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Facebook accused of helping advertisers target 'insecure' teens

Facebook is doing damage control after a new report suggests the company helped advertisers target teens based on their emotional state.

A 23-page leaked report from an Australian newspaper included a presentation to a bank that showed Facebook's ability to identify when young users are feeling especially insecure, stressed, anxious or overwhelmed and outlined “moments when young people need a confidence boost,” the paper reported.

>> RELATED: ‘10 concerts’ Facebook meme may reveal answer to security questions, professor says 

“Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week, while reflective emotions increase on the weekend. Monday to Thursday is about building confidence; the weekend is for broadcasting achievements,” authors of the report wrote.

According to Forbes, parts of the document written by Facebook employees Andy Sinn and David Fernandez focused on body image and weight loss and how image-recognition tools are used on Instagram and Facebook.

>> Read more trending news

The Australian paper argued the world’s biggest social network is collecting “psychological insights” on teens based on internal Facebook data.

In response to the criticism, Facebook said it does not target anyone based on their emotional state and someone feeling depressed would not receive different ads compared to someone feeling happy.

>> On AJC.com: The more you use Facebook, the worse you feel, study says

“We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate,” Facebook told the paper.

Later, the company released a separate statement:

“On May 1, 2017, The Australian posted a story regarding research done by Facebook and subsequently shared with an advertiser. The premise of the article is misleading. Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state.

The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated.

Facebook has an established process to review the research we perform. This research did not follow that process, and we are reviewing the details to correct the oversight.”

>> On Boston25News.com: AG: Companies can't target ads to women in abortion clinics

This isn’t the first time Facebook has been in hot water for targeting users.

In 2014, according to MarketWatch, Facebook targeted nearly 700,000 users without their knowledge as part of a psychological experiment to determine if their emotional state changed based on how much positive or negative content they consumed on their news feeds.

Mom who lost son to opioid overdose shares heartbreaking photo

A Calgary mother wants the world to see the destructiveness of drugs.

As her son lay dying in a hospital bed from an overdose of fentanyl, a man-made opioid, Sherri Kent climbed into the bed to comfort him and held his hand. Kent posted a photo of the emotional moment on Facebook in hopes of warning others to stay away from the deadly drug.

>> See the Facebook post here

Her son, Michael, was just 22 years old. 

“I just want everyone to know that my son Michael overdosed on fentanyl,” she wrote in the Facebook post. "My son was not an addict he made a mistake that cost him his life. I just want to make everyone aware of the epidemic that’s goin (sic) on right now. It’s out of control and there is no way to protect our children from this other than to warn them of the dangers of drug use today.

>> Read more trending news

“I’ve lost my son to this horrible tragedy and want to make parents aware that it can happen to anyone … Please share this with your family and friends to help prevent another tragedy.”

In an interview with the CBC, Kent said her son met a man who offered him heroin while he was in the town of Kelowna – about 240 miles east of Vancouver. He didn’t initially take the man’s offer; however, Kent said the man tracked her son down the next day.

She said the man and her son went into a store bathroom to use the drug.

“The other man got all sketched out and messed up and left my son in the washroom,” Kent told the CBC. “About 20 minutes later, he was too scared to go back and check on my son … so he ran for the people who own the store to unlock the door, and that’s when they found him.

“He was already blue in the lips. By the time the ambulance got there, he was in cardiac arrest.”

The young man was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on March 21 when the life-support apparatus was turned off.

>> Watch the news report here

Dad learns to walk again for his daughters' sake after doctors said he was paralyzed

Seven months after doctors told him he’d never be able to use his legs again, a man stood up and walked out of a rehabilitation center with his two young daughters at his side.

Cole Thomas, of Rochelle, Illinois, told “Today” that he shattered a vertebra in a September 2016 car crash.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“I realized I was hurt very badly,” the 34-year-old father of two said. “I looked down at my legs, and I couldn’t feel them, and I was like, ‘Oh, boy.'”

He later learned he shattered his L2 vertebra and had pieces of it embedded in his spinal cord. Doctors told him he was paralyzed from the waist down.

>> Read more trending news

Determined to walk his young daughters down the aisle someday, Thomas posted a video to Facebook from his hospital bed.

“They told me I will never walk again. I’m bound and determined to prove them wrong,” he said in the video.

He asked people for help connecting him to resources to help him learn how to walk. A relative reached out with information about the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.

He started therapy just eight days after the accident.

After months of hard work and determination, Thomas walked out of the rehabilitation center on Friday with his daughters by his side.

“I know I was going to have to give rehab and therapy 110 percent, just like I did my job. I have to walk again no matter what,” Thomas told “Today.” “I have to be the best I could be.”

Firefighters teach honest 5-year-old an important lesson in good karma

A fire department is teaching a 5-year-old boy that good things happen to people who do the right thing.

