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Authorities Find “No Criminality” After Accusing Shake Shack of Poisoning Officers

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  • 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 now deleted post linking to the associations “Urgent Message.”

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 initial Statement from the NYC PBA.

Responses 

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.”

Deleted tweet from Trump Jr via The Guardian

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. 

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.”

https://twitter.com/NYCPDDEA/status/1272866227652870145

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. 

The statement from the PBA announcing investigation findings.

Outrage Over False Accusations 

This major update was quickly met with a slew of different reactions. There were some who found the explanation unbelievable. 

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. 

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.

The DEA deleted their initial accusations as well as their explanation for the accident.

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

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Uber Forks Over $19 Million in Fine for Misleading Australian Riders

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The penalty is just the latest in a string of lawsuits going back years.


Uber Gets Fined

Uber has agreed to pay a $19 million fine after being sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making false or misleading statements in its app.

The first offense stems from a company policy that allows users to cancel their ride at no cost up to five minutes after the driver has accepted the trip. Despite the terms, between at least December 2017 and September 2021, over two million Australians who wanted to cancel their ride were nevertheless warned that they may be charged a small fee for doing so.

Uber said in a statement that almost all of those users decided to cancel their trips despite the warnings.

The cancellation message has since been changed to: “You won’t be charged a cancellation fee.”

The second offense, occurring between June 2018 and August 2020, involved the company showing customers in Sydney inflated estimates of taxi fares on the app.

The commission said that Uber did not ensure the algorithm used to calculate the prices was accurate, leading to actual fares almost always being higher than estimated ones.

The taxi fare feature was removed in August 2020.

A Troubled Legal History

Uber has been sued for misleading its users or unfairly charging customers in the past.

In 2016, the company paid California-based prosecutors up to $25 million for misleading riders about the safety of its service.

An investigation at the time found that at least 25 of Uber’s approved drivers had serious criminal convictions including identity theft, burglary, child sex offenses and even one murder charge, despite background checks.

In 2017, the company also settled a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for $20 million after it misled drivers about how much money they could earn.

In November 2021, the Justice Department sued the company for allegedly charging disabled customers a wait-time fee even though they needed more time to get in the car, then refused to refund them.

Later the same month, a class-action lawsuit in New York alleged that Uber charged riders a final price higher than the upfront price listed when they ordered the ride.

See what others are saying: (ABC) (NASDAQ) (Los Angeles Times)

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Report Finds That Instagram Promotes Pro-Eating Disorder Content to 20 Million Users, Including Children

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According to the study, even users hoping to recover were given eating disorder content because they were “still in Instagram’s algorithmically curated bubble.”


Instagram Promotes Eating Disorder Content

Instagram promotes pro-eating disorder content to millions of its users, including children as young as nine-years-old, according to a Thursday report from the child advocacy non-profit group Fairplay.

The report, titled “Designing for Disorder: Instagram’s Pro-eating Disorder Bubble,” studied what it called an eating disorder “bubble,” which consisted of nearly 90,000 accounts that reached 20 million unique users. The average age of the bubble was 19, but researchers found users aged nine- and 10-years-old that followed three or more of these accounts. Roughly one-third of those in the bubble were underage. 

According to Fairplay, Instagram’s parent company Meta derives $2 million in revenue a year from the bubble and another $228 million from those who follow it. 

“In addition to being profitable, this bubble is also undeniably harmful,” the report said. “Algorithms are profiling children and teens to serve them images, memes and videos encouraging restrictive diets and extreme weight loss.”

“Meta’s pro-eating disorder bubble is not an isolated incident nor an awful accident,” it continued. “Rather it is an example of how, without appropriate checks and balances, Meta systematically puts profit ahead of young people’s safety and wellbeing.”

Researchers identified the bubble by first looking at 153 seed accounts with over 1,000 followers that posted content celebrating eating disorders. Some used phrases like “thinspiration” or other slang terms like “ana” and “mia” to refer to specific eating disorders. Others included an underweight body mass index in their bios. 

Those seed accounts alone had roughly 2.3 million collective followers, 1.6 million of which were unique. Of those unique users, researchers looked at how many seed accounts each followed to determine that nearly 90,000 accounts were part of the eating disorder bubble. Those accounts totaled over 28 million followers, 20 million of which were unique.

These pages posted content ranging from memes and photos of extreme thinness to screenshots of progress on calorie counting apps. One user said they were on their third day of eating just 300 calories. 

Others, including children under the age of 13, put their current weights and goal weights in their account bios. Some wrote that they “hate food” or were “starving for perfection.”

Content’s Impact on Children

Fairplay claimed that many of those in the bubble wanted to recover but were essentially trapped in Instagram’s algorithm. 

“Many of the biographies of users in the bubble talk about wanting to or being in recovery, wanting to get ‘better’, to ‘heal’ or being aware of how unwell they were,” the report said. “However, these users are still in Instagram’s algorithmically curated bubble. They will still be feeding content from other accounts in the bubble, including the seed accounts, that normalizes, glamorizes or promotes eating disorders.”

