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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    Google’s Street View program, mapping our shared space with extensive photographic layering, is nothing if not ambitious. When the company hasn’t gone off the rails scraping router addresses and fending off privacy-based lawsuits both private and governmental, it’s mapping and photographing everything from streets to the insides of buildings, including museums, and now ... the Grand Canyon.

    The bridge across the Grand Canyon.

    The Web can transport us to places and sources we'd otherwise find difficult or impossible to reach. It can bring rare and precious information to where we are. This project certainly accomplishes that. But how useful is it otherwise? 

    On a blog post announcing the project’s launch, Ryan Falor, product manager for Google Maps, claims it's useful “whether you’re planning an upcoming hike, or want to learn more about the Earth’s geological history.”

    In the past, however, Google has been sued by a woman who followed its directions out onto a highway to be struck by a car. The possibility of injury is greater in the wilderness—and make no mistake, the Grand Canyon, snack bars and tour bus parking notwithstanding, is the wilderness—especially given how inexperienced most wilderness visitors are, how ridiculous their judgment often is and how unquestioningly they sometimes follow their tech. 

    To Grand Canyon Village.

    If, however, you just eyeball the awesome, you should be safe enough. And there seems to be enough awesome for the eyeballing. 

    The Grand Canyon Street View offers 9,500 360-degree panoramas over 75 miles of trails and roads and numerous features. These include Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails, Meteor Crater, the Colorado River, and much more.

    Bright Angel:

    The Colorado River: 

    The Canyon was shot with what's called the Trekker (below), a piece of technology developed to map over rough terrain. It's an Android-based 15-lens camera system carried by hikers in 40-pound backpacks. 

    Google Street View has hit Antarctica and the Amazon River. They’ve even dipped a toe in the ocean. But no word on when the Marianas Trench is due to get Street Viewed.

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    Warning: This post contains some NSFW images.

    Hell hath no fury like a student body scorned by the loss of their stoned and sexy teacher. 

    Tuesday's news that Aurora, Colo., math teacher Carly McKinney had been placed on administrative leave for maintaining a Twitter feed that hosted photos of the 23-year-old either semi-nude or smoking pot sent shockwaves through the halls of Overland High School. From one locker to another and clear across the Internet, students are showing their support for the exiled educator. 

    "It's a teacher that's only five or six years older than our oldest students," one Overland student named Shaun told Denver's 9News. "We kind of relate to her on a personal level."


    Much of the students' support has come in the form of Twitter hashtag #FreeCrunkBear, a direct allusion to McKinney's since-deleted @Crunk_Bear handle on Twitter. The rally cry, which has spread far beyond the Overland halls at this point, has been echoed more than 1,100 times in the past day, with celebrities as well-known as DJ/producer Diplo (who inspired this NSFW Crunk Bear photo) taking the time to repeatedly post and retweet their support

    Elsewhere, an anonymous individual has created a @CarlyCrunkBear to impersonate the beleaguered teacher. Identifying herself as "Hot. Wet. Stoned" and a full-on supporter of the #FreeCrunkBear movement, the unnamed impersonator has taken to reposting McKinney's moderately scandalous photos and asking the account's 8,000+ Twitter followers if anybody is "getting #superstoned for the #superbowl this weekend."

    Here's guessing at least six of McKinney's former students are saying yes to that. 

    The revolution will not be televised. It will happen in full force on Twitter. Operation #FreeCrunkBear cannot be stopped. 

    Photo via Crunk_Bear/Twitter

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    Thanks to Carly McKinney, better known on Twitter @crunk_bear, we know that posing topless, upside-down in your underwear is a sure fire way to get in trouble at a teaching job.

    McKinny, a Denver-area high school teacher, is on administrative leave after a local news station brought attention to her scandalous Twitter account, which made multiple references to drug use and contained several racy photos. But for most educators, when it comes to using social media, the line between appropriate and unacceptable behavior is much more nuanced.

    "Many teachers believe they have the absolute First Amendment right to post anything they want on social media networking sites, including party pix and diatribes about the boss," offers National Education Association (NEA) Assistant General Counsel Michael Simpson. "After all, they're on their own time and using their own resources. Sadly, the courts say otherwise."

    In a blog post on the NEA's website, Simpson cites three separate cases in which teachers have unsuccessfully sued on First Amendment grounds after being fired for their actions online. Simpson said that although public schools have a lot of leeway when it comes to firing nontenured teachers, educators can fight administrative actions that are discriminatory or violate free speech. But the scope of First Amendment protection for teachers is very limited.

    "[T]eacher free speech rights are fairly limited: their speech is protected only if they speak out as citizens on 'matters of public concern' and their speech doesn't disrupt the school," he writes.

    Meaning that McKinny and other teachers posting similar content will likely find no recourse in First Amendment protections, since it easy to argue their speech is disruptive to the school. In McKinney’s case, students have already begun a campaign to #FreeCrunkBear.

    But to keep teachers from finding themselves in such predicaments to begin with, more and more schools are adopting social-media policies that govern what teachers can say and who they can say it too online.

    Missouri lawmakers found themselves back-peddling last year after trying to enact legislation that would have essentially barred all teachers from using sites like Twitter or Facebook because such sites allow exclusive communication with students under the age of 18. The provision was part of a larger bill aimed at protecting students from sexual assault by school employees. The revised language merely calls on school districts to adopt their own social-media guidelines.

    New York City schools also made national headlines last year when they announced a new policy that would forbid student teacher-contact via social media except on dedicated classroom pages. As in Missouri, the NYC guidelines stemmed from the concern over inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. According to the New York Times, in 2009 there were 14 accusations of inappropriate conduct between students and teachers involving Facebook in New York City public schools. In 2011, there were more than 69.

    But the laws are a source of consternation for educators, who feel it limits their use of an important educational tool. Bronx high school teacher David Roush told the Associated Press that shifting cultural trends made social media the best way to reach students and parents.

    "Email is becoming a dinosaur," Roush said. "Letters home are becoming a dinosaur. The old methods of engaging our students and our parents are starting to die."

    Photo via @crunk_bear/Twitter

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    Here's one thing you likely won't see live-broadcast across state television in China: Two old men—one a retired school teacher and the other a water-delivery man—getting happily married. But thanks to social media, thousands were able to watch the two exchange vows on Jan. 30.

    It's another sign that social media is undercutting ancient cultural biases of one of the world's oldest civilizations. The school teacher and the water delivery man may be at the forefront of a Chinese LGBT rights revolution.

    The two have been sharing their experiences on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging service, where they have more than 20,000 followers and post under the handle 两个老头的爱情 or “Love Between Two Old Guys.”

    Their rise to Weibo fame has been swift. The two men only began posting on Jan. 17. On Jan. 21, they showed their faces for the first time in a video, where they proclaimed their love.

    “The two of us are old men," one of the men says to the camera, according to a translation provided by Tea Leaf Nation.

    "But a little bit of romantic love happened between us. Just a little bit. So what? What does our love have to do with you? America is giving out marriage licenses to gay lovers. We are not even lovers. We are not there yet. Why are you against it? We are just kissing. What’s the big deal? We are just good together… Don’t be so stubborn. Don’t be so closed-off.”

    On Jan. 30, they live-cast their wedding to their legions of online fans.

    With rampant censorship and tight state control over China's social networks, it's safe to say sites like Sina Weibo will never foment political revolution. But social and cultural ideas filter through the censors grasp much more easily. Two men can't legally get married in China. But they can do it symbolically online, to an audience of thousands.

