TIME cities

Officials Consider Golden Gate Bridge Toll for Pedestrians

The Golden Gate Bridge on Nov. 15, 2006 in San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge on Nov. 15, 2006 in San Francisco. Eric Risberg — AP

Charging tourists to walk across the national landmark is unlikely to happen but underscores a growing deficit problem

Officials in California are considering a proposal that would implement a toll for pedestrians and cyclists who cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Charging money to traverse the popular tourist attraction is one of a more than 40 solutions that special district authorities will consider Friday, in an effort to avoid a projected deficit of more than $200 million.

The body that oversees the bridge, known as the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, says that if no changes are made to current operations, they expect to be running at a deficit of $33 million in five years, up to $210 million in 10 years. The authority recently committed to new projects like helping to fund a $76 million suicide net, in addition to paying for expensive upkeep that will make the bridge more resistant to earthquakes.

About 10,000 pedestrians roll across the Golden Gate Bridge every day, according to current estimates from the district, along with 6,000 bikes, which could help offset those costs. A district official, however, told TIME that the new toll proposals are unlikely to see the light of day after the district’s Board of Directors hears them, given how politically unpopular pedestrian and cyclist fees would be.

The money the district needs is more likely to come from proposals to outsource jobs and labor negotiations, as well as the most traditional source: increased fares for the some 40 million cars that traverse the bridge each year. Only those vehicles traveling southbound, into the city, are charged the basic toll of $7, which will may be increased to $8 in the next few years.

TIME Innovation

This Technology Could Change the Way Deaf People Live

A new device being produced to ship in fall 2015 could be the first compact, real-time interpreter for deaf people who cannot speak. Courtesy of MotionSavvy

A San Francisco company is crowdfunding a project to make sign-to-word communication the most seamless it's ever been

Ryan Hait-Campbell says his San Francisco company’s invention is really about jobs. Deaf people like himself, explains the MotionSavvy CEO, are too often shunted into positions that don’t require talking to anyone—washing dishes, fishing or other solitary vocations that often have low wages, little opportunity for advancement and no need for an employer to hire an interpreter. One study found that only 58% of working-age Americans with a severe hearing impairment have a job at all.

MotionSavvy’s first product, though still in prototype stage, could revolutionize the prospects of millions who are deaf or hard of hearing. Called Uni, the device clasps around a PC tablet and uses MotionSavvy software to act as an interpreter between a signer (who can’t speak) and speaker (who can’t understand sign language) in very-close-to-real-time.

Two cameras read and project images of a deaf person’s gestures into a 3D virtual space. Uni’s software interprets those movements into English words that are spoken for them in a Siri-like voice. Then, when a speaker responds in words, the program uses voice recognition to display those sounds as text.

Here’s what the screen looks like:

20140919172223-Animated-UI

You can also watch a short video showing how it works on the company website.

The current options a deaf person has to communicate with people who don’t understand sign language are often expensive, cumbersome and leaving the signer at the mercy of an intermediary’s interpretation. They can hire an interpreter, either in person or through video relay services like FaceTime, paying rates that could be $50 an hour. Or they can use some equivalent of writing their words on a piece of paper and handing it to someone, who then writes their response on the paper and hands it back—whether that’s on actual paper or an app.

MotionSavvy’s chief design officer Jordan Stemper—one of eight hearing impaired MotionSavvy employees besides Hait-Campbell—says that nuance is often lost through interpreters, and points out that deaf people have been in situations where none of the available options suffice. Banks, for instance, have refused to allow deaf customers to call them using relay services because of privacy concerns (and have been sued for it), meaning any banking they want to do has to be done in person.

The key piece of technology in Uni is what MotionSavvy calls its “sign builder,” a system that can record gestures (made over and over and over again to account for variation among signers) and assign them English words. Right now, Uni can understand just 300 words and the alphabet. But Hait-Campbell says that the company plans to recruit about 200 beta testers this coming spring who will both try out the device and add needed signs, putting their lexicon at over 15,000 by fall 2015, when pre-orders are set to ship. The devices will also adjust to a user’s particular movements over time through machine learning, Hait-Campbell says. And if someone wants to add a non-standard sign for slang like “ridonculous,” they can.

