Gritty surprises kid with custom Gritty prosthetic leg

Gritty is so many things, but above all, he’s a big hairy piece of joy.

On Tuesday, Gritty, the legendary Philadelphia Flyers mascot, surprised 7-year-old fan Caiden O’Rourke at Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Gritty was there to deliver a custom Gritty-themed prosthetic leg to Caiden, who was born with a rare orthopedic condition that requires him to use two prosthetic legs.

Caiden, whose birthday is in a week, seemed thrilled to receive it. Look at his face.

Hospital staff reached out to the Flyers after Caiden requested that his next prosthetic be Gritty-themed. Caiden has had multiple sports-themed prosthetic legs in the past, many of them from Philadelphia teams, according to Fox 29.

Caiden also received a custom Philadelphia Flyers jersey.

Twitter was delighted by the entire exchange.

Gritty, please consider coming to the Mashable office to meet me, a 35-year-old adult. 

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25 tweets about being lactose intolerant that won't give you a stomachache

Fraternizing with the enemy.
Fraternizing with the enemy.
Image: Getty Images / EyeEm

People who are lactose intolerant love to pretend they are not lactose intolerant. And who can blame them? Cheese tastes very good.

Still, it’s not a good feeling (to say the least) to realize that the strawberry milkshake you drank to feel like a Riverdale character has betrayed you after all. You knew it was going to happen, didn’t you? But that’s the thing about risking dairy when you’re lactose intolerant. You’re just going to keep getting burned by the enemy. (The enemy is lactose.)

Are you currently experiencing earth-shattering regret after choosing to eat two slices of pizza for lunch? Look at these tweets — you’re not alone! Yes, your stomach still hurts, but maybe you can laugh a little to ease the pain. Don’t laugh too hard, though. That will absolutely make it worse.

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Facebook firing Mark Zuckerberg? Don't get your hopes up.

Is there any way to check Mark Zuckerberg's power at Facebook?
Is there any way to check Mark Zuckerberg’s power at Facebook?
Image: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

You may have heard that some people are unhappy with Facebook and, more specifically, its chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In April, after years of scandals, a group of Facebook investors tried to replace Zuckerberg as chairman. That proposal and three other anti-Zuckerberg proposals were shot down at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Calls to oust Zuckerberg are coming from outside of Facebook, as well. The nonprofit Fight for the Future called for his removal in a very visible demonstration during that same shareholder meeting.

Whether it’s for Facebook’s role in the 2016 presidential election or its mishandling of private user data, it’s clear that plenty of people are unhappy with Zuckerberg’s leadership. But what can they actually do about it?

Mashable spoke to experts on corporate governance, as well as activists, and came to the conclusion that — at least in the short term — very little can be done to force Facebook to take away Zuckerberg’s power.

Zuckerberg has had to address Facebook's scandals everal times in recent years.

Zuckerberg has had to address Facebook’s scandals everal times in recent years.

Image: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/getty images

The reason? Zuckerberg controls a special type of share that give him 10 times the number of votes than the holder of a regular share, per Bloomberg. Do the math, and it turns out Zuckerberg controls nearly 60 percent of all shareholder votes by himself. 

But, if enough people became fed up with Facebook and stopped using its services, that could prompt some introspection at the company … in theory.

“It will only change when the leadership team at Facebook feels that they have to change in order to be successful as an organization,” Stanford lecturer Robert Siegel said. “As long as leadership feels they can hold the line on this, they will continue to do so.”

It doesn’t look especially likely anytime in the near future. Facebook seems more than happy to stick with its current approach because the company continues to do well. Aside from the namesake social network, Zuckerberg presides over popular apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as the growing Oculus VR hardware division.

In other words, no amount of negative press has hurt Facebook’s bottom line enough to inspire change at the top, at least not yet. 

So what about the government? Distrust of big tech companies is one of the few bipartisan issues in Washington right now — the FTC has been investigating Facebook for privacy issues for some time, while Congress launched an antitrust probe into several companies including Facebook earlier this week.

