Apple announces it will scan users' iCloud photos to catch child abusers
Via Pexels and Sean MacEntee / Flickr

Apple has taken a huge step towards protecting children by announcing its new plan to scan iPhone photos for images of child abuse. The company will use a "neural match" system to scan photographs and if anything looks suspicious, a human at Apple will be notified to review the images and contact the authorities if necessary.

According to Apple, the new system will "continuously scan photos that are stored on a US user's iPhone and have also been uploaded to its iCloud back-up system."

The system is designed to protect users' privacy by scanning photos without making private communications readable by the company.


Julia Cordua, CEO of Thorn, said that Apple's technology balances "the need for privacy with digital safety for children." Thorn is a nonprofit that uses technology to protect children from sexual abuse.

The neural match system was trained to find images of abused children by scanning a massive database of photos supplied by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"Apple's expanded protection for children is a game-changer," John Clark, the president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said in a statement. "With so many people using Apple products, these new safety measures have the life-saving potential for children who are being enticed online and whose horrific images are being circulated in child sexual abuse material."

Ninety percent of all photos are taken with mobile phones and Apple is the number one selling smartphone in America. That means child abusers will have a much harder time getting away with their heinous acts without being caught.

Apple's decision to scan the cloud to catch child abusers is a bit of an about-face for the company. In the past, it has steadfastly stood up to law enforcement agencies' requests to use its technology to glean information for criminal investigations.

While organizations that protect children are excited about the new system, some fear the new technology will be exploited by bad actors to invade people's privacy. Worse, it could open floodgates for governments across the globe to access Apple users' personal data.

"What happens when the Chinese government says, 'Here is a list of files that we want you to scan for,'" Matthew Green, a top cryptography researcher at Johns Hopkins, asks. "Does Apple say no? I hope they say no, but their technology won't say no."

"This will break the dam — governments will demand it from everyone," Green tweeted.

"It is an absolutely appalling idea, because it is going to lead to distributed bulk surveillance of . . . our phones and laptops," Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge, said according to Financial Times.

Some fear that the technology will be used to set people up. A bad actor could send someone a photo that triggers the system, putting the unwilling person in serious trouble.

If Apple's new system goes according to plan, it will be a powerful tool to catch those who abuse children and will be a strong deterrent as well. But if the system's critics are correct, it could destroy the trust consumers have with Apple and give authoritarians direct access to our private lives.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

via idiehlpare / Flickr and ESPN

An innocent tweet by sports reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques erupted into a great discussion where people tried to describe the indescribable. "There's an unnamed media member in here who has never had a Dr. Pepper and asked what it tastes like," he tweeted.

"I have no idea how to describe it -- how would y'all do it?" he asked.

Marcel Louis-Jacques covers the Miami Dolphins for ESPN and appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and more.

The question feels like a Zen koan such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What do you call the world?"

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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