The Department for Work and Pensions DWP has bee

first_imgThe Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been declared a gold-standard employer of disabled people under its own much-criticised scheme, despite being found guilty of “grave or systematic violations” of the UN disability convention.DWP documents obtained by Disability News Service (DNS) through a freedom of information request show how it was “validated” as a “Disability Confident Leader” on 4 November 2016, just days before the report by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities was published.Among the UN’s conclusions was that DWP ministers had “regularly portrayed” disabled people as “being dependent or making a living out of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers”.DWP “strongly” disagreed with the UN report, and appeared to suggest this week that its findings were not relevant “because Disability Confident assessments look at an organisation’s employment practices and commitment to supporting both disabled employees and potential candidates”.The validation also came despite a Civil Service survey last year which showed how more than 1,400 disabled DWP civil servants claimed they had faced discrimination in the workplace, an increase of nearly a quarter on the previous year.The Disability Confident validation process, carried out by the Business Disability Forum (BDF), of which DWP is a member, makes no mention of those figures, or the UN report.According to the scheme, a Disability Confident Leader – the highest of the scheme’s three levels – must ensure “there are no barriers to the development and progression of disabled staff” and that managers “are aware of how they can support staff who are sick or absent from work”.BDF’s validation of DWP’s own self-assessment also fails to mention the DWP decision to impose a cap on annual payments made under the Access to Work scheme, which has particularly hit Deaf workers who use British Sign Language interpreters.Instead, BDF praised DWP for policies such as offering guaranteed interviews to disabled candidates who meet a role’s minimum criteria; for taking part in the Ambitious About Autism work experience scheme; and for having an established framework for making adjustments for disabled staff.Despite focusing on how organisations perform as employers of disabled people, Disability Confident also encourages them to provide an inclusive and accessible environment for “staff, clients and customers”.In its validation of DWP, BDF praised the department for making adjustments for disabled customers, “which includes offering two-way communication in a number of formats”, while DWP says in its self-assessment that staff “can also communicate by e-mail, an interpreter or through a claimant’s representative or intermediary”.Again, the validation and self-assessment are in stark contrast to the experience of disabled people who rely on DWP’s support and services.Earlier this year, DNS reported how a disabled benefit claimant, Mark Lucas, was taking DWP to court over its refusal to allow him to communicate with its civil servants via email.Despite DNS having heard a recording of a member of staff in DWP’s personal independence payment department telling Lucas: “We will not communicate via email,” DWP insisted again this week that claimants are “entitled to request to receive all communications from the department by email on the grounds of disability under the Equality Act 2010”.There is also no mention in DWP’s self-assessment, or the validation by BDF, of concerns raised about the accessibility of benefit assessment centres, which are managed by the property company Telereal Trillium.Instead, DWP claims its sites are “fully accessible for both staff and customers”, while it insists that “DWP as a service provider ensures that for disabled customers, relevant reasonable adjustments are implemented to ensure that there are no barriers which are the direct result of an individual’s disability”.David Gillon, a disabled campaigner and one of the most prominent critics of the Disability Confident scheme, said it was “barely a year since headlines about their soaring staff discrimination rate… how can they suddenly have no problem?“What we are seeing is the fundamental weakness of Disability Confident.“Statements of good intent are easy to make, and we know from Two Ticks [the previous DWP scheme for employers, which Disability Confident is replacing] just how easy they are to abuse.”He said that DWP’s sub-contracted assessment centres were “notorious for inaccessibility, often with no carparks and wheelchair-users regularly barred from lifts as alleged ‘fire risks’.“This inaccessibility is no secret, it has repeatedly been national news, yet DWP’s Disability Confident assessors took their statement at face value.”He added: “DWP has a notoriously adversarial relationship with its disabled customer population. Nowhere in the evidence or the audit report is this even raised.”Gillon said: “What we really see with this evidence is that even an organisation with notorious issues with both its own disabled staff and with its disabled customer population simply has to say, ‘We’ve got a procedure for that,’ to be handed Disability Confident Leader on a silver platter.”BDF declined to respond to concerns that its report had ignored the discrimination revealed by the Civil Service survey, the cap on Access to Work, and the UN report.Despite the scheme’s reference to “providing an environment that is inclusive and accessible for staff, clients and customers” – and DWP’s lengthy response to that in its self-assessment – a BDF spokesman insisted that Disability Confident was “about an organisation as an employer”.And he said BDF supported DWP’s strategic approach to supporting their disabled employees, and “recognised their commitment in accrediting them under the scheme”.He said: “Business Disability Forum sees Disability Confident as a way forward for employers in developing and improving their offer for their employees.“In accrediting an organisation under Disability Confident, Business Disability Forum supports it in moving in the right direction and helping it shape what it does around disability.”A DWP spokesman also insisted that the department deserved its validation as a Disability Confident Leader.He said: “We are committed to equality of opportunity for all and do not tolerate discrimination on any grounds”.He added: “Whilst we have greatly improved our efforts to be a more inclusive workforce, we know there is more work to do, [and] this will be reflected in our departmental diversity and inclusion strategic plan that we are currently developing with our employees.”He said: “The Disability Confident scheme supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the workplace.“Our Disability Confident Leader status relates to DWP as an employer and we actively encourage contractors to sign up to Disability Confident.”He said DNS had failed to provide any evidence to support claims that assessment centres were “notorious for inaccessibility”.He added: “As I’m sure you’re aware, access guidance is included in appointment letters for face to face assessments so that alternative arrangements can be made if needed, and anyone unable to travel as a result of their condition is offered a home visit.”He said that BDF was “a leading, impartial and evidence-based organisation advocating for disabled people’s rights”.He added: “We have demonstrated through the self-assessment that DWP acts as a champion within our local and business community, supply chain and networks.“And we have demonstrated that we are serious about leading the way and helping other organisations to become Disability Confident.“There is no evidence that the scheme is in disrepute.”Picture: David Cameron launching Disability Confident in 2013last_img read more