In addition, Democratic presidential candidates including Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden have at least gestured at the idea of cracking down on Facebook. A common theme among people Mashable spoke to was that government action was the most likely way to force change at Facebook.

However, even if government regulation is the most likely outcome, that doesn’t make it all that likely. As NYU professor Arun Sundararajan put it, the threat of regulation might be more powerful than direct regulation itself.

“I think that it’s very unlikely that a government agency will directly try and make a change to the leadership structure of a publicly traded company,” Sundararajan said. “If there’s a feeling within the company that the regulatory pressure may be alleviated in part through Facebook adopting a more democratic and more balanced governance structure, I can see that as a pathway to bringing in an independent chairman.”

Protestors from the pressure group Avaaz demonstrate outside Portcullis house where Facebook's Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer is to be questioned by members of parliament in London on April 26, 2018.

Protestors from the pressure group Avaaz demonstrate outside Portcullis house where Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer is to be questioned by members of parliament in London on April 26, 2018.


Steve Koepp co-founded From Day One, a conference series on corporate values, but he was also an editor at Time and Fortune during Facebook’s rise to prominence. He and other Time staffers met with Zuckerberg in 2006 as he explained the then-new News Feed to the magazine staff. 

Koepp said Zuckerberg was “clearly a very driven guy” at the time. But Koepp wonders how many of the company’s changes to data privacy and election coverage will be significant rather than symbolic.

“There’s not one thing that’s gonna knock him from his perch, but people coming at him from a lot of angles,” Koepp said. “He’s highly motivated to fend these things off or get ahead of them.”

If things get past that point, it’s uncertain what direct government regulation of a company like Facebook would look like at this point. Sundararajan suggested possibly breaking up Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp into separate companies or the adoption of stronger data privacy rules for users. The issue of “fake news” could also come into play here.

Right now, there are multiple activist campaigns aimed at reining in Facebook. Freedom From Facebook’s stated goal is to get the FTC to break up Facebook in the way described above, and co-chair Sarah Miller said pressuring entities such as the FTC and Congress is more important than directly calling for Zuckerberg’s removal at this juncture.

“We think that it is their responsibility … to step up, do their jobs and be the cop on the beat here,” Miller said. “While we certainly wouldn’t object to Zuckerberg’s power being reduced, we think that regardless of who is at the helm, Facebook is one of the world’s most dangerous monopolies and only the government is in the position to change that.”

Miller also acknowledged that accountability at the top would be “meaningful” for changing the company’s culture. The nonprofit Fight For the Future struck a slightly different tone earlier this year when it projected “Fire Zuck” onto the wall of the hotel where Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting was held. 

“Do I trust the federal government to get this done? No.”

Fight For the Future deputy chair Evan Greer also admitted getting Zuckerberg out of Facebook wouldn’t rid the world of its ills, but it could be an important step in a much larger process.

“Getting Mark Zuckerberg out at Facebook is not going to fix everything that’s wrong at Facebook at all, but it would be one way to show progress,” Greer said. “This isn’t the silver bullet that’s going to magically change Silicon Valley and make it better, but this is a great first step.”

Both Miller and Greer also agreed that persistence from activists and shifting public opinion against Facebook could force government action on the matter. There is even vocal dissent among company shareholders. But, to Greer, regulation from the highest level won’t happen on its own.

“Do I trust the federal government to get this done? No,” Greer said. “Do I trust the grassroots internet freedom movement to fight like hell to make them get it done? Absolutely.”

To some, the best pathway forward is democratic reform within companies like Facebook. Sundararajan felt that people within Facebook had a higher level of expertise on the sensitive issues at hand and could ultimately be better at fixing things than government forces. 

“I think any smart forward-looking company at this point in time will realize that they have what resembles government-like power on a wide range of issues from surveillance to censorship, to shaping our physical space through augmented reality and intellectual property,” Sundararajan said. “As they sort of embrace this responsibility, they also realize their viability as custodians of the public trust is only possible in the long run if they move from being benevolent dictatorships they are today towards having a slightly more democratic governance structure.”

