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Old Navy Store Accused of Hiding Black Workers During ‘Queer Eye’ Taping

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  • An Old Navy employee said that while Queer Eye was filming in her store, employees of color were told to work in the back while white workers brought in from other stores worked in the front by the cameras.
  • Old Navy said no employees were selected to appear on camera based on race.
  • Netflix said it had nothing to do with Old Navy’s staffing decisions, but noted that an African-American manager did appear on camera. 
  • Cast member Tan France echoed their statement and said he would not have allowed Old Navy to send people of color to the back.

Old Navy Employee Writes Facebook Post

An employee at a Philadelphia Old Navy claimed that workers of color were sent to the back of the store during the taping of an episode for Netflix’s Queer Eye.

Monae Alvarado wrote a Facebook post on Aug. 21, alleging that white employees from nearby stores were brought in to work at the Old Navy in Center City, Philadelphia, the store she usually works at. She said that most of her store’s employees are people of color and added that they worked overnight to get the store ready for filming, only to be hidden later on.

“Today they brought all these workers from other store around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white,” she wrote. “They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store. The shade I tell you.”

Alvarado’s post has since received a lot of online attention, with over 2.6 thousand likes and almost as many shares. After it spread its way across the Internet, Alvarado wrote a comment adding more details to her story. 

“I tried to get on the floor a few times but was shooed away,” she said. “I was told to go to the back of the store near the register where most of my co-workers were.”

She added that one employee asked to stay upstairs in the back by the toddler and baby section, while another was sent to the fitting room. 

“The rest of us were just standing in the back with nothing to do,” her comment continued. “They didn’t want us to move around while they were in the store filming. Even if my co-workers don’t mind, Old Navy is supposed to be a company that accepts ethnic diversity and they should show it. Unfortunately pushing their non-white employees out of sight for a white washed TV publicity show is not accepting ethnic diversity but it is just the opposite: prejudice, racism and discrimination.”

Monae was not the only Old Navy employee to say they experienced this. Two others, who chose not to be named, spoke to Philadelphia Magazine. One said they were under the impression they would be on camera once the cameras arrived. 

Another said they “felt the racism” once they were told to go to areas of the store they usually do not work in. 

“It became clear that we weren’t going to be filmed because we hadn’t been asked to sign consent forms,” the employee added. “And they made it a point to keep us as far away from the cameras as possible. Most of the staff and managers at our store location are black.”

Outrage Sparked Online

As this story gained more traction, it sparked online outrage. One user said that whoever is responsible for this “needs to be fired.” 

Another accused the critically acclaimed Netflix show of whitewashing.

Some also called for a boycott of both the show and the store.

Old Navy and ‘Queer Eye’ Respond

Old Navy’s corporate office responded to the incident in a statement to Philadelphia Magazine

“At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging,” the company said. “We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera.”

Old Navy added that it did bring additional employees to the store to make sure everything ran smoothly, as the building was still open to customers during filming. The company said employees were also aware that they could appear in the background of the show.  

These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population,” the statement continued. “We would never select employees to participate – or not – based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company.”

Netflix gave a statement to NBC 10 where they said they “had no knowledge or influence on Old Navy staffing choices while filming in a Philadelphia-based store this past week.” 

Netflix also said that an African American manager was featured on camera for a styling consultation. 

Tan France, Queer Eye’s fashion expert, also spoke up about the situation in a comment on Alvarado’s post. The comment came from an unverified account, however, France did share it on his Instagram story to confirm that it was him.

“This is Tan,” the comment read. “I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight, but what i can tell you is that there no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC to the back.”

Tan France’s comment below Monae Alvarado’s post.

“I should also mention that I had one person join me on camera, from Old Navy,” France added. “She was african american. This is the last I will say on this matter.”

According to NBC 10, Alvardo spoke to Old Navy’s HR and the situation is under investigation.

See what others are saying: (NBC 10) (Philadelphia Magazine) (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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The Boeing MAX 8 Scandal & Controversy Explained!

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When Boeing first introduced the 737 MAX 8, the new plane was supposed to help usher in a new generation of commercial aircraft. Then two MAX 8’s crashed within five months of each other, killing a total of 346 people.

Since then, the controversy around Boeing has kept growing and growing as numerous investigations revealed a number of highly questionable and even negligent business and regulatory practices that ultimately led to the crashes.

Even now, more than a year after the first crash, Boeing is still in the news and under the microscope as it struggles to keep up appearances.

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Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit

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  • Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in Illinois that claimed its “Tag Suggestions” feature illegally harvested facial data from millions of users in Illinois without their permission.
  • Facebook disclosed the settlement while also announcing it made $21 billion last quarter.
  • Some championed the settlement as a victory for consumer privacy rights.
  • Others argued that no matter how much Facebook pays in lawsuits and settlements, the company has continued to grow and has not fundamentally changed its business practices.

Facebook Announces Settlement

Facebook announced Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit involving facial recognition technology.

The lawsuit was filed in Illinois in 2015 and claimed that Facebook’s “Tag Suggestions” feature violated the state’s 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

The “Tag Suggestion” tool uses facial recognition software to scan users’ faces and then suggest the names of other users who might be in the picture. 

