TIME Security

Uber Data Breach Put 50,000 Drivers’ Info at Risk

Berlin's Taxis As German Court Considers Uber Technologies Inc. Ban
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A passenger holds a HTC Corp. smartphone displaying the Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) as they sit in a taxi in this arranged photograph in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.

But it isn't aware of any foul play as a result

A data breach at Uber last spring put tens of thousands of drivers’ personal information at risk, the company said late Friday.

Uber said it first realized its systems may have been breached by a third party in September of last year. After an investigation, the company found an “unauthorized access” by a “third party” occurred on May 13 of last year, which resulted in the names and license numbers of 50,000 drivers being leaked.

The car-hailing company didn’t specify who the third party was. However, Uber says it has since blocked further access to the database in question as well as alerted affected drivers.

Uber isn’t yet aware of any identify theft or other foul play as a result of the breach. It’s also offering one year of fraud protection to the drivers involved.

“Uber takes seriously our responsibility to safeguard personal information, and we are sorry for any inconvenience this incident may cause,” a blog post from Uber Managing Counsel of Data Privacy Katherine Tassi said. “In addition, today we filed a lawsuit that will enable us to gather information to help identify and prosecute this unauthorized third party.”

TIME Drugs

Colorado Sold Nearly 5 Million Marijuana Edibles in 2014

Smaller-dose pot-infused cookies, called the Rookie Cookie, sit on the packaging table at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder. Colorado on Sept. 26, 2014.
Brennan Linsley—AP Smaller-dose pot-infused cookies, called the Rookie Cookie, sit on the packaging table at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder. Colorado on Sept. 26, 2014.

The state's marijuana overseers issued their first annual report

Colorado just got its first year-long batch of data on the state’s grand experiment with legal marijuana. In the first annual report on supply and demand, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division disclosed on Friday that 4.8 million edible marijuana products and nearly 150,000 lbs. of marijuana flowers were sold in 2014.

The numbers will give state officials a baseline for gauging the size of the market, particularly for edibles. In July, the state attempted to estimate how much marijuana would be sold in 2014 and said they really didn’t have a method of estimating edible demand. “The data reported into the system clearly illustrates a strong demand for edibles in general, but especially for retail marijuana edibles,” the authors conclude.

The totals take into account both medical and recreational sales. While more flowering marijuana—the kind one smokes—was sold in the medical market, far more edibles were sold in the recreational market.

Colorado issued licenses to 322 retail stores and 505 medical dispensaries in 2014, according to the report. Just 67 of the state’s 321 jurisdictions, or around 20%, opted to allow medical and retail sales, but those jurisdictions include many of the state’s most populous areas. In February, a poll from Quinnipiac University found that 58% of Colorado residents say they still support the law, while 38% oppose it.

The sales figures for edibles come as Colorado officials struggle with how to regulate the marijuana-laced treats, which can range from pastries to soda pop. Some advocacy groups and state lawmakers want to ban certain types of products—like gummy bears and rainbow belts—that may be especially appealing to children and are indistinguishable from regular candy once removed from the package. Several children showed up in Colorado emergency rooms last year after accidentally ingesting the substance.

But the more value edibles represent, the harder time those advocates are going to have in convincing the industry to shut down or revamp product lines. At one point last year, officials from Colorado’s public health department floated the idea of limiting edibles to tinctures and lozenges, eliminating everything else. But their announcement caused such uproar that officials issued a release clarifying that it was “just” a recommendation and did not represent the view of the governor’s office.

Proponents of the current system argue that cracking down on popular edibles will drive consumers to the underground market—where there is no one regulating THC content or mandating childproof packaging. Eliminating the black market, while bringing in revenue for the state, was one of the selling points when voters decided to legalize marijuana in the first place.

There may also be a legal hurdle. The amendment voters passed in 2012 defined marijuana as: “all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis … and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant.” While industry players say that makes every kind of edible fair game, the Denver Post argued in an editorial that “there is no constitutional provision that says edible marijuana must be available as granola, soda pop, or candy bars that look like what children eat.”

Washington, which followed Colorado as the second state to open a recreational marijuana market, has set much stricter limits on the types of allowed edibles. Regulators setting up recreational markets in Oregon and Alaska say that avoiding the edible problems they’ve seen in Colorado will be a big focus of their work in coming months.

