Tag: News

Uber Apologizes For “Imperfect (And Fictitious)” Rebuttal Of A BuzzFeed News Claim

On Monday, Uber walked back a core explanation for the thousands of tickets in its customer support ticket system with the subject “rape.” This change in position comes less than a day after a BuzzFeed News published screenshots from Uber’s Zendesk-based customer support system showing thousands of tickets containing the words rape. Our report led to Uber’s revelation that the company received five claims of rape, and 170 claims of sexual assault directly related to an Uber ride as inbound tickets to its customer service database between December 2012 and August 2015.

Uber responded with a letter signed by three key executives. It directly referenced the Zendesk screenshots, and claimed these were “highly misleading” and contained false matches. It offered three explanations for the prevalence of the word rape in its system. The second of these stated: “Any email address or rider/driver last name that contains the letters R, A, P, E consecutively (for example, Don Draper) are included.”

However, that turned out not to be right. Today, at approximately 1:10 pm Pacific Time, Uber updated its letter with the following:

* An earlier version of this post stated that “ Any email address or rider/driver last name that contains the letters R, A, P, E consecutively (for example, Don Draper) are included. After analyzing the data, we found more than 11,000 rider names and 17,500 rider emails with the letters ‘rape’”.

Zendesk, one of our customer support platforms, contacted us to say that their search tool would not return a name such as “Don Draper” when searching for the word “rape.” However, such a search would (and did) return names that start with the letters R,A,P,E — even if the ticket itself had nothing to do with a claim of rape. We apologize to Zendesk for using an imperfect (and fictitious) example that doesn’t accurately represent their search functionality. This does not impact our analysis of the overall numbers, which was based on a manual review of these tickets rather than a simple keyword search.

The update came following an investigation by BuzzFeed News. Yesterday evening, BuzzFeed contacted Zendesk to specifically ask about its search query capabilities. After failing to get a response, BuzzFeed News called, and stopped by the company's headquarters. Following that visit, Zendesk notified Uber of the error.

Uber's update notes, “we apologize to Zendesk for using an imperfect (and fictitious) example that doesn’t accurately represent their search functionality. “

Prior to the update from Uber, BuzzFeed News had already learned that the Zendesk system did not work in the way Uber claimed in its original statement, and had reached out to Zendesk for confirmation and comment. It is unclear at what point it contacted Uber.

Contact Charlie Warzel (charlie.warzel@buzzfeed.com) if you have additional information about this ongoing story.

BuzzFeed – Tech

Kids Are Trying To Get Out Of School By Pranking A News Station On Social Media

Social media–savvy kids are annoying the crap out of Chattanooga ABC-affiliate WTVC NewsChannel 9, going as far as to impersonate a school official in an attempt to get the station to falsely report school closings.

But, as these kids are learning, you can only push WTVC NewsChannel 9 so far. WTVC NewsChannel 9 won't take your shit. It will strike back, and do so with a vengeance.

Take, for instance, the Twitter direct message above, provided to BuzzFeed News by WTVC NewsChannel 9 web director Dan Lehr. In the exchange, a student tried using a DM to get the station to “inform students of no school tomorrow.”

WTVC NewsChannel 9 promptly destroyed the troublemaker:

Missing: child.

Last seen: right before getting owned by WTVC NewsChannel 9.

Kids are also taunting the station on Facebook, asking if their schools are closed. WTVC NewsChannel 9 is pissed at the insinuation that it would withhold such information from the public.

Really pissed.

But of course, in the end, the kids win anyway.

Take that, WTVC NewsChannel 9.

BuzzFeed – Tech

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Daily Journal Corporation

Daily Journal Corporation

The California-based legal publisher is also big shareholder in many US banks, thanks to the leadership of its chairman and Berkshire Hathaway number two Charlie Munger. On Monday it said that one of its quarterly earnings statements “should no longer be relied on.”

The problem is an expected change in how some deferred revenue will be taxed. The company said it reached this decision on December 29 — Monday — after discussing it with its new auditor, BDO.

Daily Journal had removed its prior auditor, “Big Four” member EY, in June after a dispute over its internal controls. Daily Journal also said it had notified the NASDAQ on Tuesday that it won't be able to file a timely annual report, which violates the exchange's listing rules. The company also disclosed that it “it will not provide preliminary, unaudited results for fiscal 2014 until it has more certainty regarding BDO's position on the income tax accounting.”



Denis Balibouse / Reuters

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BuzzFeed – Business

Facebook Builds Up Mobile Search To Help Index Your News Feed

The company said it was rolling out search updates to its iOS and desktop versions starting today.


Facebook's search tools are getting an update beginning today, including a new way to search for existing posts instead of only people on Facebook.

The typical example, seen above, would be for a person searching for some related topic to a person — like a vacation, or a wedding. Those search results will return photos and posts linked to those search terms, much in the same way a Google search might.

Facebook first rolled out its Graph Search in 2013, which started as an engine built around how people speak and write, with queries like “photos of my friends in New York.” Today's update brings mobile search more in line with typical keyword-focused search behaviors, though the original search queries and their variations still exist.

“You get more precision out of structured grammar, but it's difficult to formulate your queries that way,” Facebook product manager Rousseau Kazi told BuzzFeed News.

Today's update hopes to be an index of News Feed, in the same way Google is an index for the web pages across the internet. The approach is somewhat similar — build an engine that will find content for a given domain. In Google's domain, that's the Internet, while in Facebook's domain that is News Feed and the collection of one person's related posts.

This new search has natural monetary implications for Facebook. For the most part, search queries are markers of “intent” — a term often used by marketers to gauge what someone is attempting to accomplish, and how can an ad capture that intent. If someone is searching for rain boots, for example, that person may be in a mode where they are looking to buy rain boots, and an ad for rain boots might perform well on that page.

“Monetization will definitely come at some point, but right now the whole team is focused on making sure this is something people,” Kazi said. “We can take it a bunch of different ways, but the whole focus is are we ranking these things properly.”

The tools are working out on iOS and desktop in the U.S. first, then to other platforms and locations.

BuzzFeed – Business

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