Online Ad Fraud May Be Problematic for Google and Microsoft Browsers

A recent report from FraudLogix claims that online ad fraud activity was found to be highest in certain Google and Microsoft web browsers.

The report states that nearly 50% of the total ad impressions served to Internet Explorer and 20.5% of ad impressions served to Google Chrome were to “non-human” or “bot” traffic.

FraudLogix reportedly studied 135 million individual online ad impressions for a one-week span in July of 2016, analyzed the browsers, and tracked the ads its technology determined were delivered to “non-human” traffic. In addition, it was noted that fraudsters are able to infect browsers with malware and force them to load specific pages in order to manipulate them for financial gain.

These statistics can spell trouble for advertisers, as they can easily be paying for online ads that are never actually seen by real humans. Since marketers in the U.S. are projected to spend nearly $24 billion on online display advertising this year alone, the outcome of this study could have a big impact on how budgets are structured and the effectiveness of online advertising.

Understandably, both Microsoft and Google have questioned the report’s findings, stating that it isn’t possible to accurately measure fraud at the browser level. The use of bots and malware can often produce “fake” traffic that cannot be attributed to a certain browser. Therefore, these findings may be wildly inaccurate.

In addition, the percentage of potential ad fraud may be highest for Google Chrome and Internet Explorer solely because of their widespread usage. Other browsers may also be vulnerable to online ad fraud, but simply aren’t used as often and are therefore not as attractive to fraudsters.

Other browsers studied included Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Fewer than 5% of ad impressions delivered to these browsers were determined to be fraudulent by the report.

The most recent versions of Google Chrome have seemed to address these vulnerability issues, and the company has been seen to take steps to prevent instances of online ad fraud. Although one version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, 11.0, has been discontinued, it is still technically supported by the company and received the highest overall percentage of fake traffic in the study.

In order for marketers to continue to view online advertisements as a viable, attractive option, these vulnerabilities must be continued to be addressed and improved upon. Although the reach of online ads is potentially endless, companies need to be secure in the knowledge that these ads are being seen by real human beings and not bots.

Safety Regulators Investigate More Ford F-150 Brake Failures, May Expand Recall

In a well-made car, brakes typically last up to 50,000 miles. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for recent models of America’s top-selling vehicle, the Ford F-150. At least 25 complaints have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alleging sudden brake failure in 2015 and 2016 Ford F-150 pickup trucks.

Last May, a recall was announced for 271,000 model year 2013 and 2014 F-150 pickups because the master cylinders could potentially leak brake fluid, which would cause the brakes to fail. Now, in light of the recent complaints, U.S. safety regulators are investigating whether the recall should be expanded to include newer model years. It should be noted that the 2015 and 2016 models use the same engine that caused problems in the earlier models.

One Florida man told NHTSA that the brakes on his truck failed while he was driving along the Florida Turnpike. As he tried to slow down, the brake pedal hit the floor and the truck continued at 70 miles per hour towards stopped traffic. Fortunately, the driver knew enough to put the truck into neutral and swerve to the side of the road. When he took the truck to the dealership, a mechanic told the owner that the master brake cylinder was failing, and that the company was aware of this common issue.

“Why is there not a recall?” he wrote in his complaint. “I could have killed somebody.”

Other owners of 2015 and 2016 F-150 models have reported similar experiences. Some drivers say that their brake failures were accompanied by warning lights and tones, while others did not get any sort of warning at all. Fortunately, there have been no accidents or injuries.

Ford has announced that they are fully cooperating with the investigation.

“We continuously evaluate our processes for potential improvements and when the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers,” said Ford spokesperson Mike Levine in a statement.

 

Photo attribution: By Tuner tom (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DEA Cuts Opioid Production Quota, Ignores Evidence of Nontraditional Medicine to Treat Addiction

Opioid abuse has become increasingly problematic in recent years, especially heroin.

Heroin, otherwise known as diacetylmorphine or diamorphine, was first synthesized in 1874. Bayer created the drug as a painkiller, with purely medicinal intentions. Known for its euphoric effects, heroin has been abused by people worldwide, causing astronomical numbers of overdoses every year.

The DEA recently issued a statement saying that it would cut back the production quota of Schedule I and Schedule II opioids by at least 25% in 2017. The quota for hydrocodone, commonly known by the brand names Vicodin or Lortab, will be cut by one third.

This cut comes from their decreased demand in hospitals. The DEA is also hopeful that this cutback will reduce the number of opioid-related deaths and overdoses.

Current records show that more people died from drug overdose in 2014 than in any other year on record. A total of 18,893 people died as a result of prescription drug overdose, and heroin killed 10,574 people that year. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been blamed for killing many people as well, including musician Prince in April of this year.

