Bitcoin surges past $5,300 ‘as bulls returned to the market with a vengeance’

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Bitcoin soared past $5,000 for the first time early Thursday morning and it continued to hit to new heights throughout the trading day. 

The red-hot digital currency, which is up more than 400% this year, blew past $5,300 to $5,382 just after 12 p.m. ET. Sell-off pressure has since pushed the coin back down below $5,300. 

It is still up near 10% Thursday. 

The $5,000 mark has long been a threshold of high-anticipation in the bitcoin community. Traders got a taste of it in early September when bitcoin hit a high of $4,921, according to data from Bloomberg.

Soon after that, its price declined amid news of a crackdown in China and regulatory uncertainty around initial coin offerings, a cryptocurrency-based fundraising method. After bottoming out near $2,900 per coin on September 15, it has since rallied.

That has come as no surprise to folks in the bitcoin community, who say government regulations and crackdowns on the coin have little impact on its underpinning technology or its price. 

“Bitcoin was designed to operate outside of the influence of governments and central banks, and is doing exactly that,” said Iqbal V. Gandham, a managing director at eToro UK. “So to us, this bounce back in price is no surprise.”

Josh Olszwicz, a bitcoin trader, told Business Insider during an interview in mid-September that the markets ignored news out of China because it didn’t impact on the coin’s actual blockchain technology.

“If it doesn’t affect the protocol, then it’s not a real problem,” he told Business Insider.”The bitcoin cash shakeup was much more worrisome from my perspective, but even then the core bitcoin protocol remained unaffected.”

Bitcoin has seen its value increase by more than $1,000 per coin in the past week alone, with a rally that coincides with renewed interest in the currency from investment banks. The Wall Street Journal last week reported that Goldman Sachs was looking at setting up a bitcoin trading operation, and Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said recently that the cryptocurrency was “certainly more than just a fad.”

The day’s rise comes “as bulls returned to the market with a vengeance,” according to Neil Wilson, a senior analyst at ETX Capital.

SEE ALSO: Jamie Dimon says he’s done talking about bitcoin

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I’m addicted to ‘I Love Hue,’ the most soothing smartphone game I’ve ever played

I Love Hue

That’s something awfully satisfying about putting things in order by color. 

This may not be the case for everyone. But when things are arranged by color, I feel organized and relaxed. My closet and even my smartphone apps are almost always arranged that way. 

So when I stumbled upon “I Love Hue,” I knew I was about to be hooked. 

The smartphone game — which is available for iOS and Android devices — has a super-simple premise: Choose a puzzle and arrange the blocks by color and shade. 

I’ve been playing “I Love Hue” non-stop for the past 36 hours — I even have a game going on two separate devices at this point — and can safely say it’s my new favorite app.

Here’s how to play:

SEE ALSO: Here are all 69 emojis arriving on iPhones this fall

There is only one rule you need to worry about in “I Love Hue:” Everything needs to be in color order.

The game presents you with several different puzzles made up of blocks in a range of colors. When you start a puzzle, the blocks will be scrambled and your job is to put everything back in order in as few moves as possible. 

The game has a distinct, New-Age tone to it: When you succeed, it will give you a compliment like, “You’re an iridescent moonbeam!” and the various levels are named Mystic, Prophet, Guru, and so on. While a little odd at first, I eventually found the magical language comforting. Plus, the name of the game itself is pretty cute. 

One important thing to note: “I Love Hue” is entirely based on color, so if you have trouble discerning between two very similar colors or have color blindness, this is not the game for you. 

When you first start a puzzle, everything will be in color order for a brief second before the game scrambles it. The squares with black dots in the center are immobile and help you figure out the order the blocks should go in.

Once things get scrambled, you have an unlimited amount of time to put the puzzle back in order. To move a block, just place your finger on it and drag it where you want it to go. Once the puzzle starts to come together, it gets easier.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here’s how easy it is for anyone — including Russian operatives — to target you with ads on Facebook

mark zuckerberg

  • Three media agencies modeled the cost of using Facebook to reach voters in Wisconsin and Michigan with the intention of swaying their vote. 
  • The estimates range from as little as $50,000 for issue-focused ads to over $283,000 depending on a number of factors including intensity. 
  • The agencies used tools that are available — legally — to marketers, politicians, and activists to show that even $100,000 can go a long way on Facebook.

