- Late Monday, New York City’s Detectives’ Endowment Association and Police Benevolent Association said three NYPD officers were intentionally poisoned at a Shake Shack.
- Authorities claimed one or more Shake Shack employees put a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, in the officers’ milkshakes.
- But hours later, law enforcement officials said they found “no criminality,” after learning that a cleaning solution left in the machine accidentally made its way into the shakes.
- Many are now outraged at authorities for rushing to make false accusations that portrayed them as victims before conducting a proper investigation.
- Authorities have now started deleting their initial statements and their later clarifications about finding “no criminality,” but it’s unclear if a new statement is on its way.
Police Announce Intentional Poisoning Incident
The killing of George Floyd reignited widespread frustration with law enforcement agencies across the country, but fear felt by the police themselves seemed to be a topic of conversation Monday when three NYPD officers were believed to have been poisoned.
Late Monday, New York City’s Detectives’ Endowment Association, published a safety message noting that three officers were “intentionally poisoned by one or more workers” at a Shake Shack in Manhattan.
The statement from the association’s president Paul DiGiacomo continued with, “After tasting the milk shakes they purchased they became ill, making it necessary for them to go to an area hospital. Fortunately, our fellow officers were not seriously harmed.”
It then went on to note that police across the country are “under attack by vicious criminals who dislike us simply because of the uniform we wear,” adding “Emboldened by pandering elected officials, these cowards will go to great lengths to harm any member of law enforcement.”
To deal with all this, DiGiacomo warned officers to be vigilant and not buy food from places they aren’t familiar with.
Around the same time, Patrick Lynch, the city’s Police Benevolent Association president, issued a similar statement warning officers to use caution. “When New York City police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated at a critical level. We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment,” he said.
But in that statement, Lynch specifically claimed the three officers who went to Shake Shack discovered that, “a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages.”
The reports were met with a ton of different responses online. Fox News host Sean Hannity shared the news on Twitter and according to The Guardian, Donald Trump Jr. said in a now-deleted tweet, “Where are the Democrats who are denouncing NYPD officers getting poisoned on the job? Their silence is deafening.”
Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren even chimed in, calling it, “Despicable but not surprising. The war on cops has been reignited and the Left is complicit.”
On top of that, there were others calling for a boycott of the burger chain and demanding that those responsible be prosecuted. Some even called this incident attempted murder, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Fox News contributor.
Still, others doubted the story altogether, calling the police liars.
@NYCPBA are liars. The policemen probably discovered a clump of ice cream in their milkshakes and every restaurant has to maintain stringent disinfection requirements due to COVOD19, ergo the smell of bleach. If a store DOESN’T smell like disinfectant, you shouldn’t go in.— GeauxTigers516@🏠 (@GeauxTigers516) June 16, 2020
Shake Shack eventually addressed the situation, saying that they were “horrified” by the reports and were working with investigators.
No Criminality Found By Shake Shack Employees
But NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison tweeted early Tuesday, that after a thorough investigation “it had been determined that there was no criminality by shake shack’s employees”
At that time, Shake Shake shared the tweet and added that it was still working to get a full picture of what happened.
Later Tuesday morning, the Detectives’ Endowment Association reiterated the chief’s statement, tweeting, “Although the investigation is still ongoing, at this point NYPD investigators have found ‘no criminality’ in how these officers got sick. Initially, it was reported that whatever toxic substance made the officers ill was intentionally placed in their drinks.“
“Evidently, however, the toxic substance, a cleaning solution, accidentally made its way into the officers’ shakes. If so, we are all relieved to hear that this was not an intentional attempt to harm our officers and are pleased to report they will make a full recovery.”
It followed that up with a thank you message to NYPD personnel and Shake Shack for their cooperation, adding, “The fact remains, please stay vigilant, stay safe and always be aware of your surroundings.”
The Police Benevolent Association also published a similar update underneath their initial statement a few hours later.
Outrage Over False Accusations
This major update was quickly met with a slew of different reactions. There were some who found the explanation unbelievable.
Accidentally? How does cleaning solution accidentally get in just 3 shakes, only 3, which just happened to be given to 3 Officers?— Zebra78610 (@zebra78610) June 16, 2020
Ok, so did this substance “accidentally” make its way into ONLY the officers beverages, or were other customers sickened as well?— Chris Primavera (@ChrisPrimavera) June 16, 2020
Something is not adding up.
But now that police said it wasn’t an intentional attack, a lot of people were furious at them for rushing to judgment in their previous statements. Some were angry that they falsely accused Shake Shack employees of a crime. Others called for an apology and for the original statements to be removed.
This is not an apology or a retraction.— The Sassiest Semite (@LittleMissLizz) June 16, 2020
Then take down that URGENT message accusing the employees of an intent to poison. Also, apologize and take responsibility. Damn.— Mina ⁷ #AGUSTD2 (@minaeveryone) June 16, 2020
One internet user said the false claim shows a “concerning-increased paranoia among law enforcement will only lead to more mistakes.”
