Spider News Digest: 11/24/2017


  • Egypt: Hundreds dead as mosque attackers gun down fleeing worshipers (CNN):

At least 235 people were killed and another 109 injured in an attack on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai region on Friday, Egyptian state-run media reported, in what appears to be the deadliest terror attack on Egyptian soil.

After at least two explosions, gunmen who were waiting outside the mosque opened fire at worshipers as they fled Friday prayers, state-owned Ahram Online said.
The attack targeted al Rawdah mosque, situated in the village of al Rawdah between Bir al-Abed and the city of al-Arish

Key developments:
Coordinated attack: Gunmen fired on people fleeing after explosions took place at the mosque. The attackers also opened fire on ambulances, witnesses said.
The target: The mosque, located in northern Sinai, is known as the birthplace of an important Sufi cleric.
World leaders respond: Egypt has declared three days of mourning, while figures in the international community condemned the attack. US President Donald Trump called it a “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers in Egypt.”


  • Deutsche Bank and Mars Pull YouTube Ads After Predatory Videos (Bloomberg):

Several global brands pulled advertising from YouTube after reports ads were being shown alongside inappropriate content of children.

Mars Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, Adidas AG and others pulled their ads after The Times in the U.K. reported Friday about the brands’ advertising being broadcast with videos of scantily dressed children that carried inappropriate sexual comments from viewers. Money from the advertising is split between YouTube owner Alphabet Inc. and those who publish the videos.

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed also reported about YouTube videos with millions of views of children in disturbing situations, including being restrained in ropes or tape and crying. The children are often in revealing clothing, Buzzfeed reported.

“We take this matter very seriously and suspended the advertising campaign as soon as we became aware of it,” Deutsche Bank said in a statement. “As always, our digital marketing agency applied filters to prevent our advertising appearing alongside inappropriate content and we are investigating how the situation arose.”

Mars said it won’t advertise with Google “until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place.”

“We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content,” Mars said in a statement. “We have taken the decision to immediately suspend all our online advertising on YouTube and Google globally.”

The reports show the problems YouTube, Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and other online platforms have policing user-generated content published to their sites. They illustrate how features that made the companies immensely popular globally — as open systems where anybody can share — are being subverted and causing daunting new challenges such as Russia’s use of the sites to influence elections.

YouTube faced another advertiser revolt earlier this year when ads were being shown next to jihadi extremist videos. YouTube’s advertising system is largely automated, limiting the control that brands have about where ads are carried.

YouTube said in a statement that it’s working to improve safeguards to block this kind of content of children, including employing thousands of people who review content that’s flagged by users or an automated system. The company added that the material highlighted in the Times, including a video of a young girl in a nightie with 6.5 million views, is different from child sexual abuse imagery.

“There shouldn’t be any ads running on this content and we are working urgently to fix this,” YouTube said. “Over the past year, we have been working to ensure that YouTube is a safe place for brands. While we have made significant changes in product, policy, enforcement and controls, we will continue to improve.”

Companies including HP Inc., Diageo Plc, Cadbury, and Lidl also pulled ads, according to The Times.

Just days after the massive Uber hack first came to light, cybercriminals have already reportedly begun targeting unsuspecting potential users of the ride-hailing firm in a new phishing scam. Uber recently confirmed that in 2016 hackers stole personal information such as names, email addresses and phone numbers from over 57 million user accounts.

Hackers are now capitalising on the data breach and have reportedly begun sending potential Uber users phishing emails, specifically tailored to trick them into divulging their account passwords. According to The Daily Beast, some people have taken to Twitter to report having received emails purporting to be from Uber, asking them to “change their password”.

“These emails aren’t from Uber,” company spokesperson Melanie Ensign told The Daily Beast. “We have multi-factor on by default for riders & drivers, but as always, you see anything suspicious on your account, you can contact us via the help center in the app or help.uber.com.”

“Our deepest apologies. You may have heard that Uber was compromised last year. We are sorry to inform you that your information was, unfortunately, confirmed to be part of the breach. Please click below to confirm you’ve received this message and change your password,” reads an apparent phishing email, a screenshot of which was tweeted by IT trainer and consultant Dale Meredith.

Meredith clarified in another tweet that the screenshot of the phishing email is actually an add from KnowBe4, an anti-phishing service that created the Uber-themed email to caution people about such scams. However, several people have tweeted out claiming to have received what appear to be Uber phishing emails, indicating that hackers may indeed be racing to capitalise on the breach.

Uber is yet to directly inform its customers about whether they have been affected by the breach, The Daily Beast reported. In the event that hackers are able to craft emails to look fairly authentic, they may be able to successfully steal from people. To an unsuspecting user, such an email may appear authentic, leading them to unknowingly hand over their passwords to hackers.

