursquare’s conclusions about a slowdown in international tourism to the US. While the US Travel Association, for instance, reported a small increase in absolute international travel to the US in its Travel Trends Index in March, it warned that “the modest pace of international inbound travel growth represents a dramatic slowdown, and portends a potential decline in the months to come.” The report noted that an increasingly valuable dollar contributed to the slowdown, along with “negative perceptions of Trump administration rhetoric and policies related to travel restrictions, immigration, and international relations.”

There are other indications that international tourism to the US may be tailing off. Marriott International Chief Executive Arne Sorenson said in April that his company has experienced a decline in bookings from Mexico and the Middle East during the Trump presidency. And travel app Hopper said searches for flights to the US were down 17% the day the travel ban was announced, compared with the Obama presidency’s final two weeks.

While Foursquare’s report showed a declining US share of international tourism, it did find an increase in business travel of approximately 3%.

The decline in international tourism share could have a broader impact on the US economy, Foursquare contends, and with good reason. International travelers spent $247 billion in the US last year, according to the US National Travel and Tourism Office. “The entire retail sector fell about 3% last year, and that led to almost 100,000 workers losing their jobs,” Glueck said. “A 16% drop in America’s tourism market share is a punch in the gut to a restaurant and shopping world that’s already under pressure.”

Source: US International Tourism Market Share Is Falling Under Trump, Foursquare Data Shows

Two New Facebook Live Features Just Launched To Use With Friends

Add in a friend to do a split-screen live video with, and make private chats on public videos.

And today, the company is adding two new features to make live videos better for both filming and watching.

Now you can make a private chat with just friends on a public Live video.

Now you can make a private chat with just friends on a public Live video.

This means that on a popular live video, you can talk to just your friends without having all your comments swamped by hundreds of randos. Or, let’s say that you’re part of a niche community of veterinarians specializing in giraffe birth, and you want to be able to discuss the pregnancy of April the giraffe without all the riff-raff (this could happen, right?) This new feature would be perfect for that.

The next feature lets you do a joint live broadcast with a friend in a different location. It’s basically like letting other people watch your Skype or Facetime with your BFF.

The next feature lets you do a joint live broadcast with a friend in a different location. It's basically like letting other people watch your Skype or Facetime with your BFF.

Facebook offered this feature to verified users last summer, but now everyone can do it. This solves a big problem with doing a live video yourself, which is like… doing it alone is kind of boring? And you might not have anything to say. Now, you can share the awkwardness of a live video and make it like your own mini talk show, even if your friend lives on the other side of the country.

Source: Two New Facebook Live Features Just Launched To Use With Friends