Saverio Truglia
Saverio Truglia

How Trisha Prabhu is Curbing Cyberbullying

Saverio Truglia
Saverio Truglia

By Trisha Prabhu, as told to April Daley

Two and a half years ago, Trisha Prabhu began work on ReThink, an anti-cyberbullying app that prompts adolescents to reconsider messages they’re about to text or post. Here, the 15-year-old Illinois student explains how she created a product that could maybe, finally make the Internet a safe space for teens.

In 2013, I read an article about 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, who jumped off her town’s water tower because she’d been cyberbullied. I was heartbroken. I started looking up other stories, reading about kids hanging themselves in their bedrooms after being told the world would be a better place without them. It hit me in the gut.

I’ve always been fascinated with the brain. It controls so much of what we do, and we understand so little about it. I came across another article about how the adolescent brain develops from the back to the front. Scientifically speaking, the reason young people are more likely to act impulsively is because the part of the brain that is supposed to control decision-making skills isn’t fully developed until age 26.

I decided to explore the link between that and bullying. I thought, “What if I give people a few extra seconds to pause and think about the consequences of their actions? What if I give kids a rethink word—almost force them to do it?”

That’s when the experimenting began. I spent months after school recruiting students, and gathered over 1500 trials’ worth of data. Adolescents were presented with offensive messages and then asked to choose, “Would you post this?” or “Would you not post this?” If they said, “Sure, I’ll post ‘You are so ugly’ on social media,” we went, “Hold on! Are you sure you want to do this?” We found that over 93 percent of the time adolescents changed their minds. The overall willingness to post a message actually dropped from 71 percent to 4 percent. I knew I was onto something.

I entered the Google Science Fair and was chosen as a global finalist, one of the top 15. It was the first time Google had accepted a behavioral science project into the finals. I lost, but it hit me: Maybe people could use this. I ended up creating ReThink.

I released two apps this past August, ReThink for Android and ReThink for iOS. It helps that I have parents with a tech background and have been coding since I was 10. I also have fantastic mentors.

We’re now working with school districts, parents, guidance counselors, and teachers. Our goal: to build a coalition of ReThink Ambassador schools to help download the app onto school computers and students’ mobile devices. ReThink could become more than a solution. It could become a movement, a mind-set, a call to action.

Don’t Fall For This Trick Used by Hotel Booking Sites

Hotel booking sites can be useful tools when comparing prices, locations, and amenities, but some services use deceptive tactics to get you to click “book.”

A new report spotted by Travel + Leisure determined that those “one room left” alerts you sometimes see while perusing hotels can’t always be trusted. Led by the UK-based Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the eight-month investigation concluded that many sites use “pressure selling” to create a false sense of urgency in hopes that customers will book a room more quickly than usual. Similar notices about how many people are looking at a particular room or how long a deal will last are some of the other tactics travel booking websites employed.

The CMA also found that some discount claims had either expired or weren’t relevant to the customer’s search criteria, and hidden fees—like the much-maligned "resort fees"—are sometimes tacked on at the end of the booking process. (To be fair, many hotels are also guilty of this practice.)

The report didn’t drop any company names, but the consumer agency said it warned the sites that legal action would be taken if their concerns weren't addressed. The companies could be breaking consumer protection law, the CMA notes.

“Booking sites can make it so much easier to choose your holiday, but only if people are able to trust them,” Andrea Coscelli, the CMA's chief executive, said in a statement. “Holidaymakers must feel sure they’re getting the deal they expected … It’s also important that no one feels pressured by misleading statements into making a booking.”

Still, booking sites remain a convenient option, so if you decide to use one, just take your time and be cognizant that some of the claims you're seeing may not be entirely truthful.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The Internet Archive's Billions of Web Pages Inspired a New Art Exhibition

The Internet Archive, a digital library based out of San Francisco, contains books, movies, music, and roughly 332 billion web pages saved from internet history. The nonprofit's collection is an invaluable tool for researchers, but for the past two years, it has also provided some inspiration to artists. As Fast Company reports, the Internet Archive’s 2018 artist in residence exhibition opens in San Francisco on Saturday, July 14.

For its second annual visual arts residency, the Internet Archive invited artists Chris Sollars, Taravat Talepasand, and Mieke Marple to refer to its web archive (a.k.a. the Wayback Machine) as well as its media archive while building a body of work over the course of a year.

Marple, an artist from Palo Alto, California, created a series of illustrations based on a Facebook quiz titled “What Abomination from the Garden of Earthly Delights Are You?” She found images that inspired the project's visual style from books in the archive's library.

San Francisco artist Chris Sollars built a multimedia exhibition meant to evoke the Bay Area in the 1960s. It includes retro screen savers, literature on psychedelic drugs, and live recordings of the Grateful Dead.

The third artist, Taravat Talepasand, the daughter of Iranian immigrants, was born in the U.S. during the Iranian Revolution. She used the archive to build a mini archive containing magazines, propaganda, and posters from pre-revolutionary Iran. From that, she drew inspiration to make an accompanying series of paintings and drawings.

After launching July 14, the exhibition will be available to view at 1275 Minnesota Street, Suite 105, in San Francisco through August 11. If you're looking for inspiration of your own, artists and non-artists alike can search the Internet Archive for rare materials anytime for free.

[h/t Fast Company]


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