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Saturday
Mar162013

Auschwitz Survivor Using Facebook to Search for Twin

Courtesy Menachem Bodner(JERUSALEM) -- A 72-year-old Auschwitz survivor has taken his search for his twin brother to Facebook.

Menachem B., who wants to keep his last name private, last saw his brother 68 years ago when he was 4 years old. Menachem B.'s given name was Elias Gottesmann. He changed his name after surviving the concentration camp.

If his brother Jeno Gottesmann is alive, he could be anywhere with any name. The only definite link between the two is the "A7734" tattooed on their forearms from the concentration camp.

Memories from the time are few, but Menachem remembers that he had a twin brother. He also has a distinct memory of being outside playing in the yard and knowing his brother was asleep in bed when Nazi officers came to the house to take them. They lived in an area of Hungary that is now part of Ukraine. After surviving the Holocaust, the twins were separated.

Menachem, who now lives in Israel, recounted the memories to Ayana KimRon, the Israeli genealogist who is helping him look for his brother.

After months of research and dead ends, KimRon turned to Facebook for the world's help.

She posted a black and white photo of 5-year-old Menachem after the war and a photo of him now. The photo of him as a child has been shared more than 50,000 times and the Facebook page has more than 12,000 supporters from around the world.

KimRon said they have both been surprised and "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support from around the world. "In general, he feels lucky with the support and prayers and hope from all over the world," KimRon said. "I'm updating him at least once a day, if not twice."

KimRon said that the draw to Menachem and his story is stronger than just wanting to solve a mystery. She hopes helping him find his brother could "help him have a different state of mind and more emotional freedom in his life." "It's a tough mission, but we'll get there," she said confidently. "I gave him a promise," KimRon said. "I'm going to find his brother dead or alive, even if it takes me my whole life. I'm not going to stop."

Anyone with information about Jeno is asked to email FamilyRoots2000@gmail.com.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov212012

Top Israeli Official’s Facebook, Twitter Accounts Hacked

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A group of pro-Palestinian hackers apparently managed to hack the social networking accounts of Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom and has promised to release a trove of the top official’s private emails.

Though the Israeli government now appears to have regained control of the accounts, screenshots posted on various news outlets overnight show Shalom’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts plastered with pro-Palestinian messages.  An official at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed the hacking incident.

A group calling itself ZCompanyHackingCrew (ZHC) boasted about the hack on Twitter and claimed it had also accessed Shalom’s personal email account where they stole “his contacts, docs [documents], and some other interesting stuff.”  The group said it plans to release them online “very soon.”

ZHC specified that it is not part of the loose hacking collective Anonymous, which has declared its own cyber war against Israel.

Wednesday morning, ZHC taunted Shalom on Twitter, asking, “How was your day Mr. Vice Prime Minister?”

The messages purportedly posted by the hackers have been deleted from Shalom’s Facebook and Twitter and the deputy prime minister has apparently not made public statements with either account since the incident.

Shalom did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

German Web Stunt Turns Deadly

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A German amateur stunt performer died instantly from head injuries after being thrown from a spinning playground carousel in a Jackass-style stunt gone awry in the Bavarian town of Oberviehbach.

The 20-year-old man, known only as Tobias, was part of the group known as the “Bavarian Dumbasses,” a gang of six young German men who gained notoriety for filming their shenanigans and posting them to the web via YouTube and Facebook.

Tobias was taped to the playground carousel and roped to a BMW by his three cohorts on Sunday, according to the Munchner Merkur newspaper. With the rope hitched to the car, the three other young men, who the paper said were 18-20 years old, then put the car in full throttle in attempt to spin Tobias as fast as possible.

As the car took off, Tobias was propelled by centrifugal force at an incredibly high speed – so fast that the tape tore off and he was sent hurtling six yards from the merry-go-round and head first into the ground.

Police are now looking at manslaughter charges against the friends, according to the paper.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan092012

About 'Effin' Time: Facebook Recognizes Existence of Irish Town

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(EFFIN, Ireland) -- Facebook gave an Effin Christmas present.

Effin, a parish in County Limerick, Ireland, could be listed as a hometown on Facebook profiles as of last month, the Irish Independent reported.

The company’s software previously hadn’t allowed it, and Ann Marie Kennedy, an Effin woman who had complained publicly, thought it must be because the name coincided with a common euphemism, making it “offensive,” the report said.

“I’m a proud Effin woman, and I will always be an Effin woman,” Kennedy, who works at the University of Limerick, told the Independent during her campaign.

Facebook ignored Effin not out of censorship, but because it was a parish, not a village or town, according to Silicon Republic.

Indeed, F***ing, Austria, is welcome on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Mid-Air Matchmaking? Dutch Airline to Let Passengers Choose Seatmates on Facebook?

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(AMSTELVEEN, The Netherlands) -- A new policy by a Dutch airline will allow passengers to choose their seatmates based on Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

KLM hopes to roll out the "Social Seating" policy in 2012, according to a company representative.