Meanwhile, plenty of people slammed figures like Lahren, Hannity, and Trump Jr. for sharing the false reports even after the chief clarified that there was no intention to poison the officers. Lahren then later issued an update saying she’s happy to hear this but, “Our officers are still under attack and need to be concerned for their safety every single day, especially in this anti-cop climate. I pray for their safety.”
Though in a later tweet she noted that she wants to be updated on this situation because “the whole thing doesn’t seem quite right.”
Authorities Delete Statements
Eventually, the Detectives’ Endowment Associated removed their initial “Urgent Message.” The City’s Police Benevolent Association did the same hours later, also deleting their update about finding “no criminality.”
Without explanation, the DEA also deleted one part of its three-part statement, which explained that “the toxic, substance, a cleaning solution, accidentally made its way,” into the shakes.
At this time, it’s unclear if authorities are planning to release a new statement.
Regardless, this situation seems to have heightened the distrust people have in New York officers. For many, this looked like another instance of officers lying and trying to make themselves look like victims.
Just last week, many were outraged after the state’s police union head demanded the public, “Stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with some respect.” Audio from the union official’s speech was eventually edited over a supercut showing officers using excessive force during protests. So now with this incident, many in the community are feeling renewed frustration with law enforcement.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (New York Magazine) (Fox Business)
Misinformation Makes Up 20% of Top Search Results For Current Events on TikTok, New Research Finds
According to the report, the app “is consistently feeding millions of young users health misinformation, including some claims that could be dangerous to users’ health.”
Misinformation Thrives on TikTok
As TikTok becomes Gen Z’s favorite search engine, new research by journalism and tech group NewsGuard found that the video app frequently suggests misinformation to users searching for news-related topics.
NewsGuard used TikTok’s search bar to look up trending news subjects like the 2020 election, COVID-19, the invasion of Ukraine, the upcoming midterms, abortion, school shootings, and more. It analyzed 540 videos based on the top 20 results from 27 subject searches, finding false or misleading claims in 105 of those posts.
In other words, roughly 20% of the results contained misinformation.
Some of NewsGuard’s searches contained neutral phrases and words like “2022 election” or “mRNA vaccine,” while others were loaded with more controversial language like “January 6 FBI” or “Uvalde TX conspiracy.” In many cases, those controversial phrases were suggested by TikTok’s own search bar.
The researchers noted that, for example, during a search on climate change, “climate change debunked” showed up. While looking up COVID-19 vaccines, searches for “covid vaccine injury” or “covid vaccine exposed” were recommended.
Dangerous Results Regarding Health and More
The consequences of some of the false claims made in these videos can be severe. NewsGuard wrote in its report that the search engine “is consistently feeding millions of young users health misinformation, including some claims that could be dangerous to users’ health.”
Among the hoards of hazardous health claims were videos falsely suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines are toxic and cause permanent damage to organs. The report found that there are still several videos touting the anti-parasite hydroxychloroquine as a cure-all remedy, not just for COVID, but for any illness.
Searches regarding herbal abortions were particularly troublesome. While certain phrases like “mugwort abortion” were blocked, the researchers found several ways around this that lead to multiple videos touting debunked DIY abortion remedies that are not only proven to be ineffective, but can also pose serious health risks.
NewsGuard claimed that the social media app vowed to remove this content in July, but “two months later, herbal abortion content continues to be easily accessible on the platform.”
Other standard forms of conspiracy fodder also occupied space in top search results, including claims that the Uvalde school shooting was planned and that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
TikTok’s Search Engine Vs. Google
As part of its research, NewsGuard compared TikTok’s search results and suggestions with Google and found that, by comparison, the latter “provided higher-quality and less-polarizing results, with far less misinformation.”
“For example, searching ‘covid vaccine’ on Google prompted ‘walk-in covid vaccine,’ ‘which covid vaccine is best,’ and ‘types of covid vaccines,’” NewsGuard wrote. “None of these terms was suggested by TikTok.”
This is significant because recent reports show that young Internet users have increasingly turned to TikTok as a search engine over Google. While this might elicit safe results for pasta recipes and DIY tutorials, for people searching for current affairs, there could be significant consequences.
NewsGuard said that it flagged six videos containing misinformation to TikTok, and the social media app ended up taking those posts down. In a statement to Mashable, the company pledged to fight against misinformation on its platform.
“Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not allow harmful misinformation, including medical misinformation, and we will remove it from the platform,” the statement said. “We partner with credible voices to elevate authoritative content on topics related to public health, and partner with independent fact-checkers who help us to assess the accuracy of content.”
Over 70 TikTok Creators Boycott Amazon as Workers Protest Conditions and Pay
As the company fends off pressure on both fronts, the Amazon Labor Union continues to back election petitions around the country including one filed Tuesday in upstate New York.
Gen Z Goes to War With Amazon
More than 70 big TikTok creators have pledged not to work with Amazon until it gives in to union workers’ demands, including calls for higher pay, safer working conditions, and increased paid time off.
Twenty-year-old TikToker Elise Joshi, who serves as deputy executive director for the advocacy group organizing the boycott, Gen Z for Change, posted an open letter on Twitter Tuesday.
