Reynolds Weekly: Friday, March 22, 2019

by March 22, 2019

We’ve put together a list of timely, relevant business stories for you to localize. (Photo via Pixabay user ErikaWittlieb)

Facebook Passwords Stored in Plain Text

Facebook staff discovered that the social media conglomerate had stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text dating back to 2012, leaving accounts vulnerable to improper internal access and abuse. Github and Twitter had similar incidents in recent months, but the plain text user passwords stored by Facebook were available to a far large period of time and to more people within the organization.

In a statement, Facebook said it found no evidence of improper internal access or abuse, and provided information for password security.

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There is a large appetite for information on best security practices for consumers, ranging from using password managers to avoiding password reuse. See our guide on password managers for background information.

And, of course, biometric authentication (including iris scans and fingerprint readers) has increased in recent years, providing another avenue for story ideas. Whether and when local companies are using biometrics, what is driving them to do so, and what effect is it having? See our report on covering biometric authentication.

Local advocacy groups and cybersecurity experts can be consulted to discuss any privacy and security tradeoffs taking place when using these technologies.

Jury Finds Monsanto’s Weedkiller Responsible for Cancer

Bayer AG acquired Monsanto, Co. for $63 billion, and has lost more than $30 billion in market value since. That’s due in part to thousands of lawsuits from cancer patients.

A federal jury found that Roundup, Monsanto’s weedkiller, was a substantial factor in causing a man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The second phase of the case will focus on whether the company should be held liable. Bayer said in a statement that it continues to “believe firmly that the science confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer.”

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The debate over the safety of glyphosate has no end in sight, and local reporting is rife with opportunities to cover local farms and organic businesses in thoughtful, informative ways.

Look at consumption patterns and whether income is a factor. What programs are available to make local, organic food accessible to lower income individuals and families?

What kind of visibility is given to organic products at supermarket chains or smaller stores and food cooperatives? What do vendors and shoppers at local farmer’s markets have to say?

Texas Legalizes Lemonade Stands

On Wednesday, the Texas House passed a bill legalizing lemonade stands run by children on private property or public parks, overturning a previous ban citing health concerns. The bill moves to the Senate.

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Colorado lawmakers passed a similar bill earlier this month, while New York was in the news last summer for shutting down a lemonade stand. What are the lemonade stand laws in your state? Cottage laws in some states allow small-scale food producers to operate out of their homes for a limited dollar amount, while others don’t. Local health department officials may be able to discuss the laws in your area and the reasoning behind them.

No matter what is in the books, enforcement is often a different matter. Are homemade jams sold at bake sales and craft fairs, or pickled vegetables sold at farmer’s markets? It might be worth investigating whether there is any disparity in lemonade stands shut down for failure to obtain a license and ones that are not.