Two disabled peers have called on the government t

first_imgTwo disabled peers have called on the government to ensure that the rights of disabled people are protected when the country leaves the European Union (EU).Both Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson and Baroness [Jane] Campbell raised concerns of possible “regression” of the rights of disabled people in the UK as a result of the Brexit process.They were speaking this week in a House of Lord debate on human rights and Brexit, secured by the Labour peer Lord Cashman.The debate took place as MPs continued to discuss the European Union (withdrawal) bill, which will move to the House of Lords next year.Baroness Campbell said: “I worry for the future of the one in five UK citizens who are disabled.“Arguably, they have benefited from the best equality and human rights legislation in the world.“The UK has both influenced and been influenced by EU law on disability rights.“Under EU law, international treaties have a stronger impact than they do under UK law.“For instance, EU law must be interpreted consistently with the [UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities].“This has provided a significant baseline for progressing disability rights in the UK.”But she added: “The government must ensure that there is no regression, so that disabled people continue to benefit from the convention and see progress in the UK.”Baroness Campbell said one of her “major areas of concerns” was over disabled people’s right to independent living.She called on the government to carry out a “rigorous” assessment of the impact of Brexit on the right to independent living, including on the thousands of disabled people who each employ between two and six EU nationals as personal assistants (PAs).She said that this “vital” workforce “enables people like myself the freedom to enjoy a private family life, to work, to ​be here debating… to socialise and to actively participate as equal citizens”.She also asked how the government would replace the share of the billions of pounds of EU structural funds that have “stimulated a significant shift from institutional to independent living across Europe”.Baroness Grey-Thompson (pictured) said the impact of Brexit on disabled people had “barely been discussed in the public arena”, and she asked for government guarantees that their rights would be protected.She raised fears that the government could “inadvertently discard” disability equality rules and regulations “and just call them ‘red tape’ as a reason to get rid of them”.And she said there had to be “continued government commitment to the UK being ahead of the curve on disability rights”, including “fully committing to implementing standards equivalent to the new European Accessibility Act” when that becomes EU law.She also called on the UK government to commit to “at least matching current funding for disabled people’s organisations”.Lord Keen, the advocate general for Scotland, on behalf of the government, said that Brexit “does not change our commitment to human rights, nor is there any reason why it should”.And he said that those rights “will be retained and protected”.But he did not respond to Baroness Campbell’s request for an assessment of the impact of Brexit on disabled people’s right to independent living, or her question about the structural funds, or Baroness Grey-Thompson’s question about funding disabled people’s organisations.last_img read more

