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“Could a Tweet Start a War?” – Implications of the 2020 Twitter Hack

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On July 15, 2020, the social media world received a shock as a number of high-profile Twitter accounts were hacked in what Twitter referred to as a “social engineering attack”. Among the targets were the verified accounts of billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, as well as major political figures Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The coordinated attack has been identified as an elaborate Bitcoin scam, with the hacked accounts all sharing a variation of a similar message promising the public doubled funds in return for sending $1,000 Bitcoin within a 30 minute window. 

Twitter responded rapidly, removing the false tweets and suspending activity on a number of verified accounts while launching a full investigation. However, the incident has raised a number of concerns regarding cyber security and the potential dangers of a significant social platform with a major public following being turned into a forum for a personal political agenda.

With debates surrounding the Coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter movement continuing to dominate the social and political spheres around the world, social responsibility for celebrities and influencers remains at an all time high. In a digital world where the line between fact and fiction is often blurred and information travels entire continents in the blink of an eye, the Internet does not forgive, and it never forgets. In this reality, social channels such as Facebook and Twitter carry significant political weight. Statements by influential public figures absolutely have the power to fuel controversy, incite public action, bring people together or deepen the divide. 

According to Brandwatch, a total of 1.3 billion accounts have been created since Twitter’s inception, and there are approximately 330 million active monthly users, with 145 million users active daily. The combined public reach of the impacted accounts is extensive, with some of the largest audiences including Barack Obama’s 120.6 million followers and Bill Gates 51.2 million. 

With this kind of reach, the potential for the rapid dissemination of false information, negative narratives and damaging statements is untold. Although President Donald Trump was not among the accounts accessed, users have highlighted the dangerous possibilities if ever hackers were to gain access to Trump’s account for more malicious purposes than a Bitcoin scam. 

Twitter user @DotDotDot_John says, “A hacker could take over his account and say ANYTHING damaging both foreign and domestically. The possibilities are endless. The ramifications could be catastrophic.”
Another user, @Jar0fGhosts asks, “What if @realDonaldTrump’s account had been hacked, and a message was posted that the US is launching an attack on China, Russia, or North Korea? What would be their immediate response? Could a tweet start a war?” 

As Twitter works to contain the situation and undo the damage of yesterday’s incident, the public continues to debate the frightening potential of social media as a political weapon, adding #twitterhacked to 2020’s already outrageous timeline. 

 

For more stories, see Todayville Calgary.

Calgary

Summer is here to Stay at Calgary’s Only Indoor Beach Facility

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After a fairly stagnant summer, where the typical buzz of team athletics and busy sporting fields has been largely missed due to COVID-19, the return of the winter weather is being dreaded by most. 

Do not fear the cold, however, there is a way for Calgarians to beat the winter blues. The Beach YYC, Calgary’s only indoor beach recreation facility offers “a little bit of the summer, all year long”. Located in southeast Calgary at 3030-2600 Portland Street, The Beach YYC is a 23,000 square foot facility with almost 13,000 square feet of beach court space and more than 700 tons of sand.
“After the way the summer has been, where people haven’t been able to play the normal leagues and sports they usually do, people are looking for a social, fun, active thing to do.” Says Elliot Weinstein, Founder of The Beach YYC, “And here we are!” 

Originally inspired by an indoor beach facility located in Vancouver, BC, Elliot decided to introduce the concept to the city of Calgary. As the fifth facility of its kind in Canada and the only one available in Alberta, The Beach YYC draws both high and low level players from across the country for everything from major tournaments to evening rec leagues. In addition to offering rec, intermediate and competitive beach volleyball leagues in co-ed and gendered divisions, the facility has 5 courts that can be adjusted to accommodate beach volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Spikeball and dodgeball games.

“It’s a great place for people to maintain and improve their skills during the winter months,” says Elliot, “that way they can jump right back into their summer sports when the weather changes.”

In addition to hosting regularly scheduled leagues, The Beach YYC offers kids play dates and camps, catered events such as birthdays, corporate events and beach parties, as well as weekly drop-in rates – which have been on hold due to COVID-19 but will resume when deemed appropriate. 

Opened in September of 2018, The Beach YYC is now approaching its 2-year anniversary, and recently announced the opening of their beachside diner, George’s Beach Club! Named in honor of Elliot’s grandfather George, the club features a full comfort-food menu that includes delicious anomalies like the Bahn Mi Sub, the Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Poutine, and banana splits for dessert. 

Now in the final stages of securing a liquor license, George’s will soon be a full-service destination for players and friends to relax at before or after games with a pint and bite. 

Don’t wait on that tropical vacation to get your toes back in the sand … everything is better at The Beach! 

To learn more about The Beach YYC or to check out George’s Beach Club, now available on Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats, visit https://www.thebeachyyc.ca

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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City of Calgary Helping Local Businesses Recover from COVID-19 with Digital Main Street ShopHERE Pilot

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The City of Calgary is piloting a new initiative aimed at helping artists and small businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Working with Digital Main Street to join the ShopHERE program, powered by Google, the City will aid up to 90 local businesses and artists in their transition to online stores. 

The growing digital economy of recent years has been massively accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic, as people have increasingly turned to online alternatives and contact-less deliveries for everything from groceries to clothes to entertainment purchases. Now more than ever, for small businesses to be successful, participation in the digital economy is key. 

In May, Google Canada announced a $1 million investment for Digital Main Street to expand the Toronto-based ShopHERE program across the country. In Calgary, Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE program is now available to artists or registered small independent businesses and nonprofits that are commercial or home based, have fewer than 10 employees (25 for restaurants or bars), and are not a corporate chain or franchise. 

As a participant in the ShopHERE program, businesses will have access to hands-on assistance in setting up and launching their online stores with customized information and branding. Members will also receive digital marketing, shipping and inventory support to aid in the successful maintenance of online shops.  

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks on the ShopHERE program

Operating on a first come, first serve basis, the program will help up to 90 independent local businesses and artists enter the online sales sphere. “We remain optimistic and more determined than ever that technology is the toolkit for a world of opportunities,” says Sabrina Geremia, VP and Country Manager, Google Canada, “Our $1 million investment will go towards expanding the ShopHERE program nationally, so we can help small businesses across Canada navigate the challenges ahead.”

To learn more about the ShopHERE program or to apply, visit https://digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere/.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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