Monthly Archives: October 2017

Russian-Linked Facebook, Google Ads Spur Brand Safety Anxieties In Advertisers


Online tech giants are under fire from advertisers after causing significant problems with brand safety. According to NBC News, Facebook recently handed up to 3,000 advertisements over to Congress. These ads, through which Facebook had received a total of $100,000 in ad spending, were linked to the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Washington Post reports that the advertisements exploited U.S. religious and racial divisions as a means to promote voter suppression and to incite fear based on prejudices. A similar tactic had been used during the Cold War when Soviet operatives took out advertisements in newspapers across the United States, which were written as though they’d been created by political activists.

Facebook wasn’t the only digital advertising platform to be used to influence the 2016 election. On Monday, October 9, Google found that advertisements had also been purchased by Russian-linked groups during the 2016 election.

These advertisements are believed by federal investigators to be linked to a secretive company in St. Petersburg, Russia called the Internet Research Agency. The Agency has been known to spread propaganda and fake news throughout the Internet. However, Facebook has declined to confirm that the advertisements were linked to any specific groups due to legal restrictions.

Yet it isn’t the Russian-linked advertisements that several businesses are concerned about, says chief executive of Horizon Media Bill Koenigsberg. Rather, it’s the news surrounding digital advertising. “Every day there is another snippet that comes out,” he said, “and you piece them together and you’re starting to draw conclusions that the water isn’t as clear as we’d hoped.”

Many businesses and companies still utilize traditional methods of advertising, which many Americans pay attention to. Up to 71% of people driving on the road will look at and read the messages of roadside billboard advertisements. However, many businesses also rely on digital advertising methods offered through Facebook, Twitter, and Google which send advertisements to users based on their demographic regions and past online searches.

For instance, up to 18% of people admit to concealing their teeth in photos. Depending on the past online searches of those users, online tech companies may be more likely to send advertisements of teeth whitening products or dental veneers because those users would be more likely to click on those ads.

Yet these advertisements aren’t appearing online as many businesses would like them to. According to NBC News, companies and politicians have become squeamish of these automated digital advertisements after their own banner ads have appeared over jihadi videos on YouTube.

“The entire advertising world is very anxious,” said independent expert in crisis public relations, Mike Paul. “But few will admit publicly that the negative news is affecting Facebook because it is the 800-pound gorilla globally for ad and media buyers.”

12-Year-Old Locker Board Creator to Be Featured On ‘Shark Tank’

The “casual skater” is someone who hops on a board and skates between one and 25 times a year. A “core skater” on the other hand, is someone who skates wherever and whenever they can. Skateboarding has always been popular in small circles of the United States, especially among students, but it’s been difficult for young kids to skate as much as they’d like thanks to educational restrictions. Until now.

Thanks to a California entrepreneur, kids around the U.S. are able to skate to school, skate to their lockers, and safely keep their boards inside those lockers until it’s time to go home and hit the skate park.

Carson Kropfl created Locker Board, a company that manufactures skateboards that have been modified to fit within compact cubbies, storage areas, and school lockers.

One important note: Carson Kropfl was 11 years old when he created this company.

“My mom said I had to pay for all my surf contests and surf lessons,” Carson said.

So, of course, this young skater came up with the locker board idea, made a few dozen boards, and began selling them.

“At first, we had the boards kind of like a normal skateboard with the round edges and the tail. The tail would make it wiggly and it wouldn’t really work, so I cut off the tail but kept the round shape. It still didn’t really work. It was too small to fit your feet on. So I thought to just cut the board into a block and round the edges.”

According to San Clemente Times, Carson, now 12 years old, has been invited to make an appearance on the popular television show Shark Tank.

“We were at Mammoth Mountain in an elevator, and my dad noticed someone who had the Shark Tank on his jacket, and he was actually one of the producers,” Carson added. “My mom and my dad started asking him questions and showed them the pictures of the products. He said we had not grown enough (in understanding business), but he said he could give the producer updates on our progress.”

As The Orange County Register, reports, when Carson launched his company last year, the 11-year-old boy built every Locker Board by hand in his backyard workshop. He struggled to keep up with orders, so he had to outsource operations a little bit.

If Carson’s appearance on the network show is a success, he’ll likely see a tremendous amount of increased business. He might have to get in touch with large manufactures who work with industrial sheet metal, which is the number one most common type of metal used in the industry, in order to mass produce his Locker Boards.

Carson does, however, still collect used skate decks and handcrafts them. He calls these handcrafted boards the “Recycled Series.”

“I was so excited,” he said. “I was blown away that I was going on Shark Tank.”

Nevada Researchers Develop Earthquake Proof Bridge Design

Seismograph and earthquakeOne Nevada research lab is making moves when it comes to earthquakes. Literally.

Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno have started to test new bridge designs with connectors that are meant to better withstand violent earthquake tremors. They also believe that their innovative approach will be able to speed reconstruction efforts after major earthquake damage.

For the researchers, these tests couldn’t have come at a better time. They were conducted one day after a deadly quake hit Mexico, and their goal is to help prevent any fatalities as a result of falling structures.

Even though bridges are designed to withstand earthquakes, they often become unstable and unsuitable for travel after they have been hit by one. And considering that over two hundred million trips are taken daily across deficient bridges in the United States’ 102 largest metropolitan regions, a lot of people are putting their lives at risk every day around the country without even realizing it.

Saiid Saiidi is a researcher with the Nevada Earthquake Engineering Lab and has over 30 years experience looking at the structural soundness of bridges across the world. According to him, it is important to focus on creating a strong bridge in the first place since earthquakes don’t necessarily kill people, but unstable structures do.

To perform their experiments, the Reno researchers used a giant shake table to stimulate the violent motions of an earthquake. Their model weighed 100-tons and was 70 feet long. During the shake test, the columns and beams swayed back and forth for 30 seconds at a time — some were displaced nearly a foot, and others had small cracks in them. The graduate students studying on the project were able to use an electrochemical fatigue crack sensor system to detect cracks in the bridge as small as 0.01 inches.

However, they found that these fractures were minimal and didn’t result in major structural damage. This came as a surprise because the computer models they used before the test indicated there would be more bridge damage.

So what did the researchers do to create such a strong bridge? They used special connectors to link pre-fabricated bridge parts, including ultra-high performance concrete. These connectors cause the designers to place the prefabricated concrete directly onto the existing bridge foundation, making it easier for repair after a quake if necessary because they will be easier to get to.

Known as pipe pin connectors, the pin is made up of a steel pipe that is anchored into the column and extended into a piece of steel that is embedded into the bridge’s beam. But since there is a gap between the steel pipe and the piece of steel in the beam, the extended segment of the bridge is able to rotate freely during a quake. This flexibility means easier movement and less of a probability that the column will collapse on itself and crumble the entire bridge.

These special connectors make this bridge the first in the world that uses flexible columns and reinforcement bars made out of a metal alloy. While alloy steels can be divided into four classes: structural steels, tool and die steels, magnetic alloys, and stainless and heat-resisting steels, this metal alloy is made from titanium that bends and springs immediately back to shape after an earthquake hits.

The researchers at the quake lab are hopeful that this new technology can help earthquake-prone areas like the Western United States and Mexico in stabilizing their bridges for the future. As of right now, the California Department of Transportation is funding the project and is developing 10 projects with this new pipe pin connector technology.