Disability charities that sign up to help deliver

first_imgDisability charities that sign up to help deliver the government’s new Work and Health Programme must promise to “pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, official documents suggest.The charities, and other organisations, must also promise never to do anything that harms the public’s confidence in McVey (pictured) or her Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).Disability charities like RNIB, the Royal Association for Deaf People and Turning Point have agreed to act as key providers of services under the Work and Health Programme – which focuses on supporting disabled people and other disadvantaged groups into work – and so appear to be caught by the clause in the contract.At least one of them – RNIB – has also signed contracts with one of the five main WHP contractors that contain a similar clause, which explicitly states that the charity must not “attract adverse publicity” to DWP and McVey.The £398 million, seven-year Work and Health Programme is replacing the Work Programme and the specialist Work Choice disability employment scheme across England and Wales, with contractors paid mostly by results.All the disability charities that have so far been contacted by Disability News Service (DNS) insist that the clause – which DWP says it has been using in such contracts since 2015 – will have no impact on their willingness to criticise DWP and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey or campaign on disability employment or benefits issues.But the existence of the clause, and the first details to emerge of some of the charities that have agreed to work for DWP – which has been repeatedly attacked by disabled activists and academics for harassing and persecuting disabled people, and relying on a discriminatory benefit sanctions regime to try to force them into work – will raise questions about their ability and willingness to do so.It will also raise questions about their independence when delivering future statements on these issues.The clause was revealed through a freedom of information request by DNS, with DWP finally producing contracts signed by the five main Work and Health Programme contractors, four months after the request was first submitted.The contracts signed by the five organisations – the disability charity Shaw Trust, the disability employment company Remploy (now mostly owned by the discredited US company Maximus), Pluss, Reed in Partnership and Ingeus UK – all include a clause on “publicity, media and official enquiries”.Part of that clause states that the contractor “shall pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of DWP and ensure it does nothing to bring it “into disrepute, damages the reputation of the Contracting Body or harms the confidence of the public in the Contracting Body”.The contract defines the “Contracting Body” as the work and pensions secretary, a position currently occupied by the much-criticised Esther McVey (see separate story).And it warns that these promises apply whether or not the damaging actions relate to the Work and Health Programme, and it says they also apply to any of the contractor’s “Affiliates”.This suggests that none of the organisations involved in providing services under the programme – and particularly those carrying out key elements of the contracts – will ever be allowed to criticise, or damage the reputation of, DWP or McVey during the course of the contract in connection with any area of the department’s work.There is still considerable confusion over exactly how many disability charities will be paid to work for the five main contractors.The contractual documents include the names of scores of organisations, including charities, local authorities, education providers and companies.But some of the disability charities named – including Mencap and the National Autistic Society – made it clear this week that they have not agreed to carry out services under the Work and Health Programme, despite being named as “stakeholders” in the documents.Other disability charities, though, have confirmed that they will be providing services under the WHP.Among those organisations that have signed letters agreeing to provide services as a subcontractor for the Ingeus contract with DWP is the disability charity RNIB, which is currently “working on an agreement with them”, while it is already a subcontractor with Shaw Trust.An RNIB spokeswoman said: “RNIB has a number of contracts for different services provided to the Shaw Trust as a sub-contractor.“Some of the contracts do include a clause stating that when providing the services, we shall not do anything that may damage the reputation of the Shaw Trust (the contractor of the DWP) or of the DWP which has commissioned the services to be carried out by the Shaw Trust.”That clause is almost identical to the one in the contracts signed by the five main contractors and says RNIB must not do anything to “attract adverse publicity” to DWP or “harm the confidence of the public” in DWP.RNIB claimed that the clause “only refers to how we carry out the contracted services and does not restrict our campaigning ability. It relates solely to how we carry out the specific services.”Another disability charity, the Royal Association for Deaf People (RADP), is described as a “core stakeholder” in the Pluss contract.RADP had refused to answer questions about the contract by noon today (Thursday).A third charity, Turning Point, is described as a “core stakeholder” in the Remploy contract, while it is also mentioned in the Ingeus and Shaw Trust contracts.Turning Point had refused to answer questions about the contract by noon today (Thursday).Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) – despite being mentioned in the Shaw Trust contract – says it has only agreed to provide support services in two London boroughs as part of the Ingeus contract.An LCD spokesman said this work “in no way compromises our ability to campaign around issues related to payments or social care reform” or on the Work and Health Programme.Action on Hearing Loss – formerly known as RNID – refused to comment on its presence in the Remploy contract with DWP, other than to praise its own campaigning work.Business Disability Forum, which is mentioned in the Pluss contract, also refused to comment.Remploy said the clause in its contract with DWP was “standard contractual language and has not impacted on our ability to support service users or engage with delivery partners”.A Remploy spokesman said it was working “in collaboration with many organisations as we deliver the Work and Health Programme across Wales” and that the many stakeholders mentioned in the document were “public, private and third sector organisations across Wales that Remploy has identified and plans to engage with and signpost to as it delivers the Work and Health Programme”.But he declined to say whether Remploy believed the clause also applied to its stakeholders and subcontractors.Shaw Trust said the “publicity, media and official enquiries” clause had been present “in previous DWP contracts” and “does not and has not impinged on our independence as a charity”.A Shaw Trust spokeswoman said the “stakeholders” named in the contract were “organisations we will engage with over the life of the contract to encourage voluntary referrals to the Work and Health Programme, or will engage to potentially source additional support to participants with wider requirements”.She claimed that “no funds are proposed to be transferred in exchange for services” provided by these stakeholders, but she had not been able to clarify by noon today (Thursday) why these stakeholders would want to work for Shaw Trust for free.A DWP spokeswoman appeared to suggest that the clause was partly intended to prevent those organisations providing services under the WHP from speaking out publicly to criticise DWP.She said: “The department did not introduce this clause specifically for the Work and Health Programme contract.“It has been used in DWP employment category contracts since 2015.“The contract is the framework which governs the relationship with DWP and its contractors so that both parties understand how to interact with each other.“The clause is intended to protect the best interests of both the department and the stakeholders we work with, and it does not stop individuals working for any of our contractors from acting as whistle-blowers under the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, nor does it prevent contractors from raising any concerns directly with the department.”last_img read more