The beta testers will be drawn from people who pre-order Uni through MotionSavvy’s Indiegogo campaign, a crowdfunding effort started this week that will determine how many devices can be shipped in fall 2015 and whether the products remain at their $499 price point, which Hait-Campbell says has caused sticker-shock among some in the deaf community. The MotionSavvy team wants to put the device—one they hope to eventually shrink to a mobile phone case and perhaps even an app—in as many hands as possible, and may consider cheaper subscription models to do so.

“I do not consider being deaf a handicap, but in reality it is,” Hait-Campbell writes to TIME. “There’s not been any real innovation for those deaf who cannot speak . . . Most deaf people, if they have jobs, have jobs that require little communication, like grunt work jobs. And it sucks, because the potential of these people, including my friends, can take them so far.” Most deaf people he knows are living on Social Security, he says, getting by month-to-month on what might be $500 checks.

The National Association of the Deaf does not endorse products, but spokesperson Lizzie Sorkin says the group is aware of Uni and sees it as “promising technology.” She also hints at some current limitations, like the fact that sign language is often conveyed through entire body movements, not just the fingers and forearms that show up on Uni’s screen. Hait-Campbell says later versions of the product will account for a wider range of motion, including facial expressions.

The app’s development will likely be of interest to far more people than the hearing impaired. Hait-Campbell says his company has already been approached by players in other industries who are interested in the technology, like defense contractors who want their software for controlling drones through gestures, as well as home automation companies. For now, he says, MotionSavvy has tunnel vision. “We want to focus on making this the best we can for the deaf world,” he says. “There is nothing like this out there at all. The need for this is so great.”

Colin Pattison Photography— Cinematography
TIME cities

Airbnb Is Nearly Legal In San Francisco

Airbnb logo

After months of heated debate among rental platforms, hosts and lawmakers, city leaders voted to regulate and allow short-term rentals

Updated, Wednesday Oct. 22, 11:25 a.m. ET

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 Tuesday to legalize short-term rentals facilitated by companies like Airbnb, while requiring hosts who use such services to collect taxes like more typical hotel operators do. If Mayor Ed Lee approves the proposal, home-sharing will officially be legal in the City by the Bay.

The new law, proposed by Board President David Chiu in April, also sets up a regulatory framework for this branch of the sharing economy, including a registry for all hosts and rules about who is and is not allowed to offer tourists a place on their couch. The final vote came after months of debate, hearings and lobbying on both sides.

“Everyone agrees that the status quo is not working,” Chiu told TIME shortly before the vote. “We have seen an explosion of short-term rentals without any regulatory or enforcement structure to handle this new activity. . . . This is a balanced, reasonable approach.”

An op-ed from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein arguing against the legislation, published by the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, helped reignite previous debates about whether the legislation should include amendments limiting rentals to a total of 90 days per year (in order to help preserve the “residential character” of neighborhoods) or requiring that all hosting platforms pay back taxes before the law goes into effect.

Both amendments eventually failed. Those who supported the back tax requirement, which Feinstein called “commonsense,” said that companies like Airbnb should have been collecting and remitting hotel taxes since they started operating. Those who opposed the back taxes amendment argued that there might be drawn-out legal battles over those bills, saying the city could not afford to wait to start regulating short-term rentals—especially because, under the new law, business facilitated by companies like Airbnb will funnel an estimated $11 million per year into the city’s coffers.

Those opposed to the 90-day limit, meanwhile, argued it would limit the amount of income available to hosts who rely on short-term rentals to maintain their residence in the city. Before this law was passed, San Francisco prohibited any rentals for less than 30 days, a rule put in place to help preserve rental stock for full-time San Franciscans rather than tourists.

The new law will allow locals to rent out only their primary residences, a caveat meant to stop landlords who have taken apartments off the market to rent them out full-time on platforms like Airbnb as long-time residents struggle to find housing.