“Dear Amazon.com,” it reads, “We are a coalition of over 70 TikTok creators with a combined following of 51 million people. Today, August 16th, 2022, we are joining together in solidarity with Amazon workers and union organizers through our People Over Prime Pledge.”
Amazon has refused to recognize the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) since workers voted to unionize at a Staten Island warehouse in April, and it has resisted collective bargaining negotiations.
Although the ALU is not involved in the boycott, its co-founder and interim President Chris Smalls expressed support for it in a statement to The Washington Post, saying, “It’s a good fight to take on because Amazon definitely is afraid of how we used TikTok during our campaigns.”
While the ALU posts videos on TikTok to drum up popular support for the labor movement, Amazon has sought to win large influencers over to its side. In 2017, it launched the Amazon Influencer Program, which offered influencers the opportunity to earn revenue by recommending products in personalized Amazon storefronts.
Last May, the company flew over a dozen Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok stars to a luxurious resort in Mexico.
Emily Rayna Shaw, a TikTok creator with 5.4 million followers who has partnered with Amazon in the past, is participating in the boycott.
“I think their method of offering influencers life-changing payouts to make them feel as if they need to work with them while also refusing to pay their workers behind the scenes is extremely wrong,” she told The Post.
“As an influencer, it’s important to choose the right companies to work with,” said Jackie James, a 19-year-old TikTok creator with 3.4 million followers, who told the outlet she will cease doing deals with Amazon until it changes its ways.
The ALU is demanding that Amazon bump its minimum wage to $30 per hour and stop its union-busting activities.
Slogging Through the ‘Suffocating’ Heat
Amazon is also facing challenges from workers themselves, with some walking out this week at its largest air hub in California, where company-branded planes transport packages to warehouses across the country.
They are asking for the base pay rate to be raised from $17 per hour to $22 per hour.
A group organizing the work stoppage under the name Inland Empire Amazon Workers United said in a statement that over 150 workers participated, but Amazon countered that the true number was only 74.
The Warehouse Worker Resource Center counted 900 workers who signed a petition demanding pay raises.
Inland Empire Amazon Workers United has complained about the “suffocating” heat in the facility, saying that temperatures at the San Bernardino airport reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for 24 days last month.
Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningan, however, claimed to CNBC that the temperature never surpassed 77 degrees and said the company respects its workers’ right to voice their opinions.
On Tuesday, the ALU backed another warehouse’s decision to file a petition for a union election in upstate New York, roughly 10 miles outside Albany.
The National Labor Relations Board requires signatures from 30% of employees to trigger an election.
See what others are Saying: (The Washington Post (CNBC) (Associated Press)
Twitter Roasts Tim Hortons for Offering Coffee and Donut to Settle Lawsuit for Spying on Customers
The company allegedly tracked app users’ movements 24/7 to determine when they visited a competitor, a major sports venue, or their home or workplace.
A Not So Tasty Compensation
Social media users ridiculed Canadian fast food chain Tim Hortons over the weekend for a leaked email in which it offered to compensate customers whom it allegedly spied on by giving them a free beverage and pastry.
Twitter user James McLeod posted pictures of the email Friday, which was sent to affected users of the company’s app.
“You are receiving this email in connection with a proposed settlement, subject to Court approval, of a national class action lawsuit involving the Tim Hortons app and the collection of geolocation data between April 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020,” it read.
“As part of the proposed settlement agreement, eligible app users will receive a free hot beverage and a free baked good,” it continued. “Distribution details will be provided following approval, in the event that the court approves the settlement.”
The email specified that the free beverage would have a retail value of $6.19 (CAD) plus tax, and the free baked good would be $2.39 (CAD).
In a statement to Vice, Tim Hortons said the settlement is not admission of any wrongdoing and that the allegations in the lawsuits have not been proven in court.
“Add to this the fact that the coffee is absolutely abysmal and it becomes even more hilarious,” one person tweeted amid a flurry of criticism toward the company.
Another added, “Do you think the donut will have the good sprinkles or the bad sprinkles?”
‘Vast Amounts’ of Data Collected Illegally
Suspicion that Tim Hortons had violated its customers’ privacy began in 2020 when a reporter from the National Post found that the company’s app had tracked their location over 2,700 times in under five months.
Last Month, Canadian authorities wrapped up an investigation into the matter, finding that Tim Hortons tracked and recorded the movements of people who downloaded its app every few minutes of every day, even when the app wasn’t open.
Although the app requested permission to access geolocation data, authorities concluded that it misled users to believe it would only gather data while the app was open.
Using “vast amounts” of geolocation data, the company inferred where users lived, where they worked and whether they were traveling, according to investigators.
It even allegedly generated an “event” anytime a user entered or exited a Tim Hortons competitor, a major sports venue, or their home or workplace.
The investigation found that the company continued gathering data for a year even despite having shelved plans to use it for targeted advertising.
The company, which has committed to deleting all geolocation data on group members, said in a statement that it only used the data in a limited way, such as to analyze user trends.