SAINTS have named their 19man squad for Sundays

first_imgSAINTS have named their 19-man squad for Sunday’s First Utility Super League Round 16 Magic Weekend fixture with Warrington Wolves.Lewis Charnock misses out with a hand injury but Jon Wilkin returns from suspension.Mark Percival is still unavailable with a leg injury whilst Olly Davies replaces Anthony Walker in the squad.Keiron Cunningham will select his 17 from:2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Travis Burns, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Mark Flanagan, 18. Luke Thompson, 19. Greg Richards, 25. Andre Savelio, 28. Jack Ashworth, 29. Olly Davies, 30. Matty Fleming, 34. Shannon McDonnell.Tony Smith will choose his Warrington side from:3. Chris Bridge, 4. Ryan Atkins, 5. Joel Monaghan, 6. Stefan Ratchford, 7. Richie Myler, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Daryl Clark, 10. Ashton Sims, 12, Ben Westwood, 13. Ben Harrison, 15. Roy Asotasi, 17. Ben Currie, 18. James Laithwaite, 19. Anthony England, 20. Gareth O’Brien, 22. Gene Ormsby, 25. Brad Dwyer, 27. George King, 29. Declan Patton.The game kicks off at 3.15pm and the referee Richard SilverwoodTicket details for the game can be found here.last_img read more