According to Greer, the removal of Zuckerberg or larger regulation of big tech would not be the end of the fight. She called this “one of the most important battles of our time,” but stressed the need to not only address the issue, but get it right. 

“We don’t need to just break up these giant monopolies, but also replace them,” Greer said. “How do we envision what type of internet we want to have as opposed to what we have now?”

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Facebook makes another push to shape and define its own oversight

Facebook’s head of global spin and policy, former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, will give a speech later today providing more detail of the company’s plan to set up an ‘independent’ external oversight board to which people can appeal content decisions so that Facebook itself is not the sole entity making such decisions.

In the speech in Berlin, Clegg will apparently admit to Facebook having made mistakes. Albeit, it would be pretty awkward if he came on stage claiming Facebook is flawless and humanity needs to take a really long hard look at itself.

“I don’t think it’s in any way conceivable, and I don’t think it’s right, for private companies to set the rules of the road for something which is as profoundly important as how technology serves society,” Clegg told BBC Radio 4’s Today program this morning, discussing his talking points ahead of the speech. “In the end this is not something that big tech companies… can or should do on their own.

“I want to see… companies like Facebook play an increasingly mature role — not shunning regulation but advocating it in a sensible way.”

The idea of creating an oversight board for content moderation and appeals was previously floated by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Though it raises way more questions than it resolves — not least how a board whose existence depends on the underlying commercial platform it is supposed to oversee can possibly be independent of that selfsame mothership; or how board appointees will be selected and recompensed; and who will choose the mix of individuals to ensure the board can reflect the full spectrum diversity of humanity that’s now using Facebook’s 2BN+ user global platform?

None of these questions were raised let alone addressed in this morning’s BBC Radio 4 interview with Clegg.

Asked by the interviewer whether Facebook will hand control of “some of these difficult decisions” to an outside body, Clegg said: “Absolutely. That’s exactly what it means. At the end of the day there is something quite uncomfortable about a private company making all these ethical adjudications on whether this bit of content stays up or this bit of content gets taken down.

“And in the really pivotal, difficult issues what we’re going to do — it’s analogous to a court — we’re setting up an independent oversight board where users and indeed Facebook will be able to refer to that board and say well what would you do? Would you take it down or keep it up? And then we will commit, right at the outset, to abide by whatever rulings that board makes.”

Speaking shortly afterwards on the same radio program, Damian Collins, who chairs a UK parliamentary committee that has called for Facebook to be investigated by the UK’s privacy and competition regulators, suggested the company is seeking to use self-serving self-regulation to evade wider responsibility for the problems its platform creates — arguing that what’s really needed are state-set broadcast-style regulations overseen by external bodies with statutory powers.

“They’re trying to pass on the responsibility,” he said of Facebook’s oversight board. “What they’re saying to parliaments and governments is well you make things illegal and we’ll obey your laws but other than that don’t expect us to exercise any judgement about how people use our services.

“We need as level of regulation beyond that as well. Ultimately we need — just as have in broadcasting — statutory regulation based on principles that we set, and an investigatory regulator that’s got the power to go in and investigate, which, under this board that Facebook is going to set up, this will still largely be dependent on Facebook agreeing what data and information it shares, setting the parameters for investigations. Where we need external bodies with statutory powers to be able to do this.”

Clegg’s speech later today is also slated to spin the idea that Facebook is suffering unfairly from a wider “techlash”.

Asked about that during the interview, the Facebook PR seized the opportunity to argue that if Western society imposes too stringent regulations on platforms and their use of personal data there’s a risk of “throw[ing] the baby out with the bathwater”, with Clegg smoothly reaching for the usual big tech talking points — claiming innovation would be “almost impossible” if there’s not enough of a data free for all, and the West risks being dominated by China, rather than friendly US giants.

By that logic we’re in a rights race to the bottom — thanks to the proliferation of technology-enabled global surveillance infrastructure, such as the one operated by Facebook’s business.

