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Sunday
Dec162018

Colin Kroll, co-founder of Vine and HQ Trivia, found dead in New York City apartment

Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Variety(NEW YORK) -- Colin Kroll, the co-founder and CEO of the HQ Trivia app, has died, a spokesperson for the company he founded confirmed to ABC News on Sunday.

"We learned today of the passing of our friend and founder, Colin Kroll, and it's with deep sadness that we say goodbye," the spokesperson said in a statement. "Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time."

Kroll, who was 35 years old, was found unconscious and unresponsive in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday by New York City Police after they responded to a wellness check, the NYPD said in a statement.

He was pronounced dead on the scene and the medical examiner's office is working to determine the cause of death, police added.

Drugs were found on the scene and taken for further testing, according to the NYPD.

The tech industry guru rose to prominence after founding the app Vine in 2012.

More recently, he was known for being the co-founder and an executive for the HQ Trivia app, which he co-created in 2017.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Dec162018

Prada pulls merchandise from stores over blackface accusations

Alvin Chan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Luxury Italian fashion house Prada announced that it will pull certain accessories from stock following accusations that the merchandise perpetuates blackface imagery.

Chinyere Ezie, a New York-based civil rights lawyer and social justice activist, said she spotted the "shocking" products in the windows and on the shelves of Prada's store in New York City's SoHo neighborhood in Manhattan on Thursday.

The figurines and $550 keychains, part of Prada's Pradamalia line, featured dark black faces and over-sized red lips, which Ezie said were reminiscent of the racist images and dehumanizing caricatures of black people that appeared in American theater and literature beginning in the 19th century.

In particular, Ezie pointed out similarities between the Prada merchandise and some versions of the children’s book "Little Black Sambo," whose illustrations were considered racist stereotypes of dark-skinned people.

"I was shocked to see blackface and Sambo images in a Prada SoHo window display in 2018," Ezie, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement obtained by ABC News Saturday. "This iconography has been used throughout history to mock and demean black people and strip us of our humanity -- oftentimes in response to our efforts to assert our rights."

Ezie said she happened to come across the Prada storefront on her way back to her New York City office from a civil rights conference in Washington, D.C., where she saw an exhibit on blackface at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

"It was a cruel reminder of how history continues to repeat itself," she said.

Ezie posted photos of the display on social media and expressed her outrage in a now-viral Facebook post, in which she called for people to boycott Prada.

New York City Council member Jumaane Williams shared Ezie's outrage, saying he wants to know who's behind the decision-making at Prada.

"Who looked at this marketing scheme and said this was OK?" Williams told ABC New York City station WABC in an interview Friday. "Let's pretend you've never seen history, those exaggerated features look OK to you?"

Prada released a statement on Friday announcing the company's decision to pull the products, which it said are "fantasy charms" and weren't intended to be offensive.

"Prada Group abhors racist imagery. The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface," a Prada Group spokesperson said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery. In this interest we will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation."

Ezie is now calling on Prada to donate any profits from the sale of the figurines to organizations that work to combat racism.

"Everyday racism is just a bitter pill that black people have to swallow, but we can fight back," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Dec152018

Prada pulls merchandise from stores over blackface accusations

Massimo Merlini/iStock(NEW YORK) --  Luxury Italian fashion house Prada announced that it will pull certain accessories from stock following accusations that the merchandise perpetuates blackface imagery.

Chinyere Ezie, a New York-based civil rights lawyer and social justice activist, said she spotted the "shocking" products in the windows and on the shelves of Prada's store in New York City's SoHo neighborhood in Manhattan on Thursday.

The figurines and $550 keychains, part of Prada's Pradamalia line, featured dark black faces and over-sized red lips, which Ezie said were reminiscent of the racist images and dehumanizing caricatures of black people that appeared in American theater and literature beginning in the 19th century.

In particular, Ezie pointed out similarities between the Prada merchandise and some versions of the children’s book "Little Black Sambo," whose illustrations were considered racist stereotypes of dark-skinned people.

"I was shocked to see blackface and Sambo images in a Prada SoHo window display in 2018," Ezie, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement obtained by ABC News Saturday. "This iconography has been used throughout history to mock and demean black people and strip us of our humanity -- oftentimes in response to our efforts to assert our rights."

