TIME Diversity

90% of Twitter’s Tech Employees are Male

Twitter released its long-awaited diversity report on Wednesday, and the skewed demographics are no surprise

A lack of employee diversity is a trending topic in Silicon Valley, and the data on Twitter’s racial and gender diversity, released Wednesday, further confirms what’s already become clear: male, white and Asian workers occupy the vast majority of tech jobs and leadership roles.

Ninety percent of Twitter’s global tech employees are male, while non-tech jobs are equally split by gender, according to data posted on Twitter’s blog by Janet Van Huysse, Vice President of Diversity of Inclusion. Additionally, men occupy 79% of leadership positions and comprise 70% of the total workforce. Here’s the breakdown:

 Employee Gender Diversity
Twitter

When it comes to racial diversity, 88% of all Twitter employees and 92% of tech employees are either white or Asian (mostly white). And unlike gender diversity, Twitter’s non-tech roles similarly lack racial diversity: 83% are white or Asian (mostly white). In leadership, non-Asian minorities hold only 4% of leadership roles. Here are the full details:

 Employee Ethnic Diversity
Twitter

Twitter’s statistics very much align with those released by other tech giants. In May, Google’s diversity report, the first of its kind from a major tech firm, spearheaded the diversity transparency movement that’s now gained traction across the U.S. Google reported that men were vastly overrepresented in tech jobs, while non-tech jobs had a roughly even gender split. Facebook’s report, LinkedIn’s report and Yahoo’s report also found similar results. But compared to all these companies, Twitter posts the highest proportion of male tech employees (90%) compared to Facebook (85%), Yahoo (85%), Google (83%) and LinkedIn (83%).

“We are keenly aware that Twitter is part of an industry that is marked by dramatic imbalances in diversity—and we are no exception,” writes Huysse, noting that Twitter has sponsored and partnered with several groups, like Girls Who Code and Girl Geek Dinners, that encourage women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in tech.

Twitter’s diversity report arrives roughly a month after the similar reports were made public, a delay that’s caused civil rights groups, including one led by Jesse Jackson, to petition Twitter to release its own statistics. Twitter and other companies are required to file the EEO-1 report to the federal government—LinkedIn went a step ahead and published its EEO-1—but there’s no such requirement that diversity data is released to the public. And though it may not a federal requirement, it certainly seems to be a social one, as companies like Twitter realize the value of a diverse workforce.

“By becoming more transparent with our employee data, open in dialogue throughout the company and rigorous in our recruiting, hiring and promotion practices, we are making diversity an important business issue for ourselves,” the blog states.

TIME Companies

You Can’t Check-In on Foursquare’s Main App Starting Tomorrow

Foursquare Squares Off with Yelp After Major Overhaul
Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley speaks during the NikeFuel Forum at Spring Studios on October 15, 2013 in New York City. Mike Lawrie—Getty Images

Foursquare is shedding its rep as a check-in app to compete with discovery services like Yelp

You can check out Foursquare’s new app starting in the next few weeks, but you can’t check-in.

Foursquare said Wednesday that users will have to use its secondary app, Swarm, to check-in to locations starting Thursday. That change comes after Foursquare announced an unbundling into two separate apps back in May: Foursquare, where users run local searches, and Swarm, where check-ins are re-hosted.

That split gave Foursquare—now with a brand new logo—time to cocoon up for a metamorphosis that’s “almost ready for you,” according to Foursquare’s blog post. The “new” Foursquare app, releasing sometime in the next two weeks, will feature personalized local searches, giving users different results based on their preferences and activity. Foursquare promises no two people will have the same experience.

“In a couple weeks, we’re rolling out a brand new version of Foursquare that’s all about you,” Foursquare’s blog states. “Tell us what you like, and we’ll be on the lookout for great places that match your tastes, wherever you are.”