Earlier this year, Dave Starzec lost his wallet. He was finishing a trip to a Lowe's hardware store in Greer, S.C., when he set his alligator-skin wallet down on the bumper of his car. Inside the wallet was $2,000.

>> Watch the video here

“I was carrying my wallet so close to my heart, and I put it down for one second on my bumper to pick up a bale of mulch,” Starzec told ABC News. “I normally don’t leave things like that so important lying around.”

He didn’t realize his mistake until he got home. He immediately retraced his steps but had no luck.

“I had everything but my wife in my wallet,” Starzec told Greenville Online. “This wallet meant more to me than just the money.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

On his way home, he stopped by a fire station to make sure no one had turned in his lost wallet.

Capt. Benjamin Farmer took Starzec’s card and told him he would follow up if he found out any new information about his missing wallet.

“I was in the middle of cancelling my American Express when my phone rang, and it was the fire department,” said Starzec.

A family had found Starzec’s wallet in a parking lot. Farmer saw the family’s post in a local Facebook group and quickly connected the two.

>> Read more trending news

Miranda Clayton; her 5-year-old son, Dylan; and her mother-in-law, Peggy Lynn, found the wallet together.

Starzec was relieved to have the wallet back in his hands

To thank them for their honesty, Starzec organized a luncheon for the firefighters and the family.

The family received good citizen plaques. Starzec even gave them a $200 reward.

“They did the right thing, and we figured they needed an award for it,” he added. “We wanted to show the child, too, that if you’re going to be honest in the world, there’s good things that come to you.”

Missing Alabama teen found safe in Texas 16 months later

An Alabama teen who vanished without a trace two years ago after taking out the trash has been found.

Alissia Freeman, who was more than 1,000 miles away in El Paso, Texas, reached out to her mother, Vickie Metcalf, on a video call Monday after being out of contact with her family since she disappeared on Dec. 13, 2015. She was 17 at the time.

“Alissia told her parents she was going outside to take out the trash. A neighbor spotted her walking down the road, and then she vanished. She has not been seen or heard from since, and suddenly she reached out to her mom several days ago,” WSFA's Lindsey Rogers told KPRC.

That was 16 months ago.

>> Read more trending news

Metcalf saw her daughter in person for the first time in almost a year and a half Wednesday afternoon as the two reunited in Texas.

For a long time, Metcalf had been sharing posts like this one on Facebook:

The family, which had been targeted by scammers in the past, confirmed along with law enforcement that Freeman was safe.

“I have seen her,” Metcalf told AL.com. “I’m with her now and so happy. Of course.”

Although the mother couldn’t be happier, she said there are people out there sending her daughter "ugly messages."

Metcalf did not specify why her daughter ran away but said “she went through some things when she was younger.”

“She’s had a hard time with it and our communication wasn’t the best and she didn’t think I’d understand (my fault not hers) we are working on that now,” Metcalf wrote. “She is just trying to heal now.”

Speaking to KPRC, Freeman’s uncle, Calvin Thornton, said he and his wife, Theresa, have kept a candle light burning in their window in the hopes that it would help their niece find her way home.

“I’m very grateful for all the well wishes, people praying. We’ve had people come here and pray with us,” Calvin Thornton said. “All I care about is the fact that my niece has been found. She’s safe, she’s alive. Right now that’s the biggest focus and that’s the only thing we’re going to focus on. We’ll get the answers in time.”

Police officer helps boy tie necktie in heartwarming viral photo

A police officer is going viral after teaching a boy how to tie a tie when he was “too embarrassed” to ask for help.

X’zavier was at the Indiana Statehouse recently to receive the “Youth of the Year” award from his local Boys and Girls Club, according to Inside Edition.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

X’zavier was escorted to the ceremony by his aunt, Victoria Mada, and her sister. After they ate lunch, X’zavier’s tie came loose.

“My sister & I do not know how to tie a tie & my nephew was too embarrassed to ask anyone else,” Mada wrote in thank-you note shared by the Indiana Going Blue Facebook page.

>> See the post here

Mada asked an officer for help, and he immediately stopped to teach X’zavier how to fix his tie. Before leaving, the officer congratulated X’zavier on the award and shook his hand.

>> Read more trending news

“As a former 911 dispatcher, it meant a lot to me to show my nephew that cops are not bad people & that he can trust them & count on them to help him in any situation, even something as small as tying a tie,” Mada wrote.

Beloved school crossing guard begins fight with cancer after losing mom, sister to disease

A beloved crossing guard is saying goodbye to her students, for now, as she begins a battle with cancer.

Sanjuana Torres has been a part-time crossing guard at the Rusk School in Houston, Texas, for 30 years. She knows just about every child’s name, and they love her.

“She’s family. She’s everything. She was our first friend,” one student told KHOU.