Chiu said that Airbnb fought many pieces that were in the final version of the legislation, such as the tax-collection requirement and the mandate that every host has insurance coverage. “No one got everything they wanted,” he said. Renters must also adhere to their existing contracts. The new law does not, for instance, trump any lease that prohibits a person from renting out their apartment, though it does prevent them from being evicted on their first offense.

At the Tuesday hearing, short-term rental supporters filled the seats of the hearing room in City Hall, raising their arms and twiddling their fingers in support of lawmakers who made arguments for the legislation. And they broke into cheers, despite the prohibition on noise-making, after it passed.

“This is about real, live people of San Francisco who rely on home-sharing . . . to put a new roof on their house, to put their kids through college,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said during the debate, to much finger twiddling. “What we’re doing is allowing people to actually make ends meet.”

TIME Culture

Here’s How 600 People Around the World Say the Word ‘Potato’

Courtesy of Pan Macmillan

To celebrate their new book on accents, a father-son author team is inviting you to call a spud a spud

You might think you don’t have an accent, but you do. And should you need help coping with this truth, you can consult a growing crowd-sourced map of people uttering one English word from all over the world: potato.

Thanks to the authors of a new book on accents called You Say Potato, you can listen to Christopher from Alabaster, Ala., say “puh-tay-tuh” (and admit that he sometimes says “tater” instead). You can hear actor Stephen Fry lyrically explain from Norfolk, England how he utters “poh-TAY-toh.” Then you can amble over to India and listen to Nitin pronounce “pah-TAT-oh” from Bangalore. You can also add your own potato and location to the map, which already has spud markers from six continents.

The book was written by a father-son team, linguist David Crystal and actor Ben Crystal, who is known for performing Shakespeare in the “original pronunciation.” The book is full of information about the kinds of people voice agents are seeking out to do commercials and how Americans came to use their “r’s” so differently than today’s Londoners. The elder Crystal explains that while it’s hard to say precisely why an accent originates, much variation has come from people imitating dominant members of a group or people that they like.

 

The treatise also comes with a social-justice message: accents are everywhere, and no one anywhere should be judging people based on how they say potato. “People are very ready to criticize other people’s accents,” Crystal says. “There’s no correlation between accents and intelligence or accents and criminality, but people do make judgments.” The potato map is, on that level, an invitation to listen to how diverse English can be and take a moment to appreciate those differences rather than, say, deciding right off that a person who says dahhhling is in some way better than a person who says darlin’, or vice versa.

“Our accent is the most important index of identity that we’ve got. Everybody wants to say who they are and where they’re from. And the easiest and cheapest and most universal way of doing that is through their accent,” Crystal says. “There is no such thing as an ugly accent, like there’s no such thing as an ugly flower.”

As of Tuesday, more than 640 people had submitted recordings and Crystal says they expect to be past 1,000 soon. Here’s encouraging everyone to add their voices to the mix with pride, especially if anyone has ever told them they talk funny.

TIME housing

Berkeley May Ban ‘No-Pet’ Restrictions on Apartments

Avocado
A dog named Avocado looks over a cliff overlooking the fog-covered Pacific Ocean while on a hike on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in San Francisco. Marcio Jose Sanchez — ASSOCIATED PRESS

The all-pets-welcome rule that would be the first of its kind in the nation is raising landlords' hackles

Updated Oct. 21, 3:07 p.m. ET

According to Craigslist, there are about 14,867 apartments and houses available for rent in the San Francisco Bay Area as of late October. Limit those to apartments that are cat- and dog-friendly, and the rental stock plummets to less than one-third that number. But residents in Berkeley may soon find themselves less limited, if a new proposal to outlaw pet restrictions passes muster.

Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguin is expected on Tuesday to officially ask the city’s housing and animal care commissions to explore the effects of banning “no pet” policies—laying groundwork for more specific legislation later on. If passed, such a law would be the first of its kind, according to housing industry groups and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Arreguin’s office told TIME that while details are still in flux, the proposal could require all landlords to accept tenants’ pet dogs and cats, as well as “small house pets” ranging from rabbits to reptiles. The caveat for owners is that their animal must be able to be “reasonably accommodated” and must be well-behaved, not disturbing other renters. Owners could also become obligated to purchase pet insurance, and take care of any property damage caused by the pets, even if it exceeds their security deposit.

Arreguin’s chief of staff, Anthony Sanchez, says that the measure was partly born out of confusion over “emotional support animal” rules. In addition to state law allowing animals that help with disabilities such as blindness, renters can also currently get a note from their doctor saying they need Fluffy or Fido to help with conditions like anxiety. Sanchez says this has led to concerns from landlords about whether the renters truly have a legal basis for keeping their pet, as well as conflicts among tenants in buildings that generally do not allow pets.

“We noticed more and more tenants and landlords having disputes,” Sanchez says. “This seems like a way to address all those issues.” In other words, Arreguin believes that simply allowing all pets, but tightening regulation of how people care for their animals within a rental situation, would eliminate the confusion.

Many local landlords say this dog won’t hunt. Some have complained about potential property damage, like animals scratching up hardwood floors or leaving lingering smells. The caveat that animals be “reasonably accommodated,” Sanchez says, is meant to give landlords some leeway here—like saying that a Great Dane cannot be reasonably kept in a studio apartment, or that one renter cannot reasonably keep 12 cats nextdoor to a renter who is deathly allergic.

Arreguin’s office says such a law could help keep animals off the streets and out of shelters, given that some owners give up their pets when they move into a new apartment that won’t allow animals. Sanchez says that with the new law, it might be feasible to require pet owners to register, spay, tag and vaccinate their furry loved ones before a landlord allows them to occupy a unit.

The ASPCA tells TIME that the organization supports any efforts to get animals into homes. Legislative director Kevin O’Neill also noted that while “there are laws in place to limit landlords from banning pets mid-lease or requiring cats to be declawed as a condition of a lease, the ASPCA is not aware of any law that institutes a complete ban on pet restrictions for apartments.”

After hearing the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting, Berkeley’s city commissioners could take three or four months to return with a well-educated report on how to best propose the law. Until then, the city’s pets will be left nervously tapping their paws.

TIME apps

Everything You Need to Know About the New Words With Friends

Courtesy of Zynga

The app's biggest overhaul ever goes live at a time when the company could use a splash

Zynga on Thursday is rolling out a sleeker, more robust version of Words With Friends, the Scrabble-esque mobile game that first came out in 2009. The company also released exclusive data to TIME about the world’s top scoring cities and the most common incorrect words that people try to play (which you can peruse at the bottom of the post).

The company has been tweaking the new version for months after polling their users about possible features, hosting focus groups at their San Francisco HQ and soft launching the rebooted app in countries like Australia and Canada. After reporting disappointing earnings earlier this year, it appears Zynga isn’t taking chances with loyal users of their most widely-played game.

For those attached to the older version of Words With Friends, never fear — no one will be forced to upgrade. For those who choose to get the new app, ongoing games won’t be interrupted. And players who download the new version can still swap tiles with players who don’t.

For those ready to move on, here’s what’s different:

Solo Play: This was users’ most requested feature. Word nerds can now practice against a computer even when they’re offline (like, say, Alec Baldwin on an airplane). The computer opponent plays based on the human’s skill level, surmised from every move they’ve ever made in the app.

Community Match: This feature is a bit like Tinder for people who play word games. Before, users had only the option of requesting a “Smart Match,” in which the app would pair two strangers of similar abilities for a game. Through this new opt-in feature, players can now choose to challenge someone nearby and select whether that person is male or female; when going through potential opponents, one swipes left to skip them and swipes right to ask for a match. If they accept, the game begins.

Courtesy of Zynga

Word Strength: This feature, which used to be an in-app purchase, is now available for free. When a player puts tiles down, but before they commit to that word, a little green icon will pop up. Users can click on it for an assessment of how strong that word is—in points—compared to every other possible move they can make. The Word Strength feature can be turned on or off as a user so chooses.

