StoryCorps: John and Joe

A retired New York City firefighter talks about his two sons who followed him into service—John Jr. was a firefighter, too, and Joe was a police detective. On September 11, 2001, the brothers responded to the call from the World Trade Center, and both were killed while saving others.

Trump Praises New, Berates Former CIA Director

Former CIA officer Gina Haspel has become the first woman to head the U.S. spy agency after a swearing-in ceremony Monday. Haspel has overcome the criticism by lawmakers of both parties for her involvement in the torture of terror suspects after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump praised her ability to overcome what he called “a lot of very negative politics” and said no one was more qualified the job. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

German Court Rejects Call for Puigdemont to be Rearrested

A German court on Tuesday rejected a request from prosecutors to take former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back into custody pending a decision on whether he can be extradited to Spain.

Puigdemont was detained by German police March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark. Spain had issued a European arrest warrant and sought his extradition on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds — charges that stem from an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

He was released April 6 after a German court said it appeared he can’t be extradited for rebellion, the more serious of the two charges. But prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig argued that new information provided by Spanish authorities suggests that would be possible.

They cited videos showing violence against Spanish police and said in a statement that “the disturbances were on such a scale that prosecutors believe that he should also be extradited over the accusation of rebellion.” The prosecutors argued that the charge is comparable to two offenses under German law — treason and breaching the peace.

They said that Puigdemont would pose a flight risk and called for him to be taken back into custody. The state court in Schleswig disagreed and rejected the request.

Puigdemont remains free with certain conditions, including reporting to police once a week.

The separatist politician has been living in Berlin, frequently receiving political allies from Catalonia including his newly elected successor as regional president, Quim Torra.

The Schleswig court said it is “still open” when a final decision will be made on whether Puigdemont can be extradited. It said that the prosecutors have yet to submit a formal application to examine whether an extradition is possible.

Hybrid Messaging Key to Upselling Success: Report

Companies that aim to upsell their existing customers should develop a hybrid message that reinforces their existing relationships while providing an incentive to break the status quo, suggests a new study commissioned by Corporate Visions.

The study was conducted by Nick Lee, a professor at Warwick Business School, in partnership with the International Journal of Sales Transformation.

Corporate Visions previously has commissioned studies on how to shake prospective customers’ status quo bias to persuade them to consider your products or services, noted Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and research officer at the company.

The firm also has explored how to encourage existing customers to renew their relationships, which requires reinforcement of their bias toward the status quo, he noted.

“The latest round of research shows that the upsell dialogue is different, yet requires some of each from these two message types,” Riesterer told CRM Buyer. “There’s most importantly a relationship or partnership reinforcement aspect to the message, but there’s also some provocation involved with getting existing customers to make the change to upgraded solutions.”

Not Quite There

Upselling to existing customers was “important” or “very important” to their ability generate more revenue, said 87 percent of the participants in a recent Corporate Visions survey. Only 60 percent were satisfied with how many customers they were able to sway and how fast they could convert them.

A winning message, according to the report, centers around five pillars:

  • Document results

  • Highlight evolving pressures

  • Share hard truths

  • Explain risks of no change

  • Showcase upside opportunities

“The best upsell message — as validated by our research — employs some components of a customer retention story, that it looks to affirm and solidify the partnership by documenting the success to date, and identifying the deep relationships that have been estalished,” Riesterer said.

“This provides the positive, relational foundation for sharing evolving pressures and hard truths that are creating the need to evolve, as well as identifying the risks associated with not making a change,” he explained.

These types of messages are environment neutral and would be effective both in a traditional people-to-people selling environment and an e-commerce transactional environment, noted Riesterer.

The study did not involve live salespeople, he pointed out. The participants simply responded to a variety of messages. The study participants included 426 individuals placed in hypothetical business-to-business decision-making scenarios.

Relationship Building

The ability to drive sales to existing customers is critical, because of the difficulty in constantly having to build relationships with new prospects.

“It’s always less expensive to serve existing customers than acquire new ones,” noted Paula Rosenblum, manager partner at RSR Research.

“That’s a pretty standard rule of thumb in just about any industry,” she told CRM Buyer.

It can be up to 25 times more costly for a company to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one, based on earlier research from Harvard and Bain, noted Cindy Zhou, principal analyst for digital marketing transformation at Constellation Research.

“Existing customers are familiar with the company’s brand, [have built] relationships, and have the process in place to continue to do business,” she told CRM Buyer.

“The key is to build and demonstrate value to the customer, providing them with a reason to continue to work with the company,” Zhou said, adding that upselling a product has to fit the customer’s need.

David Jones has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2015. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, e-commerce, open source, gaming, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. He has written for numerous media outlets, including Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times. Email David.