Ezie said she happened to come across the Prada storefront on her way back to her New York City office from a civil rights conference in Washington, D.C., where she saw an exhibit on blackface at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

"It was a cruel reminder of how history continues to repeat itself," she said.

Ezie posted photos of the display on social media and expressed her outrage in a now-viral Facebook post, in which she called for people to boycott Prada.

New York City Council member Jumaane Williams shared Ezie's outrage, saying he wants to know who's behind the decision-making at Prada.

"Who looked at this marketing scheme and said this was OK?" Williams told ABC New York City station WABC in an interview Friday. "Let's pretend you've never seen history, those exaggerated features look OK to you?"

Prada released a statement on Friday announcing the company's decision to pull the products, which it said are "fantasy charms" and weren't intended to be offensive.

"Prada Group abhors racist imagery. The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface," a Prada Group spokesperson said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery. In this interest we will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation."

Ezie is now calling on Prada to donate any profits from the sale of the figurines to organizations that work to combat racism.

"Everyday racism is just a bitter pill that black people have to swallow, but we can fight back," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Dec142018

Carnival Cruise Line to offer 'first-ever roller coaster at sea'

Joel Carillet/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Carnival Cruise Line is planning to unveil what it calls the "first-ever roller coaster at sea" in 2020.

The cruise line plans to feature "BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster" on board the ship Mardi Gras when it launches in two years. The 800-foot, all-electric coaster will travel up to about 40 miles per hour and feature "twists, turns and drops."

"Mardi Gras will be our most innovative ship ever with some tryly special features and attractions," Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy said in a press release. She called the roller coaster a "one-of-a-kind, game-changing, exhilarating attraction."



Carnival's website says riders will be able to control the speed of their ride -- up to the limit, of course -- and will experience 360 degree views of the ocean around them.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Dec142018

Facebook says photo access for up to 6.8 million users unintentionally shared; 'We're sorry this happened'

golubovy/iStock(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Facebook said a software bug affected nearly 7 million users who shared photos with as many as 1,500 third-party apps on Friday.

This includes photos that were never posted, the company said.

"Our internal team discovered a photo API bug that may have affected people who used Facebook Login and granted permission to third-party apps to access their photos. We have fixed the issue but, because of this bug, some third-party apps may have had access to a broader set of photos than usual for 12 days between September 13 to September 25, 2018," the company said in a post on its developer blog.

"When someone gives permission for an app to access their photos on Facebook, we usually only grant the app access to photos people share on their timeline. In this case, the bug potentially gave developers access to other photos, such as those shared on Marketplace or Facebook Stories. The bug also impacted photos that people uploaded to Facebook but chose not to post. For example, if someone uploads a photo to Facebook but doesn't finish posting it -- maybe because they've lost reception or walked into a meeting -- we store a copy of that photo so the person has it when they come back to the app to complete their post," the company said.

The social media giant also said the bug may have affected "up to 6.8 million users and up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers," the statement said. "The only apps affected by this bug were ones that Facebook approved to access the photos API and that individuals had authorized to access their photos."

Users who were affected were notified by an alert on Facebook, the company said Friday. They also recommended users log into apps and check which photos they granted access to.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Dec142018

NY sues Target, Walmart for selling toy jewelry kits high in lead

CPSC(NEW YORK) -- New York State is suing the Target Corporation, Walmart Inc., and importer LaRose Industries, for allegedly selling a toy jewelry kit containing lead levels up to 10 times higher than the federal limit, state Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood's office announced on Thursday.

Authorities allege that those retailers and importers committed deceptive acts, false advertising and thousands of violations of state laws related to selling hazardous toys when they imported and sold thousands of Cra-Z-Jewelz jewelry-making kits between 2015 and 2016, according to the suit filed in Albany County Supreme Court.

“No parent should have to worry that their child’s toy may be toxic. As we allege, these companies imported and sold toys with dangerous levels of toxic lead -- jeopardizing the health of New York’s children and breaking the law,” Underwood said in a statement. “Our lawsuit seeks to hold these companies accountable for the failures that allowed lead-contaminated toys on store shelves, while forcing them to take responsibility for the safety of the products they sell.”

