Instagram may allow users to Follow Hashtags

By Shar Martinez

Major social media network, Instagram could soon allow users to follow hashtags. If you’re not currently using Instagram as a marketing tool, you should really consider doing so.

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Instagram is currently testing an option to follow hashtags. This is great for keeping up with #trendingtopics.

With over 800 million active monthly users, paired with the Instagram for Business tool this function may help increase customer-client engagement. Whenever a user searches for or clicks on a hashtag, every post that includes that hashtag will show up. The most ‘liked’ posts will remain at the top of the feed that includes all of the recent posts. Hashtags are very valuable for the fact that they can expose your message to people who are looking for something very specific. This is where using keywords that are related to your brand really comes in handy.

This will also help users to have a better experience with this app as they may begin to use it more to keep up with the latest news and updates even if the people they follow aren’t active.

Hashtags are quickly becoming a key component to modern life and could undoubtedly help businesses keep up with the interests of their target audience.

The amount of users who have access to this test feature is unknown. As this is only a test, Instagram declined to say more about it. However, it’s very likely that this will become a permanent feature.

Chrome’s Fighting Back Against Irritating Website Directs

By Shar Martinez

Bait and switch tactics are coming to an end.

For those of you who submit feedback to Chrome about unwanted content, I have great news. It’s paid off! On Wednesday, Product Manager, Ryan Schoen announced that Chrome will be providing new security featuresimg_5342

Redirects are the absolute worst. However, many times the site owner is unaware as they intend for it to happen at all. When this happens it results in frustration (on both ends, the client and the seller) and a diminish in sales and views. Google has recently discovered that this is caused by third-party content that has been embedded in the page, unbeknownst to the author. As a preventative tactic, in the Chrome 64 update, redirects show in the info bar to keep the user on the page they were already browsing– unless they have any interaction with it.

Have you ever used a site’s navigation bar to read more information about but the link led you to an entirely different unwarranted site? We all have at some point or another. Similar to some of the features in Google Chrome’s Clean Up Tool, in Chrome 65 users will have an info bar to prevent redirects such as these. This will allow the viewer to continue directly to their intended destination.

Furthermore, there’s other types of web trickery that sends users to unwanted pages, but they are hard to immediately pinpoint. These are controls that resemble play buttons and other gadgets that lead to third-party websites that detect clicks and automatically opens a new tab.

Starting next year, January to be exact, Chrome’s Pop Up Blocker will stop sites that contain such content from opening new tabs or windows.

To help site owners prepare for this change, Google has launched the Abusive Experiences Report in addition to similar reports that are in the Google Search Console.

This will also help to put an end to sketchy sites that provide fake Chrome extensions.

Whether you’re a site owner who sells products or services, or someone who enjoys surfing the web this update will dramatically improve everyone’s web experience.

Guns + Mental Health

By Shar Martinez

On Sunday, Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The shooting, which has been described as the worst mass shooting in Texas history by Governor Greg Abbot, left 26 people dead and multiple people injured. The massacre left about 4% of the Sutherland Springs population dead.

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The victims were aged 18 months through 77 years old.

After the massacre, Kelley fled the scene as he was pursued by 2 residents. The heroic residents chased him until he crashed his vehicle.

When officials arrived on the scene, the shooter was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Authorities stated that there had been a “domestic situation” between Kelley and his mother-in-law, who regularly attends the church but wasn’t there at the time of the massacre, before the shooting happened.

This comes just one month after the Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead and 546 injured.

Guns are not the problem.
Guns are not the problem.
Guns are not the problem.

Have you ever seen a gun just walk out of the store and take fire at everyone in sight?

Me either.

People who possess guns are the problem. Just as people who plow through large crowds of people with vehicles, or use acid or knives to attack others are the problem.

Is this a serious problem of mental health?

I don’t personally know Devin Kelley or any other mass murderers, so I can’t say, “I know for a fact that [insert name here] struggled with [insert specific mental illness here], that’s why [insert pronoun here] did it!”

However, in my experience alone, I’ve seen that mental health is not taken as seriously as physical health by society, medical professions included.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), signed by President George W. Bush in 2008, requires doctors and insurers to treat mental illness the same as physical illness. Meaning that addiction or depression are to be covered the exact same as a general health check or surgery by insurance companies.

So what’s the problem?

Everyone doesn’t have health insurance.
Not everyone gets health insurance through their job.
For those who do, some plans are exempt from MHPAEA.
It doesn’t seem like anyone is doing much to promote compliance.
And several other factors.