Luminaries from across Israel’s tech ecosystem are joining us onstage in Tel Aviv

Tickets are going fast for our inaugural Tel Aviv event and no one should miss out on the opportunity to see some the nation’s rising stars discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for mobility technologies.

Hear from some of the architects and creators of Israel’s latest technology marvels like Orit Nissan Messing, the co-founder and Chief Architect of Iguazio. And government officials like Anat Lea Bonshtien, the chairman and director of the Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility Initiative in the Prime Minister’s Office, who are driving mobility technologies forward.

Fiona Darmon, the Chief Operating Officer of one of Israel’s pre-eminent venture funds, JVP, will join us alongside Natalie Refuah, a partner with the growth capital investment firm Viola Growth, to discuss how businesses can scale and make the right moves as they navigate their inevitable international expansion.

They’re all part of a stellar line up that we’ve put together to take the pulse of one of the hottest trends in tech and one that’s increasingly reliant on Israeli technology companies to fulfill the promise of its potential.

These phenomenal speakers will be sharing insights that no one would want to miss, and they’ll be exclusively available to our audience in Tel Aviv.

What GDPR Means for Your Social Media Privacy

What GDPR Means for Your Social Media Privacy

What GDPR Means for Your Social Media Privacy

By now, you’ve likely heard of the GDPR (General Data Protection Rules), the sweeping data protection rules enacted by the EU. While these rules are primarily designed to protect the personal information of individuals located within the European Union, given the global nature of the internet – and social media in particular – the new regulations are having an impact on U.S. businesses and online users. 

At the heart of the GDPR is the protection of individual personal data and giving individuals more control over how their information is collected and reported. In short, any online entity that collects information that could potentially identify an individual (including an IP address) is bound under these rules and must have explicit user permission to collect and store any of this type of information or otherwise face steep fines.

For most U.S. users, these new regulations are taking the form of updated privacy policies and notices on the sites that they visit the most. When it comes to your social media accounts, though, the effects of the GDPR are actually a little more far reaching than a simple text box asking you to accept new terms.

Increased Data Transparency

Perhaps the biggest change the GDPR is bringing to American users of social media is increased transparency as to how the platforms are using their personal data and a bit more control over which information is shared and used. In the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, these new promises may be of little comfort to those who have already had their personal information exposed, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t seeing updated policies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social sites.

In the simplest terms, the social media giants are revising their privacy policies to make it clearer what data they are collecting and how they are using it. These sites by their very nature encourage the sharing of personal data, but until now, most users have been unaware how the platforms are using the data, even if they are aware that it is being used. In reality, this won’t change much in terms of individual accounts per se, but it will arm users with more information.

That being said, users are being given the option to adjust their privacy settings to limit the information they share, something that experts believe will change the user experience. Facebook, for example, has developed a new GDPR-compliant “privacy checkup” that allows users to determine exactly which information they want to share or not, with the understanding that if they do share certain facts (religion, political views, etc.) than that is effectively providing permission to collect and use that data. Critics of the Facebook process note that it’s designed to encourage users to give Facebook unfettered access to personal data, and that it takes an all or nothing approach; in other words, you can’t share certain information with friends without giving it to the company for their use as well. Still, the changes to the platform do give user’s some level of control over what they share and how it’s used and introduces new protections for younger users.

The changes to the information that users share and how it can be used is also likely to change the advertisements and marketing that you see on social media. Because marketers will have less access to personal information for targeting advertisements and posts, there is likely to be an uptick in paid advertising on the site. Expect to see more sponsored posts and ads in the future, which may or may not be relevant to your interests.

Protecting Your Privacy

Short of deactivating your accounts and going full hermit, how can you protect your privacy on social media in the age of GDPR?

For starters, read and understand the privacy policies of the social media sites so you know what you are getting into. Use the privacy tools that are available to you, and conduct privacy checkups every now and then to ensure that you’re protecting your data to the best of your ability. You might also use a PC or Mac cleaner tool to remove unnecessary data you’re your computer. Remember that just because a site asks for information doesn’t mean that you have to provide it.

Installing maximum security protection on your devices can also help to protect your privacy. While it may not help you understand the GDRP and the related changes, it will add an additional layer of protection to your social media accounts, ensuring that it is safe from prying eyes and cybercriminals. By implementing all of these protections, you can continue to safely connect with family and friends and know that your data and identify are safe.


iGadgetware iGW

A Social Media and Cyber Security Expert. Love to write about latest technology and Gadgets.

Debunking the 6 biggest myths about 'technology addiction'

How concerned should people be about the psychological effects of screen time? Balancing technology use with other aspects of daily life seems reasonable, but there is a lot of conflicting advice about where that balance should be. Much of the discussion is framed around fighting “addiction” to technology. But to me, that resembles a moral panic, giving voice to scary claims based on weak data.