    As the always-excellent Tea Leaf Nation notes:

    “Attitudes towards homosexuality have begun to change among certain groups in China, particularly young urban Internet users who may be accustomed to news of celebrities coming out of the closet or have friends or acquaintances who are openly gay. In 2012, a young gay couple also held a wedding that was live-tweeted on China’s social media.”

    Sina Weibo users have mostly been supportive. In fact, it's easier for the two men to find understanding online than in their private lives. One of the men posted this message shortly after the wedding concluded:

    “Our wedding was going along smoothly and happily, but my son, who is an animal, disrupted the event, flipping tables and shooing away guests. His actions stripped away our dignity and deeply pained us. Our followers on Sina Weibo, QQ and other social media users who supported us were all saddened and disappointed since the “live broadcasting” of our wedding had to be stopped. Why is it that strangers can give us their blessings but my own son can not? He has no heart. The child I raised ends up undermining my happiness.” (Translation via Tea Leaf Nation)

    But a few flipped tables and a pissed off son won't stop these two. They're not backing down.

    "Friends and relatives accuse us of being shameless, of never taking things seriously, of being a couple of old perverts," they posted on Jan. 18. "We are determined that even death won't separate us."

    Keep fighting, guys.

    Photos via 两个老头的爱情/Sina Weibo

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    Google Street View is Internet porn for people who are more obsessed with the Internet than they are with porn. It's fascinating when you scroll through it—you have absolutely no idea what you're going to find—and eventually, you might come across something worth saving.

    But those who search GSV must remember that little stipulation about the Internet's 34th rule, which states ever so frankly that if it's out there on the Internet, there's probably porn of it. 30 years into the Internet's existence, that's rarely been proven wrong.

    It's with that in mind that we take you to an extreme sports shop called Krakatoa somewhere on the south side of Briançon, a tiny hamlet of 11,000 in southeastern France. You can get anything you want in this Krakatoa: shoes, shorts, sunglasses, ski goggles.

    According to Google Street View, you can also get your rocks off.

    Thanks to a GSV link posted to Reddit's r/funny, the world is now privy to the fact that two lovebirds decided they needed to simultaneously enter into the Krakatoa dressing room to try on some new clothes—er, I mean, no clothes.

    Check it out. It's totally wild and sexual and loaded with funny looking underwear.

    Google Street View. It's not just for investigating African donkey fatalities anymore.

    Photo via reddeebug/Reddit


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    After Fox’s hit show Glee apparently used musician Jonathan Coulton’s arrangement of a song without his permission, JoCo fans are uniting against Glee and hitting the show right where it hurts: the iTunes review pages.

    Fans have taken to the iTunes page for Glee's version of "Baby Got Back" and left almost 2,000 one-star ratings and negative reviews on the page, Kotaku reported.

    Most of the reviews shamed Glee for using Coulton's cover of the classic Sir Mix-a-Lot jam without permission, and voiced support for the artist while downvoting anyone who reviewed the song favorably.

    Coulton first told fans on Jan. 18  that the show copied his version of "Baby Got Back" without notifying him beforehand. He is still looking into possible legal action against Fox after voicing his suspicion that Glee stole not just his arrangement, but parts of his actual recording.

    It took nearly a week for Glee to respond to Coulton, and once they did, they said that that it wasn't their usual policy to give credit for covers of covers. He then released a cover of Glee's cover for charity, which quickly shot up the iTunes charts.

    Meanwhile, the fans have flooded Coulton's iTunes page for "Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)," a song he released this past Saturday for charity—which also happens to be an exact copy of the recording Glee allegedly ripped off—with glowing five-star reviews and snarky comments towards Glee and Fox.

    However, some fans remained conflicted. Some admit that Glee used Coulton's version of "Baby Got Back," but still love the show, and others agree with Fox’s argument that Coulton should be grateful for the exposure.

    "I thought this was [sic] s very cute version of the song. I wasn't aware of a second version of the song, so have ended up buying multiple copies of a song I didn't even know," Tredaor wrote.

    Unsurprisingly, these reviews have been mostly been marked "unhelpful" by fellow customers.

    Photo via nickstone333/Flickr

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    Users of the social news site Reddit have helped raise more than $10,000 in less than 24 hours for an Atlanta shopping mall manager turned Internet hero.

    Property manager Darien Long became an overnight Internet celebrity after an eight-month-old video of him dealing with two violent women collected more than 1 million views in less than three days.

    The video shows Long telling two truculent women to back up outside Atlanta's Metro Mall while a group of young children looked on. After about three minutes worth of yelling at the women to stand down, one decides to attack Long, who was wearing a video camera on his bulletproof vest and had a pistol in his possession. Long was hit on the head repeatedly and was ultimately forced to taser the woman.

    "I feel like the taser and the camera are the two most effective tools that I have," Long told Atlanta news station WSB-TV. "Do what you're supposed to do or you get what's coming to you."

    The video was posted Tuesday to Reddit, where Long was praised for his fortitude. Now the community wants to show Long their gratitude by raising money to help "enable him to get better and more gear."

    The Reddit community started a campaign on CrowdTilt, a new crowdfunding platform, Thursday evening and has since collected $10,665 from 349 different contributors.

    "He is a nice guy and that area is very dangerous," noted redditor RyuKenya, who started the CrowdTilt campaign after reaching out to Long. "There is a cop station around the block but people still sell drugs around there. He has to wear kevlar and has his own mugshot book. He was not too proud about tasing the woman and wished it could have been avoided."

    The woman who attacked Long was charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and simple battery.

    Photo via CrowdTilt

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    Starved for attention, Donald Trump slithered back into our consciousness by threatening to sue rapper Mac Miller for … something.

    On Thursday, Trump sent a series of tweets toward the up-and-coming Pittsburgh musician for supposedly unlawfully using his name as the title for his 2011 breakout hit. "Little @MacMiller, you illegally used my name for your song 'Donald Trump' which now has over 75 million hits," he moaned.

    Trump might be annoyed that Miller's song racked up millions of views on YouTube—and earned gold status—without the mogul seeing a dime, since he is obviously struggling for cash. Notably, a lyric in the song includes "we're going to take over the world while the haters get mad." 

    Trump continued: "I’m now going to teach you a big boy lesson about lawsuits and finance. You ungrateful dog!"—unclear if he was actually filing a lawsuit. A similar case was threatened when Walgreens cashier/actress Lindsay Lohan sued rapper Pitbull for using her name in a song. His defense argued that using her name was protected under the First Amendment. 

    Continuing his rampage, Trump called Miller "ungrateful" and planting a vulgar image in our minds that the rapper was "kissing my ass." Trump ended his verbal assault, musing "Little @MacMiller—I have more hair than you do and there’s a slight age difference."

    Trump, who congratulated Miller shortly after the song hit 20 million views, caught wind of Miller's recent comments to Complex. Miller said he wasn't a fan of Trump's political aspirations and called him a "dick" and a "douchebag" for his incessant tweets about the song. 

    So far, Miller hasn't responded on Twitter. He's currently enjoying the slopes in Austria, which sounds a lot nicer than waging a Twitter war with a petty billionaire.

    Photo via larryfisherman/Instagram

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    A Rolex, a snow-blower, and a round-trip vacation to Jamaica are just three of the things crazed football fans are willing to trade on Craigslist for tickets to Super Bowl XLVII.

    With the Baltimore Ravens making their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, it's no surprise to see Baltimore's Craigslist page fielding most of the requests.

