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Connecting online, tornado victims track down lost treasures

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Connecting online, tornado victims track down lost treasures


The “Quad State Tornado Found Items” Facebook group has been reconnecting people with their lost pets, official documents and family photos after deadly storms hit Kentucky and surrounding areas – Copyright AFP Pedro PARDO

Daniel Stublen

Abigail Miller’s parents lost practically all they owned in the weekend twisters that ravaged their small Kentucky town.

But with the help of strangers, they tracked down photographs of their daughter’s graduation — via social media groups which thousands are using to reconnect storm victims with cherished possessions strewn many miles away.

In preparation for a move, Miller’s parents had placed all their belongings in a storage unit in Dawson Springs, among the places hardest hit when tornadoes ripped homes apart across five US states last weekend.

The young pharmacy tech, who lives out of state, was relieved to hear they had evacuated ahead of the storm, but devastated to find out about their lost belongings.

“We didn’t expect to find anything,” said the 19-year-old.

But she soon noticed that an old schoolmate had shared a photo of her in a Facebook group called “Quad State Tornado Found Items.”

Then she got tagged in another photo in the group.

“Is this you?” commented the poster, Lisa Graham.

“Yes it is me and my parents,” Miller replied, “Thank you so much!”

The photos of Abigail Miller, with her parents at her high school graduation, had flown all the way to Philpot, Kentucky, almost an hour and a half away by car.

More of their photographs were found by others in Philpot, and each finder was more than willing to mail them back.

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“Some even asked what our family needed for Christmas,” she said.

– ‘That’s my memaw!’

The “Quad State Tornado Found Items” group now has over 66,000 members, and is growing by the hour.

People are using the group to help reconnect lost pets, official documents, and hundreds of family photos — each item offering a glimpse into the lives upended by the tornadoes.

One shows a father in the year 2000, holding his newborn baby in hospital.

Another shows two men in tuxedos at a 1980s wedding.

A few black-and-white photos show young men in uniforms during World War II.

The original owners are often identified within minutes through crowdsourcing, as family members and friends tag their loved ones in the comments section.

“That’s my memaw! I’ll message you!” Dani Runkel commented under a torn photo of her grandmother holding a Christmas present.

Other messages reveal the tragedy that has struck many families.

“This is my uncle who died in the tornado,” reads a comment below a torn yearbook photo.

“This is my grandmother,” a woman commented below an image of a 1998 funeral pamphlet. “It’s from my dad’s house that was destroyed in Princeton KY.”

– ‘I’d want the same thing’ –

Beyond family photos, tornado victims are also using online groups to reconnect with their pets.

Laura Pratt, a teacher in western Kentucky, was anxious when her husband called to say he had found a stray dog while helping a friend with storm clean-up — and was bringing it home.

“I’ve got a dog, I didn’t know how it would react. I also knew my son would fall in love with her,” said Pratt.

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She knew for certain however that her husband did the right thing.

“That’s your family member. If my dog was missing, I’d want the same thing.”

Pratt’s dog had run away before, so she knew there were dedicated Facebook groups for finding missing pets.

She posted photos of the dog, a blind dachshund with a big brown spot on her head.

A few people reached out offering to buy the animal if its owner could not be found.

Three days later came a message from Shari Howard of Benton, another town in western Kentucky hit by tornadoes:

“This is my dog! My house and everything got destroyed! Where can I find her? Her name is Willow!”

When Pratt went to meet with her, she knew she had found the right person.

“As soon as the lady picked her up, she relaxed — you knew she was meant to be with her.”

On social media, “you see good in people, you see bad,” said Pratt.

But in the tornado aftermath, she takes pride in the number of strangers offering assistance online and organizing drives.

“It shows the strength of our community.”



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TikTok’s Working on a New, Opt-In Function to Show You Who Viewed Your Profile

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TikTok's Working on a New, Opt-In Function to Show You Who Viewed Your Profile


I’m not entirely sure what value this might bring, but TikTok is reportedly working on bringing back the option to see who viewed your profile in the app over the preceding 30 days, which would provide more transparency over user interest.

As you can see in these screenshots, uncovered by app researcher Kev Adriano (and shared by Matt Navarra), TikTok looks to be testing an opt-in functionality that would enable you to see who’s checking out your TikTok profile, while users would also be able to see when you’ve checked out their profile as well when this feature is switched on.

Which TikTok used to have, as a means to increase connections in the app.

TikTok profile views notification

As you can see here, TikTok used to provide a listing of people who’d checked out your profile, with a view to helping you find others to follow who may have similar, shared interests. TikTok removed the functionality early last year, amid various investigations into its data sharing processes, and with several high-profile cases of TikTok stalkers causing real-world problems for platform stars, it made sense that it might not want to share this information anymore, as it likely only increases anxiety for those who may have concerns.