The federal limit for lead is 100 parts per million (ppm).

In a statement, Walmart said that they take safety seriously and "require our suppliers to meet safety standards."

"As soon as LaRose Industries made us aware of the product recall nearly three years ago, we removed the items from our shelves and online and haven’t sold them since. We’ve discussed this matter with the New York Attorney General’s office and will address the allegations and demands with the court," Walmart added.

Target also issued a statement in response to the lawsuit.

"As soon as the New York Attorney General let us know about the allegations with this product after its testing back in 2016, we immediately and voluntarily pulled the bracelet kit from our stores," said Target in a statement. "We’re committed to providing high quality and safe products to our guests and we require all of our vendors to follow safety laws and CPSC guidelines for the products they sell at Target."

In 2015 and 2016, the New York attorney general’s office said they tested Cra-Z-Jewelz kits sold in New York City, Long Island, Syracuse and Buffalo and found lead levels of 120 to 980 ppm in wristbands from kits sold at Target and supplied by LaRose. Prosecutors determined the same LaRose-supplied kits were sold in New York Walmart stores, according to the lawsuit.

Following the initial finding of high-lead levels in the wristbands, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, LaRose and the attorney general’s office all did additional testing that also found that there was lead contamination, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

LaRose then issued a national recall of the jewelry-making kits, according to the attorney general. They also adopted "measures to better ensure that the imported toys they sell comply with federal lead limits."

Prosecutors are seeking civil penalties from $70 to $6,000 for each Cra-Z-Jewelz kit the companies sought to sell in the state and a court order requiring the companies to "take actions to ensure that toys with high lead levels do not end up on the retailers' store shelves."

LaRose did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Dec142018

Woman demands change from tech sites after receiving parenting ads after stillbirth

bigtunaonline/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Post a photo of a baby on Facebook and you’ll see ads for diapers, toys and more, or purchase a gift for a friend’s new baby and you’ll start getting ads for baby products yourself. Users of social media know the drill when it comes to ads.

Now, one mom is calling out tech companies after her own emotional experience with ad targeting.

Gillian Brockell, of Washington, D.C., said she was inundated with ads for baby products the first time she picked up her phone after delivering her stillborn son in November.

Brockell posted an open letter on Twitter asking tech companies to fix their algorithms so that users are not confronted by ads they don’t want to see.

“Please, Tech Companies, I implore you: If your algorithms are smart enough to realize that I was pregnant, or that I’ve given birth, then surely they can be smart enough to realize that my baby died, and advertise to me accordingly -- or maybe, just maybe, not at all,” she wrote.

"We never asked for the pregnancy or parenting ads to be turned on; these tech companies triggered that on their own, based on information we shared. So what I’m asking is that there be similar triggers to turn this stuff off on its own, based on information we’ve shared," Brockell added.

The letter by Brockell was published this week by The Washington Post, where she works as a video editor.

Brockell, who declined to comment for this article, noted in her letter that social media platforms should be able to detect from her online activity that she did not deliver a healthy baby.

“But didn’t you also see me googling 'braxton hicks vs. preterm labor' and 'baby not moving'? Did you not see my three days of social media silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me?” she wrote. “And then the announcement post with keywords like 'heartbroken' and 'problem' and 'stillborn' and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends? Is that not something you could track?”

Brockell’s letter has been shared on Twitter more than 25,000 times. Many of the commenters shared similar experiences.

“I received big envelopes and packages in the mail from Shutterfly on my baby’s due date and for many months, encouraging me to capture memories of the first year. I had miscarried at 12 weeks and I never signed up for Shutterfly. So sorry for your loss,” wrote one commenter.

“Heartbreaking. I lost four pregnancies (although thankfully all much earlier) so I absolutely understand exactly how horrific these posts can be. So sorry and wishing you all the best in persuading them to tackle this,” wrote another.

Brockell also received a tweet in reply to her post from Rob Goldman, the vice president of ads for Facebook, who said the platform is working on the issue.

Goldman shared that there is a way to change ad settings manually on Facebook, by going to Settings>Ad Preferences>Hide ad topics.