TIME Google

See Google’s Absolutely Stunning New Headquarters Design

Google wants to build a new Mountain View campus with sweeping glass structures

Google has unveiled its ambitious new plans for a sprawling, modern Googleplex. The new facility, being developed by architect Bjarke Ingels, features a series of glass, canopies the size of city blocks, new biking and walking paths and an emphasis on green space. Renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick is also involved in the project. Google hopes to complete the first stage of development by 2020, but the company will first have to win approval from Mountain View’s city council amid growing concern over Google’s control over the development of the community.

TIME technology

Why This Company Wants to Stop You From Buying an iPhone

SWEDEN-ERICSSON-BUSINESS-LAYOFFS-TELECOMUNICATIONS
Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images Ericsson logo at the Ericsson headquarters in Stockholm's suburb of Kista on November 7, 2012.

A fight between heavyweights

Ericsson AB has asked US regulators to block all domestic sales of Apple products as part of an escalating patent dispute between the two tech giants.

The request came as Ericsson filed seven separate lawsuits against Apple, alleging that Apple’s highly popular devices infringed on upwards of 41 patents, Bloomberg News reports.

Apple suspended royalty payments to Ericsson in January, after the two companies failed to renew an agreement over licensing fees. Apple accused Ericsson of “abusive” pricing that attempted to skim profits off of unrelated innovations. Ericsson has countered that its licensing terms did not “extract more than the value we put on the table.”

Read more at Bloomberg News.

TIME Money

These Are the States With the Worst Taxes for Average Americans

Tax Forms
Getty Images 1040 Tax Forms

In these states, higher income leads to decrease in effective tax rate

While a certain degree of income inequality might be expected, the difference between rich and poor Americans has grown dramatically in recent years. As of 2013, the wealthiest 20% of Americans had more income in aggregate than the bottom 80% combined.

State and local tax systems play a significant role in redistributing income among people. The nationwide average effective tax rate for the poorest 20% of Americans was 10.9%, roughly double the 5.4% rate for the top 1%.

When looking at taxes paid as a share of the income earned, all states have a regressive tax system, which means poorer residents are taxed more than the wealthiest ones. The difference in effective tax rates between income groups, however, varies widely between states. According to “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” a report released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Washington has by far the most regressive tax system nationwide. Based on the index score, a ratio calculated from a range of factors to measure income inequality before and after taxes, these are the states with the most unfair tax systems for the average American.

In fact, the poorest 20% of individuals paid at least 12% of their total incomes in state and local taxes in seven of the 10 states with the most regressive tax systems. In contrast, the wealthiest 1% of residents paid no more than 3% in state and local taxes as a share of income in six of the 10 states. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Meg Wiehe, state tax policy director at ITEP, said that in most states, and these 10 especially, “tax distribution looks very much like a staircase going down, where as your income goes up, your effective tax rate goes down.”

State residents earning average incomes also often bore a higher tax burden compared to the richest residents. The middle 60% of earners in all of the 10 states paid at least three times what the wealthiest 1% paid, as a share of income, in state and local taxes — all of these ratios were also among the highest nationwide. Middle earners in Washington and Florida, the two most regressive taxation states, paid as a share of their income more than 400% what the richest 1% of residents paid as a share of their income.

Often, it’s the presence or absence of a particular kind of tax that determines the extent to which state tax systems are regressive. For example, taxing goods and services consumed daily such as food is especially regressive because food makes up a much larger share of poorer Americans’ income. A graduated income tax is far more progressive, on the other hand. Five of the 10 states with unfair tax systems taxed food at the state and local level. Also, all but one of the 10 states had relatively low or flat income tax rates, and four had no personal income tax.

According to Wiehe, these states “rely heavily on taxes that are paid disproportionately by low- and middle-income households, and have very little reliance on taxes that the top 1% or top 5% would be responsible for paying.” In other words, states have to make up for that revenue in one way or another. Nationwide, personal and corporate income taxes accounted for an average of nearly 18% of state revenue. Yet in five of the 10 states, the contribution to revenue from income taxes was less than 5%. And while sales and excise taxes accounted for less than one quarter of state revenue on average across the nation, they accounted for more than 30% of revenue in six of the 10 states with the most regressive tax policies.