Facebook is currently embroiled in an investigation regarding the spread of viral fake news and ads by Russian groups leading up to the 2016 presidential election. The company is expected to testify before two congressional committees on Capitol Hill in November.

Facebook, which declined to comment for this story, has said it discovered roughly $100,000 in ad buys between June 2015 and May 2017 associated with roughly 3,000 ads. CNN reported that a number of these ads specifically targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, two states where US President Donald Trump won by approximately 10,700 votes and 22,700 votes, respectively.

The money spent may seem insignificant at first glance, but Facebook’s advanced and granular targeting options may have given that dollar amount significant reach and engagement. Add to that the fact that operatives — whether it’s a candidate, a PAC, a non-profit or even a fake account run by groups linked to Russia — are not required to disclose spending money on online ads, and it becomes a bigger concern.

To see how easy it would be for just about anyone to use Facebook’s targeting parameters to reach their desired audience, we asked three media agencies to come up with media plans and budgets — in this case specifically for someone looking to swing an election in Michigan and Wisconsin.

It is worth noting that buying and distributing ads is not nefarious in and of itself. Companies, advocacy groups, political groups, politicians, and others all use Facebook’s platform to try to sell you their stuff or get their messages across.

That’s how these media agencies were able to model out the scenarios below — they help advertisers do this

The analyses of course make certain assumptions: that a campaign can target swing voters; that the ads actually influence the number of people who are projected to be influenced; that the people who are targeted haven’t already made up their minds and are open to being influenced; that people see these ads at a relevant time (i.e. before an election).

And finally, Facebook reportedly will soon start tightening the screws on political advertisers using its platform, manually reviewing ads that are targeted to people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues.” In other words, some of these projections could work out differently in the future.

$42,800 for Michigan — $4 per voter

According to Ben Kunz, EVP of marketing and content at Mediassociates, a political operator looking to swing an election in Michigan and Wisconsin would need to pinpoint and target undecided voters using various data tactics. After that, “it wouldn’t cost much in ad spending to sway their opinions,” he said.

Mediassociates built a model based on a basic rule of thumb of digital advertising, which is that 1 out of 2,000 people (or 0.05%) who view an ad will respond or take action on the message. Their model works backwards from the exact numbers of people by which Trump won both Wisconsin and Michigan, although, in reality, it’s possible that someone targeting swing voters could try to reach more people than that and therefore might spend more money on their campaign.

Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes. So assuming that only 0.05% viewers will react to an ad, a person would need to aim for about 21.4 million advertising impressions. Given that Facebook ads cost about $2.00 for every 1,000 impressions, Kunz’s team estimates that to sway about 10,700 voters you’d need a budget of $42,800.

“People like to think they can’t be persuaded, but the math says it works.”

As for Wisconsin, Trump won the state by 22,748 votes. Using the same model described for Michigan, that would suggest a budget of $90,992.

Putting those two costs together gives you about $133,792, which works out to about $4 per voter. We included their table of the assumptions and calculations below.

“In reality, targeting this exact ‘swing voter’ population might take more effort, since some of your ads will reach the wrong people … and competitors might be fighting you with similar tactics,” Kunz told Business Insider. “But a clever political operator would just spend a little more. And for a few hundred grand, he or she could tip an entire presidential election.”

mediassociates data

“That’s the scary power of Facebook. Its targeting is really, really powerful,” he added. “People like to think they can’t be persuaded, but the math says it works.”

As an aside, Kunz also pointed to an interesting feature on Facebook’s system, which is that you can actually target people by using gerrymandered Senate and House district borders by punching in individual zip codes. Again, this is not nefarious in and of itself, but does demonstrate the power of Facebook’s ad targeting system, and could be of relevance given that the Supreme Court is currently looking at a case on gerrymandering.

Ads can be targeted by breaking down political affiliations

Facebook Ads Manager has both broad targeting capabilities and very specific targeting capabilities. An example of the latter would be political affiliations broken down by liberal, conservative, and moderate leanings.