Personalized searches have been a hot topic for Foursquare and similar rival apps, like Yelp. Foursquare has previously personalized user experiences through an “Explore” button. The feature allowed users to filter by category and to receive recommendations, services resembling those on Yelp, which also added a feature similar to Foursquare’s check-in function. Foursquare’s new primary app, meanwhile, is clearly intended as a salvo in the direction of Yelp and similar services — though it remains to be seen how Foursquare user’s will react to being forced over to a new app for check-ins; similar service splits have not gone well in the past.

 

TIME facebook

Here’s What William Shatner Thinks of Facebook’s New Celebs-Only App

William Shatner Reviews Facebook Mentions
William Shatner performs during his one-man show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It," in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller—Getty Images

And he isn't too amused with it

Actor William Shatner, an outspoken Twitter rights activist, took to Tumblr Tuesday to review Facebook Mentions, the new celebrities-only app meant to boost public figures’ interactions with their fans. And he isn’t too amused.

The Star Trek alum compared the older Pages App to Mentions, the new app that “most of [us] don’t have access to.” Shatner’s review contains five chapters for five comparable features between Pages and Mentions, stamping them each with the Shatner seal of approval or disapproval. He likes that Mentions allows him to track trends, mentions (of course) and notifications, but what didn’t float his boat were certain features that weren’t seamlessly integrated across Mentions and Pages, or ones that seemed to him like they were carelessly lumped in the app.

“The Fifth and final section of each app [Pages' Feed and Mentions' Photos, Events and Settings] seems like they are afterthoughts – where can we put these items,” Shatner wrote.

At times Shatner is a harsh critic, writing that both Pages and Mention “clearly both fail” with regards to posting options. Not only that, but he also seemed creeped out by the strange marketing strategy—a banner ad featuring a graphic of his face pasted onto an iPhone—and annoyed that he’d been forced to follow a celebrity to begin using the app. Of course, Facebook suggested that he follow Star Trek‘s George Takei, though the two aren’t exactly on good terms. In the end, Shatner remained skeptical of the new app’s usefulness.

“I’m not quite sure why Facebook released this app for ‘celebrities,’” Shatner wrote. “It seems to be ill conceived. I will probably use it to post to my Facebook when I’m on my phone but it doesn’t allow for mail or groups. I will continue to use my regular Facebook App as well as the Pages app.”

 

TIME Ukraine

Rebels’ Control of the MH17 Crash Site Could Foil an Investigation

MH17 Rebels Moving Bodies Evidence
Ukrainian rescue servicemen inspect part of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Rassipnoye, Ukraine. Rob Stothard—Getty Images

In air crash investigations, tampered crash sites may make difficult questions impossible to answer

When a terrorist’s bomb destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 killing all passengers on board, investigators posed the unavoidable question: had anyone survived the initial blast? Officials concluded yes, pointing to a fragile clue: the way one victim lay dead, her hand clutching a palmful of freshly torn grass.

For the nascent MH17 investigation, that question may remain unanswered. Ukrainian Pro-Russia separatists were first on the scene, and they hauled away bodies before international officials arrived, potentially ruining the investigation site. On top of that, some reports suggest the rebels removed evidence from the site. While the separatists have turned over the Boeing 777′s black boxes and allowed some officials access to the crash site, a proper investigation is being further jeopardized as separatists chase away some experts trained to photograph, map and carefully gather debris and human remains.

As in all air crash investigations, officials analyzing Flight MH17 must literally piece together evidence—or what’s left of it—to answer a slew of haunting questions, questions that may be left unanswered even after the black boxes are analyzed: Why did the plane go down? Did it break up in midair? Could passengers have survived? Who’s to blame?

The tiniest bits of evidence have shed light on the world’s most gut-wrenching aviation disasters. In other words, it doesn’t take much to foil an investigation.

“You can look at ValuJet, TWA 800, Swissair, Alaska Air—all of those were accident investigations in which one piece was important in terms of determining the causes,” James E. Hall, a former National Transportation Safety Board chairman, told TIME. “I wasn’t expecting these rebels to know how to secure a scene, but there were certainly people in Russia who knew how to do that.”

