Political Facebook Posts Don't Change Minds, Study Says

Getty Images
Getty Images

Been posting political rants all over Facebook this election season? They may not be doing much good, according to a recent study. WIRED reports that the social media marketing firm Rantic decided to research the way Facebook users react to the political messages their friends post, and the results were less than encouraging.

Rantic polled 10,000 Facebook users and found that, by and large, political posts were extremely unlikely to change anyone's views. However, they were likely to annoy people and even inspire them to unfriend posters.

Rantic found that 94 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, and 85 percent of Independents said they'd never changed their view of an issue based on a Facebook post. About two-thirds of the study's participants also said that social media was not an appropriate place to discuss politics, while around half said they judged others based on their political opinions. A smaller, though not insignificant, number (12 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of Democrats, and 9 percent of Independents) said they’d unfriended someone because of a political post.

But that doesn't stop Facebook users from posting political messages of their own: Rantic also found that while the vast majority of Facebook users said they’ve remained steadfast in their political views after reading conflicting opinions on Facebook, 39 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of Democrats, and 26 percent of Independents had still posted political messages on their own Facebook pages.

[h/t WIRED]

This Interactive Toy Plays With Your Dog When You're Busy Folding Laundry or Watching Your Favorite Show

Wickedbone, Amazon
Wickedbone, Amazon

Let’s be honest: Energetic dogs are wonderful, but they can also be exhausting. Some pups never seem to grow tired of running around, and it often takes a little extra effort (and exertion, on the owner’s part) to keep them entertained. If you’re looking for a way to help your dog beat boredom without wearing yourself out, the Wickedbone might be a good one to keep in your toy bin.

Available on Amazon, this robotic, interactive toy spotted by Designboom is ideal for busy pet owners as well as dogs that could use a little extra exercise or stimulation. The bone-shaped smart toy spins, jumps, and rolls around autonomously on both indoor and outdoor surfaces.

One of the advantages of this toy is that users can be as hands-on or hands-off as they'd like. They can either set it to interactive mode and step away to take care of other business, or take control of the toy’s movements through a smartphone app that pairs with the toy via Bluetooth. In drive mode, the app’s virtual joystick lets users control the direction and choose between nine different motions, including “quick jump,” “front flip,” “shake body,” and “quick spin.” Other settings can also be customized, like the surface (hard or soft), area (small or wide), speed, acceleration, and swerve speed.

The toy’s battery lasts the longest in interactive mode—about four hours—while the app mode can be used for about 40 minutes. In the event that the Wickedbone hits a patch of mud or dog poo, the tires can be popped off and cleaned under running water.

The product has a nearly four-star overall rating on Amazon, and many of them are rave reviews. One reviewer called it a “lifesaver,” while another said the toy is great for “tough chewers.” (Small bite marks won’t affect the product, the company notes.) At $140, the Wickedbone is a bit steeper than most dog toys—but for the price of having a happier, healthier pooch (and a saner owner), it might just be worthwhile.

Buy it on Amazon or at these other retailers:

[h/t Designboom]

12 Things To Do When Your Flight's Canceled or Delayed

iStock.com/vm
iStock.com/vm

Delayed flights are a bummer. After all, the reason you came to the airport is because you wanted to reach your destination faster. But flight delays are unpredictable. Maybe the weather became surprisingly unpleasant, or a mechanical issue arose, or, as in the case of China’s Hangzhou Ziaoshan International Airport in July 2010, a UFO was discovered hovering near the airfield. Here’s what you should do if you’re stranded because of a flight delay or, heaven forbid, a canceled flight.

1. Understand your rights as a passenger if your flight is delayed ...

Fun fact: Legally, you have very few rights. In the United States, at least, few regulations require airlines to provide you with any form of compensation after a delayed flight. Many airlines, however, have what’s called a Contract of Carriage, which describes what you’re entitled to: Potential food vouchers, discounts, refunds, or a hotel stay in the event of a flight delay when the airline is at fault. So read those terms and conditions when you book!

2. ... Especially if you’re flying in Europe.

If you’re flying in Europe—or flying aboard a European airline—passengers have more rights. According to Regulation EC 261/2004, if your flight reaches its destination more than three hours late (or if you were denied boarding because of overbooking) you may have a right to be compensated up to €600, or about $700.