    "I recently moved into a house and have a huge freezer that isn't being used. If you are sitting at home with a bunch of food you need to freeze without a freezer and also happen to have 2 tickets to the super bowl you don't want well LETS MAKE A DEAL!" reads one classified listing. "[F]reezer for the tickets. I will even deliver the freezer so you don't have to deal with it."

    A California couple was scammed out of $6,000 after they tried to buy tickets from a Florida man named R. Thomas Pham Guan. Instead of receiving the prized tickets in the mail Monday, they received the following note: "Enjoy the game! Gooo Ravens! LOL."

    Sunday's game, against the 49ers, will be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The majority of tickets to the sporting event of the year are allotted to each Super Bowl team and other NFL teams. The remaining tickets are "made available through a random drawing," said the NFL on its site. Submissions were accepted between Feb. 1, 2012, and June 1, 2012.

    Pairs of Super Bowl tickets have been listed for anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 on eBay.

    Here's a list of the best goods being offered up on Craigslist in exchange for some tix.

    1. Vacation to Cancun, Mexico or Jamaica

    2. Rolex

    3. Two Samsung laptops

    4. Freezer

    5. Photos of Super Bowl XXIX Champions San Francisco 49ers

    6. Snow-blower

    7. Masters Badges for Augusta National Golf Club

    Or if you're like the rest of America, chances are you'll be watching the big game from the comfort of your home or local bar with friends and family. A 24-year-old from Fayetteville, Ark., on the other hand, could use some company: 

    Main art via betdsi/remix by Fernando Alfonso 

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    When 24-year-old Corbin Corona posted his saccharine-drenched music video "SuperStar" to YouTube Jan. 21, he wasn't intending to punt the hornet's nest known as Reddit.

    But that's exactly what happened. Ten days later, his video was linked to r/cringe, a popular Reddit subgroup with more than 100,000 users, devoted to "videos you see that are too embarrassing to watch all the way through." Corona's clip was given the condemning headline "Rich kid's parents pay for music video, fake views, and fake twitter follows: Absolute cringe."

    In less than 24 hours, the posting was the most popular and controversial link on the forum. Redditors blasted Corona for his rich upbringing, digging up personal information to suggest that his parents were behind his inflated YouTube count and Twitter followers.

    "He grew up in Highland Park Texas, where the average house price is 1.6 million dollars," he wrote. "His parents, for example, owned a 5 million dollar house. All the black girls that appear in the video are hired actors because just .9 percent of the population of Highland Park is black."

    "All the youtube commenters are clearly bots, all registered on May 5th/6th, 2012," user beeperbeeper noted.

    That was enough to get the hate train rolling. Pretty soon, vengeful redditors started combing through Corona's tweets to look for proof of fraudulence. The first bit of condemning evidence was this picture Corona tweeted:

    Search engine results contradict his claim that she's a real Corona fan.

    Another Reddit user ran Corona's Twitter account through Twitteraudit, a service that lets you know what percentage of your followers on the social media platform are spambots. According to the site, less than 0.35 percent of his subscribers are legitimate. 

    It wasn't just his Twitter account that was being put through the wringer. JesusCakeDay posted the screenshot below showing how several YouTube commenters had suspiciously left comments on the same videos (click for bigger):

    Then there's this awful Dallas Observer article from 2004 that chronicled a young Corona trying to break into Hollywood at age 14. The kid had appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno where he amused guests with his collection of cow crap. The trek out West was a costly one for the Corona family, who reportedly spent close to $84,000 a year on acting classes for Corbin.

    Oh yeah, and let's not forget this photograph, published in D Magazine, showing a glamorized Corona walking through some Dallas park.

    Commenters took the circumstantial evidence presented and quickly reached the conclusion that Corbin Corona was a fraud deserving of mockery.

    The detestation for all things Corona jumped from Reddit to the YouTube comment section, which resulted in a slew of disses.

    "You know you should be embarrassed when your video shows up in /r/cringe," wrote Mr11241982. 

    "Kids born into money have too much free time," opined ncreineke.

    And what was Corona's reaction to this whole fallout?

    He first took to the very thread that put him on blast, leaving a very lengthy and somewhat incoherent post where he addressed his antagonists. His comment was shortly deleted, but not before I screengrabbed it.

    Corona also used Twitter, responding to a barrage of harassing tweets with a justifiably defensive tone:

    I reached out to Corona to get his side of things. In our 20-minute conversation, Corona dismissed the notion that his parents were wealthy and had bankrolled "SuperStar."

    "My parents come from nothing," he told me. "I made all the money myself. Everything I do here is done by me."

    The aspiring musician did confirm that his family paid for his shot at stardom, but shrugged it off.

    "It's called debt. Because my parents are great and support me and my dreams, they took out their hard working money to give me a chance to see what I could do. I was 14-years-old. How the hell was I supposed to have money to do all those things?"

    Corona also accused beeperbeeper, the creator of the thread, of being a jealous ex-classmate.

    "I think what happened was that I had an article just released in D Magazine and somebody saw that shit and figured 'oh this white boy's got money,'" Corona noted. "It seems that I pissed someone off who claims he went to elementary school with me."

    "It's just funny, man. This guy is sitting in front of their computer, protected behind a screen, and just saying what he wants to say. I wish I could know who put that shit out there because I don't understand how a person can hate so much."

    Beeperbeeper's Reddit account appears to have been created for the sole purpose of ridiculing Corona on the popular social news site. I direct-messaged that user seeking comment for this piece, but have not received a reply as of yet.

    Buying artificial YouTube views is ridiculously easy. We spent $50 and wound up with nearly 120,000. Anyone can do it, including major music labels and pop stars like Lady Gaga, and get away with it for years.

    Corona denies that he or his parents paid someone to utilize black-hat techniques to artificially inflate his video's view count and his Twitter followers. Proving otherwise is next to impossible because there's no paper trail.

    In the end, having his video linked to r/cringe may end up benefiting Corona in the long run. He might have been the subject of Reddit's ridicule for a day, but that resulted in actual and legitimate view counts.

    Photo via Corbin Corona/YouTube

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    It was one of those moments that seemed to show the real power of social networking. Swedish 17-year-old Simon Berneblad had left his home to go shopping and then just disappeared. A whole day passed without a word. So his father posted a message to Facebook:

    "Has anyone seen our Simon?" Mats Berneblad asked. "Please share this post so more can help us find him."

    More than 24,000 people clicked the share button. It was a Facebook manhunt. And it was all based on a hoax.

    Simon's father isn't named Mats. Simon was never missing. Someone was playing a cruel joke on him and his family.

    "It feels really terrible, you get scared," Simon, who said he had no part in the hoax, told Swedish site Nyheter24. "But above all I feel violated, truly violated."

    This is hardlythefirsthoax to go viral on Facebook, but it’s certainly among the cruelest.

    As the hoax spread, the Berneblad home was hit with dozens of phone calls from concerned friends and family.

    "The first thing they saw when they logged in to Facebook is that Simon is gone," Simon's mother, Helena, told Nyheter24. "It's been really tough."

    Simon heard that he was supposedly missing from a friend, who called him up to ask if he was OK. He said the police have interviewed him and are looking into the case, and that he thinks it may have been instigated by someone who followed his channel on YouTube, where he's been trolled before.

    "I hope they get to the bottom of who's behind all this," Simon said. "The truth is always revealed in the end."

    Meanwhile, the hoaxer hasn't quit. After blaming the abduction on "foreigners," he killed off the fictional Simon late Thursday night.