Dictionary: Zynga partnered with Dictionary.com to give players an in-app dictionary that will not only tell them whether a word is eligible for play, but its definition and rarity (based on how often it’s played in Word With Friends). The dictionary is searchable, provides audio pronunciations and churns out a Word of the Day, just like Dictionary.com does.

Statistics: The new version will offer “head-to-head” statistics, so players can see how they’ve stacked up against each other over time, in terms of total wins and losses, average game scores and so forth. The new game board also gives prime space to players’ names and profile pictures, all part of an effort to make the game more social.

When asked how Words With Friends is further departing from word games that came before it — like Scrabble — Vice President of Games Jonathan Knight says the social aspect is the key. “Words With Friends is really capturing that sense of games that we grew up with but really merging that with the zeitgeist of smartphones and online connectivity,” Knight says.

Lots of things about Words With Friends won’t change with the update. The list of some 170,000 playable words remains just the same, as do basic game rules. Users’ ongoing games are still presented in a “to-do list” format, with games in which it’s their turn at the top. But there is more animation, easier navigation and other bells and whistles that Zynga hopes will lure lapsed users and new ones.

Though Zynga won’t say exactly how many people are using the app, Knight says there are more players of Words With Friends than any other Zynga game, and 55 million matches are happening at any moment. “The new features are really responding to what we hear from our players,” Knight says. “We’re taking it very seriously, and we’re investing deeply in the franchise.”

TOP CITIES

The city with the highest average scoring in the U.S. is the home of the Banana Slugs: Santa Cruz, Calif. All told, four of the top 10 cities for Words With Friends players are in California, and many of the top 25 are in university towns. Here is the complete list:

  1. Santa Cruz, CA
  2. Boulder, CO
  3. Sunnyvale, CA
  4. Santa Barbara, CA
  5. Honolulu, HI
  6. Chapel Hill, NC
  7. Berkeley, CA
  8. Renton, WA
  9. Bladensburg, MD
  10. Arlington, VA
  11. Fairfax, VA
  12. Bellevue, WA
  13. Oakland, CA
  14. Rockville, MD
  15. Astoria, NY
  16. New York, NY
  17. Columbia, MD
  18. Swarthmore, PA
  19. Pasadena, CA
  20. Falls Church, VA
  21. San Diego, CA
  22. Redmond, WA
  23. North Miami Beach, FL
  24. Apex, NC
  25. Ashburn, VA

INVALID WORDS

The invalid word that Words With Friends players most often try to get down on the board is te, which, though allowed in Scrabble, is not allowed in the Zynga game. (In Taoism, te describes the essence of Tao inherent in all beings.)

In fact, almost all of the 100 most commonly rejected words are two letters. The legitimacy of qi, a high-scoring word that no one uses in real life, has perhaps helped lead players down a path where they repeatedly attempt to play combinations like ri, yu, ec, ix and zat.

WORDS PLAYERS COMPLAIN ABOUT BEING INVALID

Presumably someone thinks they have nothing to lose when they have a go at some random letter combination like ke. But there are some words that players get downright angry about being rejected, taking to social media to express their complaints. Often, it appears, the root problem is a poor understanding of what qualifies as a proper noun, which are traditionally banned in such games. Here is a selection of such words provided to TIME by Zynga:

Jedi. Zeus. Cajun. Santa. iPod. Yoda. Texan. Satan. Virgo. Botox. Asian. Hindu. Lego. Monday. July.

TIME Culture

Quiz: Can You Figure Out the Meaning of Centuries-Old Slang?

The words historical thesaurus may send children running to the hills, for fear they’re likely to be bored to death by some fellow with a monocle. But they also describe the richest reference you’ve probably never heard of. In fact, only one historical thesaurus has ever been produced, in any language, and that’s the Oxford English Dictionary’s, the product of 44 years of toil.

And now there’s a new book designed to introduce the masses to a treasure the English professors have been hoarding for themselves since it was published in 2009.