While it is difficult to know the exact degree that these tax policies impact income inequality, the states with the most regressive tax systems also had relatively uneven income distribution even before taxes were applied. In six of the 10 states, the 2013 Gini coefficient — which has values between zero and one, where one means all income belongs to a single person and zero means uniform income distribution — was higher than in the majority of states.

To identify the 10 states with the worst tax systems for average Americans, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed ITEP’s Tax Inequality Index scores for the 50 states. The index incorporated effective tax rates for the poorest 20%, middle 60%, top 1%, as well as ratios comparing these rates, among other measures. Effective tax rates were based on total state and local taxes as a share of family income for non-elderly taxpayers in all 50 states. ITEP’s model used 2012 income figures, and considered tax laws from 2014 and 2015. Contributions to state revenue by tax type were also provided by ITEP. We reviewed the Gini coefficient from 2013 — which is based on pre-tax income — as well as additional economic data from the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey.

These are the states with the worst taxes for the average American.

10. Indiana
> ITEP index score: -6.6%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 12.0% (8th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 5.2% (23rd highest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.46 (17th lowest)

A negative score on the ITEP index means state residents’ incomes were less equal after taxes than they were before taxes. With a score of -6.6%, Indiana’s tax system was the 10th most regressive among all states. While what makes a tax code fair is a contentious issue, middle class families are often among the hardest-hit by regressive tax policies. Indiana households who earned between $34,000 and $56,000 paid 10.8% of their combined income in state and local taxes, the fourth highest tax burden among that income group nationwide. Indiana’s taxation policies may have had an effect on income inequality in the state. Indiana’s Gini coefficient in 2013 had grown at nearly the fastest pace from 2009.

9. Kansas
> ITEP index score: -6.9%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 11.1% (13th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 3.6% (11th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.46 (20th lowest)

While Kansas has a graduated income tax structure — widely regarded as a progressive feature in a tax code — the state has no corporate income tax. This means that the vast majority of businesses in the state are exempt from paying state taxes. Since business owners tend to have relatively high incomes, wealthier Kansas residents have likely benefited from this arrangement. As a share of income, the poorest families in Kansas paid 310% what the wealthiest 1% of families paid in state and local taxes, the ninth highest such ratio nationwide. As in many states, incomes among the wealthiest Kansas residents grew between 2009 and 2013, while incomes among poorer residents shrank. The tax code in Kansas will likely remain relatively unfair to poorer residents. The state’s aggressive income tax cuts of 2012 and 2013 resulted in a budget shortfall. To address the shortfall, Governor Sam Brownback proposed earlier this year to raise several excise taxes.

8. Arizona
> ITEP index score: -7.1%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 12.5% (5th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 4.6% (19th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.47 (20th highest)

Families in Arizona earning $22,000 or less in 2012 paid 12.5% of their incomes in state and local taxes, the fifth highest rate for that income group in the country. The wealthiest 1% of Arizona households were subject to an effective tax rate of only 4.6%, which was also smaller than the average tax rate for the wealthiest people across the nation of 5.4%. As in most states ITEP found to have unfair tax systems, sales and excise taxes were considered particularly regressive. The poorest Arizona residents paid more than 8% of their incomes in general sales and excise taxes, while the wealthiest 1% paid just 1% of their incomes in such taxes. States identified as having regressive tax codes did not necessarily have dramatic income inequality. Arizona, however, had a higher Gini coefficient than that of most states, and 18.6% of residents lived in poverty in 2013, among the highest poverty rates nationwide.

7. Tennessee
> ITEP index score: -7.3%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 10.9% (14th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 3.0% (10th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.48 (12th highest)

Like in several other states reviewed, Tennessee does not have an individual state income tax on earnings, although residents are required to pay a 6% tax on dividends and interest payments. While the lack of an income tax lowers tax burdens on all residents, it does not do so equally. As a share of income, Tennessee’s poorest 20% of households paid 366% what the state’s wealthiest 1% paid in state and local taxes, the seventh largest such discrepancy nationwide. The income group earning close to average incomes was also disproportionately taxed. The middle 60% of earners in the state paid 280% what the wealthiest 1% paid as a share of income, also the seventh highest such percentage in the country. Incomes among Tennessee’s wealthiest households grew by nearly 3% between 2009 and 2013, versus the comparable national growth rate of 0.4%. Among the nation’s less wealthy earners, including those in Tennessee, incomes shrank.