It is not uncommon for cybercriminals to launch phishing campaigns shortly after a major breach. In August, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the US government warned people to beware of charity phishing scams – indicating how cybercriminals capitalise on major events to prey on unsuspecting victims and steal valuable data.

  • A Massive Asteroid Is Going To Pay Us A Visit (Value Walk):

Christmas 2017 is going to be exciting for many reasons, but one of the reasons is a “monster” asteroid, which is supposed to pass by the Earth on Dec. 16, is just a little more than a week before Christmas. What’s spectacular about this massive asteroid is that it has a huge diameter of 3 miles. Here’s what we know about it!

The huge visitor has been named 3200 Phaethon, which originates after the Greek demigod. This demigod set the Earth on fire, according to the legend. However, it’s unlikely that 3200 Phaethon will get close enough to do any damage to our planet. It’s going to pass 6.5 million miles away from the Earth. While that’s relatively close, it’s still 27 times the distance to the moon.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will try to get a detailed 3D model of the massive asteroid with an irregular shape. The asteroid was detected in December 2007 for the first time and was believed to be the parent body for the Geminid meteor shower, which is expected to happen on Dec. 13. The Geminid meteor shower is one of the two great meteor showers which don’t come from a comet, the other being the Quadrantid meteor shower which takes place in January. Asteroids and comets have a different composition. While asteroids are made out of metal and rocks, the comets are covered in ice, dust and rocky material.

The comets that are approaching the Sun lose their composition every time they orbit as their ice melts and forms its tail. The 3200 Phaethon though, shows minor activity as it approaches the Sun, making some scientists believe that the asteroid is actually an inactive comet nucleus, although it mostly acts as an asteroid. It is going to approach our planet in December, making it the closest to our planet since 1974, and until after 2093. However, scientists will observe the asteroid and try to find out whether it is actually the suspected comet nucleus.

Astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts will be able to view the 3200 Phaethon via small telescopes if they observe it in dark areas and on a clear night sky. They will be able to see it in about three weeks, but it’s going to be at its brightest between Dec. 11 and 21, NASA wrote.

If you are not able to see the massive asteroid, make sure to catch a glimpse of the Geminid meteor shower, which will be able to be seen for 10 nights in December, and is going to have up to a 100 hourly rate.

  • Why Can’t We Predict Earthquakes? (Forbes): 

There is currently no way to reliably predict when an earthquake will happen, its strength or length. Earthquakes can vary in their magnitude, the size of the earthquake at its source, and length, lasting from seconds to minutes.

Research has shown, that shaking of an earthquake displays a characteristic pattern. After the first tremors start, building up in intensity, a peak is reached, followed by a fading shaking. Large and small earthquakes start the same way, but there is no way to say when the peak, the maximal magnitude of the quake, is reached. An earthquake is generated by a sudden rupture of rocks in the underground, miles below the surface, driven by forces even deeper inside planet Earth. It’s very hard to exactly understand how rocks behave under the increased pressure and temperature found there. Experiments in the laboratory are limited to relatively small samples and drilling into fault zones is a difficult, and very expensive, operation.


To predict an earthquake we would need unequivocal precursory signals. In the past seismologist noted before earthquakes some changes in the environment, like an increase in radon gas concentrations, changes in electromagnetic activity, foreshocks, measurable ground deformations, geochemical changes in groundwater and even unusual animal behavior.

Some earthquakes were preceded by changes in the groundwater level. As tectonic stress builds up, rocks can develop micro-fissures, changing the permeability of the rocks for water. Also, the hydrochemistry of springs can change, as rocks are crushed by the accumulating tension, leaking chemicals into the groundwater, or changing the flow patterns of the water in the underground.

Radon, a gas formed by the radioactive decay of elements present in certain minerals, can show fluctuations before an earthquake. It was used in the past to predict earthquakes, but it’s not clear how radon concentration and earthquakes could be connected. Maybe the micro-fissures, developing in the rocks before the main rupture along a fault occurs, change the permeability of the underground and the gas escapes to the surface, where it can be detected. Despite claims of success before the earthquake of L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009, most scientists remain skeptical of this method. High radon concentration can be produced also by landslides, crushing rocks, or chemical reactions in the groundwater.

Some crystals and rocks will emit electromagnetic energy if put under great pressure. By measuring the electromagnetic field of an area, so the theory, it should be possible to measure the accumulating deformations of the ground. Before the breaking point of the rocks is reached, scientists could give a warning of an impending quake. A similar approach is used measuring foreshocks. As the number of smaller foreshocks increases over time, it could mean that the ground is ready to snap for the big one.