    Photo via Facebook

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    Super Bowl weekend is upon us, and as the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens prepare to take the field Sunday, Twitter is already buzzing about the big game.

    There's a lot on the line in New Orleans, as two teams prepare to clash in the battle to become the world champion of a one-country professional league. 

    The 49ers are by far the most discussed team on Twitter over the last week, according to Topsy, with more than 358,000 tweets bearing the team's name. The Ravens drew more than 243,000 tweets over the same time period.

    While tweet volume is by no means an indicator of success, there's a lot more buzz around the Niners, suggesting that team is the Twitter community's favorite going into the game.

    Or it could just mean a lot of people are angry about 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver's anti-gay comments this week.

    Nate Silver, the statistician who correctly predicted the result of all 50 states in last year's presidential election, believes the 49ers will win too. And who knows? If you're Super Bowl–savvy, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is ponying up cash to those who can predict the winner or answer his trivia questions.

    Here are some tweets of support and disdain people sent over the last few days:

    Wonder who that guy's backing?

    Sorry, Niners fans, a terrible person is backing your team.

    Those seem like two excellent justifications for any opinion.

    I'd rather have Nikki Sixx in my corner than Donald Trump any day.

    All for one, and one for Bowl.

    It'll be all your fault if the Ravens lose, Kramer.

    Photo by MDGovpics/Flickr

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    A second grade class from Elmwood Franklin School in Buffalo, New York, has made Twitter its personal grammar playground after a teacher asked his or her students to correct sentence structure, noun and verb usage, spelling, and punctuation in tweets from NFL players.

    The unnamed teacher posted photos on Facebook of his or her students holding large pieces of paper with corrected tweets on them. They include tweets from New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young, and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver.

    Culliver has been the most hated football player of the week after the 24-year-old insulted the LGBT community during Super Bowl press day on Tuesday.

    "I don't do the gay guys, man," Culliver told radio host Artie Lange. "I don't do that. No."

    Culliver has since apologized for his statements claiming that the "discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart."

    Culliver and the 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII Sunday at 6:30 pm ET. Maybe between now and then he can learn a thing or two about proper grammar.

    Photo via Elmwood Franklin School/Facebook

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    It's getting progressively worse for the San Francisco 49ers.

    On Wednesday, cornerback Chris Culliver became embroiled in controversy thanks to anti-gay comments. During an interview with Artie Lange, the radio show host asked if there were any gay players on the team.

    "Nah," answered Culliver. "We ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah, can't be in the locker room." He apologized a day later claiming his comments did not mirror the feelings "in my heart."

    But that was just the beginning.

    Now two players who starred in the NFL team's It Gets Better video--which is meant to support gay youth who are victims of bullying--now suddenly denied their participation altogether. 49ers' linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga told USA Today that they didn't remember taping it.

    After a reporter showed them the video, Brooks replied: "Oh, that. It was an anti-bullying video, not a gay (rights) video." He thought the video was a general anti-bullying video, not aimed specifically at gay youth. Sopoaga had a similar response. He claimed someone was impersonating him--until the reporter jogged his memory with the video.

    On Thursday, It Gets Better founder Dan Savage pulled the video. He lashed out against the players on Twitter.

    Savage told Outsports that he took it down because he only wants to highlight supporters of the the campaign.

    “We don’t want videos of people who didn’t realize what they were doing,” said Savage. “It’s a project specifically aimed at LGBT kids and their unique need for support and role models.”

    A re-edited video featuring players defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois and safety Donte Whitner, whom recall taking part in the video, was released Friday.


    Photo via Outsports/YouTube

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    It might not be "catfishing" in the strictest sense, but the University of Michigan apparently taught its football players the dangers of social networking the hard way.

    Michigan reportedly hired Florida-based 180 Communications Inc., which offers public relations and media training and often has athletes for clients. As part of the arrangement, a female employee of 180 Communications friended players on Facebook and followed them on Twitter. She then compiled a report of what they said, assistant athletic director David Ablauf told Crain's Detroit Business. quoted coach Brady Hoke saying 180 Communications got his players good in late 2012:

    ""He had his assistant -- she tried to talk to our guys. 'Hey, what are ya doin'?' Whatever it might be.

    "Well, two months later we're in a team meeting and we're on the topic of what you put out there in the cyber universe ... you should have seen 115 guys when that young lady -- she was hot, now; a very, very nice looking young lady -- when she walked into that meeting room, and the guys looking at each other.

    "Because some of them didn't use their heads when communicating back and forth with that young lady."

    Ablauf, however, said that the the woman had limited contact with the players.

    "She would go through their accounts and find stuff that was either in inappropriate for the public or could be misconstrued," but did not ‘catfish,’" Ablauf insisted.

    The subtext to this, of course, is that Manti Te'o, former star linebacker for Michigan rival Notre Dame, said in January that he was the victim of a massive "catfishing" scam after Deadspin reported his deceased "girlfriend" never existed. 180 Communications's blog post about Te'o is titled "Surviving a PR Nightmare."

    Kyle Rowland, an Ohio State University blogger who attended a speech by Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, said Brandon's description of the events was "most certainly" catfishing—but that that wouldn't be a bad thing.

    "There was no public shaming," he tweeted. "I see many OSU fans bashing Michigan and Brandon, but I think it's smart to educate players."

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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    On Oct. 13, 1996, 35-year-old Sharon Lopatka left her Hampstead, Maryland, home to travel to North Carolina. Sharon had told her husband, Victor, that she was traveling to Georgia to visit friends. One week later, Victor was surprised to discover a mysterious note written by his wife suggesting instead a bizarre, clandestine trip.

    Victor immediately called the police, who looked for evidence to Sharon's whereabouts on her computer. They found emails suggesting that Sharon had visited someone in Lenoir, North Carolina. On Oct. 25, 1996, North Carolina police found Sharon's decomposing naked body buried a short distance from the trailer of the person she went to visit. Her hands and feet had been bound with rope and a nylon cord had been strung around her neck. Investigators also found scrape marks around her neck and breasts. According to the Associated Press, the medical examiner determined that she died of strangulation—the violent death Sharon had wished for.

    Breaking away

    Sharon Denburg was the oldest of four daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. Abraham J. Denburg in 1961. The family lived in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. Sharon Denburg’s parents were devout Orthodox Jews, who were active in the Beth Tfiloh Congregation. Abraham Denburg was, in fact, a cantor at Beth Tfiloh, Baltimore’s largest Orthodox Jewish synagogue. His daughter Sharon had been active in sports, sang in the school choir and perceived by classmates to be “as normal as you can get,” wrote the North Carolina News & Observer on Nov. 3, 1996.

    In 1991, Sharon married Victor, a Catholic and an Ellicott City, Maryland, construction worker. Sharon’s parents did not approve of the marriage. A former high school classmate told the Washington Post on Nov. 3, 1996, that the marriage was Sharon’s “way of breaking away.” Sharon moved with her husband to a small, ranch-style tract house in Hampstead, Maryland, in the early 1990s. They had no children.

    Sharon began several small Internet business ventures from her home to make some extra money. In her business, “Classified Concepts,” she rewrote ad copy for advertisers for $50 per ad. She also operated several other Web sites, where she sold psychic readings and advice. On the sites, Sharon would also post ads selling other services, with a 1-900 number, for which she would receive a percentage of the revenue. Another way she made money was by advertising pornographic videos.