Clegg tried to pass all that off as merely ‘communications as usual’, making no reference to the scale of the pervasive personal data capture that Facebook’s business model depends upon, and instead arguing its business should be regulated in the same way society regulates “other forms of communication”. Funnily enough, though, your phone isn’t designed to record what you say the moment you plug it in…

“People plot crimes on telephones, they exchange emails that are designed to hurt people. If you hold up any mirror to humanity you will always see everything that is both beautiful and grotesque about human nature,” Clegg argued, seeking to manage expectations vis-a-vis what regulating Facebook should mean. “Our job — and this is where Facebook has a heavy responsibility and where we have to work in partnership with governments — is to minimize the bad and to maximize the good.”

He also said Facebook supports “new rules of the road” to ensure a “level playing field” for regulations related to privacy; election rules; the boundaries of hate speech vs free speech; and data portability —  making a push to flatten regulatory variation which is often, of course, based on societal, cultural and historical differences, as well as reflecting regional democratic priorities.

It’s not at all clear how any of that nuance would or could be factored into Facebook’s preferred universal global ‘moral’ code — which it’s here, via Clegg (a former European politician), leaning on regional governments to accept.

Instead of societies setting the rules they choose for platforms like Facebook, Facebook’s lobbying muscle is being flexed to make the case for a single generalized set of ‘standards’ which won’t overly get in the way of how it monetizes people’s data.

And if we don’t agree to its ‘Western’ style surveillance, the threat is we’ll be at the mercy of even lower Chinese standards…

“You’ve got this battle really for tech dominance between the United States and China,” said Clegg, reheating Zuckerberg’s senate pitch last year when the Facebook founder urged a trade off of privacy rights to allow Western companies to process people’s facial biometrics to not fall behind China. “In China there’s no compunction about how data is used, there’s no worry about privacy legislation, data protection and so on — we should not emulate what the Chinese are doing but we should keep our ability in Europe and North America to innovate and to use data proportionately and innovat[iv]ely.

“Otherwise if we deprive ourselves of that ability I can predict that within a relatively short period of time we will have tech domination from a country with wholly different sets of values to those that are shared in this country and elsewhere.”

What’s rather more likely is the emergence of discrete Internets where regions set their own standards — and indeed we’re already seeing signs of splinternets emerging.

Clegg even briefly brought this up — though it’s not clear why (and he avoided this point entirely) Europeans should fear the emergence of a regional digital ecosystem that bakes respect for human rights into digital technologies.

With European privacy rules also now setting global standards by influencing policy discussions elsewhere — including the US — Facebook’s nightmare is that higher standards than it wants to offer Internet users will become the new Western norm.

Collins made short work of Clegg’s techlash point, pointing out that if Facebook wants to win back users’ and society’s trust it should stop acting like it has everything to hide and actually accept public scrutiny.

“They’ve done this to themselves,” he said. “If they want redemption, if they want to try and wipe the slate clean for Mack Zuckerberg he should open himself up more. He should be prepared to answer more questions publicly about the data that they gather, whether other companies like Cambridge Analytica had access to it, the nature of the problem of disinformation on the platform. Instead they are incredibly defensive, incredibly secretive a lot of the time. And it arouses suspicion.

“I think people were quite surprised to discover the lengths to which people go to to gather data about us — even people who don’t even use Facebook. And that’s what’s made them suspicious. So they have to put their own house in order if they want to end this.”

Last year Collins’ DCMS committee repeatedly asked Zuckerberg to testify to its enquiry into online disinformation — and was repeatedly snubbed…

Collins also debunked an attempt by Clegg to claim there’s no evidence of any Russian meddling on Facebook’s platform targeting the UK’s 2016 EU referendum — pointing out that Facebook previously admitted to a small amount of Russian ad spending that did target the EU referendum, before making the wider point that it’s very difficult for anyone outside Facebook to know how its platform gets used/misused; Ads are just the tip of the political disinformation iceberg.