The airline will allow fliers to access other passengers' social media information when checking onto a flight online and then choose their seatmate based on similar interests, USA Today reported. They will also be able to link their own social media profiles with their check-in information, allowing others to see and choose them.

The policy would also allow passengers to opt out of the service if they want, the report said.

A KLM representative said the project was still in its development phase and the company could not yet share details on how it would work.

Other attempts to integrate social networking and air travel have floundered in the past, including a failed company called AirTroductions, which offered an online dating service for frequent travelers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec122011

Russian President Responds to Protests over Elections on Facebook

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev went on Facebook Sunday to answer the tens of thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets in cities all across the country calling for new elections and the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In a post on his Facebook page, Medvedev dismissed the demonstrators’ complaints, but said he has called for an investigation of the parliamentary elections last week, which demonstrators and independent observers said were riddled with fraud.

“Under the Constitution, citizens of Russia have freedom of speech and freedom of Assembly. People have a right to express their position, which they did yesterday,” Medvedev’s short post said. “Well, that all took place within the framework of the law. I do not agree with any slogans or statements made at the rallies. Nevertheless, I have given an order to investigate all correspondence from polling stations regarding compliance with election law.”

Among the thousands of responses, most were derisive of the president and his statement.

“Doesn’t the president of Russia agree with the slogan 'For honest elections'?" one wrote.

Another said, “A stuffed clown, not a president.”

Political analysts also expressed surprise that Medvedev would respond in such an apparently informal manner to the largest public demonstration in Moscow since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The protests were remarkable not only for their size and peacefulness, but for the range of participants: There were people of all ages and the entire political spectrum of opposition to the current government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec022011

Woman Wants Hometown Effin Recognized on Facebook

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LIMERICK, Ireland) -- Ann Marie Kennedy loves her hometown of Effin, Ireland. She just wishes Facebook would recognize its existence.

Kennedy told the Irish Independent that she was unable to list Effin, in county Limerick, as her hometown on her Facebook page. She believes it might be because Facebook finds the name of the village “obscene or offensive.”

“I’m a proud Effin woman, and I will always be an Effin woman,” Kennedy, who works at the University of Limerick, told the paper.

Facebook is looking into the issue -- which may have more to do with how small a place Effin is rather than the wholesomeness of the name.

“From time to time, we are alerted to oversights such as this in our mapping system. We will look to correct it to ensure places like Effin can be ‘liked’ on Facebook,” said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

Kennedy isn’t the only Facebook user who is frustrated at the site’s geography. On the Facebook page “My hometown is not listed -- is yours?” a number of site users raise similar issues.

“Facebook admin please add Putaruru NZ,” pleads New Zealander Simon Arrowsmith.

Effin does appear on Facebook in another form -- the Effin GAA page (for friends of the Effin Gaelic Athletic Association, which promotes traditional Irish games like hurling) has more than 950 friends.

And Kennedy has started a “Please get my hometown Effin recognised” page, where some scenic pictures of the village have been posted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

Teacher Punished for Stealing Facebook Photos

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(GWENT, Wales) -- A primary school teacher in Wales who stole Facebook photos of a child to trick her ex-boyfriend into thinking she had given birth to his baby has been banned from teaching for two years.

Victoria Jones, 23, allegedly wanted revenge after her 26-year-old boyfriend, Daniel Barberini, dumped her after they had dated for 16 months, Wales News Service reported. So she grabbed her friend's baby pictures from Facebook and passed them off as her own.

In an email to Barberini, Jones claimed she had given birth to his twins -- a boy who died soon after birth, and a girl who she had taken to live in Australia.

"This is so sick -- it has just destroyed us," the true mother of the child, Sarah Jensen, told Wales News Service this week. "Daniel had 82 pictures of Aliyah on his Facebook -- all sent by Vicky who made out the baby was theirs."

Jensen provided the emails to Wales News Service. On April 15, 2009 Jones wrote, "It's 9.15pm over here. Kei is sleeping right through now. She's growing up so quickly. I mean she was born premature, and yet she's fit and healthy and doing soooo well. I'm so proud!!!!"

In October, Jones appears to be answering a series of questions from Barberini about the little girl he thought was his child: "What's her favourite activity to do with her mum? Cuddles and she loves swimming. Has she picked up any naughty habits yet? Only throwing things when I say no!" she wrote. "How's walking? Too good - she's discovered speed so is like a running machine!"

Earlier that same year, Jones wrote, "You will never find anyone that loves you as much as I once did. I was always there for you and always cared for you ... You find that kind of loyalty and love again? Well I doubt it to be honest."

Barberini reportedly believed the child was his, until he showed pictures of the little girl to a friend who knew Jensen.

When Jensen found out, she called the Gwent Police.