6. Pennsylvania
> ITEP index score: -7.3%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 12.0% (8th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 4.2% (14th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.47 (18th highest)

General sales and excise taxes on everyday goods such as gas are considered regressive because while everyone consumes very similar quantities, not everyone has similar incomes. Pennsylvania, which has a long-term plan to raise taxes to repair its transportation infrastructure, levies a tax of 41.8 cents per gallon of gasoline, the fifth highest rate in the nation. Residents with the lowest 20% of incomes paid 5.8% of their incomes on sales and excise taxes like these, versus the comparable rate of 0.6% for the state’s wealthiest residents. Similarly, while property taxes tend to be levied more proportionately across the nation, Pennsylvania’s poorest households paid nearly 4% of their income on their homes, while the wealthiest 1% paid just 1.6%. This was a relatively large gap compared to other states. Since the bulk of school funding comes from property taxes, such disparity has prompted some to argue that Pennsylvania children receive an “education by zip code.”

5. Illinois
> ITEP index score: -8.1%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 13.2% (3rd highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 4.6% (19th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.48 (8th highest)

The poorest 20% of Illinois households paid 13.2% of their incomes in state and local taxes, and the middle 60% of earners paid 10.9% of their incomes, both nearly the highest effective tax rates respectively. Meanwhile, the state’s wealthiest residents paid 4.6% of their incomes in state and local taxes, one of the lower effective tax rates. Looking just at income tax, the wealthiest 1% paid a slightly higher effective income tax rate than the poorest 20% of state households. However, Illinois uses a flat income tax rate, which is widely considered to be a regressive feature. The state’s wealthiest residents had especially high incomes. A typical Illinois household in the top quintile earned more than $200,000 in 2013, the ninth highest compared to the wealthiest households in other states.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Perfect Way to Introduce Yourself (in Any Setting)

businessmen-shaking-hands
Getty Images

Make your introduction about your audience and not yourself

Inc. logo

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

While I have no soccer skills, I once played in a fairly competitive adult soccer league with my then-teenage stepson. I was terrible, but I played because he asked me to. (When your kids get older and ask you to do something with them, the first time you say no might be the last time you get asked.)

As we took the field before a game, a guy on the other team strutted over, probably picking me out because I was clearly the oldest player on the field. (There’s a delightful sentence to write.)

“Hello,” he said. “I’m Louis Winthorpe III, CEO of My Company Is Better Than Yours Inc.” (Not real names, but accurate in spirit.)

“Hi, I’m Jeff,” I said, shaking his hand.

“Didn’t think I’d make it on time,” he said. “Had to finalize a big contract, rattle a few chains at an overseas facility, and inspect a property we’re going to buy.”

How do you respond to that? “Wow,” was the best I came up with.

“Ah, not really,” he said. “Same stuff, different day.”

I was trying to match the drollness of my “Wow” when my stepson stepped in, half-smile on his lips and full twinkle in his eyes, and rescued me by saying, “Come on, we need to get ready.”

Was Louis cocky? Certainly, but only on the surface. His $400 cleats, carbon fiber shin guards, and “I’m the king of the business world” introduction was an unconscious effort to protect his ego. His introduction said, “Hey, I might not turn out to be good at soccer, but out there in the real world, where it really matters, I am the Man.”

While he introduced himself to me, he was his real audience.

And that was a shame.

On that field, for that hour, he could have just been a soccer player. He could have sweated and struggled and possibly rekindled that ember of youth that burns less brightly with each passing year.

How do you introduce yourself? When you feel particularly insecure, do you prop up your courage with your introduction? Do you make sure to include titles or accomplishments or “facts,” even when you don’t need to?