Since antiquity, there exist stories about unusual animal behavior before an earthquake. Even if modern research is pursuing this possibility, the behavior is in general to unreliable for any exact forecasts.

Unfortunately, all the studied signals occur erratically. In some cases, earthquakes were preceded by one or few changes. In many other cases, no particular signal was ever observed, despite a disastrous earthquake occurring thereafter. At the moment we can’t even be sure if such precursory signals even exist.

  • Thanksgiving Box Office: ‘Coco’ Narrowly Beats ‘Justice League’ With $8.9M (The Hollywood Reporter):

‘Coco’ is expected to dominate the long Thanksgiving weekend with more than $70 million.
Disney and Pixar’s Coco was the host of the Thanksgiving box-office feast, grossing an estimated $8.9 million on Thursday from 3,987 theaters for a two-day total of $22.2 million and projected five-day debut north of $70 million.

Holdover Justice League wasn’t far behind with $8.5 million from 4,051 theaters for a domestic total of $130.8 million. Coco is expected to race ahead on Friday as families become available and easily win the long-holiday weekend.

Coco, about the popular Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, nabbed a coveted A+ CinemaScore from audiences.

Between them, Disney Animation Studios and Pixar claim the top six five-day Thanksgiving openings of all time, not accounting for inflation. Frozen (2013) is the record holder with $93.6 million, while last year’s Moana sang its way to $82.1 million. Tangled took in $68.7 million in 2010, and The Good Dinosaur, $55.5 million in 2015. When adjusting for inflation, the 1999 Toy Story 2 supplants Frozen with nearly $141 million (unadjusted, Toy Story’s five-day debut was $80.1 million).

Directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina, Coco tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who sets out to become an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). The trouble is, his family has banned music for generations. Miguel suddenly finds himself in the magical Land of the Dead, where he teams up with the trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) in hopes of unlocking the secret behind his family history. The Frozen featurette Olaf’s Frozen Adventure accompanies the film.
‘Coco’: Film Review
Warner Bros.’ DC superhero mashup Justice League, which debuted last weekend, is expected to earn roughly $61 million over the five-day holiday corridor.

Elsewhere, director Stephen Chbosky’s family friendly Wonder remains a strong daw after opening to a far better-than-expected $27 million last weekend. The movie, also nabbing a coveted A+ CinemaScore, has galvanized elementary school kids, teachers and parents across the country.

The $20 million film adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s acclaimed children’s novel tells the story of a young boy with a facial deformity who attends a mainstream school for the first time (the book spawned the “Choose Kind” movement). Lionsgate, Participant Media, Walden Media and Mandeville Films partnered on Wonder, which stars Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay and Owen Wilson.

Wonder, holding at No. 3, grossed an estimated $3.9 million on Wednesday from 3,140 theaters for a projected five-day haul of $35 million-plus.

Among the flurry of films vying for adult attention and awards love is the Denzel Washington-starrer Roman J. Israel, Esq., which expanded nationwide on Wednesday after first opening in New York and Los Angeles. From Sony and playing in 1,648 theaters, the legal thriller may only gross $5 million for the five days.

Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) directed Roman Israel, about an lawyer whose idealism is put to the test when he joins a large L.A. law firm. The movie was rejiggered after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to tepid reviews.

New offerings at the specialty box office include Focus’ Winston Churchill pic The Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright and starring Gary Oldman, and Bleecker Street’s holiday offering The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer. And Sony Pictures Classics opens Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name in New York and Los Angeles on Friday; the critical darling stars Armie Hammer as a young academic who embarks on a love affair with his professor’s 17-year-old son (Timothee Chalamet).

  • November roundup: The hottest new hotels (USA Today): 

The holidays are upon us, and some cities are celebrating with the opening of new hotels.

Here are a few buzz-worthy hotel openings.

New Kimptons for Charlotte and Sacramento

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants is continuing its expansion.

Since being acquired by InterContinental Hotels Group about two years ago, the San Francisco-based chain has opened new properties throughout the USA and for the first time, debuted outside of country.

The new Kimpton Tryon Park in Charlotte, N.C., has 217 rooms. It is located next to the 25-story 300 South Tryon office tower and Romare Bearden Park.

The property has an Italian-inspired modern American restaurant called Angeline’s. There is a rooftop lounge with indoor and outdoor spaces called Merchant & Trade. There is also more than 9,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a lawn with views of the city.

Charlotte’s hotel market has been booming, with more than 7,600 new hotel rooms in development through 2020. Next year, 17 hotels are projected to open in the region.