For Pan Am Flight 103, it was a fragment of the plane’s cargo rail that sufficiently proved that an explosive, not structural failure, had doomed the aircraft. The strip was puckered with small craters, proof that gases of a combusting bomb torched their telltale signature into the metal. Until then, investigators were unable to reach a conclusion despite several clues pointing to a bomb: the autopilot still on; oxygen masks un-deployed; debris scattered over 2,000 square km.; intelligence reports suspecting an airplane bombing; and four groups’ having claimed responsibility within 24 hours of the crash.

In the case of MH17, that Ukrainian rebels fired a BUK surface-to-air missile at the Boeing 777 similarly appear to be backed by strong evidence, from intercepted conversations to now-deleted social media posts. Barack Obama thinks so. John Kerry thinks so. And so too does the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. But in almost all cases, to formally close an air crash investigation requires definitive evidence. Still, images have already surfaced of what appears to be shrapnel damage on MH17 debris. Experts believe that damage is consistent with a surface-to-air missile explosion.

“Based on the pattern of the fragments that impacted the airplane, it would be possible to determine the position and size of the warhead when it detonated. That information could indicate the type of weapon used,” Tom Haueter, former director of the NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety, told TIME in an e-mail. “It is also possible that fragments of the warhead or the parts of the missile could be recovered. That information could indicate who manufactured the weapon.”

In investigations with fewer leads, it becomes increasingly paramount to account for each piece of the horrifying puzzle. In 1987, investigators struggled to identify the passenger aboard PSA 1771 who shot the pilots before putting the plane into a nosedive, then crashing it at a speed faster than sound. Eventually, a tiny fingertip fragment on the murder weapon allowed the FBI to definitively determine the gunman’s identity. Similarly, when TWA 800 mysteriously exploded in mid-air in 1996 off Long Island, killing all 230 on board, the NTSB concluded its investigation in 2000 with only a probable cause: a short circuit sparking a fuel tank explosion. There was no definitive evidence of malfunctioned electrical wiring, even though the sound spectrum analysis of the explosion was consistent with an electrical one. The lack of a definitive cause for Flight 800′s destruction allowed conspiracy theories about a missile or bomb to run rampant even to this day.

“We retrieved almost 99% of the [Flight 800] aircraft, and then reconstructed it, and even with that, the one pump that we thought threw the short [circuit] was not located,” said Hall, who oversaw the TWA 800 case while NTSB chairman.

On the MH17 debris field, the removal of bodies and evidence complicates not only the criminal investigation but also the safety investigation. That some victims were bloody indicates that they may have had beating hearts after impact — that’s how coroners confirmed one victim of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash last year was alive before she was hit by a fire truck responding to the accident and killed. Resting body positions may show telling movements in passengers’ final moments — when Air Canada Flight 797 filled with smoke and ignited after an emergency landing, victims were found burned to death on their hands and knees, a sign that some were still evacuating. In fact, strapped-in bodies indicate victims were likely ejected from the aircraft after an explosion: a sign that survival wasn’t totally impossible, like in 1971 when Juliane Koepcke lived to tell the story after lightning damaged her plane and she fell 3 kilometers to the ground.

MH17 victims’ bodies are expected to arrive in Amsterdam on Wednesday. Whatever closure that may bring to the victims’ families, it will be only the beginning for forensic and air accident experts, whose vital investigations have been delayed by almost a week. But what happened with MH17′s crash site is not unique, Hall says. Rather, it’s a common problem in less-developed areas of the world where bystanders manage to access the scene before international aviation officials arrive. If that happens, as it did for MH17, then there’s no way to know if any findings will accurately represent the events that took place.

TIME Ukraine

Watch: Ukraine’s Airspace Emptied Out After MH17 Crashed

Ukraine Air Space
Flightradar24

Airlines had previously avoided Ukrainian airspace as well

After MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, air traffic data suggest that more and more flights that weren’t Ukraine-bound began to skirt around the country’s borders.