3. If a flight delay or cancellation caused you a big financial loss, you could be compensated for it.

We’ll let the gurus at the great website Airfare Watchdog explain:

“[I]f you can provide evidence of financial loss caused by a delay on an international flight, and prove that the airline could have prevented it by taking 'reasonable measures,' then you may be able to claim further compensation under the Montreal Convention, a treaty that covers most international travel. Under its Article 22, it stipulates a maximum payout of 4150 SDRs (currently $5870).”

(By the way, an SDR, or "Special Drawing Right," is an international unit based on a basket of five currencies: the U.S. dollar, the pound sterling, the Euro, the Japanese yen, and the Chinese renminbi. It's the main unit used by the International Monetary Fund.)

4. Check your connecting flight status immediately.

In most cases, the airline will put you on the next available flight to your destination—but it may not alert you to that fact. Call or check customer service immediately to get an update on your status. In some instances, the airline might have automatically rebooked you on a completely different route to your destination. (In the case of one Mental Floss editor, a delayed flight from Chicago to New York transformed into a multi-segment marathon from Chicago to Grand Rapids to Dallas to New York.)

5. Make some calls as soon as your flight is delayed or canceled.

If you rented a car, let the agency at your destination know about your delayed flight status. If you think the flight delay might last into the night (or will become a canceled flight at some point) and the airline doesn't seem to be budging on handing out those hotel perks, it may also be worth booking a hotel yourself just in case. Most hotels don’t charge until you check in, so—pending the accommodation’s cancellation policy—there might be nothing to lose if the airline manages to pull through.

6. Do some research on chronically delayed flights.

Now that you have some extra time on your hands, why not check up on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Travel Consumer Report? It supplies a monthly rundown of the cause of every flight delay experienced by each carrier. Similarly, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics maintains a list tracking the causes of delays as well as list of “chronically delayed flights.” It can’t save you this time, but it might help you pick a better flight next time.

7. Wait before you begin making complaints ...

If your flight hasn’t been delayed for at least three hours, you really shouldn’t expect any vouchers or sympathy. At that point, complaining about a delay is a waste of everybody’s time. If you bought travel insurance, your policy will likely kick in about four hours after the delay. Depending on the policy you purchased and the provider, you should call the insurance company when hour four hits to see what you may be entitled to.

8. ... But try not to fall asleep.

In some cases, an airline may tell passengers that the flight delay will last three hours, only to suddenly announce over the P.A. system that they’ll be boarding soon. A flight can be “undelayed” and you should be prepared if that happens. So if you plan on taking a nap, find a buddy to wake you up just in case. (In a similar vein: If a flight is delayed before you reach the airport, you cannot arrive late to check in. You need to show up as if the plane were leaving on time.)

9. Read the fine print on your credit card—it might cover flight delays.

Many credit cards come with travel protection benefits in the event of a delay; some will even reimburse you if your flight is delayed a certain amount of time (if you booked your ticket with that card). So get familiar with your credit card perks and see if you’re eligible.

10. Take a hike.

Airports are great places to go people watching and, of course, plane-spotting. They’re also not a bad place to exercise. (And, let’s admit it—you might need to blow off some steam.) Multiple airports now have gyms and free yoga studios. Phoenix Sky Harbor boasts a “Walk The Sky Harbor Fitness Trail” [PDF].

11. Check the attractions at the airport.

During the winter, Denver International has an outdoor ice-skating rink that’s free to use (even skate rentals are free). Seattle-Tacoma International displays more than 60 works of art and offers a self-guided walking tour. At Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, the world-renowned Rijksmuseum has set up exhibits showing Dutch masterpieces. And at Singapore’s Changi International Airport, Terminal 3 boasts a four-story slide.

12. Cuddle an animal.

You’re stressed. You’re anxious. You’re angry. But what if we told you that at San Francisco International Airport there’s a therapy pig named Lilou who struts around (in costume!) and would love to cuddle with you? Or what if we told you that LAX has a program called PUP—for the “Pets Unstressing Program”—that provides free snuggles from therapy dogs? See, getting stranded in an airport thanks to a delayed flight isn’t so bad.

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