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Scientologists were all up in Neopet's business

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Since its launch in 1999, Neopets has enjoyed a pretty colorful history. The game offers users the ability to create a virtual pet to take on adventures and, using virtual and real-world currency, feed and trick out their digital pets with swag, homes and other online sundries. It was originally aimed at kids, but grew a cult-following of oldsters, too.

Oh, and it used to be run by Scientologists.

According to The Outline, the company that originally owned the Neopets brand employed business practices deeply rooted in Scientology. Up until the point where NeoPets was sold to Viacom in 2005, Neopet's CEO and practicing Scientologist Doug Dohring rocked L. Ron Hubbard’s Org Board business model in order to keep things running smoothly – provided you considered turning your employees against one another smooth.

From The Outline:

The information currently made public about Org Board is vague — introductory workshops are required to learn more about it. The business model contains seven divisions: Communications, Dissemination (sales/marketing), Treasury, Production, Qualifications (quality control), Public (public relations), and, most important to the system, Executive. The symbiotic divisions are arranged to create a “cycle of production” that parallels the church’s “cycle of action,” which Scientology.org describes as “revealing what underlies the continuous cycle of creation, survival and destruction—a cycle that seems inevitable in life, but which is only an apparency.” It is also made up of seven stages.

As part of putting Org Board into play, employees are called upon to spy on the work practices of other employees. Any useful information gleaned from their workplace voyeurism was to be sent to the company's executive team immediately. If what was reported was something that was bad for the company, or even an employee was found to have different views from those of the company's executives, punitive actions would be taken against the employee, immediately. It's some serious "eye-for-an-eye" crap that would have made for a terrible workplace environment.

If you've got the time, you can read the full, fascinating story here.

Image: PictorialEvidence - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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mxm23
4 days ago
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https://www.ageoflearning.com/about-us/#leadership
San Rafael, CA
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Examples of "dark design patterns" -- aka, asshole designs

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Flavio Lamenza, a user experience designer, collected 11 examples of malicious websites, apps, and other designs intended to deceive users.

Here's one:

It's gross that Apple allows these kinds of apps in its store. My daughter was tricked by similar jerks and I had a hard time getting Apple to refund the $50 she accidentally spent.

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mxm23
7 days ago
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San Rafael, CA
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List: What Your Favorite Website Says About You

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Etsy.com: You’ve gotten into a fist fight over a throw pillow.

NPR.org: You’ve quoted David Foster Wallace while making love.

OkCupid.com: You’ve dated three hundred and twelve vegans.

AOL.com: You were born before the Eisenhower administration.

Yelp.com: Your review of a Cinnabon was more dramatic than Hamlet.

Yahoo.com: You don’t really use the internet that much.

Tumblr.com: Your parents don’t understand you. Nobody does.

Amazon.com: You’ve screamed at Alexa to order a 12-pack of cherry Chap Stick.

Goodreads.com: You’ve canceled a minor surgery to finish a Carlos Fuentes novel.

UsaToday.com: Your favorite food is the sandwich.

PBS.org: You own a cat named Winston. Winston owns six monocles.

Reddit.com: No matter what’s written here, you will gripe about it endlessly.

Buzzfeed.com: If the internet went down for a day, you’d get Ebola symptoms.

Twitter.com: If the internet went down for two hours, you’d drive off the nearest bridge — while hitting refresh.

Bing.com: You cook asparagus in your four-slot toaster oven.

Pitchfork.com: You have a yearly budget for attending noise rock festivals in Bratislava.

Bandcamp.com: You’ve headlined a noise rock festival in Bratislava.

Engadget.com: You’ve wolf-whistled at a Samsung Galaxy.

MotherJones.com: You’ve read the entire label of a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle.

Whole30.com: You’ve smuggled butternut squash across the Libyan border.

Reason.com: You’ve purchased a firearm with Bitcoin, or vice versa.

Vox.com: You can turn any social gathering into a debate about tax policy.

T-Nation.com: You can deadlift three Vox readers.

FoxNews.com: You think RoboCop depicts a utopian society.

Forbes.com: You have achieved climax while converting an IRA into a Roth-IRA.

Salon.com: You once lectured a futon about global warming.

WallStreetJournal.com: You think having a favorite dinosaur is a waste of time.