JON Wilkin was pleased to make his return last Fri

first_imgJON Wilkin was pleased to make his return last Friday and believes there is more to come as the season enters its business end.Saints’ Captain played his first game for over a month and was instrumental in the 32-18 win at Leeds.“I was a little scratchy and rusty but it was good to be back,” he said. “Having watched the team over recent weeks I did some of the things I felt could influence what happens on the field. I was a little rusty at some of the basics though.“It was a great win for us; a confidence changing win really. We have been in the doldrums a little recently so to win in the manner we did against Leeds was great.“There is a big emotional story behind Leeds with Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock moving on and a lot of things being written about them and it being their year.“That can’t be our concern. Leeds are a great side and we have a load of respect for them but that are not unbeatable. We certainly aren’t a bad side either, we have just been playing poorly. You have to be cautious when you hear polarised opinions of teams.“We had a load of respect for them and we still do, but we knew we were a better side than what we have been showing and I felt that came through on Friday.“We can play better for sure and I don’t think we have played as well as we did in the first six weeks of the season. We have had good performances but the last few months have been a fluctuating period for us.“As captain I want us to be more consistent. Against Leeds we set some standards certainly in terms of intent and effort that we need to continue.”He continued: “Positions in the top four are still up for grabs. I am disappointed that our form has restricted our opportunities to finish top of the pile. We want to finish as high as we can. This game is important as we played well against Leeds and gained confidence from that.“But the only way to build on that is to play well and win again.”Tickets for Thursday’s game remain on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.last_img read more