    Under the pseudonym Nancy Carlson, Sharon sold videos of unconscious women having sexual intercourse. According to the Augusta Chronicle on Nov. 4, 1996, one excerpt from her ad from Oct. 1, 1996, stated that she had, “Just made a video of actual women...willing and unwilling to be...knocked out...drugged...under hypnosis and chloroformed.” Sharon even went so far as to advertise her own undergarments online, which read, “Is there anyone out there interested in buying my worn panties...” Sharon had no qualms about advertising and selling products that would appeal to the lurid sexual fantasies and fetishes of her customers. She also had her own risqué sexual fantasies that she actively sought to fulfill.

    Net full of fantasies

    Sharon used the Internet for a variety of purposes, such as to obtain business ideas and make money. However, she also used the Internet to interact with a larger variety of people who shared her unconventional interests. She often ventured into hard core pornographic chat rooms where subscribers would openly discuss their interests in necrophilia, bondage, fetishes and sadomasochism.

    She used numerous pseudonyms and multiple personae in her Internet messages. Using these “masks” allowed her anonymity and the freedom to pursue her unusual fantasies. According to the Washington Post, on Nov. 3, 1996, one message Sharon posted stated that she had, “a fascination with torturing till death.” Some of the identities she assumed during the chat room sessions included a 300-pound strict dominatrix and disciplinarian, a screen actress named Nancy Carlson who would offer to star in customized sex videos for a price, and a shapely 5-foot-6 beauty.

    The News & Observer found more than 50 such messages of Sharon’s over several months. Many were found on Internet sites such as and The overriding theme of Sharon’s messages was that she wanted to be tortured and killed. Often, she would post messages on the Internet looking for a man to satisfy her wish. A sex rights activist named Tanith, who often visited the sites, told the Washington Post that she became concerned with Sharon’s bizarre messages. On Nov. 3, 1996, the Post quoted Tanith saying that Sharon was “going to chat rooms and asking to be tortured to death.” Tanith had tried to stop her, but Sharon refused. Sharon replied to the woman, “I want the real thing. I did not ask for you preaching to me.”

    The Baltimore Sun learned that there were numerous responses to Sharon’s messages offering to fulfill her fantasy. Most eventually withdrew when they discovered that Sharon’s requests were serious. But there was one man willing to give Sharon exactly what she desired.


    Robert "Bobby" Frederick Glass was a 45-year-old computer analyst who worked for the Catawba County, North Carolina, government. According to the Washington Post, Bobby was a productive worker who was responsible for programming tax rolls and keeping track of the gas consumption of county vehicles. He worked for Catawba County for almost 16 years.

    Bobby was also a computer enthusiast according to Sherri, his wife of 14 years. But in an interview with the Washington Post, she lamented that he had more passion for his hard drive than his marriage. Sherri Glass stated in an interview that her husband had lost his attraction for her. Sherri said the "final straw" was when her children asked why their father didn’t love her any longer. In May 1996, Bobby and Sherri separated. Shortly thereafter, Sherri moved from the family home with their three children, daughters aged 10 and 7, and a son, 6.

    It may have been more than a lack of love that caused the breakup of the Glass family. According to Sherri Glass, there were other marital problems that few had known about. Daily, Bobby had spent countless hours typing on his computer, and Sherri eventually became suspicious. One day she logged on and found worrisome e-mails saved on the hard disk. The messages, she told theWashington Post, which had been posted under the pseudonyms Toyman and Slowhand, alarmed her because of their "raw, violent and disturbing" nature.

    After dinner one evening, she confronted her husband. Sherri later said that "all of the color had drained out of his face." She realized that there was "this side to him" that was unknown to her. Despite this alarming discovery, Sherri recalled him as generally pleasant, hard working and amiable.

    A sadomasochistic soirée

    In August 1996, Bobby and Sharon became acquainted while visiting the various sexually oriented Internet chat rooms. Bobby displayed a fetish for inflicting pain, whereas Sharon exhibited a desire to be tortured. In an e-mail message to Bobby, Sharon asked him to fulfill her fantasy. She wrote to Bobby that she wanted to be bound and strangled as she approached an orgasm. Bobby responded to her message by describing in depth how he would fulfill her wish. E-mail correspondence between the two lasted for several months. An investigator of the Lopatka case, Captain Danny Barlow of North Carolina’s Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department said “if you put all their messages together, you’d have a very large novel.” Police were able to recover almost 900 pages of e-mails from Sharon and Bobby’s computers.

    On the morning of Oct. 13, 1996, Sharon drove her blue Honda Civic to the train depot in Baltimore, Maryland, telling Victor that she was going to visit friends in Georgia. Instead, she boarded the 9:15 a.m. train to Charlotte, North Carolina. At about 8:45 p.m. that evening, she arrived in Charlotte where Bobby was waiting. Together they drove 80 miles from the station in his pickup truck to his trailer home in Lenoir, North Carolina. The events that followed later became a source of speculation among investigators.

    The Daily Telegraph reported that in the note that Sharon left for Victor, she said that she would not be returning and told him not to go after her killer. She also wrote, “If my body is never retrieved, don’t worry: know that I’m at peace.”

    On Oct. 30, 1996, South Coast Today reported that after the police department’s newly developed Computer Crime Unit found substantial evidence in Sharon’s computer linking her to Bobby Glass, police in North Carolina monitored Bobby’s trailer for several days. It was hoped that Sharon would be found alive at his residence, but she was not seen during the stake-out.

    On Oct. 25, Judge Beal issued police a search warrant for Bobby’s trailer. Investigators arrived at Bobby’s home while he was at work. The property surrounding the turquoise trailer was littered with rotten garbage and abandoned toys. The interior was equally dirty and cluttered. Still, they found items belonging to Sharon, as well as drug and bondage paraphernalia, child pornography, a pistol and thousands of computer disks.

    Seventy-five feet from the trailer, an officer discovered a fresh mound of soil. After digging only 2 ½ feet beneath the mound, they found Sharon’s decomposing remains. Caldwell County investigator, D. A. Brown, told The Washington Post that if the body had been buried in the woodlands behind the trailer, “we would have never found her.” That same day, police arrested Bobby at his workplace. According to Capital News Service, the Lopatka case was the first time a police unit captured a murder suspect based primarily on evidence obtained from e-mail messages.

    While in custody, Bobby was interviewed about the events surrounding the alleged murder of Sharon. He told investigators that for several days he and Sharon had acted out their violent sexual fantasies in his trailer. He confessed that Sharon had willingly allowed him to tie her up with rope and probe her with objects around the house. Bobby also admitted that Sharon allowed him to tie a rope around her neck and tighten it as she climaxed during intercourse. But Bobby claimed to have accidentally strangled Sharon to death, while in the throws of violent sexual play, according to his lawyer Neil Beach. Bobby was later quoted as saying, “I don’t know how much I pulled the rope ... I never wanted to kill her, but she ended up dead.”

    The body of Sharon Lopatka was sent to Dr. John Butts, North Carolina’s chief medical examiner. The autopsy report stated the cause of death as strangulation. Other tests showed some inconclusive evidence of sexual torture or mutilation. Butts believed that Sharon died three days after she arrived in North Carolina. In an interview with the Associated Press, on November 1, 1996, Neil Beach said that the autopsy reports supported his client’s claim that the death was accidental. “It is hard for me to believe the woman was tortured for three days if the medical examiner of North Carolina couldn’t find any indication of that ... It’s much easier to understand or picture an accident occurring during sexual activity than it is to conjure up an image of this man as a cold blooded, premeditated killer,” Beach said.

