Tsunami Warning

Days after Haiti's catastrophic earthquake this January, "fan pages" purporting to aid fundraising for emergency relief popped up all over Facebook. The pages said they would donate $1 for each person who joined, a seemingly ingenious harnessing of Facebook activism to altruistic ends. The problem? The pages were fakes, and Facebook acted quickly to shut down the pages and quash another rumor that Facebook would also donate a dollar for status updates that mentioned Haiti relief efforts.

Bob Sullivan at MSNBC's Red Tape Chronicles blog summed up the danger of the fake fan pages, saying that while simply signing up for the pages may seem safe enough,

a spammer or hacker could harness a large fan group to commit other scams. Fan page administrators are able to contact each fan through status updates, providing a perfect platform for phishing or virus attacks.

So much for safety in numbers.

And then this weekend, only hours after one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history hit Chile, phishers and spammers began taking advantage of the chaos and lack of information coming out of the region by using the twitter hashtag #hitsunami to spread viruses and malware. Some tweets that seemed to be about the earthquake-generated tsunami headed for Hawaii reportedly hid malicious links, and users who clicked through were in danger of downloading viruses or spyware. The restricted character count of status updates and tweets makes it much easier to hide viral links in the characteristic shortened urls and harder to tell what's a breaking story and what's an identity-stealing scam. While social media networks have definitely helped to get the word out about legitimate and even innovative fundraising efforts over the past couple of months - such as donating via text message - it seems as though each time the sites wise up to these threats, a new wave of scams outpaces their best efforts.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
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Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

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How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
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