>> Read more trending news

Torres recently had her first doctor’s appointment in five years. At that appointment, she learned she had cancer in her abdomen.

Torres is a single mom of five sons. She lost her mother and her sister to cancer and was devastated to learn she had cancer, too.

“First thing that came to my mind, ‘Why me?'” Torres told KHOU.

Because she is a part-time worker, she will not be paid for the time she misses work for surgery. The earliest she will be able to return to work is August.

Staff members and friends at the school set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Torres while she’s out of work.

If you would like to donate, click here.

>> Watch the news report here

10-year-old boy with autism arrested at school

Luanne Haygood, the mother of a 10-year-old boy with autism, is angry that her son was arrested earlier this month at his Florida school for allegedly punching and kicking his teacher six months ago. Okeechobee County school resource officers put the child in handcuffs at Okeechobee Achievement Academy, but Haygood said the school district isn’t properly equipped to deal with autistic children.

“He has autism. He doesn’t know what’s going on,” she can be heard saying in the video that she recorded of her son’s arrest. “He’s scared to death. He’s 10 years old.”

>> Watch Haygood's video here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Haygood watched as her son was removed from his classroom for allegedly leaving a paraprofessional with scratches and other marks back in October. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant on allegations of felony battery on a school board authority.

“I was extremely angry. That I felt like this was a power play. I felt like this was a this is what you get. You can’t do anything about it. We’re going to arrest your son if he can’t abide by the rules,” Haygood told WFOR, adding that her son's disability is the reason behind his behavior. “To go and have him arrested on school grounds in front of other students, in front of personnel, during school hours – they could’ve come to my house at any time to tell me what was going on.”

>> Read more trending news

The boy reportedly spent one night in juvenile detention, according to the Washington Post. The child was then released on house arrest and is expected to appear in court next month.

Haygood said the incident would never have happened if the school had the proper services to address his disability.

“I want something done," she told WFOR. "I want other kids to not have to go through this.”

According to CNN, the school district released the following statement:

"It has been district procedure to invite students in to take the Florida Standards Assessment. The district would not invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest.

"The district routinely assists students by providing services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists. As a team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families.

"The district is unable to provide specific information as to both current and past incidents regarding this or any other student due to educational laws and rules. It is our hope that we can continue to work with all families to help their students improve both behaviorally and academically."

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Heart-warming video of military dad meeting baby girl for first time

A military dad finally got to meet his 4-month-old baby girl for the first time after returning from a 6-month deployment overseas.

>> Read more trending news

Sgt. Scott Cartwright met 4-month-old Jacqueline Eloise at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, Monday as his troop returned home from Kuwait.

“It was overwhelming. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it yet,” Cartwright told WSYX.

He and his wife, Elizabeth Cartwright, have a 2-year-old daughter, Nora, whom they adopted when she was 7 months old.

They were surprised when Elizabeth learned she was pregnant just after Nora’s first birthday.

“We didn’t think we were able to have kids of our own,” Elizabeth Cartwright told ABC News.

Scott Cartwright watched Jacqueline’s arrival via Skype and anxiously awaited the day he’d get to meet her.

“Honestly, when I was over there, in my head I was like, ‘How could I possibly love somebody else as much as I love Nora?’ I was worried about this. I was talking to my team about this,” Scott told ABC News

>> Related: Adorable photo of daddy-daughter tea party with Florida deputy goes viral

“But when I got to hold [Jacqueline] for the first time, and her and her mother have the exact same eyes, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I see now.’”

The family plans on catching up on some much-needed time together in the upcoming weeks.

 

Homeless Girl Scouts get their own troop

A group of homeless girls in New York have found the family they’ve been searching for thanks to Girl Scout Troop 6000.

Troop 6000 was started exclusively for homeless girls by a single mother who felt she disappointed her children when she lost her housing.

>> Watch the news report here

“I felt ashamed,” mom Giselle Burgess told the “Today” show. “I felt like I let them down.”

The New York Times reports Burgess became homeless last year when her rental home was sold to make room for new condominiums in her area. She makes a decent salary, but not enough to afford an apartment.

>> Read more trending news

Burgess wanted to give her daughters something to look forward to, so she decided to start a Girl Scout troop exclusively for homeless girls.

“Our mission is to instill girls with courage, confidence and character,” Burgess said.

So far, they have about 20 members.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“We’re all Girl Scout sisters,” a scout named Karina told “Today.” “We’re all a pack. And if you see a girl with 6000 on, it just makes you like, we’ve gone through the same thing or you’re still going through it.”

The girls are excited to be starting something great for other kids like them.

“We’re starting a chain reaction. Hopefully in the next couple years, there will be more Girl Scout troops in shelters,” said Karina, according to a blog post by the Girl Scouts of America.

If you would like to support Troop 6000, you can donate to the Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

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