In Words in Time and Place, author David Crystal starts by explaining what the thing is. A regular old thesaurus will let you look up a word and find words similar in meaning that people use today: a historical thesaurus will not only show you current words but every word anyone has ever used to express that idea in English, in the time of Einstein or Shakespeare or Anglo-Saxon poets. It will also tell you the oldest known use of each word, so you can learn, for example, that people have actually been using fly to mean excellent since 1896: as in, “Dash my wig, that is a fly-ass stagecoach!”

“How would Shakespeare have talked about love or the weather or whatever it happens to be?” Crystal tells TIME. “Suddenly you get a way into the mindset of the past that simply wasn’t possible before.” While that’s novel for everyone, it has practical applications, too, in places like the writers’ room on the set of Mad Men or Downton Abbey.

To celebrate his effort, we’ve put together a quiz using only words that Crystal touches on in his new book, selected out of the 800,000 in the reference. See if you can suss out what’s real and what’s not when it comes to centuries-old slang. (So you know just how old it is, we’ve marked each word with the first year it was recorded in the answers).

TIME technology

Google Gives San Francisco Free Wi-Fi in Public Places

San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, a site of many local gatherings and rallies, is among the locations in the city that have free Wi-Fi as of Wednesday, Oct. 1. Jose Aguirre

Organizations are working hard to promote exactly this kind of public-private partnership in the city

On Wednesday, San Franciscans were able to hook their gadgets up to free Wi-Fi that launched in 32 new public locations. All that connectivity was funded by a $608,000 check from Google, in a move that could be seen as the tech behemoth taking steps to foster goodwill amid complaints of rapid gentrification fueled by the tech boom of Silicon Valley.

The free WiFi now available in San Francisco’s playgrounds, recreation centers, plazas and parks also fits in with the company’s long-standing promotion of Internet access in the U.S. and around the world. But lately politicians have more urgently encouraged big tech companies to show serious generosity, in both talent and funds, hoping to ameliorate the tensions that led to protests around “Google buses” earlier in the year.

In this case, after being approached by Mark Farrell, a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, Google agreed to underwrite his plan for complimentary hotspots through a partnership with sf.citi, an organization working hard to promote these feel-good public-private partnerships. Google already gave a $6.8 million gift to the city earlier this year, to pay for bus fares of working-class youths.

In an interview conducted last winter, Mayor Ed Lee told TIME that the angst felt toward tech companies bringing an influx of new workers to the city was “perhaps misguided,” partly given the great things that sector is doing for the economy. He added that he had long been working with tech leaders to “be good philanthropic companies” and take part in “the culture of contributing to the society around them.”

On Wednesday, Lee celebrated a victory in bringing San Franciscans of various classes together. “WiFi in our city’s parks is another step toward a larger vision of connectivity for our city as a whole, bridging the digital divide and ensuring that our diverse communities have access to innovation,” he said in a statement.

TIME LGBT

Facebook Apologizes to Drag Queens Over Suspended Profiles

Facebook Drag Queens
Drag queens Lil Miss Hot Mess, left, and Sister Roma listen to comments about their battle with Facebook during a news conference in at San Francisco City Hall on Sept. 17, 2014 Eric Risberg—AP

Enforcement of a "real-name policy" led to LGBT users being blocked from their accounts

A coalition of LGBT rights advocates met with Facebook representatives at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters on Wednesday morning, demanding change to the company’s treatment of their profiles. In recent weeks, many drag queens — people who may go by names like Lil Miss Hot Mess rather than the male-identifying names they were given at birth — said their accounts were suspended because Facebook demanded that they use their “legal names” on their profiles.

While Facebook did acknowledge “the hardship that we’ve put [such users] through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks,” the company also said their policy was never to require legal names — simply “authentic ones.” In a post, chief product officer Chris Cox affirmed that when it comes to members of the LGBT community, the company considers “authentic” names to be whatever those users go by in daily life, regardless of what is scrawled on their birth certificate.