“It’s very difficult to investigate externally, because the key factors — like the use of tools like groups on Facebook, the use of inauthentic fake accounts boosting Russian content, there have been studies showing that’s still going on and was going on during the [US] parliamentary elections, there’s been no proper audit done during the referendum, and in fact when we first went to Facebook and said there’s evidence of what was going on in America in 2016, did this happen during the referendum as well, they said to us well we won’t look unless you can prove it happened,” he said.

“There’s certainly evidence of suspicious Russian activity during the referendum and elsewhere,” Collins added.

We asked Facebook for Clegg’s talking points for today’s speech but the company declined to share more detail ahead of time.

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The 10 biggest lies we tell each other on Instagram

Before deepfakes and alternative facts, the online world was already telling us fibs. In our series Lies the Internet Told Me, we call ’em all out.

Liar, liar, feed’s on fire!

It’s safe to say that in 2019 we’re all trying to be on our best Instagram game. That means bright colors, no-filter filters, and FaceTuned perfection. 

What we also know, as people of the internet, is that most of it isn’t real. The nonstop loop of highlight reels belonging to people we may not even know usually entails a very wee percentage of our waking lives. Instead of the truth, we get the rare moments in which our hair is just right, our coffee table is freshly cleared, and the waffles aren’t soggy yet. 

Reminding ourselves that what we see may have only a passing resemblance to actuality is crucial, lest we start to expect a life free of anything other than perfectly poached eggs and forever fresh shoes. 

What do we lie about? Well, reader, to put it frankly: everything. Here are 10 of the most prevalent falsehoods on the app.

1. “I only wear cute clothes. Like, ever.”

With trending hashtags like #ootd (“outfit of the day,” for the fit-pic-deficient) and #instafashion, it’s hard to avoid images of people dressed like they just got back from a successful shopping trip. And they probably did! But what they’re not posting is the laundry-day outfit they wore to the grocery store. 

2. “Clutter? Not in my home!”

Plants. Candles. Books you’ve never read. These homely accoutrements abound in the abodes on Instagram. Sometimes the items are arranged in such a way that doesn’t resemble any sort of livable reality. Case in point: This art book resting open on a small fur rug. How does one go about flipping through those expensive-looking pages? Do they recline on the bed with their head and arms dangling off? Or sit pretzel-style on the fur rug, hunched over the book?

3. “Endeavors that require skill are super easy!” 

Makeup and baking are probably the two most common culprits here. We see people applying primer with precision and eyeshadow with ease, usually while playing upbeat radio-hit music. Suddenly the person who wasn’t wearing makeup 30 seconds ago is sporting a full face — and it looks uh-mazing. 

With baking, posters employ the same sort of editing and digital sleights of hand to achieve a breezy result. Whether it’s icing a cake or making sliders, foodie Instagrammers know how to make their process seem fast and simple. Since we’re viewing the whole process in a 15-second clip, it’s hard to recognize the labor that actually went into these ‘grammable treats. 

4. Celebrities love their paparazzi shots.

Stars, especially models, are always posting paparazzi shots of themselves. This can lead one to believe that these special creatures truly “woke up flawless,” as Beyoncé would say. The truth, however, is that celebrities have many different relationships with paparazzi. Sometimes the stars are working with the paps in order to achieve a certain shot — like appearing candid while holding a product they were paid to be seen with. 

Singer Bebe Rexha just posted a paparazzi shot that she detests, saying, “Im posting it cause it’s REAL.” That’s pretty remarkable. After all, most celebs usually only post the pap shots that are the most flattering. We don’t see the ones where they have a double chin or are mid-blink … you know, the state of normal people. Stars — they’re just like us!

5. “I’m perfect.”

Facetune is one of the most popular photo editing apps in the Apple app store. Since being released in 2013, it’s come a long way, making it easier than ever to completely overhaul one’s face, from getting rid of pores to making eyes brighter. Nobody needs plastic surgery when Facetune is loaded on their phone. With a quick couple of swipes, a new nose could be yours to show the world. 