InfoWars.com: Your home water filtration system is safe against radioactive fallout.

TheIntercept.com: You unwind by reading 10,000-word essays about drone bombings.

WikiLeaks.org: You invented a cryptocurrency.

Cracked.com: You’re funemployed.

MySpace.com: You died in 2005, at age twenty.

FocusOnTheFamily.com: Your teenage daughter is a sexually-active Juggalo.

ChurchOfSatan.com: You listen to Slayer’s Reign In Blood when you do Pilates.

ThoughtCatalog.com: You’ve been moved to tears by your own slam poetry.

Slashdot.org: You know that GNU’s not Unix.

Github.com: Your favorite tree is the Binary Search Tree.

FourHourWorkWeek.com: Your virtual assistant is reading this article for you.

Medium.com: You keep a running list of think piece ideas in Evernote.

AngelList.com: You own Evernote.

NerdWallet.com: You could survive for two years on credit card points.

PW.org: You’ve incited a riot over a shortage of Moleskine notebooks.

McSweeneys.net: You enjoy it when the last item in a list is a pattern break, or meta, in some fashion

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mxm23
14 days ago
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WIRED (then): You wrote part of the internet. WIRED (now): You have an internet connection.
San Rafael, CA
mxm23
14 days ago
Facebook: You haven’t mastered email.
popular
34 days ago
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3 public comments
theprawn
23 days ago
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Where's WIRED? Google? Facebook? Oh well.
tedgould
32 days ago
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The Internet is a pretty diverse place.
Texas, USA
hannahdraper
34 days ago
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Oh god I actually have smuggled a gourd across the Libyan border.
Washington, DC
akraut
34 days ago
Ms Draper, this is the Libyan police. We'd like to discuss a customs declaration issue with you...

Survey: 89% of Android users didn’t give Facebook consent

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In a survey of 1,300 Android users, 89% percent said that they did not give Facebook consent to scrape their call and text history. Facebook has been allegedly scraping phone records since 2015.

From TeamBlind:

Last month, we surveyed our users, asking them if they planned to delete their Facebook accounts after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In just a few days, more than 2,600 users answered our survey, with 31 percent answering that they will delete their Facebook account.

Shortly after news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many Facebook users rushed to download their profile data, leading Android users to discover that the company had been collecting their call history records and SMS data. As Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica writes:

This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site. While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered something distressing: Facebook also had about two years’ worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received.

We surveyed over 1,300 Android users, asking if they granted Facebook permission to collect their call and text history. Overall, 89% answered ‘No.’

Last week, Facebook announced that the company will reduce the amount of data collected from Android users. In a company blog post, Facebook CTO, Mike Schroepfer writes:

Call and text history is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This means we can surface the people you most frequently connect with at the top of your contact list. We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year. In the future, the client will only upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature — not broader data such as the time of calls.

Portrait used in collage: Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY.

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mxm23
15 days ago
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“Didn’t [remember] giving Facebook consent.” AFAIK it’s impossible to get the data without providing consent to the app on Android. Maybe it’s better as “Didn’t give Facebook [informed] consent.” Which is highly likely due to dark patterns of UX.
San Rafael, CA
jbouvier
14 days ago
An individual who doesn't ~realize~ they're being asked for consent, for whatever reason, cannot consent. Someone trying to login to an app that hides its request for permission by using dark patterns has not given consent. This includes the way Messenger on Android flips and turns each page to attempt to confuse users into accidentally saying yes to one of those Android permissions prompts.
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Waze has turned the nearly undriveable, fifth-steepest hill in America into a disaster-strewn major thoroughfare

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Baxter Street in Echo Park, East Los Angeles, is the fifth-steepest hill in America; it's so steep that inexperienced drivers struggle with it, spinning out and crashing, especially in the rain. (more…)

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mxm23
17 days ago
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Or, maybe, drivers could take responsibility for their actions? No, blame the app.
San Rafael, CA
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Scott Galloway on Trump Targeting Jeff Bezos: ‘He Comes Across as Uninformed’

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“One of them is acting presidential, the other is president.”

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mxm23
20 days ago
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I can’t bring myself to watch Fox ‘News’ even for this.
San Rafael, CA
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