If so, that makes your introduction all about you and not your audience. Instead:

  • Decide that less will always be more. Brief introductions are always best. Provide the bare minimum the other person needs to know, not in an attempt to maintain distance but because during the conversation more can be revealed in a natural, unforced, and therefore much more memorable way.
  • Stay aware of the setting. If you meet another parent at a school meeting, for example, just say, “Hi, I’m Joe. My daughter is in third grade.” Keep your introduction in context with the setting. If there is no real context, like at a soccer game, just say, “Hi, I’m Joe. Good luck!”
  • Embrace understatement. Unless you’re in a business setting, your job title is irrelevant. If you’re asked what you do and you do happen to be the CEO of My Company is Better Than Yours Inc., just say you work there. To err is human; to err humble is always divine.
  • Focus on the other person. Ask questions. Listen. The best connections never come from speaking; they always come from listening.

After the game a few kids from both teams were teasing me about one of my passes they felt should win the informal “Worst Pass of the Season If Not in the History of Soccer” award. I was more than cool with that, because the banter signaled a camaraderie and acceptance that is never given but earned.

I glanced over and saw Louis, alone as he packed up his gear, and felt a twinge of sadness.

He never let himself just be a soccer player. He never gave himself a chance to be a teammate, to fit in and enjoy a shared purpose, however momentary or meaningless that purpose might be.

When you introduce yourself, be who you are. Embrace the moment and the setting for what it says about you in that setting and not in comparison with titles or accomplishments.

Just be yourself: skills and triumphs and struggles and failures and all.

Always trust that who you are is more than enough.

Because it always is.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How Doing Work You Hate Can Benefit Your Career

woman-looking-out-window
Getty Images

Here are three things to cling to when you think nothing good will come of it

The Muse logo

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

I started taking pictures to capture quiet moments. Little details. Good light. Untold stories. I didn’t get into picture taking to make goofy faces (and bad jokes) to keep a hangry lil’ toddler smiling through an afternoon family session. But a girl’s gotta eat. And people love flattering photos of young love at golden hour. So, smile!

When I first started taking on work that I didn’t love, I felt like a total sellout. I would call my mom and wail that I was “compromising my artistic integrity” and that my work would never be the same. Lots of question marks and existential questions about purpose and truth filled the pages of my mind (and my journal). But, after a few months of doing work I hated, I began to see growth in the work that I loved…and hated.

Now, I’m not trying to encourage you to seek out work you dislike. If you can accept work that fits with your mission and vision 100% of the time, then by all means—be the exception to the rule. But, in the off chance that you might have to take on work you dislike (or even flat-out loathe)—here are three things to cling to when you think nothing good will come of it.

1. Doing Work You Hate Forces You to Stop Dreaming and Start Making

In a perfect world, you would only write, design, and strategize for the projects of your dreams. All the beautiful ideas floating around your head would be shaped and formed in everything you got paid for—your dreams actualized in yourportfolio and your bank account. What bliss!

But, let’s be real. Creating the work of your dreams doesn’t come along every day, and if you wait to create when the light hits just right, then you probably won’t make anything. Author P.D. James says, “don’t just plan to write—write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.” So, when you get discouraged about doing work you hate, remember that actually making something is better than dreaming about it.

2. Doing Work You Hate Challenges You to Think Outside of What is Comfortable

We create from what we know and what we love. And even the most innovative creators and makers get stuck in ruts and rhythms where they create the same work over and over. One of my junior high photography students, Nikita, loves surf photography. For the first five weeks of Photography 101 class, he would only take pictures of the water, waves, and surf. After five weeks of filtering through hundreds of images of the ocean and amateur surfers, I challenged him to do a portrait series of a family member.

No water, no waves, no surfing.

He hated it and took every opportunity throughout the week to remind me. Despite his reluctance, he came to class with the most beautiful photos of his sister, Tsungi. During class critique, one of his classmates said, “you should stop taking pictures of water, ’cause you’re way better at taking pictures of people.”

Leave it to a 12-year-old to tell it like it is. So, who knows. Maybe the work you “hate” will actually force you to create something better than the work you’ve been hiding behind this entire time. I’ve even found that trying something new entirely (like learning how to code so I can update my website or taking a photography class) helps challenge what I know and grow what I don’t.

3. Doing Work You Hate Pushes You to Pursue the Work You Love

The argument behind doing work you love is that if you love it—well, it isn’t work. But, when you spend multiple family sessions engaging moody teens to “look” like they love their parents, then you will crave one session of doing something you love. Doing work you hate pushes you to seek out the hours (and even minutes) in which you’re doing work that fills you up—and reminds you why you started making that thing in the first place.