    Search warrant affidavits released by police stated that Sharon intended to meet Bobby specifically to be tortured and killed. Capt. Danny Barlow considered a death under such circumstances to be deliberate, not accidental. According to police, the e-mails written under the pseudonym “Slowhand” detailing how he was going to kill Sharon provided further evidence that the death was premeditated. Bobby was charged with first-degree murder and held without bond in the Caldwell County Jail. On October 26, Superior Court Judge Beverly T. Beal issued a gag order to those directly involved in the case.

    Regardless of the court order, the media obtained enough information to sensationalize the Lopatka case. Most of the news stories focused on the dangers of Internet-mediated meetings. Sharon’s death spawned debates and discussion groups worldwide. Many called for censorship of the Internet to prevent such deaths and to protect children. Conversely, anti-censorship activists argued that the Internet was a useful tool, allowing people to express themselves more freely and to voice their ideas, thoughts and views in an open forum, often anonymously.

    The Mardi Gras phenomenon is a term used by psychologists to describe the ability to mask oneself and assume a variety of personalities, allowing one to speak and act freely with little or no consequence. This phenomenon is particularly prevalent on the Internet, where users can express themselves freely and anonymously in online chat rooms and news groups.

    A psychological and historical perspective

    Sharons death and the publicity surrounding the case led to an increased interest in understanding deviant sexual behaviors, especially sadism, masochism and the use of asphyxia during sexual intercourse. Psychologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing first coined the terms sadist and masochist to describe behavior in which sexual arousal was achieved through the infliction or reception of pain.

    According to Rebers Dictionary of Psychology, sadism is the association of sexual pleasure with the inflicting of physical and psychic pain upon another, including humiliation, exploitation and debasement. Masochism refers to any tendency to direct that which is destructive, painful or humiliating against oneself. Psychologist Sigmund Freud was the first to combine the two terms into sadomasochism in an attempt to emphasize the reciprocity of the use of pain during sexual intercourse (Des de Moor, 1997).

    A controversial form of deviant sexual play practiced by some sadomasochists involves the use of strangulation. Sexual strangulation is referred to by the psychological community as a form of asphyxiophilia. Asphyxiophilia refers to the general practice of controlling or restricting oxygen to the brain by interfering with the breath directly or through pressure on the carotid arteries in order to achieve sexual gratification (The Deviants Dictionary, 1997). Often, the hands or a tourniquet of some sort is tied around the throat during sexual intercourse or masturbation to achieve a feeling of euphoria and elation, which accompanies a lack of oxygen to the brain. Supposedly, this can increase the intensity of an orgasm.

    According to The Deviants Dictionary, sexual strangulation practiced with a partner is a form of edge play, in which ones life is literally in the hands of another. Supposedly, the thrill lay in the danger and vulnerability associated with the activity. However, there have been cases in which such edge play had resulted in an unintentional death. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 250 deaths occur every year in the United States involving strangulation or chokeholds during sexual activity. A large majority of these deaths have occurred during auto-erotic asphyxiation, in which one restricts ones own oxygen during masturbation or solo play. Jay Wiseman of the Society for Human Sexuality says that only a few of those cases resulting in a death, due to strangulation or chokeholds, have involved sexual play with a partner.

    There are many theories to explain why some people participate in deviant sexual behavior such as sexual strangulation. One theory suggests that deprivation of normal social sexual contact or childhood trauma cause such behaviors (Nathan, Gorman and Salkind, 1999). There are also theories based on physiological causes of deviant sexual behavior that focus on the relationship between sexual hormones and the central nervous system (Psychology Today, 1999). Currently, there is no evidence that suggests that either Sharon or Bobby suffered from early childhood trauma, abnormal sexual experiences or hormonal dysfunction.

    What makes their case exceptional is that Sharon ventured into the relationship with one apparent intention to die. Thus, Sharon was a suicidal masochist. However, she was not the first in history to seek out a willing participant who would fulfill a request to be strangled to death for sexual gratification.

    Knud R. Joergensen wrote in 1995 about the 1791 case of composer Franz Kotzwara who enlisted the help of a London prostitute, Susannah Hill, to assist him with his bizarre wish. After paying Hill two shillings, Kotzwara asked her to cut off his genitalia a request the prostitute refused. Yet, Hill did agree to fulfill Kotzwaras sexual wish of strangling himself with a rope. It was the first documented case of death by sexual strangulation. Hill was eventually arrested for Kotzwaras murder, but later acquitted when authorities learned that she was more or less an innocent bystander, unlike Bobby Glass, who more than 200 years later faced first-degree murder charges for the sexual strangulation death of Sharon Lopatka. The charge was eventually reduced to voluntary manslaughter.

    The case against Bobby Glass stretched on for three years following several lengthy delays. On Jan. 27, 2000, Bobby pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, as well as six counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. The latter charges resulted from the pornographic material found on Bobbys computer. Bobby was sentenced to 36 to 53 months in prison for the manslaughter of Sharon Lopatka and 21 to 26 months for the possession of child pornography.

    He was sent to Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution in North Carolina. On Feb. 20, 2002, two weeks before his release, Bobby Glass had a heart attack. He was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m. at Spruce Pine Community Hospital in North Carolina.

    By Rachael Bell

    Main photo via Crime Library/AP/Wide World; photos of Sharon Lopatka and Bobby Glass via Crime Library

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    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been accused of a lot of criminal activity: cheating an early investor out of his share of the company's profits; cheating a fellow cofounder out of his share of the company's profits; cheating a pair of hulking, privileged rowers out of a share of the company's profits; and criminal blasphemy.

    But so far, he's stayed out of handcuffs for what he's done with his social network.

    But not everyone's so cautious. Since the company's launch in 2004, a number of users have gotten arrested for what they've posted to Facebook, whether it's threats of violence, child pornography, or photographic evidence of theft.

    In honor of the company's ninth anniversary, here are nine individuals, most of them quite dumb, who have been arrested for something as simple and avoidable as a Facebook post.

    1)Jason Moss

    As his 20-year high school reunion loomed, Jason Moss reportedly posted on Facebook: “I'm still seeking vengeance on all those who bullied and harassed me when I was growing up or went to school. You people do not know what you did to me."  He “would have started the Columbine shootings early," he added.

    Local news reported that 150 alumni attended the reunion. Moss, though he RSVP'd, didn't make it.

    Instead, he spent the night in jail.

    Moss was released the next day on bond after police decided he wasn't a legitimate threat.

    2) Jacob Cox-Brown

    Everyone knows alcohol impairs your judgement and your ability to drive a car. What’s less studied is just how much booze affects your Facebooking.

    Jacob Cox-Brown, an 18-year-old from Oregon, failed on both counts when he drove home, logged onto Facebook, and wrote: "Drivin drunk… classic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :p."

    His post didn’t count as a legally admissible confession. But police, tipped by one of Brown's friends, drove to his house and found that his car matched one described in a hit-and-run case—in the same neighborhood and the same day as Brown's Facebook post. They booked him on two counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver.

    3) Shahien Dhada

    Dhada, 21, was less than impressed that her city of Mumbai was closing down to memorialize the founder of India's controversial Shiv Sena party. "People...are born and die daily and one should not observe a [major service] for that,” she wrote.

    Dhada, along with a friend who liked that status, were promptly arrested under 66A of India’s heavily criticized Information Technology Act, which criminalizes "abusing" another person online. The two friends, who were soon released, have since become the face of the law's absurdity, prompting politicians to call for the amendment of the act.