Cox blamed the suspensions on company protocol for dealing with profiles that are reported as fake. Many transgender users and well-known drag queens in the San Francisco community, such as local icon Sister Roma, were among “several hundred” people to have their accounts reported, he said. (He did not name the individual who did the reporting.) Their policy has been to suspend the profile until the user submits some form of identification that matches the name on the page.

David Campos, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was the lead negotiator for those wanting a fix. He said that in correspondence with affected users, Facebook did in fact use the language “legal name” when asking for identification. But even if there is confusion over the details, Campos emphasized to TIME repeatedly that his group was very happy with the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting.

“It was an extremely productive meeting. Drag queens spoke and Facebook listened,” Campos said while driving back from Menlo Park. “Both sides actually agreed on the idea that the objective was for people to use their real name, and that doesn’t always mean legal identity.”

Campos said the meeting started with Facebook apologizing (as the post put up after the meeting does), which is not how their first meeting with Facebook representatives went two weeks ago. “There wasn’t even an acknowledgment that the policy was flawed,” he said. The company’s slow reaction time gave users a chance to flock elsewhere for their online socializing, to places like new social network Ello. The inaction also appeared at odds with the great lengths the company has gone to prove that their site is an inclusive place, notably adding some 50 options for gender identity in February.

In a previous statement issued on Sept. 12, Campos explained why the name issue is such a big one for some LGBT users: “Facebook may not be aware that for many members of the LGBT community the ability to self-identify is a matter of health and safety. Not allowing drag performers, transgender people and other members of our community to go by their chosen names can result in violence, stalking, violations of privacy and repercussions at work.”

On Wednesday, Campos’ group expanded their argument, emphasizing that though “drag queens have become the face of the issue,” there are many demographics that might have a legitimate reason not to use their legal name on their profile, such as victims of violence, political dissidents or even high school teachers who don’t want students checking up on them.

Facebook promised that a “technical fix” would be coming, Campos said, though there was no exact timeline or decision about what a new process or feature might look like. In his post, Cox emphasized that in “99 percent” of cases, fake-name reports signal “bad actors doing bad things,” such as bullying, trolling and espousing hate speech. He also said that the system needs a way to weed out the one percent.

“We see through this event that there’s lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who’s real and who’s not, and the customer service for anyone who’s affected,” he said. “We’re taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way.”

TIME States

California Becomes First State to Ban Plastic Bags

Grocers Lobby To Make California First State To Ban Plastic Bags
A single-use plastic bag floats along the Los Angeles River in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. California grocers, who could realize $1 billion in new revenue from selling paper bags for a dime each, teamed up with environmentalists on a new push to make California the first state to ban plastic shopping bags. The retail and environmental lobbies, which backed many of 13 failed California bills since 2007 to curb or ban single-use plastic shopping bags, lost the face off against manufacturers of both plastic and paper bags who oppose restrictions on the sacks. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ban will go into effect in 2015 for some businesses and 2016 for others

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday that makes the state the first in the country to ban single-use plastic bags.

The ban will go into effect in July 2015, prohibiting large grocery stores from using the material that often ends up as litter in the state’s waterways. Smaller businesses, like liquor and convenience stores, will need to follow suit in 2016. More than 100 municipalities in the state already have similar laws, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. The new law will allow the stores nixing plastic bags to charge 10 cents for a paper or reusable bag instead. The law also provides funds to plastic-bag manufacturers, an attempt to soften the blow as lawmakers push the shift toward producing reusable bags.

San Francisco became the first major American city to ban plastic bags in 2007, but the statewide ban may be a more powerful precedent as advocates in other states look to follow suit. The law’s enactment Tuesday marked an end to a long battle between lobbyists for the plastic bag industry and those worried about the bags’ effect on the environment.

California State Senator Kevin de Leόn, a co-author of the bill, called the new law “a win-win for the environment and for California workers.”

“We are doing away with the scourge of single-use plastic bags and closing the loop on the plastic waste stream, all while maintaining—and growing—California jobs,” he said.

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