Coming Home Families adjust to Marines returning from war

first_img You hear this phrase all the time when we’re honoring our nation’s heroes: “Families serve, too.”But what does that really mean for a family to serve? How do they cope when this huge hole opens up in their home, and then when their loved one comes home and so much has changed – especially for those with young children?When Majors Krumnow and Rivera first saw their families, you could feel the relief.Related Article: Man hangs on after glider pilot forgets to strap him inBut after nine long months in Afghanistan, Krumnow and his wife, Christina, faced some surprises.“You have this idea in your mind that like you’ll come home and they’re like, ‘Oh great, let’s go play soccer and let’s do this…’ And then you come home and they’re more into a TV show or drawing in a book.“On the other hand, everyone wants to hold dad’s hand, they want to sit by me at the restaurant, they want to do everything with me. They’re not doing it on purpose. But then mom kind of becomes like, ‘Yeah, mom, we know that you’ve been here. Let’s go back by dad.’”“That hurts, too,” said Christina. “I’m the problem solver, but he’s the fun guy.”Paul Rivera also saw how things had changed.“It was difficult because it was trying to find some commonalities with them,” he said. “I know they like Star Wars. They’d already been watching Star Wars on Netflix and stuff, and they were like, ‘OK dad, this is what we’ve been watching, we’re almost done!’”While he was gone, his wife, Lily, had moved some furniture – two twin beds – to the master bedroom.“It was one of those things where, I guess, a comfort for me, where I have all my babies in one spot,” she said. “I guess that’s what helped me sleep through at night.”For both families, the children are the focus.When asked to a describe a moment that was especially hard, Christina Krumnow replied, “The girls sang for their Christmas concert and they were crying ’cause he wasn’t there. And you can’t console them, it’s just not going to get any better.”“Did you cry?” asked Crawford.“No.”“How did you do that?”“Actually, no, I did cry. I try not to cry, just because I am a very emotional person, and so I do want them to know it hurts. It does. It stinks. But I have to console them: ‘It’s OK, we’ve got this, we can do this. Mommy’s still here.’”For kids, the deployments can be hard to process. Lillian said that on the day her father left, “Everyone was in the car and we were crying, for a long time.”Crawford asked, “What were you thinking then?”“He might die, since he was working so hard,” said son Franklin.The Krumnows have seen the separations take a toll on their son, where at family functions Franklin would pair up with someone, “some other dad,” said Ethan. “To me that, like, confirmed that he really was missing [me].”“Yeah. That was hard. That was really hard,” Christina said.At the Rivera house, it’s much the same.“I was like, ‘Please don’t make him go, please, please, no, I don’t want him to go,” said Caleb.The kids find their own ways to cope. “I basically just thought, ‘He’s coming the next day, he’s coming the next day,’ pretty much helped me through the whole thing,” Caleb said.When the Riveras are separated, with Paul serving in dangerous combat zones, they rely on their faith. “I’d wake up and just go in my closet and pray for 15 minutes, and that was one thing I did every day,” Lily said. “I just felt like I needed that pick up.”“Because you didn’t know what the day ahead was going to be?” asked Crawford.“Yes. And just emotionally. I mean, I’m by myself here.”Through multiple deployments, Rivera has learned to be there when he can – even surprising her on special holidays.“It was a little scavenger hunt,” he said. “So I pre-staged things throughout the house to surprise her. It was like, ‘Do me a favor and I need you to go to this room and I need you to move these books out of the way. And happy anniversary!’”Found: a Tiffany’s famous blue box, with a note.With dad now home, the Krumnows hold barbecues for family and friends to celebrate the times they do have together.“It’s really fun with him, too,” said Lillian.“Is he a fun guy?” asked Crawford.“Yeah, he’s silly.”“What does he like to do?”“I don’t know. Drink beer,” she said, smiling.“In some sense it brings us closer together, now that we were gone for a while. It kind of makes it more meaningful.”Both wives recognize the true meaning of sacrifice. Their needs come second.“He doesn’t particularly belong to me, he belongs to the government,” said Lily Rivera. “So, he goes and does … his responsibilities, and I’m OK with that.”And that has to come first? “It does.”That’s the sacrifice for those back home who serve by staying strong.Caleb and Levi Rivera hope their dad will be able to stay a while. “I think he has to have another deployment,” said Levi.“And how will you guys get through that?” Crawford asked.“By acting good.”Even from those young children, one can see the mix of resolve and hope that all these families have – always ready to take on the next challenge.A third Marine “CBS This Morning” has been following since that homecoming at Camp Lejeune, Captain Tamara Watkins, is starting on a very different story: she just drove across the country to start school in California. We’ll check in on that huge adjustment down the road. 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings “CBS This Morning” continues to follow the lives of our nation’s bravest as they return from war. We were there earlier this year when a group of Marines came home to North Carolina from Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.It’s been six months since that emotional reunion. Now as part of our series, “Coming Home,” we focus on the families of two Marines, Major Ethan Krumnow and Major Paul Rivera.- Advertisement – last_img read more

City of Whiteville employee accused of selling drugs while on the job

first_img During the investigation, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Vice-Narcotics Unit allegedly completed an undercover purchase of Percocet from Canady.The sheriff’s office says Canady utilized a City of Whiteville vehicle during normal business hours to complete the narcotics exchange.During the exchange and while driving to make the exchange, Canady operated the City of Whiteville vehicle with active flashing lights.Related Article: Man charged with kidnapping, rape in New Hanover CountyOn March 4th, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged Canady with four felony counts of Trafficking in Heroin or Opium.The City of Whiteville says Canady was terminated from his job on Monday for unsatisfactory job performance, prior to his arrest. According to a news release, Canady was still on his six month probationary period. He was a maintenance worker in the Public Utilities Department.Canady was arrested at his home on Easy Street in Chadbourn. He received a $50,000.00 secured bond. Justin Canady (Photo: Columbus Co. Sheriff’s Office) COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Chadbourn man is accused of trafficking drugs while working for the City of Whiteville.According to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, they began investigating Justin Marvin Canady, 32, in January after receiving information Canady was distributing narcotics across the county.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Blog Facebooks Silent Change to Your Newsfeed