Flight patterns appeared to shift towards a path along Ukraine’s eastern borders hours after MH17′s burning debris was located in eastern Urkaine, as seen in the image to the side. That’s according to Flightradar24.com’s air traffic data at 20:00 UTC from July 17, compared to the data from July 10 and July 3. The circumventions coincided with several airlines’ announcements, including Delta, Lufthansa and Aeroflot, that they would re-route planes to avoid Ukrainian airspace.

Even though what the Federal Aviation Administration deemed unsafe airspace over Ukraine didn’t include MH17′s crash site, many airlines in fact had already re-routed flights, skirting the country’s eastern border. Flights operated by Aeroflot, for example, that normally took a straight-line path from Sochi to Moscow—passing almost exactly over Hrabove, where MH17 crashed—had begun to tilt northeast to avoid entering Ukrainian airspace as early as May, according to Flightradar24′s historical flight records for SU1131.

SU1131′s flight path on May 14, 2014. Flightradar24.com

SU1131′s actual flight path is shown in purple above.

 

 

 

TIME Crime

Here’s How Long It Takes the Internet to Forget a Missing Person

How Long Missing Persons Forgotten
A Child Focus poster displayed during the ongoing search for a missing father and daughter in Belgium reported missing in November 2013. AFP/Getty Images

Even the most covered unsolved missing person cases seem to hold attention for 6 months

Interest in some of the most covered, open missing persons cases fell by 90% from their peak within 4 to 8 months, according to Google data. These cases include Lauren Spierer, a 20-year-old student who disappeared June 3, 2011; Lisa Irwin, a baby reported missing October 4, 2011; Holly Bobo, a 20-year-old student abducted April 13, 2011; and Kyron Horman, a 7-year-old who vanished on June 4, 2010.

The Internet’s interest over time is measured by Google’s historical search volume index data, whose values reflect the number of Google searches made for a particular term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. Downward lines represent declining popularity, according to Google, and thus the steep declines are one way to quantify how quickly missing people fade away the Internet’s collective mind.

Just because an unresolved missing persons case has generated less interest online doesn’t mean it’ll be forgotten significantly faster.

For these missing person cases, whose search interest peaked at most at only a third of the previous cases, searches dropped to 10% within 4 to 9 months: Ayla Reynolds, a toddler who disappeared on December 17, 2011; Sky Metawala, a 2-year-old who vanished on November 6, 2011; Jahessye Shockley, a 5-year-old reported missing October 11, 2011; and Amy Ahonen, a 38-year-old last seen July 8, 2011, whose case closed after her remains were found in March.

Online interest in missing persons cases have become valuable to find-me campaigns, which have increasingly turned to social media, e-mails and mobile notifications to spawn tips and generate awareness. The Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) has assisted 17,316 total cases by Internet publicity, and over 10% of resolved cases were aided by NamUs. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) allows users to add AMBER alert tickers to websites and apps, and the agency claims social media outreach has near-proven results in locating missing persons. Nationwide, there are up to 90,000 missing person cases active at any given time.

For comparison, missing persons cases appear to command attention for longer periods than another one of the Internet’s most-covered mysteries: missing planes. While there have been only two commercial aircraft disappearances in recent years—Air France Flight 447, located in 2011, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, yet to be found—both dropped to 10% of their peak interest within two to four months.

TIME Companies

How Chick-fil-A Totally Crushed KFC, Popeyes

Chick-fil-A Is a Growing Threat in Fast Food Market
A U.S. flag flies outside a Chick-fil-A Inc. restaurant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in March 2014. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wall Street is paying closer attention to Chick-fil-A, which has discreetly surpassed fast food giants despite its limited presence and tainted reputation

Investors are eyeing the privately-held Chick-fil-A, a rising fast food chain that’s quietly emerged as a competitive threat against publicly-traded giants like McDonald’s and KFC.

