MADISON, Wis. – Becoming eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine is the first step; then comes actually scheduling an appointment.
“If you’re eligible, that’s only part of it,” said Bob Orech of Germantown. “If you’re eligible, that’s great, but then it’s finding the access.”
Orech knows as well as anyone that waiting for the shot is a heavy burden.
“It was always in the back of my head: My God, if I bring it home and get my wife sick,” he said.
Now he’s helping lighten the burden for others.
“My first area of focus was trying to help some of the elderly I know, people’s parents,” Orech said. “It is kind of overwhelming and frustrating.”
He started by trying to find appointments for his parents. Seeing that other areas had Facebook groups, he made a similar one for Wisconsin to help others navigate the scheduling maze.
“We don’t advocate for anyone skipping ahead,” Orech said. “If you’re eligible, we’ll help you.”
That can mean tips like setting early alarms to see the Walgreens appointments usually put up at 6 a.m. or checking to see if pharmacies or clinics have leftover vaccine doses. Orech has had pharmacists reach out to him directly with additional doses for eligible members. He and a handful of moderators help members secure their appointments.
“One of the mods said she had helped, last week, a group of I believe about 375 elderly people find vaccine,” moderator Sue Adams said. “I just think that’s a pathway straight to heaven if you’re able to do that.”
In that case, the group has a fitting name: “Milwaukee & Wisconsin Area Vaccine Hunters and Angels.” As of Monday night, it had more than 5,400 members.
Adams, a former Department of Health Services employee and current poll worker, knows the scheduling frustration first hand, as she looked to find an appointment before a February election.
“I looked in just dozens and dozens of sources,” she said, adding she took detailed notes.
As a moderator, she’s now able to pass along her knowledge. She suggests people be flexible about when and where they receive the vaccine and to try to stay patient.
“We have to remember that getting vaccinated is for me, for you and for all,” Adams said.
Reaching herd immunity is a group effort. In the Facebook group’s case, it’s neighbors lifting up neighbors. For Orech and moderators, it’s almost like a full time job, but one they’re happy to do for free.
“Hearing everyone’s own story, how it’s impacted them last year and to see that smile or glimmer of hope or a text with a heart, that’s my payment,” Orech said. “The overwhelming response of being thankful and (saying) ‘Hey, how else can I help now that I’m scheduled or got my shot,’ that’s been very rewarding.”
Orech recently became eligible for the vaccine and got his first dose.
“The first shot I had, I literally felt this burden come off,” he said. “That sense of relief.”
He’s still doing the heavy-lifting to pass that sense of lightness to others.
“Until we’re not needed, we’ll be here almost 24/7 helping people,” he said.
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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey
Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.
Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.
However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.
On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.
Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal
In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.
In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.
Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws
It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.
Russian social media laws
As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.
Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses
Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.
The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.
With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.
Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.
Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to email@example.com.