6/29/17

Instagram Lets Users Hide Offensive Comments Automatically

Last fall, Instagram began allowing users to filter out unwanted comments on their photos by keyword, now the photo sharing site is launching two additional tool, including one that blocks certain offensive comments automatically.

Instagram announced the new tools in a blog post Thursday, marking its latest effort to “keep Instagram a safe place for self-expression.”

The first tool works to block certain offensive comments on posts and in live video.

To turn on (or turn off) the filter, users click on the “Settings” section on their profile, tap comments and press the tab to “Hide Offensive Comments.”

Once the filter is turned on, comments deemed to be offensive will automatically be blocked, while all others will appear as normal.

Despite this, Instagram notes that the offensive comments will still be posted, as those who don’t have the filter turned on and the offending posters will still see the mean messages.

Users will still have the option to report, delete or turn off comments, Instagram notes, adding that the filter will first be available in English, with other languages being added over time.

The second filter launching Thursday aims to decrease the number of spam comments posted to photos. Instagram says this filter will be applied automatically and is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese.

“Powered by machine learning, today’s filters are our latest tools to keep Instagram a safe place,” the company said. “Our team has been training our systems for some time to recognize certain types of offensive and spammy comments so you never have to see them.”

Scammers Use Counterfeit Cash At Victoria’s Secret, Get Upset When They Get Their Fake Money Back As Refund

The entire point of having counterfeit cash is to get it out of your hands by purchasing things or swapping it out with genuine legal tender. So it doesn’t help if you scam a store into accepting your faux bills and then get greedy by trying to con them a second time, only to end up with the counterfeit money you had in the first place.

Police in Fairfield, CT, say a couple of no-goodniks recently spent $780 dollars in counterfeit cash at a Victoria’s Secret, but scamming the lingerie retailer out of undergarments apparently wasn’t enough.

No, these same folks returned the very same day to return the items they hadn’t actually paid for — effectively trying to turn fake money into intimate apparel and then into real cash.

Problem is, the bills the cashier gave back to the couple were from the same pile of funny money the scammers had handed the store just a few hours earlier.

Rather than learn a lesson — that you should probably wait at least a day to make sure the fake cash is out of circulation at the store — and admire the grim humor of their situation, the couple actually complained about receiving counterfeit cash.

That prompted the cashier to call the police, prompting the man and woman to make their exit while hopefully realizing that they are incredibly bad at their chosen profession.

If Coolest Doesn’t Fulfill Pledges, Backers Get $20 Each And No Frozen Margaritas

Earlier this week, the company behind the hottest semi-failed Kickstarter campaign of 2014, the Coolest, announced that it has settled with the attorney general in its home state of Oregon. Now the details of that settlement are out, and we’ve learned that the worst-case scenario is that backers will each receive $20 if the company fails to deliver.

Earlier this week, we learned that Coolest reached an agreement with the state to ship coolers first to residents of Oregon and to people who filed complaints with the state’s Department of Justice as of April. These backers’ coolers must be shipped by October 13, 2017. We’ve now learned that a total of 873 coolers are in this category. Whether they’re shipped by October will be an important test for Coolest.

If the company is unable to deliver the remaining 20,000 coolers by 2020, it will owe $20 each to remaining backers. That might seem small compared to the original $13.2 million in pledges and the minimum of $185 plus shipping that most backers pledged, but one important stipulation is that even if the company ultimately fails, it can’t get out of this obligation by filing for bankruptcy.

Another important part of the agreement with the state [PDF] is that the company, and presumably also founder Ryan Grepper himself, won’t be allowed to use rewards-based crowdfunding sites until all coolers have shipped.

“Respondents are not prohibited from seeking investors and engaging in (with or without remuneration) educational activities, mentoring, or advising other individuals who are seeking crowdfunding for their own projects,” the agreement notes. Would anyone have backed a campaign that the company ran now at all, unless they were extremely patient and not planning to move for six years?

Back in 2014, Coolest collected more than $13 million in pledges on Kickstarter for a large ice chest with a built-in blender, cutting board, USB charging ports, and a Bluetooth speaker that was supposed to be on backers’ doorsteps in 2015.

Were you a backer of the Coolest? Whether you’re in the 40,000 or so who have received your cooler or the 20,000 or so who haven’t, or you broke down and bought one on Amazon while you were waiting, we’re curious what your experience has been. Drop us a line and/or an invitation to your next beach party at tips@consumerist.com.

Survey Says: 87% Of Us Think Auto Makers Should Improve Fuel Economy

You may really like cars, or driving, but if you’re like most people you probably don’t actually enjoy buying or pumping gas. It’s expensive, tedious, smelly, and flammable, and a new survey finds that a vast majority of us would prefer if our cars could be more efficient so we wouldn’t have to fill ’em up as often.

In fact, a whopping 87% of Americans surveyed think automakers should keep improving fuel economy, according to a study released by our colleagues at Consumers Union today.

Across the board, in fact, consumers think that manufacturers can and should do more, with every kind of vehicle. 79% agreed that even larger vehicles, including SUVs and trucks, should be held to higher standards than they currently are.

Can Automakers Police Themselves?

Respondents in the national survey also felt that it doesn’t seem likely automakers will act without prompting: Only 30% said they believed that automakers particularly cared about lowing fuel costs for consumers.

Unfortunately, the 73% who think that the U.S. government should continue to increase and enforce fuel efficiency standards aren’t going to see that anytime soon.

Back in 2012, the EPA put into place a long-term plan to establish stricter gas mileage and greenhouse emissions standards on most new vehicles by 2025. As part of that rule, the agency would be conducting a midterm review to see if the program was on track and decide if the standards should be revised.

The review was originally expected in 2018 but — perhaps sensing the winds of change — the EPA kicked it out the door in January of this year.

But that report didn’t make it into the Federal Register. Times changed, and so did the political climate, with new industry-friendly leadership in the White House and EPA.

In May, the Trump administration announced that it was rescinding the midterm review of the efficiency standards and that the conclusions reached only months ago are no longer valid.

The old regulation determined that by model year 2025, cars should reach an average fuel efficiency of at least 50 miles per gallon (from an average of 27.5 in 2010). But with the blessing of automakers, that rule is being rescinded.

Several states — California, New York, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — announced shortly after that they would take the federal government to court in order to defend the existing rule and protest the change.

Bad For The Brand

While the EPA might not force automakers to significantly improve fuel efficiency, the car-buying public might.

The survey found that Americans are likely to view a brand overall less favorably if it takes the position that improving fuel efficiency is either too expensive or not important. Brands that did make public statements about improving fuel efficiency, on the other hand, were more likely to be viewed favorably.

And 49% of those surveyed said that they expect the next vehicle they buy will have better fuel economy than the one they drive now, with 10% considering a hybrid for their next car, and 3% considering a fully electric vehicle.

“Even with low gas prices, consumers still want fuel economy to improve,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “Automakers should pay attention to these findings and develop more efficient vehicles to give consumers what they want.”