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How Wilmington Facebook pages reunite owners with lost and stolen pets

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Owen Hassell
 |  Wilmington StarNews

Megan Coopage had completely given up on finding her lost four-month-old kitten, Buttercup, who had disappeared in Wilmington.

That is until she searched Facebook. A post to one Wilmington group led her to someone who located Buttercup, who was returned home the next morning.

It’s one of many success stories from social media regarding lost or stolen pets. One of the local Facebook groups, Lost and Found Pets of Wilmington, is nearing 10,000 members. It averages more than 400 posts a day.

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And while National Pet Day was on Sunday, to group administrator Heather Nuqul, the Facebook group proves every day is a pet day.

“People will go out of their way to hunt down these dogs,” Nuqul said. “People will take pets in and keep them for who knows how long until owners are found. They’ll post photos of cats they’ve had for months asking if they know the owner.”

Nuqul, an insurance agent who’s lived in Wilmington since 2011, began the group in 2015 after one of her dogs rushed out of her home. Fortunately for Nuqul, the dog ran across the road to a park where she retrieved him.

After all, ‘pets are family’: Wilmington firefighters risk their lives to try and save any life

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Related: Woman’s dog saves her from downtown Wilmington fire

“I was a hot mess,” Nuqul said. “I didn’t see much online for lost pets, so I created the group. I invited literally everyone I knew saying, hey, join my Facebook page and it grew from there. I didn’t expect it to get 500 people.”

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Its growth extends beyond the Wilmington area. Vacationers have also found these Facebook pages helpful when losing a pet here, as it becomes the lone link when they return home without their best friend.

Nuqul urges owners with missing pets post as much as information as possible, especially if they suspect a pet is stolen. Without evidence such as video, she added it’s hard to determine if one was stolen.

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It’s also when she takes a harder look at the group. One case she flagged as questionable meant getting help from New Hanover County Animal Control.

“The picture didn’t sit right with me,” Nuqul said. “It was a post where someone was trying to rehome a dog. So I reached out to the shelter and me and him were in communication, and they went out and rescued the dog because that person wasn’t suppose to own any pets.”

While social media has advanced communication, its penchant as a place for differing opinions can become a detriment. It requires constant monitoring to ensure the group is used for its intended purpose.

Some posts turn out fake. Others include comments blaming people for pets being lost. Nuqul has had to ban some members for harassment.

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“If it seems like a scam, I’ll remove it,” Nuqul said.

While the group aims to find all lost or stolen animals, not all efforts are successful. And some turn sad when pets are found dead on roads.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will pick up deceased animals if they are on a state maintained road or state right of way. However, group members have also chipped in to pay last respects.

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All of it is part of a local pet community Nuqul cherishes.

“Some will post they’ve seen a deceased pet on a road, explain the markings and move the animal off the road and typically out of respect will not post a photo,” Nuqul said. “One person took a cat home and buried it on their property.”

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It’s the stories of compassion that keep Nuqul optimistic she and many in the group are making a difference.

“Someone lost their dog, and she was buried under cement on some work lot,” Nuqul said. “One of the workers heard a crying dog, and she ended up being fine and only broke a few ribs. But she was missing for a long time. It was a touching story.”

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

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 notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

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.

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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.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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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.

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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.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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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.

See also  Facebook group surprises Parker restaurant staff with $3000 in tips

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.


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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 tasneema@ndtv.com.

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