Jones taught 3-year-olds at Ringland Primary School, so the police contacted the General Teaching Council for Wales, a professional regulatory body comprised of teachers. The Council then held a tribunal to examine whether Jones' actions had violated the Council's code of conduct. Jones admitted she had taken the pictures, but denied any professional misconduct.

One section of the code requires that teachers "act with honesty and integrity," by representing "themselves, their experience, professional position and qualifications honestly."

At Friday's hearing, attended by the Wales News Service, the Council found Jones guilty of misconduct, but ruled she had not compromised her trust with pupils or dishonored the school itself. She is barred from teaching for two years at which point she can reapply for her job.

A spokesman for Ringland Primary School was not immediately available for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug172011

Four Years in Jail for U.K. Pair Who Incited Riots on Facebook

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Two young British men have been jailed for four years each after admitting they used Facebook to urge people to riot in their local neighborhoods.

The stiff sentences have attracted fierce debate across England, with some accusing authorities of handing out harsh punishment for relatively trivial offenses in response to the public's desire for retribution.

The sentences are the longest yet handed down in the aftermath of widespread rioting in English cities that began Aug. 6 and resulted in the death of five people and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage. More than 1,700 people have been arrested in the wake of the chaos so far and more than 1,000 of those have been charged.

Prime Minister David Cameron defended the English courts Wednesday, saying, "It's up to the courts to make decisions about sentencing, but they've decided to send a tough message and it's very good that the courts feel able to do that."

Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan from the county of Cheshire in northern England both posted messages on their Facebook pages on Aug. 8 and 9 urging friends to riot in certain places at certain times. Blackshaw told friends to "Smash Down Northwich Town," while Sutcliffe-Keenan created a page called "Let's Have a Riot in Latchford."

Police admit that no riots resulted from their postings and that neither of the guilty men was involved in acts of violence or theft themselves.

In passing sentence, Judge Elgan Edwards said both men acted separately and had behaved in an "evil manner inciting violence at a time when collective insanity gripped the nation."

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, criticized the sentence, complaining the sentences were far too severe.

"A four-year sentence would normally be associated with offenses such as holding someone up at knifepoint, grievous bodily harm, sexual assault," said Neilson, "and I'm not sure that the offence in question was really related to those types of offenses."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug082011

London Riots Organized Through Social Media

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- As riots continue throughout London, British police have threatened to bring charges against those who use social media to incite looting and violence.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanaugh confirmed to UK media that officers were looking at Twitter as they investigated the riots, which began after the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in the Tottenham section of North London on Thursday.

But some observers have noted that the social media that has really helped "organize" the looting is not Twitter or even Facebook, so central to uprisings throughout the Arab world earlier this year. Many of the teenagers running through London's streets are communicating by BlackBerry Messenger.

Just before Duggan died Thursday, he sent a final message to his girlfriend via BlackBerry Messenger, "The Feds are following me." Ever since, according to Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe, "While Twitter has largely been the venue of spectators to violence and is a handy public venue for journalists to observe, it would appear the non-public BlackBerry BBM messaging network has been the method of choice for organizing it."

Butcher notes that BlackBerrys cost less than smartphones and that BBM is both essentially cost-free and invisible to police. In order to communicate, BBM users must exchange PINs, but their conversations are private. They can spread their PINs via SMS, Twitter or other means.

Blogger Jonathan Akwue said he didn't quite understand the appeal of BlackBerrys among London teens until his "far cooler 17-year-old nephew" explained that BBM was "the main reason for their popularity." The rioters seem to be as young as the BBM users. More than 200 alleged rioters have been arrested so far, and two-thirds of those for whom ages have been given are 21 or under.

Akwue was the first to note that BBM messages had been circulating since the Duggan shooting. "BBM was also the channel used to spread the word that the riot had started," wrote Akwue, "and from what I can tell on Twitter, it appears to be the means by which communications continue to be shared." Both Butcher and Akwue have archived reams of messages in which Londoners use Twitter to talk about BBM's role in the violence and looting, and even to offer to retweet BBM pins.

"Sending out BBM broadcasts about linking ukp at 4 pm to cause more havoc," writes one tweeter. Another says, ":o jd sports Tottenham hale just got robbed go on bbm to see da pics!" Another writes, "People had in their bbm status 'Going Tottenham riot, who's on it" like it was a casual street party. A fourth said, "According to my bbm, now something's starting in wood green."

Most telling perhaps are tweets that say, "BBM Where Ma News of Da Day Comes From" and "The news ain't even showing the extent of what's actually happening on the streets of tottenham? BBM is doing da ting right now!"

"Technology is ruining us," concludes tweeter Jessica Kennedy. "Bare man organizing riots over bbm."

Research in Motion, the manufacturer of BlackBerry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by ABC News. RIM's Patrick Spence, managing director of global sales and regional marketing, issued a statement saying, "We feel for those impacted by this weekend's riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can. As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio