TIME India

India’s Massive Kumbh Mela Festival Bans Selfies to Keep People Moving

Potentially dangerous bottlenecks form behind pilgrims stopping to take pictures of themselves

One of India’s largest Hindu festivals has set up “no-selfie zones,” in an effort to manage the immense crowds that are expected to attend over the course of this month.

The selfie embargo at the Kumbh Mela — a biennial Hindu pilgrimage and one of the world’s largest gatherings — was instituted after tests using a real crowd, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

The tests found that when people stop to take pictures of themselves at the festival, it slows down the flow of people and bottlenecks form quickly. “They also climb to dangerous spots to take selfies,” Sandip Shinde, CEO of a firm that is helping authorities monitor the festival, told the Express.

Crushes and stampedes are sadly all too common at Indian mass gatherings, with enormous crowds overwhelming buildings and spaces that were never designed to hold them. At least 27 people were trampled to death on July 14 at another religious gathering in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, coincidentally on the same day the Kumbh Mela began.

At Kumbh Mela, attendees will be prohibited from taking selfies in certain areas and on certain days — particularly during the Shahi Snan ritual that involves tens of thousands of people taking a dip in the holy Godavari River. Authorities estimate that nearly 3 million people have already visited the festival grounds in the western city of Nashik and millions more are expected.

[Indian Express]

TIME medicine

No, Selfies Aren’t Causing a Teen Lice Epidemic

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Caiaimage/Tom Merton—Getty Images/Caiaimage

One thing is for certain — we’re all taking more selfies than we ever have before. And while social science experts may debate what that says about us, doctors are more concerned about something else entirely: lice.

Lice, those tiny, barely visible parasites that can cling onto fur and hair, are more common in kids, who tend to have more head-to-head contact and share things like hats and helmets. But some doctors have been reporting — anecdotally — that they’re seeing more lice among teens. A few are, rather dubiously, are blaming selfies.

“People are doing selfies like every day, as opposed to going to photo booths years and years ago. So you’re probably having much more contact with other people’s heads,” Dr. Sharon Rink, a Wisconsin pediatrician, said on a local television show.

But there is no data showing the current lice outbreak—which is in 25 states and features lice resistant to the drugs usually used to kill them—is overwhelmingly affecting selfie-snapping teens, the National Pediculosis (that’s the official scientific name for a louse infestation) Association told the Huffington Post. The Centers for Disease Control says six to 12 million kids, aged three to 11 years, get lice in the U.S. each year. Children, and teens, are more likely to pick up lice during close contact in cars, during sleepovers, or sharing headphones, than they are in the few seconds it takes to take a selfie, say some experts.

And many of those raising the alarm have something to do with nit picking — literally. De-lousing salons have sprung up to help reluctant parents who cringe at the idea of tediously taking to the tweezers to pick out the critters, one by one. What better marketing message than to alert the public to a new population of hosts for the ever-hungry louse?

TIME China

Beijing Arrests Five for Uniqlo Sex Tape That Went Viral as Store Becomes Selfie Hot Spot

China Sex Video
Ng Han Guan—AP A Chinese couple take a selfie on July 16, 2015, outside the Uniqlo flagship store in Beijing, where a sex video purportedly taken inside one of its fitting rooms

Young people have flocked to the flagship store in the wake of the controversial video

Five people have been arrested in connection with a video that went viral last week purportedly showing a couple having sex in a Beijing branch of the Uniqlo clothing store.

The couple in question were arrested shortly after the clip went viral on Chinese social-media platforms WeChat and Weibo, the BBC reports. It was not immediately clear who the other three individuals were or how they are allegedly connected to the case.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, which regulates the Chinese Internet, said in a statement that the footage was “severely against socialist core values.” Nevertheless, the area in front of the flagship store saw increased foot traffic throughout the week as young people jostled to take selfies in front of the now infamous site, CNN reports.

Along with tracking down those responsible, the ongoing police inquiry will also investigate unconfirmed allegations that the clip might have been a publicity stunt engineered by the Japanese company. If the video is found to have originated with Uniqlo, the firm could face a fine between 200,000 and 1 million yuan ($32,000 to $160,000) and have its business license revoked, the China Daily reports. Uniqlo has not commented.

[BBC]

TIME selfies

Russian Government Launches a ‘Safe Selfie’ Campaign

A man takes a "selfie" as he stands with a Ukrainian flag on a Soviet-style star re-touched with blue paint so it resembles the yellow-and-blue national colours of Ukraine, atop the spire of a building in Moscow
© Stringer . / Reuters—REUTERS A man takes a 'selfie' as he stands with a Ukrainian flag on a Soviet-style star atop the spire of a building in Moscow.

Initiative follows selfie-related deaths

Following a series of selfie-related deaths, the Russian Ministry of Interior Affairs has launched a campaign to promote safe selfie-taking practices.

The ministry has produced a practical picture booklet that advises selfie takers to avoid dangerous activities when taking photos, such as leaping across metro lines, posing for photos with tigers, playing Russian roulette, or scaling high-voltage transmission towers.

The safe selfie campaign is not as absurd as it might at first seem. Young people have a proclivity for risk seeking behaviors. Members of the Ukrainian urban climbing group Mustang Wanted, for example, have put their lives at risk by climbing some of the tallest buildings in Moscow and the Ukraine to capture selfies in extremely dangerous situations.

Each graphic in the pamphlet relays a story of someone who was killed or maimed while taking a dangerous selfie. The animation advising against climbing transmission towers, for example, comes with a short narrative about a ninth grade boy, identified only as Maxim, who was killed “after falling over 100 feet when he accidentally grabbed a live wire while taking a selfie.”

TIME Family

Family Almost Drowns While Using a Selfie Stick

They were taken by a rip current as they posed

A family got swept into a riptide on Nantucket Island while they were taking a video using a selfie stick.

Derrick Johns, a former marine, was pulled under with his wife and daughter Erynn, who was holding the selfie stick, reports ABC. Their struggles underwater are captured on video.

“I did a few tours overseas with the Marines and I never felt that kind of fatigue or fear,” Johns said in an interview with an ABC affiliate in Boston.

Lifeguards and other people on the beach rushed to help the family. Erynn says that holding on to the selfie stick helped the rescue.

MONEY credit cards

The Newest Weapon Against Credit Card Theft Is…a Selfie

Smile! MasterCard hopes to develop a security measure with real teeth.

TIME Innovation

You Might Soon Be Able to Verify Online Purchases With a Selfie

MasterCard is testing the new technology

MasterCard customers may soon be able to make their online purchases more secure by verifying their identity with a selfie.

The company will soon start testing a new technology that will allow shoppers to use fingerprints and facial scans to prevent fraudulent purchases, according to CNN Money. The trial will begin with 500 customers, who must use the MasterCard app on their phone, either presenting their finger prints or posing for the camera when prompted.

To prevent fraudsters from simply using a photo of the real cardholder, users will be asked to blink to demonstrate that they are really there, not simply a static image. The resulting photo will be converted to code and compared to an algorithm on file.

If the trial run goes well, MasterCard hopes to take the technology to a wider pool of customers.

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s selfies.

[CNN Money]

TIME celebrities

Kim Kardashian Talks Hillary Clinton, Gun Control and Feminism

"I guess people would call me a feminist," she said. "I just do what makes me comfortable"

Kim Kardashian got serious Tuesday night at an event in San Francisco, where she discussed gun control, feminism and whether the U.S. will elect its first female president next year.

Kardashian was interviewed by retired state judge LaDoris Cordell in an event organized by the prestigious Commonwealth Club of California, an institution founded in 1903 that has previously hosted speakers like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. When Cordell asked Kardashian to give the audience an idea to change the world, she answered, “Gun control.” She also said she hopes Hillary Clinton will be the first female U.S. president. But when asked whether she’s a feminist, Kardashian said “I don’t like labels.” She said she wouldn’t use that word but didn’t distance herself from the phrase. “I guess people would call me a feminist,” she said. “I just do what makes me comfortable.”

The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star said she has consciously flipped the script on media objectification of women, and taken control of her own image. “You really can take that power and put out what you want people to look at,” she said. Even her new book of selfies, entitled Selfish, is an exercise in purposeful self-objectification, as she explained: “I’ve taken them … I’m proud of them … I have the control to put out what I want, even if I’m objectifying myself.” Kardashian also noted that the key to a good selfie is excellent lighting, and said that she doesn’t use filters, ever.

Kardashian revealed that she got her start in the fashion universe after she got her dad to buy her seven pairs of Timberland Manolo Blahnik shoes (at $750 each) after she saw Jennifer Lopez wearing them in a music video, then sold them on eBay for $2,400 each. She credits that experience as proof of her early love of “selling and hustling.”

The interview in the Commonwealth Club’s “Inforum” series is part of a string of slightly more substantial interviews Kardashian has been giving in the past few weeks, including an appearance on NPR and a cover story in Rolling Stone. Some people haven’t taken kindly to the appearances, with NPR listeners writing in to complain that they were “disgusted” and that “the Kardashians represent much of what is wrong with America today.”

There was plenty of self-promotion from Kardashian during the event in San Francisco, including a video ad played before the event for her app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. When responding to a question from Cordell about whether she promotes an “unhealthy standard of beauty,” Kardashian pivoted to speaking about how her hair care and makeup lines are affordably priced so they can be consumed by “the masses.”

But when Cordell asked Kardashian what she thought of backlash to her appearance on public radio—and at the Commonwealth Club event—she said, “I don’t know. And I really don’t care.” The crowd cheered for her, some yelling, “We love you, Mrs. West!” Still others just begged for her to take selfies with them.

TIME YouTube

YouTube Users Say This Is The ‘Ad of the Decade’

Selfies took the crown

YouTube’s users recently voted for the best advertisements of the past 10 years as part of the online video site’s 10th anniversary celebrations — and there was some fierce (and adorable) competition.

While Volkswagen’s “The Force” stole hearts the world over when it debuted during the 2011 Super Bowl, Turkish Airline’s “Kobe vs. Messi: The Selfie Shootout” captured the top title for Ad of the Decade.

It’s a 60-second spot featuring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi in an epic battle for the best selfie. While it wasn’t critically lauded like the other ads in the top five, it was a massive hit. The spot has clocked up over 140 million views to date, nearly twice the views of any of the other top runners.

Check out all five top ads below.

  1. Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”
  1. Volvo Trucks “The Epic Split feat. Van Damme”
  1. Always “#LikeAGirl”
  1. Volkswagen “The Force”
  1. Turkish Airlines “Kobe vs. Messi: The Selfie Shootout”

Read next: Here’s How Much Youtube Is Worth

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME

This New Phone Is Literally Called the ‘Selfie’

ASUS ZenFone Selfie
ASUS ASUS ZenFone Selfie

Guess what it's good at?

First came the selfie stick, allowing narcissistic cellphone owners to take pictures of themselves that appear as though they were taken by someone else. Now, a Taiwanese company has launched a new phone explicitly optimized for taking selfies. Fittingly, the device is even named the “Selfie.”

Computer and smartphone maker ASUS unveiled the latest model of its ZenFone line of Android devices at the Computex conference in Taipei on Monday. “I know I’m not the only narcissist in this room,” said ASUS design center director Jen Chuang as she introduced the ZenFone Selfie on stage at the conference.

The Selfie phone features cameras on both the front and back of the phone with a “beautification mode” designed to make people look better in their photos. “It makes my skin tone look more even, the lines softer—it’s like wearing digital makeup,” Chuang said.

“It’s like having a personal spotlight,” she continued, describing the benefits of the cameras’ “real tone” flash.

The device also sports a “selfie button” that can be easily pressed with an index finger, so people can click the shutter just as they might change the volume of their music. “Snapping selfies, adjusting the volume and retracing your steps feels as natural as your grip,” says ASUS’s description of the phone.

To activate “selfie mode,” users need only draw an “S” on the on the home screen of their phone. There is also “selfie panorama mode” for capturing more background in 140-degree selfie shots.

With phone attachments known as “selfie sticks” so popular that everyone from actor Leonardo DiCaprio to farmers in Uzbekistan are using the gadgets, it was probably only a matter of time til a smartphone maker created their own built-in version of the stick—which extends a selfie snapper’s reach to a normal photo-taking distance. The ZenFone Selfie’s answer to this is a revolving “swing” attachment that adds a few more inches between a selfie taker and the phone.

“When I take selfies, I wish I had a longer arm,” Chuang explained.

Perhaps ASUS’s most vain invention? The company is also offering a “MyView” cover for the phone that would hide the entire screen except for a small circular window for previewing selfie shots. The tagline for the accessory, as revealed in the Computex presentation: “Snap your selfie, view your beauty.”

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