The report also showcased the firsthand account of a 17-year-old eating disorder survivor and activist identified as Kelsey. Kelsey wrote that it was impossible to “imagine a time when the app didn’t have the sort of content that promotes disordered eating behavior.” 

“I felt like my feed was always pushed towards this sort of content from the moment I opened my account,” Kelsey continued.

“That type of content at one point even got so normalized that prominent figures such as the Kardashians and other female and male influencers were openly promoting weight loss supplements and diet suppressors in order to help lose weight.”

Kelsey said Instagram delivered that content without any relevant searches, but posts about body positivity needed to be actively sought out. 

The report concluded by arguing that there needs to be legislation that regulates platforms like Instagram by requiring them to prioritize user safety, particularly for children.

Meta and Instagram have long been accused of disregarding child safety. Last year, a whistleblower unveiled documents that revealed the company knew of the harm it posed to young people, specifically regarding body image. A Meta spokesperson told The Hill that they were unable to address the most recent allegations in Fairplay’s report.

“We’re not able to fully address this report because the authors declined to share it with us, but reports like this often misunderstand that completely removing content related to peoples’ journeys with or recovery from eating disorders can exacerbate difficult moments and cut people off from community,” the spokesperson said.

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (CNet)

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Etsy Sellers Strike Amid Increased Transaction Fees and Mandatory Offsite Advertising

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“What began as an experiment in marketplace democracy has come to resemble a dictatorial relationship between a faceless tech empire and millions of exploited, majority-women craftspeople,” an Etsy seller wrote in a petition. 


Thousands of Etsy Sellers Shut Down Shops

Roughly 15,000 Etsy sellers are closing up their online shops starting Monday in protest of several grievances they have with the platform, including a new fee increase.

Starting on Monday, transaction fees are getting boosted from 5% to 6.5% on the platform. CEO Josh Silverman sent a memo claiming that this hike will allow the company to “make significant investments in marketing, seller tools, and creating a world-class customer experience,” but sellers have been frustrated by the change. 

“Etsy’s last fee increase was in July 2018. If this new one goes through, our basic fees to use the platform will have more than doubled in less than four years,” seller Kristi Cassidy wrote in a petition calling for a strike. As of Monday morning, over 50,000 Etsy sellers, customers, and employees had signed the petition.

“These basic fees do not include additional fees for Offsite ads – which started during the first wave of the pandemic,” Cassidy continued. 

Offsite ads allow Etsy to advertise sellers’ products on other websites like Google. Sellers who make over $10,000 a year reportedly have no way of opting out of the program and Etsy takes at least 12% of sales generated through the promotions. 

“Etsy fees are an unpredictable expense that can take more than 20% of each transaction,” Cassidy wrote. “We have no control over how these ads are administered, or how much of our money is spent.”

Etsy became a pandemic success story as online shopping rose amid lockdowns. Many turned to the platform to purchase masks and other goods, prompting its stock, sales, and number of sellers to rise. 

“It’s really obnoxious to tell us sellers, ‘Hey, we made record profits last year and we’re gonna celebrate by raising your fees a whole bunch,’” Bella Stander, a maps and guidebooks publisher who sells on Etsy, told the Wall Street Journal.  

What Etsy Sellers Are Demanding

Currently, there are over five million sellers on Etsy. Cassidy hopes that if enough of them unite, the company will have to respond. 

“As individual crafters, makers and small businesspeople, we may be easy for a giant corporation like Etsy to take advantage of,” she wrote. “But as an organized front of people, determined to use our diverse skills and boundless creativity to win ourselves a fairer deal, Etsy won’t have such an easy time shoving us around.”

In the petition’s list of demands, it asks that Etsy cancel the transaction fee increase, allow sellers to opt out of offsite ads, and provide a transparent plan to crack down on resellers who take up space on the platform.

It also demanded that Etsy end its “Star Seller Program,” which impacts how sellers can interact with their buyers.

“Etsy was founded with a vision of ‘keeping commerce human’ by ‘democratizing access to entrepreneurship.’ As a result, people who have been marginalized in traditional retail economies — women, people of color, LGBTQ people, neurodivergent people, etc. — make up a significant proportion of Etsy’s sellers,” Cassidy wrote.

“But as Etsy has strayed further and further from its founding vision over the years, what began as an experiment in marketplace democracy has come to resemble a dictatorial relationship between a faceless tech empire and millions of exploited, majority-women craftspeople.”

In a statement to Yahoo Finance, an Etsy spokesperson claimed that sellers were the company’s “top priority.”

“We are always receptive to seller feedback and, in fact, the new fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in areas outlined in the petition, including marketing, customer support, and removing listings that don’t meet our policies,” the spokesperson said. “We are committed to providing great value for our 5.3 million sellers so they are able to grow their businesses while keeping Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace.”

The strike was a trending topic on Twitter Monday morning. Many sellers took to the social media site to pledge their support to the movement. 

Many sellers are urging buyers to refrain from using the site for the remainder of the week, which is how long the protest is currently scheduled to last.

See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (Yahoo Finance) (TechCrunch)

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