Meanwhile, Sacramento has the new Kimpton Sawyer Hotel, located steps away from Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings.

The hotel has 250 guestrooms, including 35 suites with views of the arena and downtown area.

The lobby has 30-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. The property is decorated with gold accents in a nod to Sacramento’s gold rush era history.

The third floor features a rooftop pool as well as the hotel’s bar and lounge, Revival at the Sawyer. The pool has six cabanas. At night, there will be live music and DJ’s performing at Revival. The property also has 22,000 square feet of event space.

“The Kimpton Sawyer Hotel is going to help put Sacramento on the map as a premiere travel destination, and our guests will truly experience something they won’t find anywhere else in the area,” says Brent Larkin, the hotel’s general manager.

SFO gets a hotel for young travelers

Marriott International has opened another AC Hotel.

The 187-room AC Hotel San Francisco Airport/ Oyster Point Waterfront is the first hotel to open in the booming biotech hub of South San Francisco in 15 years. It is located 10 miles from downtown and 10 minutes from San Francisco International Airport.

The property overlooks San Francisco Bay and is built around a courtyard. At the center of the courtyard is a sculpture by Michael Enn Sirvet called “Argento Shadow Sphere.”

The lobby features more artwork: a ceramic oyster shell installation suspended from the ceiling by sculptor Kevin Chambers. It’s an homage to the area’s history of oyster farming and ship-building.

The guestrooms have open closets and elevated furniture to make them feel more spacious.

The AC Kitchen has grab-and-go options and a breakfast buffet with croissants, egg tarts, and sliced Iberico prosciutto.

The AC Lounge has an extensive beverage program with local craft beers, specialty wines by the bottle and on tap, and such drinks as the hotel’s signature “Karl the Fog” cocktail. Bay Area artists, musicians and chefs will participate in local “lounge activations.”

Other amenities include a 24-hour fitness center with an indoor heated pool, a library, complimentary airport shuttle, free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, and hydration stations on each floor. The AC Store is open 24 hours for guests who want to pick up snacks and beverages.

The property has five meeting rooms, totaling more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space.

“AC Hotels’ high-style, carefully edited experience is well-suited to the discerning, modern business traveler, making this entrepreneurial hub in San Francisco a perfect fit for the brand,” says Benoit Racle, senior global brand director for AC Hotels by Marriott.

A New York hotel with cachet

Cachet Hospitality Group, the Asia-Pacific based hotel management company, has opened its first U.S. property. Cachet Boutique NYC is located in the midtown west neighborhood of Manhattan.

The hotel has 105 rooms and villas by designer Jay Godfrey, as well as themed suites with overhead skylights. The Outdoor Junior Suite is a loft-like space with an outdoor terrace and a mural by a local artist.

The property has more than 2,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor socializing space, including a Bocce Court and bar. There’s a heated sky deck with expansive views.

Chef David Laris will head up both of the property’s restaurants. EDEN Local, which has an outoor bar, has already opened. The Bellbrook, an Asian restaurant, will open next year.

The hotel lobby features a fine art photography exhibition as well as video screens. The pieces will rotate on a regular basis. The lobby also has a library and a high-end retail establishment by Jay Kos.

Next to the store is the Playboy Club, which has made its return decades after it was first built.

“When visiting this city, guests appreciate an experience that provides a dose of culture that is fueled with thought-provoking, highly curated programs of culinary, art, design, food, fashion and entertainment,” says Kevin Fenton, managing director of Cachet Boutique NYC.

The N.Y. property joins six other Cachet hotels already in operation and five more in the pipeline.

SLS Baha Mar

The long-awaited $4.2 billion Baha Mar hotel, entertainment, retail and casino complex in the Bahamas is getting much closer to being fully completed.

The property has been opening in phases over the last few months.

The most recent hotel to debut is the SLS Baha Mar, part of the luxury hotel chain helmed by hospitality guru Sam Nazarian, who founded parent company sbe.

The 299-room SLS Baha Mar is located by a white sand beach and clear waters.

“Through every detail, we are highlighting the beauty of the Bahamian culture and disrupting the way guests and travelers view lifestyle hospitality experiences,” Nazarian says.

This new property is the fifth SLS hotel and the first international one. There are 11 additional SLS properties in the pipeline.

SLS Baha Mar has several dining and nightlife venues. They include the first Cleo outside of the USA. Monkey Bar is the signature SLS lobby bar. The hotel also has Bungalow Pool Bar & Grill. They join Katsuya, sbe’s modern take on Japanese cuisine.

Privilege will open in December, as will Fi’lia by James Beard award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz.