Michael Dobson, group director of social media at Crossmedia, looked at four targeting approaches to see the possible reach per audience within Wisconsin and Michigan using such affiliations.

For his first three approaches, he looked at liberal, conservative, and moderate target audiences. A campaign running for six weeks that reached a given user two times every seven days would be able to reach approximately 74% of users who fall under those three audiences, he said.

His total estimated cost for such a campaign was $250,000. Breaking it down, $100,000 was dedicated to “liberal and very liberal” audiences, $100,000 was dedicated to “conservative and very conservative” audiences, and $50,000 to “moderate” audiences.

ad preferences facebookDobson also came up with a fourth approach going in a different direction. Instead of targeting the political leanings of audiences, he selected a “sensitivity issue,” or a controversial topic that attracts a lot of tension, like gun control. 

Over the same six-week time period, he says such a campaign could reach approximately 66% of the over 3 million Facebook users in Michigan and Wisconsin with a budget of about $50,000.

Such a strategy would target people who Facebook has identified as those who are interested in the topic based on their “likes,” what they search, what they read online, etc. The budget was smaller than the budgets for targeting “liberal and very liberal” and “conservative and very conservative” audiences because the audience is smaller, he said.

“White male; Baby Boomers; news consumers”

Essence went a slightly different route. The team put together three highly specific targeting “buckets,” which they created based on researching the demographics and interests of the undecided and moderate voters, and by using Facebook’s targeting data:

  1. White male; Baby Boomers; news consumers.
  2. Millennial; college graduate; no political affiliations; politically active.
  3. Politically moderate.

They also looked at traditional swing districts in the two states (Wisconsin’s 1st and 3rd districts; and Michigan’s 5th, 6th, 9th, and 11th districts).

For reaching 60% of the targeted audience, they put together two different scenarios based on how many times an ad would reach a given person (two times every seven days versus three times every seven days), and came up with the two budgets: $188,700 and $283,050. 

What about ads for fake news?

The above three examples are more generally about targeting ads at voters for political purposes in Michigan and Wisconsin. Similar strategies can be applied to more specific cases such as targeting ads for fake news content.

Still, there would be some differences. In Essence’s above strategy, the team said one of its target groups would include college graduates. Jeff Rayvid, a data analyst at the firm, however, told us that if he were to create a strategy for targeting ads for fake news specifically, he probably wouldn’t target college-educated users.

Larry Kim, CEO of MobileMonkey actually ran an experiment where he created a fake news website, created a Facebook page for that website, and then created an ad to promote that page, which he described in detail in a post originally written on Medium.

facebook fake news chart

He says his ad was approved “within minutes” and reached 4,645 people, generating 44 “likes,” 27 shares, 20 comments, 3-page likes, and approximately 200 website clicks. He paid a grand total of $53.58, noting that it’s “remarkably cheap” to push fake news stories.

Facebook claims that their ads can have a profound impact on a user’s searching and purchasing behavior. It’s not hard to believe that it could impact voting behavior and even an election outcome in battleground states where the margin of victory was just a few thousand votes,” Kim wrote.

“Facebook ads were and remains to this day, a highly effective vehicle for the distribution of fake news intended to alter public opinion both in the USA and in other countries worldwide where Facebook advertising costs are substantially lower.”

SEE ALSO: Computers using Facebook ‘likes’ may be assessing your personality better than your friends — and researchers warned this could be misused

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Amazon working on smart doorbell for deliveries (AMZN)

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Amazon is reportedly working on a smart doorbell that delivery drivers can use to enter a one-time access code in order to deliver Prime orders into consumers’ homes, according to CNBC.

The device will either need to link to a user’s smart lock or have some sort of lock component in it, and it’s still unclear when it would be released, or how much it would cost. The announcement follows a similar Walmart initiative involving crowdsourced delivery startup Deliv that uses August smart locks to provide in-home deliveries in California.

While the device has some potential, it’s still unclear whether it will be able to overcome consumers’ privacy concerns.