So, if doing work you have forces you to create, challenges you to be uncomfortable, and pushes you to seek out the work you love—keep your chin up! You’re on your way.

More from The Muse:

TIME

Why You Won’t Be Splurging This April

We're getting responsible about that "free money" from Uncle Sam

About 80% of Americans who filed taxes got back a refund last year, averaging just under $2,800. Usually, even though it’s our money to begin with, we treat it kind of like a windfall, buying appliances, going on vacation or spending it in other fun ways.

That’s not happening this year.

According to an annual National Retail Federation survey, nearly half of Americans who plan to get a refund say they’re going to be socking part of all of it away into savings — the highest percentage ever recorded. About 40% say they’re going to pay down debt with part of all of their refund, a three-year high. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s young adults leading the charge, with 55% of those under 24 years old planning to save their refund money, the highest percentage of any age bracket.

About 13% of respondents do say they’ll use the money on a vacation, which is a high not seen since 2007’s tax season, before the recession hit. Only about 10% say they’re making a big purchase like a TV or a fridge, a slightly smaller number than last year and the lowest percentage in the survey’s history. About the same number say they’ll splurge on things like dinners out, spa treatments and new clothes.

“Americans are thinking of the future, and remaining financially secure is a big part of that,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release. Getting our hands on those refund checks is another part — when the survey was conducted in early February, almost a quarter of people said they’d already filed their taxes (although 15% are procrastinators who admit they’ll wait until April).

The good news, relatively speaking, is that fewer Americans are relying on their tax refunds to pay for everyday expenses. It’s still about a quarter of survey respondents, but that’s better than the 30% who said they needed that money for everyday expenses just two years ago.

Even with this year’s intention to be diligent about our tax refunds, though, Americans aren’t nearly out of the woods when it comes to the security of their savings accounts. A Bankrate.com survey published this week finds that nearly one in four Americans have more credit card debt than they do money in savings, while another 13% have no credit card debt, but no savings, either. Fewer than 60% have more savings than credit card debt, a situation Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride describes in a release as “teetering on the edge of financial disaster.”

TIME Companies

Google Isn’t Banning Porn Blogging After All

A sign is posted on the exterior of Google headquarters on Jan. 30, 2014 in Mountain View, California.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A sign is posted on the exterior of Google headquarters on Jan. 30, 2014 in Mountain View, California.

Blogger users can keep posting nude photos

Google is backing down from its new porn policy four days after announcing a plan to block sexually explicit images from its blogging service.

The company said on its Blogger help forum Friday that it will keep its old policies in place and instead work harder to crack down on commercial porn using the previous rules.

“We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities,” wrote Jessica Pelegio, a Google social product support manager.

Under the new rules, Blogger users would have been banned from posting graphic nudity except in specific circumstances deemed appropriate by Google. Old blogs with sexual imagery would have retroactively been made private.

MONEY Customer Service

The Insulting Names That Businesses Call You Behind Your Back

150225_EM_WhatBusinessesCallYou
Lasse Kristensen—Shutterstock

Ever wonder how casinos, car dealerships, restaurants, pay TV providers, and online marketers refer to customers in private? The answers aren't pretty.

You may think you are a living, breathing, thinking, three-dimensional human being. To online marketers, however, you might just be classified as “waste.” That’s one of the revelations in a new report from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Many online marketers use algorithmic tools which automatically cluster people into groups with names like ‘target’ and ‘waste,'” the researchers explain. Those viewed as “targets” based on their personal data and online history are deemed worthy of retailer discounts and deals. On the other hand, because the majority of bankruptcies come as a result of medical expenses, “it is possible anyone visiting medical websites may be grouped into the ‘waste’ category and denied favorable offers.”

It’s insulting enough that your worthiness as a person and potential customer is being judged by some computer algorithm. And yet the words chosen for these groups we’re lumped into make this sifting process more impersonal and insulting still.