    If you have to be arrested for being irreverent on Facebook about a politician's death, it's gotta be a nice consolation prize to see your government debate changing the law because you caused international controversy.

    4) Charles Rodriguez

    This dude had the idea for the perfect heist: He stole two briefcases full of diamonds in the U.K., then flew to his native Colombia, where he wouldn't be extradited.

    But he forgot one thing: It's not smart to return back to the country where you're wanted for assault, as a vacation, and then to post pictures of your sightseeing to Facebook.

    Rodriguez, thought to be a member of the Latin Kings gang, safely snuck back into England by travelling under an assumed name. But British cops hadn't stopped monitoring his page, deduced he was back in the country, and nabbed him while he was driving.

    5) Michael Baker

    Gas prices are high, sure, but maybe the Kentucky man who stole straight from a police cruiser should have found a payment plan for a hybrid.

    Michael Baker, 20, posted a photo to Facebook of himself siphoning fuel straight from a cop car, flipping off the camera as he did it. Friends quickly shared it, and it wasn't long before Jenkins, Ky., police had their evidence.

    Baker indicated to his Facebook friends that he wasn't too sorry, later posting “just got out of jail,” “yea lol i went too jail over facebook,” and "yea lol u would just have to seen it it was funny as hell” to his wall.

    6) John Doe (England)

    A young man from Gloucester, England, was arrested after he posted a clip of two 14-year-olds having sex to an open Facebook page.

    If it helps, he was one of them.

    The young man could be charged with creating illicit video of a minor, one officer warned. Ultimately Gloucester cops dropped the charges, though they issued him a final warning, which will stay on his police record until 2020.

    7) Akbar Baraki

    Most Facebook users took to the site express grief after the Newton Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead. But Southern California's Akbar Baraki, described by his father as "not normal," was not one of them.

    "Newtown is just the begging [sic] of the attacks ...... more kids must be killed if anyone watched the bin laden movie will be shot at site.... this is a final warring [sic] to all Americans," he wrote.

    Concerned that the remarks were a threat, especially considering how close Baraki, 37, lived to an elementary school, the LAPD raided his home. There, they found two air rifles—which were barred from Baraki’s possession, since he was on probation for drug charges.

    8) John Doe (Canada)

    A Canadian middle schooler was "scarred for life," according to his mother, after he was arrested for posting cell phone footage of two female classmates fighting to Facebook.

    In the video, one girl tries to walk away, but her opponent grabs her by her backpack and throws her to the ground, then punches her repeatedly while bystanders laugh. An officer said that posting the clip interfered with the girls' reasonable use of Facebook and charged him with criminal mischief.

    9) Brower Boys

    A NYC cop, trying to stop a ring of breaking and entering cases, befriended a number of members of Brooklyn's Brower Boys gang. Then, he sat back and watched as 14 teenagers took turns bragging on Facebook about their exploits

    Officer Michael Rodrigues didn't move in on the gang until one of them updated his Facebook status to say It's break-in day on the avenue."

    At least one member called his colleagues out, posting “you all just gave yourself away” after one confession.

    Technically, this might up our tally to 22.

    All photos via Facebook

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    It took until only the start of the second half of the Super Bowl for the number of game-related tweets to surpass last year's total.

    During the National Football League championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, sports fans sent more than 24.1 million tweets about the clash and the halftime show. By way of comparison, the 2012 game saw 13.7 million tweets.

    The largest spike in activity occurred when the lights went out during a partial power outage at the New Orleans Superdome. Twitter peaked at 231,500 tweets per minute (TPM). Jokers came out in force, with The Dark Knight Rises gags aplenty:

    Inevitably, parodies such as @SuperBowlLights and @TheSBLights cropped up, with the latter snagging more than 15,000 followers.

    The longest kickoff return in NFL history at the start of the second half brought 185,000 TPM, just a shade more than at the end of the game, which had a peak of 183,000 TPM.

    Beyoncé's halftime show scooped up around 5.5 million tweets. 

    The end of her set was the big talking point for many fans, as the tweet volume hit 268,000 TPM. 

    The Destiny's Child reunion (257,500 TPM) and Beyoncé's hit "Single Ladies" (252,500 TPM) also proved topics of wide discussion.

    Twitter also noted that around half of the ads that aired during the game included hashtags, up from about a fifth last year. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Twitter noted that the Puppy Bowl saw around 500,000 tweets, because everyone turned to the puppies during the blackout.

    The Puppy Bowl scooped just under half as many tweets as President Barack Obama did for his second inauguration two weeks ago (1.1 million tweets). 

    Meanwhile, the Super Bowl wasn't quite as popular on Twitter as the presidential election, which saw more than 31 million tweets.

    Photo by Au Kirk/Flickr

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    It took several months for scientists and researchers at the University of Leicester to confirm that the remains they found under a parking lot were once the most famous king in English history—and it took Twitter only 0.000002 seconds to make a "my kingdom for a horse" joke. 

    Richard the Third is by far the most villainous—or perhaps the most misunderstood—of the English kings: the fabled hunchback long-rumored to have ordered the murders of his own nephews, the famous princes in the tower. Though Richard was immortalized in Shakespeare’s play Richard III as an ill-tempered man twisted by greed and a physical disfigurement, historians have long known that rumors of the king’s villainy have been greatly exaggerated. 

    And it’s hard not to feel sorry for the body unearthed under a slab in a Leicester parking lot in August, only officially confirmed to be the king after DNA testing with the cooperation of the royal family.

    The 500-year-old cadaver had his skull split by a sword and bludgeoned at least 8 times, and a barbed arrowhead stuck in his back. 

    Today we learned that not only are the remains, discovered in August, actually those of the king, we learned that the mythical “hunchback” was a lie.

    The king, like many citizens, suffered instead from early-onset scoliosis, and there’s nothing to suggest that he had a “withered arm,” as Shakespeare wrote.

    But when you’re the most horrible king in literary history, the joke is on you—and on Twitter this morning, the jokes were rampant, as “Richard the Third” trended worldwide.

    Illustration by

    Screengrab via YouTube

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    Nine years ago, a couple of college kids from Harvard changed the world with the launch of a social network.

    At the time, catered exclusively to students at prestigious American universities.

    Since then, the company changed its name (dropping "the"), expanded its focus to cater to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address, and fundamentally changed the way individuals connect online.

    In honor of its ninth anniversary, we have compiled nine significant events—in chronological order—that have helped Facebook become the social network behemoth that it is today.

    1)  Mark Zuckerberg creates FaceMash

    In October 2003, Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg created FaceMash, a site that took women's photographs from the online directories of Harvard's residential houses and placed randomly placed two of them next to each other. Users were then supposed to pick the more attractive person.

    FaceMash was crass and wholly different from what Facebook is now. But the little drunken venture taught Zuckerberg a very important lesson. "People are more voyeuristic than what I would have thought," he once said in a deposition, according to Rolling Stone.

    The FaceMash incident also resulted in a Harvard Crimson editorial that called for a campus-wide directory. In yet another deposition, Zuckerberg credited this as inspiration for what would eventually become the first incarnation of his social network.

    “I basically took that article ... and made a site with those exact privacy controls and that was Facebook."

    2) Facebook opens to the public

    Photo via Facebook Craze

    In its first months, the social network site was only available to students who attended a handful of universities—mostly Ivy League and Boston-area schools. In September 2005, high school students were allowed to join the site. Soon thereafter, Zuckerberg opened the site to employees of certain companies. On Sep. 26, 2006, he opened the floodgates to anyone over the age of 13.