Unbeknownst to many, Chick-fil-A has dethroned Colonel Sanders to claim the greatest market share in the American limited-service chicken segment, according to a new report from Janney Capital Markets (JCM). Its rise to chicken champion actually occurred in 2012 when Chick-fil-A won 25.1% market share, slightly more than KFC’s 24.4%, a remarkable growth story shadowed by controversy over Chick-fil-A’s owner’s social views and other strange reports.

Here’s a time-lapse chart with data from JCM showing how Chick-fil-A has gobbled up market share from KFC, Popeyes and other chicken chains like Zaxby’s and Bojangles’ Famous between 1999 and 2013:

On the surface, Chick-fil-A pales in comparison to its competitors: it has only 1,700 stores, a small handful compared to KFC’s 4,491 stores, and because it’s a private company its financials are undisclosed, making it impossible to know precisely its earnings. Yet the report estimates that Chick-fil-A posts an average annual growth rate of 12.7% — huge when compared to KFC’s 1% — thanks to its strong sales and store expansion.

But it’s not Chick-fil-A’s newfound dominance over KFC or Popeyes that interests investors—it’s that Chick-fil-A could soon overpower McDonald’s. While the golden arches have dominated the American fast food market, McDonald’s reported declining U.S. sales in recent months, a trend that might allow Chick-fil-A to steal McDonald’s growth opportunities over the next 10 years, according to the report.

McDonald’s is projected to add between $1 and $10.3 billion to its U.S. sales between 2014 and 2023, while Chick-fil-A is projected to add between $6.3 and $9.0 billion, indicating that Chick-fil-A is nowhere near done growing, especially as it expands northward to compete with McDonald’s stores.

“Chick-fil-A should get more attention from the Street in coming years, in part because it represents a growing competitive threat to other sizable quick-service chains, perhaps most notably McDonald’s,” the report states. “It is entirely possible that [Chick-fil-A's sales growth] will be similar to—or worst-case, from McDonald’s perspective—greater than the systemwide sales that McDonald’s can add to its domestic business over that same time.”

 

 

TIME Tech

Google Joining With Pharma Company to Build its Smart Contact Lens

The lenses would be a breakthrough in diabetes management, allowing diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels without drawing blood

+ READ ARTICLE

Pharmaceutical company Novartis announced Tuesday that its eye care division, Alcon, will license Google’s smart contact lens technology, creating a tool to monitor diabetics’ blood sugar levels through tear samples.

Alcon will collaborate with Google[x], Google’s secretive lab for major technological advances which also designed Google Glass. The two will join forces to develop contact lenses that wirelessly connect to mobile devices to report blood sugar in near-real-time. The technology may also provide accommodative vision correction for those with impaired eyesight.

“Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” said Google C0-Founder Sergey Brin in a statement. “We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true.”

A marriage between a medical juggernaut and a tech powerhouse, the agreement will benefit both companies by allowing Google to merge biology with its miniature electronic efforts and Novartis to leverage technology to manage disease, according to Novartis’ press release. The partnership remains subject to anti-trust approvals.

“This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye,” said Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez.

The partnership announcement arrives shortly after Babak Parviz, one of the Google[x] pioneers behind the smart lens and Google Glass, wrote on Google Plus Saturday that he will leave Google for Amazon. Parviz, who debuted in 2011 a smart lens prototype with a red LED light indicating glucose at or below certain thresholds, is expected to contribute to Amazon’s wearables and technological advancements.

Google announced its smart contact lens project in January.

 

 

TIME Tech

Report: One-Third of New York Residents Were Data Breach Victims Last Year

New York Record Number of Data Breach Last Year
A New York City Target during the period of December 15, 2013, to December 17, 2013, when the credit card information of 40 million customers who shopped at the retailer were stolen. Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

Millions have been exposed without knowledge or consent

Secure data of 7.3 million out of roughly 20 million New Yorkers were breached in 2013, breaching also the record for the highest number of information attacks per year in the state.