Bond, sbe’s nightlife concept, will debut at Baha Mar in mid-December. Local and international DJs will entertain at the venue.

  • Snapchat’s new Promoted Stories format gives advertisers their own slot in the app’s Stories tab (Marketing Land):

On Friday, Snapchat unveiled its latest ad format called Promoted Stories, which inserts a branded Story in the mobile app’s Stories tab among the organic Stories from the accounts a person follows, the original Shows that Snapchat licenses, the Our Stories it curates and the Publisher Stories that media companies produce for Snapchat.

The Promoted Stories format is something of a hybrid of Snapchat’s organic Stories and Snap Ads. As the name implies, it is a paid-for version of a regular Story, though there are limits on how many Snaps a Promoted Story can carry. Advertisers are required to include at least three Snaps, but no more than 10, in a Promoted Story. Like a regular Story, a Promoted Story will automatically transition from one Snap to the next. Each Snap included in a Promoted Story is effectively a Snap Ad. Brands can add attachments to each snap in a Promoted Story so that people can swipe up to visit a brand’s site, check out a branded article or install its mobile app.

Placement-wise, Promoted Stories will be given their own “Sponsored” section in the app’s Stories tab that will appear below the organic Stories posted by the friends, celebrities and others that a person follows on Snapchat. Like the Publisher Stories, Our Stories and Shows that are also included in the Stories tab, Promoted Stories will initially show up as a tile that people can tap to open; the tile and each Snap in a Promoted Story will be labeled “Ad.” Promoted Stories will only be displayed in the Stories tab, not the Discover tab, according to a Snapchat spokesperson.

Our advertising partners have been asking for ways to tell deeper stories on mobile. Promoted Stories offer marketers access to the same Stories format used by our community, combined with the reach and placement enjoyed by publishers on the app,” Snapchat’s director of revenue product, Peter Sellis, said in an emailed statement.

Snapchat is selling Promoted Stories at an undisclosed flat rate as a single-day, countrywide takeover, making it the second such ad format introduced by the company in 2017. Earlier this year, Snapchat rolled out Snap Ads Max Reach, which offered brands a way to have their vertical video Snap Ads shown to all eligible users in a given country on a given day. Snapchat will tell advertisers how many times people saw their Promoted Story tile and how many times they opened the Promoted Story, as well as the total number of unique impressions, earned impressions, conversions and the effective cost of those impressions based on the ad’s performance and fixed price.

HBO is the first brand to run a Promoted Story in the US, while ASOS is the first to do so in the UK and France.

An old ad format presents new opportunities
If Snapchat’s new Promoted Stories ad format sounds familiar, well, it should. The format is similar to the branded Discover channel that Sony Pictures Entertainment ran to promote its film, “Spectre,” in October 2015. It’s unclear why exactly Snapchat waited more than two years to graduate that test into an official ad format — albeit in the Stories tab, not Discover — though its parent company’s latest earnings report may paint a picture.

In the third quarter of 2017, Snap’s revenue failed to meet Wall Street analysts’ estimates. That shortcoming can be chalked up to the company’s shift to selling Snap Ads programmatically. By making the vertical video ad format more accessible, Snapchat commodified it, which dropped its overall average ad price and “made it harder to grow revenues at the rate we would have liked,” said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel during the company’s most recent earnings call. In terms of availability and pricing, Promoted Stories is effectively the opposite of Snap Ads. As a result, the new ad format could provide a counterweight to Snap Ads.

Perhaps more importantly, the new ad format gives Snapchat’s direct sales team something new to sell beyond Sponsored Lenses and Sponsored Filters, the latter of which recently spawned a variety available programmatically. At the very least, that novelty gives Snapchat’s sellers an excuse to call around to advertisers and their agencies. At most, it gives them a chance to win over brand advertisers looking for something splashy to combine with campaigns they may have planned for next year’s Super Bowl or Academy Awards or Winter Olympics or World Cup.

If successful with the latter end, then Promoted Stories also creates an opportunity to upsell advertisers. For example, since a brand would need to produce multiple Snaps for a Promoted Story, it could repurpose those Snaps as Snap Ads to run at a later date, and then it could use those Snap Ads to test out Snapchat’s conversion tracking or retargeting chops.

Snapchat could even wield Promoted Stories in its effort to win back the influencers that Spiegel acknowledged the app has ignored and now wants to embrace. Because brands have historically struggled to create custom Snaps, they may be willing to hire an influencer experienced in producing their own Stories; maybe Snapchat could help to strike those deals and even include a clause for the influencer to feature one or two of those branded Snaps in their own Story in addition to the brand’s Promoted Story.





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