This sort of digital deception, though, comes with consequences. Journalist Julia Brucculieri gave herself a nose job, and it “crushed” her self-confidence — she ended up liking her digital nose more than her own. Brucculieri ultimately decided not to keep the app on her phone, knowing it would lead to unhealthy habits. “I like to think that part of me realized if I did have FaceTune on my phone, I’d spend way too many hours trying to turn my face into Kendall Jenner’s,” she said. 

6. “I always keep random products by my side.” 

Product placement is an insidious beast on Instagram. In an age in which everyone and their mom is supposedly selling something, it can be hard to tell who’s being paid and who just genuinely likes a product. 

Here’s Kendall Jenner lying in the sun in a towel. Several inches from her face is a tube of Proactiv. Her use of the #proactive_ambassador hashtag lets us know it’s an ad. What we don’t know is whether she actually uses Proactiv … or if she just got paid enough to pretend that she does. 

7. “My meal is perfect.”

We’ve all witnessed (or been) that person who won’t eat a bite of brunch until they get a picture first. It seems that after one mimosa, everyone becomes a creative director, tilting their cutlery this way and that, shoving their dirty napkin out of the shot, and maybe even making a mess, all for the ubiquitous snap of their poached egg. We just hope you wipe down the table after your photoshoot. 

8. “I’m best friends with that person I haven’t seen since college, six years ago.”

It’s a tricky chore deciding who gets a public birthday post. Who makes the cut and who doesn’t? For some, the answer is everyone they’ve ever met. Nicole, 25, has a chronic birthday poster; it’s even more awkward because they’re not close. “We graduated 4 years ago and don’t talk much anymore, but every birthday she still posts multiple old photos of us with the same levels of enthusiasm she did when we were at school. I know I’m not the only one she does this with. As she makes more friends, her birthday stories are becoming hilariously frequent. I think she recently celebrated three people in one day. A lot.” While birthday posts are NBD, the cheery well-wishing can be misleading, making people appear closer than they actually are.

9. “I got the perfect pic on the first try!”

With multiple platforms on which to post selfies, it’s imperative to upload the one. I only have personal experience to back me up, but I think it’s safe to say that getting the shot takes a couple of tries. And by a couple, I mean 753. 

Ansel Elgort may have been shedding light on the falseness of first-try culture when he posted a slew of 17 photos to his Instagram feed recently, giving followers a glimpse into what his camera roll looks like. It’s refreshing to see a big movie star appearing indecisive about which shot to post. Or maybe he just wanted to put himself out there 17 different times. Either way, thank you, Ansel, for each and every angle. 

The 10 biggest lies we tell each other on Instagram

10.  Linear time doesn’t exist on instagram.

Apps like Timehop make it easy to take a stroll down memory lane on a daily basis and then post any relic you may find. Throwback Thursday (#tbt) and Flashback Friday (#fbf) turn the tail end of the week into a free-for-all for any old content you wish to post. It’s all nostalgic fun and games, but this can create a blurry timeline, devoid of life’s ticking clock. When things on social media get blurry, people start to worry. How many times have you had to hold off on posting something because you told one friend you were sick and couldn’t go out, only to do just that with another? 

It’s also all too easy to use the Stories feature to slyly deceive your followers. Simply upload a picture from last week and then drag the timestamp Instagram sticks on it into the little white trash button at the bottom of the screen. This allows users to sit on the couch on Friday and upload pics and videos from that forbidden party they attended on Wednesday. Careful, lest you set the group chat on fire. 

Look, we’re all guilty of projecting a better version of ourselves online. If it were a crime, we’d all be behind bars. But if you buy into the lies, you may as well be buying everything else these deceptive Instagrammers are selling you. Save your money and your mind — scroll with a grain of salt. Not everything you see is true, but as long as you’re aware of that, it’s probably fine. 

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Image: kendall jenner / apartment therapy / gwenandwear / instagram

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