But I guess, if stalkers wanted to check out your profile they wouldn’t turn the feature on, so maybe, by making it opt-in, that reduces that element? Maybe.

I don’t know, I don’t see a heap of value here, and while I can understand, when an app is starting out, how this sort of awareness might help to increase network connections, I’m not sure that it serves any real value for TikTok, other than providing insight into who’s poking around, and likely increasing concerns about certain people who keep coming back to check out your profile again and again.

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Maybe there’s a value for aspiring influencers, in reaching out to potential collaborators who’ve checked out their stuff, or maybe it works for hook-ups, if that’s what you want to use TikTok for, which is why the opt-in element is important.

But much like the same feature on LinkedIn, mostly, it seems pretty useless. I mean, it’s somewhat interesting to know that somebody from a company that you’d like to work for checked out your profile, but if they did, and they didn’t feel compelled to get in touch, who really cares?

There is a limited value proposition here, in that getting in touch with those who did check out your profile could result in a business relationship, similar to the above note on potential collaborators on TikTok. But I’d be interested to see the actual percentage of successful contacts made is as a result of these insights.

I can’t imagine it’s very high – but maybe, if you give users the choice, and they explicitly opt-in, there is some value there.

Seems like stalker tracking to me, and potential angst and conflict as a result.

There’s no official word from TikTok as to whether this option will ever be released at this stage.





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‘Flurona’ is a great example of how misinformation can circulate

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'Flurona' is a great example of how misinformation can circulate


This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Image captured and colorized at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana.
Source – NIAID, CC SA 2.0.

In early January, Israel confirmed its first case of an individual infected with both the seasonal flu and COVID-19 at the same time, authorities reported. The two infections were found in an unvaccinated pregnant woman who had mild symptoms.

At the rime, the Times of Israel said, “Some reports suggested this marked the first such dual case in the world, but reports of patients with both flu and COVID-19 surfaced in the US as early as spring 2020.”

And it was the Times of Israel that helped the story to go viral by using a catchy, made-up name – “flurona” – and reporting that this is the “first” such case in the country, which some people read as the first case ever.

One news outlet went about amplifying the anecdotal report into “a new nightmare to keep us awake at night.” All the hype over this supposedly new and nightmarish disease did nothing more than fuel the amount of misinformation already bogging down social media platforms.

Scientific American suggests that physicians and scientists just don’t seem to be able to get the right message across to the public about what is real, what is treatable, and what is downright false.

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Yes, you can catch the flu and Covid

Let’s look back a bit to the start of the pandemic. In March 2020, hospitals were being overrun with patients. At that time, COVID testing was still rather sluggish and expensive. So doctors often ordered several tests for patients, trying to identify — or eliminate from suspicion — other possible infections.   

And yes, any number of patients were found to have not only COVID-19 but nearly 5 percent of patients tested had another viral respiratory infection, too. At first, doctors worried more for these patients, whose immune systems were fighting two battles at once. 

“What we found was actually that patients who had Covid plus another infection — they had lower rates of inflammation in their body and were less likely to be admitted to the hospital,” said Dr. Sarah Baron, a physician who helped author a study in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy to describe the findings.

While the study was small in the number of patients involved, it may offer an intriguing look at how one virus suppresses the effects of another – something called viral interference.

Researchers have known about viral interference since the 1960s when a group of scientists noticed that a live vaccine against polio and other enteroviruses also seemed to protect against unrelated viral respiratory diseases like influenza.  

For the week ending December 25, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 6.2 percent of people tested for flu were positive, and 1,825 people were admitted to U.S. hospitals with flu that week.

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So I would suggest to everyone that first – remember there are many reliable news sources on the Internet. Secondly, if a story you read sounds outrageous, take a few minutes to research it. You may just find out how inaccurate it may be.



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12 Helpful SEO Tools for Your Brand in 2022 [Infographic]

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12 Helpful SEO Tools for Your Brand in 2022 [Infographic]


Search engine optimization can be a complicated process, but every year, more tools and options are added to help simplify and streamline your efforts, which can provide you with valuable insights and guidance that hasn’t previously been available so easily.

The right tools can transform your strategy, and as such, it’s worth keeping track of the latest tool additions as you look to learn more about what people are searching for, and how you can create content and offers to align with those behaviors.

Which is where this new listing from PageTraffic comes in. The below infographic outlines 12 newer SEO tools that are worth a look in 2022.

More insight is always better, and these apps may just become a key pipeline to better understanding for your business.



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