As quoted by NPR, “A study suggests those doctors often fall short in treating depression because of insurance issues, time constraints and other factors.”

Unlike many physical ailments, mental health isn’t a disease that comes and goes. You can’t just get over it. There’s a stigma that disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, schizophrenia etc., aren’t real because they are neurological. These diseases are very real and can affect the entire life of those who suffer from such diseases, as well as those who are around them, which is all too common.

Mental health isn’t something that is talked about openly, often, because of the negativity associated with it. Those who need help will often never seek it because they feel may feel embarrassed or ashamed. Furthermore, because of the complexity of the healthcare system in general many people have no idea if they’ll be able to afford help or if they’re insurance plan covers it.

Additionally, if everyone goes around blaming mass shootings on mental health, those who suffer from it surely won’t feel comfortable addressing their illness.

For the fact that mental health isn’t something that’s physically seen and most people will never suffer from it, it’s easy to dismiss. And everyone seems to have an opinion about it.

Let’s break the cycle of negativity and focus on a solution.

Mental illnesses are real.

What we can do:
1. Let’s stop blaming guns for horrible disasters such as this and focus better on better laws and policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification and use of firearms by civilians.
2. Let’s stop blaming mental illness for the inexcusable actions of others when we don’t know their stories in full detail.
3. Let’s practice better physical health. The body and mind are intrinsically linked. Physical health problems can lead to mental distress.
4. Let’s speak out for those who can’t speak, and talk more openly about it, just as we would anything else.
5. Let’s aspire to help others by using our platforms, and those who are in our very own communities by reaching out to them, giving them a nonjudgmental shoulder to cry on, and providing them with adequate resources.
6. Let’s not group people who suffer from mental illnesses together. Everyone’s situation is different.

Mental illness isn’t to blame for all shootings. It’s more complex than a mental health problem. However, mental illness should be brought to the forefront of our nation.

Trade in Endangered Species – Avoid Bringing home Earth-damaging Souvenirs

Going on vacation is one of the most delightful times that you could ever experience. Whether you are vacationing to a tropical rain forest resort or to the beautiful ocean, it’s easy to forget about important issues such as, endangered species and which souvenirs you should avoid bringing back home.

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The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which is also known as the Washington Convention (CITES), is a treaty that was adopted several years ago aiming to ensure the protection of over 30,000 species of plants and animals. CITES has been active throughout the years to ensure the protection of the wild life, sadly, not everyone is aware of their organization.

Common items that are brutally taken from animals and habitats are: tortoise shell, ivory, whale oil, rhino horns, animal bones, dried starfish, coral, shark teeth and jaws, and conch shells. Even if you don’t go out of your way to get these items (i.e. hunt or intentionally take) chances are that someone has, and they have intentions of selling it to you for money. An important fact to remember is that just because an item is for sale doesn’t mean it’s legal to buy. Sadly, many unknowing tourists fall victim to this each year. Innocent endangered animals are poached each year for things such as: handbags, traditional remedies, wines, fur, meat and exotic foods, or to be mounted on a wall. During this process, many endangered animals are badly hurt or end up paying with their lives, just so that they can supply someone a handbag or tusks to be mounted elsewhere.

Exotic birds are not meant to be house pets and their feathers are not meant to be plucked just so that you may have a souvenir. Taking a species directly out of the ocean is not OK either, that is their home and a chance of survival after being taken away from their habitat is very unlikely. Even dead marine life should be avoided, long after a marine animals’ death, they still serve a purpose. Items such as corals and conch shells serve as shelter to threatened marine life. You can help to save endangered animals by being conscious of your purchases. You should take the time to find out about local wildlife laws or even search the Internet about wildlife purchases.

Whether an animal is living or dead, more than likely, it’s not OK to take it from the environment that it was already in, as a souvenir. If you have second thoughts upon purchasing a souvenir, then most likely it’s definitely not OK. Going to beautiful environments prompts us to want to bring a piece of it back, it’s only natural; but bring back a traditional souvenir, such as a t-shirt, magnet or a beautiful picture, by doing so, you may be saving an endangered animal. This may also save you a lot of time, if you’re outside of the United States, for the fact that all of your items are subject to being checked when you re-enter the country. If one of your souvenirs are illegal, you could face jail time or pay a hefty fine, even if you didn’t know that the item was illegal to have.