The study got us thinking about all the other disdainful, mocking, or otherwise insulting ways that companies have been known to refer to the paying customers and clients that, you know, keep these businesses in business. Even as you essentially pay the bills for these operations, you might be thought of as little more than …

Muppets
In 2012, the very public resignation of Greg Smith from Goldman Sachs revealed that the firm’s executives sometimes referred to clients as “muppets.” Apparently, in the U.K. the slang term is applied to someone who is ignorant or clueless and easily manipulated. In certain circles, an investor might also be dubbed an ostrich, pig, or sheep depending on if he, respectively, buries his head in the sand no matter what’s happening in the market, is overly greedy, or has no strategy and does whatever someone else tells him.

Bunnies, Grapes, Squirrels
Behind the scene at car dealerships, customers who are bad negotiators and easy for salespeople to push around and talk into deals are sometimes known as “bunnies” or “grapes,” presumably because they’re just waiting to be pounced on or squeezed, respectively. A “squirrel,” on the other hand, is a hated species of customer who hops from salesperson to salesperson with no sense of loyalty or thought to who should get the commission.

Dogs, Fish, Bait, Whales
These are all terms used in the world of gambling and casinos, and they generally refer to players who are losing or are likely to lose—to the house, but also to the shark sitting across the table. A “whale,” of course, is a high roller who bets big, and who therefore will probably lose big money at one time or another. For that matter, in the restaurant industry, “whales” are super-wealthy customers with so much money they don’t blink when running up bills into the tens of thousands at overpriced eateries where, for example, a Bud Light costs $11.

Campers, Rednecks
Also in the sphere of restaurants, these are two kinds of customers that seriously annoy the employees and owners. A group of “campers” camps out at their table for hours, eliminating the opportunity for a new party to run up a tab, while a “redneck” is another term for a cheapstake or stiff who doesn’t tip—perhaps because they’re not city folk and aren’t familiar with tipping etiquette.

The N Word
Some waitstaff not only refer to their customers using racial epithets, but they’re also dumb enough to put these derogatory terms in print on diners’ receipts. Examples have popped up in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia, among other places. And yes, the incidents have resulted in lawsuits and people getting fired. On the flip side, some horrible restaurant customers have been known to leave insults (including the N word) instead of tips for their waiters.

Fat
Among the other popular, not particularly creative insults left on receipts is some variation of “fat”—“Fat Girls” and “Pink Fat Lady,” to name a couple specific examples.

The C Word
Yes, some angry Time Warner Cable customer service agent apparently went there, recently renaming a customer as “C*** Martinez” in a letter after she reported a problem with her service.

Assorted Expletives and Insults
The C word episode followed on the heels of multiple reports of agents at Comcast—Time Warner Cable’s equally hated pay TV competitor and would-be partner if the much-discussed merger ever takes place—renaming subscribers things like “A**hole,” “Whore,” “Dummy,” “Super B*tch,” and such. (Only whoever did the renaming at Comcast always used letters instead of asterisks.) There’s a good argument to be made that the absurd pricing and policies installed by pay TV providers are at the heart of why “customer service” agents so often hate subscribers, and why the feeling is mutual.

A Sad Person, a Hateful Mess
You’d think that New York Knicks owner James Dolan—a no-brainer to appear on a wide variety of Worst or Most Hated Owners in Sports in Sports roundups—would have developed a thick skin after years of criticism for astounding ineptness and mismanagement at the helm of one of sport’s most valuable franchises. But Dolan’s response to the recent criticism of one New Yorker who has been a fan of the team since 1952 shows otherwise.

“I am utterly embarrassed by your dealings with the Knicks,” the fan, Irving Bierman, wrote to Dolan, pleading with him to sell the team so that “fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction.” Instead of taking the criticism constructively and thanking Bierman for watching the Knicks for 60+ years, Dolan responded via email by calling him “a sad person,” “a hateful mess,” “alcoholic maybe,” and likely “a negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you.” Dolan finished up the screed by telling Bierman to “start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks dont [sic] want you.”

While certainly extreme, Dolan’s message speaks to the disdain with which some sports owners and certain league executives seem to regard fans—who are supposed to root loyally and pay up for the product as a matter of blind faith, and never to question or criticize. For Dolan’s sake, let’s hope he never listens to sports talk radio. He probably wouldn’t like the ways that people refer to him.

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