first_imgAdvertisement Okay, nothing wrong with those tweaks. However if you’re like me, and comment on your friend’s statuses and prefer to just watch others, you may have noticed some people apparently are commenting much more, and others much less. This is due to a change in how the site displays your newsfeed: if you haven’t commented, liked, or looked at a person’s profile regularly, they have now seemingly disappeared.I had noticed something was up a few days ago: certain people that are frequent Facebookers had suddenly stopped appearing. Was it something I said? Did they delete me? Nope, they’re still in my friends list. I then just chalked it up to those people just not statusing their life as much, it happens. Then a friend posted one of those chain statuses which piqued my curiosity:HAVE YOU NOTICED LATELY THAT YOU ARE ONLY SEEING UPDATES OR GETTING COMMENTS FROM THE SAME PEOPLE LATELY? Facebook made a change.You only see posts from people you interact with “regularly!” To change this, Scroll down to the bottom of the ‘newsfeed’ homepage and click on “Edit Options.” Click on “Show Posts From” and change the setting to “All Of Your Friends and Pages” *REPOST THIS* – Advertisement – Sure enough, if you follow the directions, this option does indeed exist. And by default apparently (at least a half-dozen of my friends have confirmed this), the option “Friends and pages you interact with most” is checked. So in essence, Facebook has made a pretty fundamental change in the way your newsfeed operates, and without much notice at all.While I can understand Facebook’s desire to make this change to clear out newsfeed spam, at the same time people may be using the site for more than just to keep on top of their closest buddies. The site has done a lot to publicize changes in the past, why would it not publicize this one? IAre you changing back, or do you plan to keep the new way? I’m willing to guess the answers will likely have to do with how each person “friends” others. Some may keep it to real friends, others may add everyone andany one.Source: Technologizerlast_img read more

Twitter Will Decide the Value of Your Tweets

first_imgTweeter CEO Dick Costolo Advertisement Tweeter CEO Dick CostoloTwitter is about to start attaching value ratings to users’ tweets.The value judgements will be assigned to the public metadata of tweeters’ posts, and used by Twitter’s streaming API to help developers more selectively curate massive amounts of status updates.Designations of “none,” “low” and “medium” will most likely debut on Feb. 20, according to a post by developer advocate Arne Roomann-Kurrik on the Twitter developers’ blog. A “high” value option will be rolled out sometime after the initial batch. – Advertisement – How exactly tweets will be ranked is not entirely clear, but Roomann-Kurrik says “medium” — and, later — “high” value posts will be roughly analogous to the “Top Tweets” results you get when you search a word or hashtag on That likely indicates tweets drawing high engagement or coming from users with large followings.Boiled down, the idea is to make Twitter’s streaming API more useful for developers, who can tweak applications to specify what types of tweets they would like surfaced on a given subject or subjects. Roomann-Kurrik gets into more technical specifications of how this will work in his blog post.That’s mostly a positive for users, as the change should help surface better content. It’s definitely a positive for Twitter, which will have the power to designate “high” value tweets (in some cases, perhaps, for a price) and possibly experiment with new ways of displaying tweets. On the other hand, judging the value of tweets is a significant and unprecedented step for the company. Some could find it a bit invasive and, well, judgmental.In the same blog post, Roomann-Kurrik also announces another impeding tweak to the Twitter API that will give developers the option of language-specific tweet curation.Are value ratings for tweets more useful or annoying? Let us know what you think in the comments.Image of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo courtesy of TwitterCredit: Mashablelast_img read more

This cup lets you add a Facebook friend with a toast

first_imgAdvertisement The Buddy Cup is a pretty cool real world meets social campaign from American brewing giant Budweiser’s Brazilian arm. It is a pretty standard beer drinking vessel, except it contains “high-tech chip technology integrated with Facebook”. People connect to Facebook with the device by scanning a QR code and friendship requests are confirmed with the blinking of a red LED light.The cups, which are to be used at sponsored Budweiser events, are reportedly meant to “enhance brand activation and increase the interaction between Budweiser consumers.” It all sounds great, but we can see a few shortfalls. If your existing friends are anything like ours, things will get silly after a few Buddy Cups. Your own Buddy Cup could easily disappear while your friend goes to “get another round”. Allow this to happen a few times and you could wake up in the morning with a monumental headache and 300 or so new Facebook friends you’ve never actually met.Credit: memeburnlast_img read more