Private and public institutions in New York were hit by an unprecedented 900 data breaches exposing personal and financial information last year costing $1.37 billion, according to a new report released Tuesday by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. The report discloses historical statistics of New York data breaches between 2006 and 2013.

“With today’s report, we are proud to be taking a first-of-its-kind, multiple-year glance at information we’ve collected, so that we’re looking not only at the direct impact on New Yorkers, but also at trends in the data. This is an important step toward ensuring that everyone, from businesses to consumers, is better protected from these intrusions,” Schneiderman told TIME in an email.

From 2006 to 2013, 22.8 million personal records of New Yorkers were exposed in nearly 5,000 data breaches, with many victims unaware. Hacking is responsible for over half of personal information exposures; the number of hacking breaches have tripled since 2006. This chart shows the full breakdown:

New York Data Breach by Cause 2006 - 2013
Source: Office of the New York State Attorney General

Data breaches per year, while a volatile statistic, have trended upward since 2006 — it’s not just that the public eye has just begun to zero in on these information security attacks, a thriving practice largely driven by the black market. (TIME’s July 21 cover story dove head first into the rise of the data breach market.) This graph shows the number of New York records exposed by year, with dotted lines representing the total number of records exposed:

New York Data Breaches by Year
Office of the New York State Attorney General

The up-and-down nature of the graph is precisely due to mega-breaches, according to the report. These massive information spills are increasing, with half of the 10 largest mega-breaches affecting New Yorkers occurring after 2011, including Sony’s in May 2011 and Target’s in December 2013. Other recent, smaller breaches like P.F. Chang’s have demonstrated that no one is truly safe.

Of course, it’s not just New York. California, the first state to mandate a data breach report system in 2003, three years before New York, has previously released a data breach report, chronicling the Golden State’s dark rise of information attacks. But nationwide the upward trend is less clear, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), which collects data under a stricter definition of data breach over a subset of high-risk industries: finance, business, education, government and medicine. The ITRC’s findings suggest that for these industries, data breaches since 2006 had only doubled by 2013, versus tripled for New York.

Number of Data Breaches Nationwide
Identity Theft Resource Center

Regardless, New York officials are warning the broader public to make themselves aware that every transaction comes an inevitable risk.

“It’s clear that a broad, concerted public education campaign must take place to ensure that all of us – from large corporations, to small businesses and families – are better protected,” Schneiderman said.

 

TIME Transportation

This Airplane Seat Basically Looks Like a Torture Device

Airbus New Seat Patent
A diagram for a new seating device from Airbus' patent application. Airbus

Airbus hopes to patent a seat that resembles a bicycle saddle

Airlines with Airbus planes in their fleets may soon find themselves flooded with annoyed passengers, likely to be shifty and uncomfortable as they sit on — or rather, mount — a never-before-seen airplane seat.

Airbus filed a patent application in June for a “seating device comprising a forward-foldable backrest,” or what appears to be a bike saddle meets ergonomic office chair meets movie theater seat. The patent states that the new seat will reduce bulk: the cushions and headrests have been eliminated, and armrests are smaller than usual. With the new seat, Airbus hopes to transport more passengers with its existing aircrafts in order to maximize return, as competitive low-cost airlines stake their ground by boarding travelers willing to trade comfort for affordability.

“In all cases, this increase in the number of seats is achieved to the detriment of the comfort of the passengers,” the patent states. “However, this remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours.”

The new patent, designed by Bernard Guering, seems to be the inventor’s latest contribution in the push to economize air travel. (Guering has already filed patents for deployable benches to accommodate baggage, storage compartments in the nose gear, and a crew hang-out spot in the plane’s tail.) But seats similar to Guering’s proposal, in fact, do already exist: the SkyRider, for example, debuted in 2010, but the saddle seat has not yet made its way onto planes. More radical ideas have been proposed, such as RyanAir’s standing “seat,” which faces an uphill battle with licensing and safety requirements.

Slimmer, lighter seats for Airbus planes were picked up by United Airlines in 2012.

 

 

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