  • The Amazon doorbell offers unique value propositions that other smart home devices don’t have. Sixteen percent of consumers don’t use an online grocery delivery service because they aren’t home during the time of day they can accept the service’s shipments, and 31% of US shoppers have experienced package theft, according to Shorr. The Amazon doorbell can solve both of these issues for consumers, which could in turn expand Amazon’s share of the smart home market.
  • But it’s unclear whether that will trump consumers’ reluctance to allow delivery drivers into their homes. While it’s likely Amazon would use professional couriers for these deliveries, consumers could still feel reluctant to allow a stranger to enter their homes to deliver goods. However, since Walmart and Deliv are already trialing a similar service, Amazon likely wants to see how well they’re received.

The US smart home market has still yet to meet the expectations many observers had in the early part of this decade.

The same issues BI Intelligence first identified back in 2015 still plague the space — persistently high prices, technological fragmentation, and consumers’ lack of a perceived benefit from the devices.

But the newfound popularity of smart home voice control has revolutionized smart home ecosystems across the country, and convinces more consumers to equip their homes with smart devices on a daily basis. The Amazon Echo, released in 2014, has become immensely popular and capable, awakening users to the utility of both voice control and smart home devices. This has prompted companies to rush to release competing devices and integrate voice control into their smart home ecosystems.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on the US smart home market that:

  • Analyzes current consumer demand for smart home devices based off results from BI Intelligence’s proprietary survey.
  • Forecasts future growth in the number of smart home devices installed in American homes.
  • Analyzes the factors influencing the proliferation of voice control devices in the homes.
  • Identifies and analyzes the market strategies of various companies that have integrated voice control into their smart home ecosystems.

To get the full report, subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now

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Get ready for humanity’s dumbest ritual: turning back the clocks for daylight-saving time

daylight saving 3x4 2017

  • Daylight-saving time, or DST, began in the US in 1918 as a way to conserve energy.
  • However, many Americans believe the practice is not worth the hassle, and studies suggest it may cause more problems than it solves.
  • There are two main proposals to get rid of DST: by creating fewer time zones or moving to one universal time.

Every year, many writers pen some form of this essay in irritated prose. Yet every year — actually, twice a year — we’re forced to continue partaking in the world’s dumbest ritual.

On Sunday, November 5, at the stroke of 2:00 a.m., most clocks in North America and Europe will roll backward one hour to end daylight-saving time (DST) until next year.

This gives many people one more hour of sleep, making the sun rise an hour earlier by our clocks’ count. However come March 11, 2018, the invisible time vampire will return to suck away an hour of sleep in the dead of night.

Daylight-saving time (and no, it’s not daylight “savings” time) was created during World War I to decrease energy use. The practice was implemented year-round in 1942, during WWII. Not waking up in the dark, the thinking went, would decrease fuel use for lighting and heating — and help conserve energy supplies to win the war.

Nearly 100 years later, though, the US is a divided nation on this topic. For example, a 2012 survey of 1,000 American adults by Rasmussen Reports found that 45% of American adults think daylight-saving is worth it, while more than 40% say it’s worthless.

Advocacy groups like Standardtime.com are trying to abolish daylight-saving time altogether. Energy-saving claims are “unproven,” they write: “If we are saving energy, let’s go year-round with daylight-saving time. If we are not saving energy, let’s drop daylight-saving time!”

More than 127,000 people have petitioned Congress to end daylight-saving time. Many of the comments on the petition are biting.

“Daylight saving time is an antiquated practice and serves no purpose in the modern world,” wrote Dustin M. from Kings Mountain, North Carolina. “It causes undo stress to millions of Americans and does nothing for anyone.”

We’re with Dustin, and here’s why.

What’s the problem with DST?

Earth at Night

According to Michael Downing, the author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight-Saving Time,” early studies on daylight-saving time didn’t find evidence that it actually decreases energy use.

In fact, sometimes DST seems to increase energy use.

For example, in Indiana — where daylight-saving time was implemented statewide in 2006 — researchers saw that people used less electricity for light, but those gains were canceled out by people who used more air conditioning during the early evenings (since 6 p.m. felt more like 5 p.m., when the sun still shines brightly in the summer and homes haven’t had the chance to cool off).