DEA regulations encourage doctors to use non-opioid therapies over heavy narcotics to treat patients, minimizing the risk of medicinal drug addiction. These aggressive efforts, however, have been linked to increased drug-related deaths. When the U.S. government cracked down on prescription drug abuse, there was a surge in heroin use, leading us to where we are today.

“We always were concerned about heroin…We were always cognizant of the push-down, pop-up problem,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior drug policy official in the Obama administration. “But we weren’t about to let these pill mills flourish in the name of worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet. …When crooks are putting on white coats and handing out pills like candy, how could we expect a responsible administration not to act?”

Despite their proven benefits, the DEA has not approved the use of more nontraditional medicines to combat today’s drug addiction epidemic.

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under DEA regulations. This means that it is considered as dangerous as heroin and LSD, and more dangerous than hydrocodone, oxycodone, and cocaine.

The organization refuses to reschedule cannabis, despite its proven abilities to reduce opioid overdose deaths and decrease narcotic dependence. Ibogaine, a naturally occurring psychoactive substance, is also listed as a Schedule I drug, despite its promise in calming heroin addictions.

While Hundreds of Thousands are Evacuating Because of Hurricane Matthew, a Florida Couple Wants to Have Their Outside Wedding

Although Hurricane Matthew has forced evacuations all across the Southeast coast of the U.S., a Florida couple plans to continue with their October wedding.

A Florida couple wants to get married in early October on the beach, but it looks like Hurricane Matthew is going to disrupt their dream day.

According to ABC News, Ryan Gordon and Jamie Gurnavage plan on having their special day at the Ocean Landing Resort in Cocoa Beach.

They plan on having “some type of ceremony,” Gurnavage said, “whatever kind of ceremony that will be.”

A Knot’s 2014 Real Weddings Study shows that the average number of wedding guests is around 136 people. Unfortunately, it will probably be difficult for the couple to get that many people to commit to an outside wedding when such dangerous weather conditions are affecting the country and the world.

As of October 7, a state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

“I just want to emphasize to everybody that this is still a really dangerous hurricane,” said President Barack Obama. “That the potential for storm surge, flooding, loss of life, and severe property damage continues to exist. Pay attention to what your local officials are telling you. If they tell you to evacuate, you need to get out of there and move to higher ground.”

According to The New York Times, South Carolina Governor Nikki R Haley has already evacuated over 300,000 people with a goal of at least 500,000.

“It’s getting worse,” Haley said at a news conference Friday morning. “We are looking at major storm surges, we are looking at major winds. We need to encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to understand: It’s not worth risking your life to see if you can ride out a storm.”

In Haiti, as Independent reports, at least 572 people have lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

Airbnb Offering Free Rooms in Florida and South Carolina as Part of Disaster Response Tool

As part of its Disaster Response Tool that aims to connect people in need of shelter, Airbnb has sent out a call to action to those hosts who are willing to put up evacuees for no charge in their available spaces.

The storm has prompted multiple evacuations in parts of Florida, including in Brevard, Martin, Palm Beach, Volusia, and Indian River counties.

Voluntary evacuations have also been recommended in counties such as Miami-Dade, Broward, St. Lucie, and Flagler.

Airbnb said in a news release that it is still looking for hosts who are not impacted by the storm, “so that they can list their home for free and assist in sheltering those in need.”

In addition, they have announced that new users who have never hosted will also be allowed to offer up their spaces to those in need of shelter.

As hurricane Matthew draws closer to the U.S., Florida Gov. Rick Scott has pleaded with residents living on the east coast to evacuate the area.

Scott even mentioned Airbnb’s service during his most recent briefing about the impending storm.

He said that in addition to Airbnb making rooms available for free, sites like Visit Florida and Expedia were making efforts to help residents find shelter.

The governor’s office reported that approximately 1.5 million people were in evacuation zones, and said that tolls had been suspended on major routes to make the evacuation process run smoothly.

The storm has impacted other events, as well. Even the presidential candidates are experiencing delays as a result.

Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama were scheduled to make an appearance in Miami Gardens that was postponed due to the storm.

The Trump campaign was also affected, cancelling a fundraiser that was supposed to happen in Florida this week.

Officials ranging from county officials to the White House have urged citizens to evacuate and prepare for the storm, even resorting to fear tactics as motivators for stubborn residents.

Approximately 62% of vacationers reported they would rather stay in a vacation rental, and while the situation may not be ideal, they can at least get shelter from the storm with Airbnb’s help.

The company has previously used the disaster tool to aid people after a storm has hit, but this is the first time the company has activated it before a storm. With any luck, they’ll be able to provide people with shelter and some peace of mind during the storm.