For example, in April 2018, television journalist Katie Couric’s “America Inside Out” program focused on the effects of technology on people’s brains. The episode featured the co-founder of a business treating technology addiction. That person compared addiction to technology with addictions to cocaine and other drugs. The show also implied that technology use could lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like memory loss. Others, such as psychologist Jean Twenge, have linked smartphones with teen suicide.

[embedded content]
A National Geographic Channel show raises alarms about technology use.

I am a psychologist who has worked with teens and families and conducted research on technology use, video games and addiction. I believe most of these fear-mongering claims about technology are rubbish. There are several common myths of technology addiction that deserve to be debunked by actual research.

Technology is not a drug

Some people have claimed that technology use activates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. That’s vaguely true, but brain responses to pleasurable experiences are not reserved only for unhealthy things.

Anything fun results in an increased dopamine release in the “pleasure circuits” of the brain – whether it’s going for a swim, reading a good book, having a good conversation, eating or having sex. Technology use causes dopamine release similar to other normal, fun activities: about 50 to 100 percent above normal levels.

Cocaine, by contrast, increases dopamine 350 percent, and methamphetamine a whopping 1,200 percent. In addition, recent evidence has found significant differences in how dopamine receptors work among people whose computer use has caused problems in their daily lives, compared to substance abusers. But I believe people who claim brain responses to video games and drugs are similar are trying to liken the drip of a faucet to a waterfall.

Comparisons between technology addictions and substance abuse are also often based on brain imaging studies, which themselves have at times proven unreliable at documenting what their authors claim. Other recent imaging studies have also disproved past claims that violent games desensitized young brains, leading children to show less emotional connection with others’ suffering.

Technology addiction is not common

People who talk about tech addictions often express frustration with their smartphone use, or they can’t understand why kids game so much. But these aren’t real addictions, involving significant interference with other life activities such as school, work or social relationships.

My own research has suggested that 3 percent of gamers – or less – develop problem behaviors, such as neglecting schoolwork to the point that grades suffer. Most of those difficulties are mild and go away on their own over time.

Technology addiction is not a mental illness

At the moment, there are no official mental health diagnoses related to technology addiction. This could change: The World Health Organization has announced plans to include “gaming disorder” in the next version of its International Compendium of Diseases.

But it’s a very controversial suggestion. I am among 28 scholars who wrote to the WHO protesting that the decision was poorly informed by science. The WHO seemed to ignore research that suggested “gaming disorder” is more a symptom of other, underlying mental health issues such as depression, rather than its own disorder.

This year, the Media Psychology and Technology division of the American Psychological Association, of which I am a fellow, likewise released a statement critical of the WHO’s decision. The WHO’s sister organization, UNICEF, also argued against using “addiction” language to describe children’s screen use.

Controversies aside, I have found that current data doesn’t support technology addictions as stand-alone diagnoses. For example, there’s the Oxford study that found people who rate higher in what is called “game addiction” don’t show more psychological or health problems than others. Additional research has suggested that any problems technology overusers may experience tend to be milder than would happen with a mental illness, and usually go away on their own without treatment.

‘Tech addiction’ is not caused by technology

Most of the discussion of technology addictions suggest that technology itself is mesmerizing, harming normal brains. But my research suggests that technology addictions generally are symptoms of other, underlying disorders like depression, anxiety and attention problems. People don’t think that depressed people who sleep all day have a “bed addiction.”

This is of particular concern when considering who needs treatment, and for what conditions. Efforts to treat “technology addiction” may do little more than treat a symptom, leaving the real problem intact.

The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Technology is not uniquely addictive

There’s little question that some people overdo a wide range of activities. Those activities do include technology use, but also exercise, eating, sex, work, religion and shopping. There are even research papers on dance addiction. But few of these have official diagnoses. There’s little evidence that technology is more likely to be overused than a wide range of other enjoyable activities.

Technology use does not lead to suicide

Some pundits have pointed to a recent rise in suicide rates among teen girls as evidence for tech problems. But suicide rates increased for almost all age groups, particularly middle-aged adults, for the 17-year period from 1999 to 2016. This rise apparently began around 2008, during the financial collapse, and has become more pronounced since then. That undercuts the claim that screens are causing suicides in teens, as does the fact that suicide rates are far higher among middle-aged adults than youth. There appears to be a larger issue going on in society. Technopanics could be distracting regular people and health officials from identifying and treating it.

One recent paper claimed to link screen use to teen depression and suicide. But another scholar with access to the same data revealed the effect was no larger than the link between eating potatoes and suicide. This is a problem: Scholars sometimes make scary claims based on tiny data that are often statistical blips, not real effects.

To be sure, there are real problems related to technology, such as privacy issues. And people should balance technology use with other aspects of their lives. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the very small percentage of individuals who do overuse. There’s a tiny kernel of truth to our concerns about technology addictions, but the available evidence suggests that claims of a crisis, or comparisons to substance abuse, are entirely unwarranted.