The lawsuit alleged that Facebook used it to illegally harvest facial data from millions of users in Illinois without their permission or without telling them how the data was kept.

Illinois is one of three states that has its own biometric privacy laws, and BIPA is arguably the strongest of all three. 

Under BIPA, companies that collect biometric data, which includes data from finger, face, and iris scans, must get prior consent from consumers and detail how the data will be used and how long the company will keep it. BIPA also allows private citizens to sue.

The lawsuit accused Facebook of failing to comply with those restrictions. 

Facebook, for its part, argued that the people who it collected data from without consent could not prove that they experienced any concrete harm, like financial losses. However, the company still ultimately decided to settle.

Once the federal judge overseeing the case approves the settlement, people eligible to claim money are expected to receive a couple hundred dollars.

Other Settlements & Controversies

Many privacy experts and advocates applauded the settlement and said it was a victory for consumer privacy rights.

But others argued that the settlement does not really change anything, because it is not a big deal for Facebook. While $550 million might seem like a lot, for Facebook, its basically pocket change.

Even the way Facebook announced the settlement seemed to emphasize that point. The tech giant disclosed the settlement while announcing its financial results for 2019, reporting that revenue rose 25% to $21 billion in the last quarter alone.

Not only did that indicate how minor the Illinois settlement was for the company financially, it also showcased their incredible ability to weather scandals and controversy.

Over the last few years, Facebook has received a lot of backlash, largely over privacy concerns and the spread of misinformation on the platform.

Most recently Facebook has been under fire for its decision to essentially let politicians lie in political ads.

In July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook $5 billion over privacy violations— the largest fine the FTC has ever imposed on a tech company by far.

Facebook’s Continued Growth

But even in the face of massive financial costs and prominent controversies, Facebook still continues to grow.

In an article published by Axios, writer Sara Fischer described Facebook’s ability for continued growth despite those obstacles.

“Facebook closed out the second decade of the millennium stronger than ever,” she wrote. “Facebook’s continued ability to post double-digit revenue growth every year speaks to how well it has been able to innovate and adapt, even in the face of regulatory headwinds and increased competition.”

Fischer gave the example of North America and Europe where Facebook has gotten more money per user each year despite the fact that its user growth in those regions has stayed relatively stagnant.

Source: Axios

She also mentioned the Illinois case, FTC fine, and other growing concerns over privacy and advertizing Facebook has warned its investors about.

“So far these fines have proven moot in getting the tech giant to fundamentally change its business, which continues to grow substantially,” she said.

While Facebook did agree to be more transparent about how it uses facial recognition technology as part of the FTC settlement, many are skeptical that the Illinois case will bring about any substantive change.

However, in an investor call following the release of Facebook’s earnings report Wednesday, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said that he wanted to be more transparent about the company’s values.

“One critique of our approach for much of the last decade is that because we wanted to be liked, we didn’t want to communicate our views as clearly, because we worried about offending people,” he said.

“Our goal for the next decade isn’t to be liked, but understood. In order to be trusted, people need to know what we stand for.”

See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Verge) (The New York Times)

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New 2020 Emoji Include Transgender Flag and More Gender-Inclusive Options

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  • Over 100 new emoji were revealed on Wednesday, set to be released sometime in 2020.
  • The new additions will consist of 62 brand-new emoji as well as 55 gender and skin-tone variants. 
  • The transgender flag, a woman in a tuxedo, and a more gender-inclusive alternative to Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be among the new options.
  • Other emoji introduced include boba tea, a dodo bird, a smiley face with a tear, and an anatomical heart.

Fresh Faces

More than 100 new emoji will be available for mobile phone users this year, providing both fun new icons as well as more inclusive and diverse options.

The list was unveiled on Wednesday by the Unicode Consortium, an organization devoted to developing and maintaining software internalization standards and data.

There will be 62 brand-new emoji as well as 55 gender and skin-tone variants, reflecting a push toward a more inclusive collection. Among the new icons will be the transgender symbol as well as the transgender pride flag, an idea proposed by advocates and artists with the help of Google and Microsoft.  

Along this same vein, more gender-inclusive options will be seen with this new wave. Both a woman and a non-binary figure in a tuxedo will soon be available, as well as a man and a non-binary figure in a wedding veil. 

To complement the already-existing Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus options, a more gender-inclusive alternative will be included as well — under the name of Mx. Claus. 

There will also be new emoji depicting parents feeding a baby. 

Other new emoji include a smiley face with a tear, two figures hugging, boba tea, and an anatomical heart. The animal section is getting a boost too, as a beaver, a seal, a polar bear, and even a dodo bird will be introduced. 

The release date of the new emoji depends on each individual vendor, but Unicode Consortium noted that typically the new icons are rolled out in the fall.

Praise for New Emoji

After the new additions were revealed, many took to Twitter to express their joy about the more inclusive options.

“Incredible power in the new 2020 emojis,” one person wrote.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (USA Today) (CBS)

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