Skip to main content

Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Facebook faces a record-breaking fine, Ole Miss students pose with guns in front of an Emmett Till memorial, and an asteroid passes "impressively close" to the Earth.
An image mosaic of the asteroid Eros taken by the robotic NEAR Shoemaker space probe on March 3rd, 2000, from a distance of 127 miles.

An image mosaic of the asteroid Eros taken by the robotic NEAR Shoemaker space probe on March 3rd, 2000, from a distance of 127 miles.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on why schools are going after families for lunch debt, how California's crackdown on pollution has affected asthma rates, and the challenge of "sustaining outrage" at a West Virginia newspaper.

Here are a few more stories we've been watching this week.

Facebook Will Pay a $5 Billion Fine Over Its Privacy Practices

Facebook and the United States Federal Trade Commission announced on Wednesday that the social media giant will pay a $5 billion fine—the same day the company announced second quarter earnings of $17 billion—as a result of the FTC's investigation of the company, Reuters reports. The investigation, launched as result of last year's Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal, revealed a number of privacy issues.

In a press release, Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company has agreed to pay the record-breaking penalty, which he notes is "multiple times what any previous company has paid the FTC." The company says it will also adopt a "comprehensive new framework for protecting people's privacy" that will include "more stringent processes to identify privacy risks."

A Photo Shows Students Posing With Guns in Front of a Memorial for Emmett Till

The Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica obtained a photo showing three white University of Mississippi students posing with guns in front of a sign honoring Emmett Till, whose murder in 1955 helped catalyze the civil rights movement.

One of the students had posted the photo to his Instagram back in March, but it was removed after the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica began their investigation. The students' fraternity has suspended all three of them, and the Department of Justice may pursue an investigation.

The Earth Had a Near-Miss With an Asteroid

The biggest asteroid to speed by Earth this year, believed to be between 57 and 130 meters in diameter, passed within 73,000 kilometers of our planet on Thursday, according to NASA. It's rare for such a big rock to pass so close: 73,000 kilometers may seem far, but that's closer to us than the moon. "It's impressively close. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. It's a pretty big deal," Michael Brown, an associate professor at Monash University's school of physics and astronomy in Melbourne, Australia, told the Age.

Scientists hadn't even been tracking this particular asteroid. As Alan Duffy, lead scientist at the Royal Institution of Australia, told the Washington Post, the fact that this was only detected at the last minute is a reminder of how much we still don't know about space.