    The decision was met with skepticism by Facebook users at the time. Many thought that it would be the end of the site and that Facebook couldn't possibly compete with the much bigger MySpace, which had 49.1 million members. Zuckerberg's site had roughly 9 million.

    "I don't see this going well for Facebook," one armchair analyst wrote in the comments section of a Mashable article on the announcement.

    That person was, of course, wrong. The little site that could overtook its much larger competitor and went on to become the largest social network in the world, breaking the one billion active users threshold this past October.

    3) Facebook rejects Yahoo's offer to buy it for $1 billion

    In July 2005, News Corporation bought MySpace for $580 million. Close to a year later, Yahoo came knocking at Facebook's door hoping to buy the social network for $1 billion.

    The sale almost went through, too—Mark Zuckerberg had reportedly made a handshake deal with Yahoo COO Dan Rosensweig—but then Yahoo's stock took a tumble. They lowered their offer, which Zuckerberg turned down.

    This turn of events was probably one of the best things to have happened to Facebook. Just look at MySpace.

    The former social giant began to bleed money and users. In 2009, the company laid off roughly 30 percent of its staff. In 2011, News Corporation cut their losses and sold MySpace to Specific Media for $35 million.

    Facebook was the polar opposite.The social network grew exponentially, hitting 100 million subscribers in August 2008. That figure tripled a little over a year later.

    Zuckerberg & Co. were free to build and grow the social network without being held accountable to a parent company, one which may have demanded or pressured them to focus on making as much money as possible.

    4)  Facebook introduces News Feed

    Photo via NuclearWarfare/Wikipedia

    Facebook dramatically changed the site's user experience when the company announced News Feed on Sept. 5, 2006.

    The feature created an updated list of your friends' activity—birthdays, photo albums, relationship status, who they had friended, etc.—and placed it front and center on the home page. Before News Feed, users would see their own profile upon logging on to Facebook.

    News Feed made it easier for users to keep tabs on their friends, no longer requiring them to resort to clicking on individual profiles to get this information.

    As has usually been the case with just about every feature or redesign Facebook introduces, users fought back. Amongst their major complaints about News Feed was that it didn't give users much control over what information was being shared about them. They created Facebook groups condemning the lack of privacy settings, and they launched a campaign calling for users to boycott Facebook for a day.

    The uproar was loud enough that Mark Zuckerberg heard it. Just three days after launching News Feed, Zuckerberg apologized.

    "We really messed this one up," admitted the site's founder.

    "Somehow we missed this point with [News Feed] and we didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I'm sorry for it. But apologizing isn't enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls."

    The mea culpa largely appeased the masses. Despite it's initial hiccup, News Feed would go on to put the "social" in social network. It became an integral part of the Facebook experience, one that just about everyone takes for granted now.

    5) Facebook kills Beacon

    Image via DownloadSquad

    Whether it wants to admit it or not, the biggest social network in the world has a perception problem when it comes to privacy. That fact was made very apparent after the now infamous Beacon debacle.

    Introduced in November 2007, Beacon was an advertising platform that tracked user's activity on third-party partner websites—Blockbuster,, and others— for the sole purpose of sharing that information on people's Facebook profile. The hope was that friends would notice this activity, and they in turn would see that as an endorsement of a given product or brand.

    That didn't happen. Users were very uneasy about the fact that they were automatically enrolled in the program and had to opt out. And even if they did, that didn't mean that Facebook wasn't still collecting data from the third-party sites.

    Once again, Zuckerberg apologized and Facebook made Beacon an opt-in system. But that wasn't enough to prevent a class action lawsuit over the whole affair. In 2009, Facebook shut down Beacon as part of settlement.

    Sadly, this wasn't a lesson learned moment for Facebook. The company recently settled another class action lawsuit over its Sponsored Stories program.

    6) Facebook adds the like button

    Photo via Find Your Search/Flickr

    The Facebook like button is so ubiquitous that it's hard to imagine a time when it didn't exist.

    Launched on Feb. 9, 2009, the feature was originally meant to be a simple and time saving way to let your friends know that you enjoyed what they post it, whether it be a photograph, an interesting news article, or even a witty comment.

    In the nearly 4 years of its existence, the thumbs up button has evolved beyond being a quick form of online validation. It's become a digital form of free speech, at least according to Facebook and the American Civil Liberties Union.

    And thanks to a social plug-in launched in April 2010, the like button has accomplished something Facebook Beacon didn't do. It helped "people share information with their friends about things they do on the web." The Facebook like plug-in has become so pervasive that you can now like just about everything— a  bank, a celebrity, a website, this article.

    Beacon failed because individuals weren't initially given the option to participate. The like button has been successful because it relies on users explicitly consenting to share their online activity. Yes, there are somereasons for concern, but not enough to stop Facebook users from clicking the button more than 1 trillion times since February 2009.

    7) User suffrage

    In February 2009, Facebook rolled out the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, a document that granted users the right to vote on any future proposed changes to the site's terms of use.

    "History tells us that systems are most fairly governed when there is an open and transparent dialogue between the people who make decisions and those who are affected by them," Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. Facebook was bringing democracy to the masses!

    Except it didn't. While the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities did dictate that any and all new policy changes be put to a vote before they were implemented, the same document required that at least 30 percent of Facebook users actually vote. That never happened.

    Facebook finally decided to get rid of the the voting mechanism at the tail end of 2012, claiming that the site's exponential growth (it had surpassed the one billion active users mark the previous month) had made the practice unfeasible.

    That policy proposal was put to a vote. Facebook users turned out in record numbers. Unfortunately, the record was nowhere near close to the required 30 percent. Only 668,872 people cast a ballot in the final vote, or about 0.0668 percent of the total user base.

    8) Facebook goes public

    Facebook might not be held accountable to its more than one billion users, but it certainly has to answer to its stockholders.

    After years of fighting off multiple attempts to be purchased, Mark Zuckerberg finally made Facebook a publicly traded company on May 18, 2012, establishing a price of $38 per share of stock and moving more than 500 million shares in the first day of trading.

    Unfortunately for Facebook, the value of its stock began to plummet in the days after its IPO, losing roughly a quarter of its value to this day.

    Going public has pressured Facebook to increase revenue, which means that they have to squeeze out more money from you, the user. One of the ways the social network is planning on doing this is by shifting their focus on mobile.Rumors have also surfaced that Facebook is toying with the idea of incorporating autoplay video advertisements into people's News Feed.

    9) Facebook launches Graph Search

    Facebook announced earlier this month that it was rolling out Graph Search, a new search tool that combs through all the data available in your social network in order to provide you with more detailed information about your friends and their interests. Unlike a regular search engine, this new tool aims at giving you specific answers to specific questions.

    For example, if I were to ask Graph Search "Which of my friends were rooting for the Baltimore Ravens last night?", the search tool would give me a list of friends who have listed the new Super Bowl champions as one of their interests. Entering the same question into Google search would have brought up a series of related links pertaining to the Baltimore Ravens.

    Given that Graph Search is so new, we can only speculate about how it will affect Facebook's future. But I chose to include it on this list because I think it will have a major impact on how people interact with the world's largest social network.

    The fact that Zuckerberg himself considers Graph Search to be Facebook's "third pillar"— the other two being News Feed and timeline— is a good indicator of how important Graph Search may be. It has the potential to be a game changer for Facebook.

    Or it could very well be another Beacon.

    Image by Fernando Alfonso III

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