Brockell said in a later tweet that once she adjusted her ad settings on Facebook, she received an ad about adoption.

Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, did not reply to requests for comment.

"We cannot imagine the pain of those who have experienced this type of loss,” a spokesperson for Twitter told ABC News' Good Morning America in a statement. “We are continuously working on improving our advertising products to ensure they serve appropriate content to the people who use our services."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Dec142018

KFC selling fireplace log that smells like fried chicken

KFC(NEW YORK) -- The holidays are synonymous with the intoxicating aroma of good food and the smell of a cracking fire -- but KFC has just married the two with a KFC 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog.

That's right, the comfort of a warm fire and the smell of Kentucky Fried Chicken can now waft from your fireplace, "to create a delightful, hearth-warming and hunger-inducing experience," according to the company.

The five-pound logs were created in partnership with Enviro-Log, and "is dramatically less wasteful and significantly more effective at making your home smell like fried chicken than burning actual fried chicken."

There are some caveats, KFC points out -- notably that the smell could attract hungry bears or neighbors, and, of course, that you shouldn't attempt to actually taste the log while it's not burning and especially when it is.

If they're not sold out, you can get yours at KFC.com/fire-log.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Dec132018

MaxMara reportedly bringing back Nancy Pelosi's viral fire-colored coat 

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After Nancy Pelosi walked out of the White House in a fire-red, high-collared coat earlier this week after a contentious meeting with President Trump, her sartorial statement went so viral that the coat's designer, MaxMara, is reportedly planning to bring back the design in 2019.

The House minority leader, and likely future speaker of the House, made headlines when her meeting with Trump erupted into political fireworks around the topic of border wall funding.

After the meeting, Pelosi buttoned up in her bright-hued MaxMara jacket, popped on some sunglasses walked out of the White House to face the press alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Photos of her fashion-forward exit quickly went viral across social media, with the coat taking center stage and hundreds coveting over the bright-colored, classic statement piece.

A parody account, in the voice of the coat itself, was started on Twitter.

The coat's designer was eventually identified by eagle-eyed fashionistas online as MaxMara, and the fashion label put out a statement on Facebook Thursday saying they are "honored" that Pelosi wore their coat "to her recent historic meeting at the White House."

"This boule shaped, funnel collar coat represents lasting values and projects both personal strength and glamour," the Italian fashion house added.

Pelosi's daughter, Christine Pelosi, tweeted that her mother originally bought the coat for President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Many on Twitter eventually pointed out that she wore to that event as well.

MaxMara did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment, but Glamour reported Wednesday that MaxMara will be bringing the coat, originally from their 2013 collection, back to stores in 2019.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Dec132018

Google Maps launches transit option for Lime e-scooters and bikes in 13 cities

Google (NEW YORK) -- Lime, the e-bike and scooter company, will be integrated into Google Maps as a transportation option and launched in 13 cities around the globe, the companies said.

Icons for available Lime vehicles — whether they are bicycles or electric bikes or scooters — will begin appearing on Thursday in the Google Maps "directions" or transit tab. Google will also show the vehicles' locations and the estimated cost of the trip, according to a press release from Lime and a blog post from Google. Because Lime scooters and bicycles are dockless, the location information is significant.

Google Maps has already integrated the ride sharing apps Lyft and Uber. Alphabet Ventures — the capital arm of Google's parent company, Alphabet — and Uber have invested in Lime.

In an email to ABC News, a Google spokesperson said that this relationship would not affect users' data privacy.

"Lime shares vehicle availability and pricing information to surface this useful information within Google Maps. We are not sharing any data with them," the spokesperson said.

Hospitals and health centers in cities where e-scooters have launched have seen an uptick in emergency room visits for broken bones and serious head injuries. Two fatal accidents have been tied to Lime scooters. The company has recalled an undisclosed number of its scooters twice this year. The first affected vehicles had batteries that could catch fire. The most recent recall in November came after numerous reports of the brand's scooters breaking apart while in use.

In the U.S. the cities launched in Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Antonio, San Jose, Scottsdale and Seattle. The feature also kicked off in Auckland, New Zealand and Brisbane, Australia.

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