DST also increases gasoline consumption, something Downing says the petroleum industry has known since the 1930s. This is probably because evening activities — and the vehicle use they require — increase with that extra daylight.

Changing the clocks also causes air travel synchronization headaches, which sometimes leads to travel delays and lost revenue, airlines have reportedly said.

There are also health issues associated with the change. Similar to the way jet-lag makes you feel all out of whack, daylight-saving time is like scooting one time zone over. This can disrupt our sleep, metabolism, mood, stress levels, and other bodily rhythms. One study suggests recovery can take three weeks.

The sheer number of people impacted by DST all at once leads to some surprising associations, including a spike in heart attacks, increased numbers of work injuries, automobile accidents, suicides, and more in the days after.

Why keep it?

light bulb

Despite those early studies about energy use, one analysis from 2008 did find a small amount of energy savings after we extended DST by four weeks in 2005.

According to the Christian Science Monitor:

“Most advocates cite a 2008 report to Congress by the Department of Energy which showed that total electricity savings from the extended daylight-saving period amounted to 1.3 terawatt-hours, or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year. That’s a tiny number. But if electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt, that means an estimated $130 million in savings each year.”

More evening light also inspires people to go out and spend money.

Downing told NPR that this comes in the form of things like shopping and even playing golf — the golf industry told Congress that an extra month of daylight-saving was worth $200 million in 1986. The BBQ industry said extending DST would boost sales by $100 million.

Extending daylight-saving time to November also might help the Halloween industry — the longer kids can trick-or-treat, the more candy you need to buy.

Changing the law can also be expensive. One legislature representative in Alberta, Canada, suggested that holding a referendum on DST may cost the province $2 to $6 million, even if snuck into a standard election ballot, and that holding a no-DST vote on its own might cost $22 million to organize and execute.

A world divided

daylight saving time abolished map wikipedia paul eggert ccbysa3

Other areas of the world have gotten rid of daylight-saving time, or never had it to begin with.

The map above shows the breakdown. Blue areas observe DST, red areas never have, and orange areas once did but have since abolished it.

Some parts of the US have taken their own initiative not to observe daylight-saving time, including most of Arizona (excluding the Navajo and Hopi reservations in the northeast), and before 2006, parts of Indiana. A bill to abolish DST was once recommended for passage in Oklahoma, but it was not signed into law. A lawmaker in Utah also introduced legislation to try to abolish DST, but his bill died in committee.

The decision is up to the individual counties, but choosing not observe DST in a county where nearby cities do can be problematic.

Alternate plans

Standardtime.com has a unique suggestion.

Their proposal has only two time zones in the continental US that are two hours apart, which The Atlantic calls “a simple plan to fix [DST]“.

standard time zone anti daylight saving time

Compare that plan to the current state of things in the US, which is broken into four time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific time, each one hour apart.

US time zonesThese four time zones exist so that areas in the east of each time zone get sunrise at about the same time — the sun hits the eastern side of a time zone about an hour before it hits the western side in our current zones.

With Standardtime.com’s system, keeping the coasts only two hours apart would facilitate travel and meeting times. On the downside, sunrise and sunset would happen at wildly different times for many areas of the nation. Extending the eastern time zone into the middle of the country would mean sunrise would happen for some people very late in the morning.

For example, the sun rose in New York City at about 6:15 a.m. EST today and in Chicago at 6:10 a.m. CST; but if the two were in the same time zone, sunrise would be at 8:15 “Eastern Time” in Chicago.

Johns Hopkins University professors Richard Henry and Steven Hanke have come up with yet another possible fix: worldwide adoption of a single time zone. They argue that the internet has eliminated the need for discrete time zones across the globe, so we might as well just do away with them. The proposal also includes a 13-month “permanent calendar.” (The idea, understandably, has encountered some resistance.)

No plan will satisfy everyone. But that doesn’t mean daylight-saving time is good.

The absence of major energy-saving benefits from DST — along with its death toll, health impacts, and economic ramifications — are reason enough to get rid of the ritual altogether.

Jennifer Welsh and Sarah Kramer contributed to previous versions of this post.

SEE ALSO: Daylight-saving time is bad for your health and the economy

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