Posts Tagged ‘fake news’

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Facebook logoTell someone not to do something and sometimes they just want to do it more. That’s what happened when Facebook put red flags on debunked fake news. Facebook’s red warning flags only made the post more interesting and more likely to be shared.

So Facebook ditched the red warning and replaced them with links to articles where the supposed fake news is debunked.

Now Facebook has dreamt up another couple of wheezes.

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First, rather than call more attention to fake news, Facebook wants to make it easier to miss these stories while scrolling. When Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers verify an article is inaccurate, Facebook will shrink the size of the link post in the

News Feed. Facebook will also downrank the news to make it less likely that it will appear in news feeds at all.

Second, Facebook is now using machine learning to look at newly published articles and scan them for signs of falsehood. ‘Fact checkers’ will then prioritise high scoring articles so as to make more efficient use of their time.

Facebook now says it can reduce the spread of a false news story by 80%.

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babylon bee logo Facebook has revealed just how shoddy its ‘fake news’ and censorship process is when it censored an obvious joke after it passed through the censorship system without anyone at Facebook noticing how stupid they were being.thefederalist.com explains:

The Babylon Bee set off Facebook’s alarm bells by publishing a satirical piece stating that CNN had purchased an industrial-size washing machine to spin news before publication. This is obviously a joke and is clearly marked satire and is published on a site entirely devoted to satire.

But the uptight jerks over at Snopes decided to fact check the Bee’s claim, to ensure that no one actually thought that CNN made a significant investment in heavy machinery.

The article was duly confirmed as fake news resulting in Facebook saying that it would censor The Babylon Bee by denying them monetisation.

And as per the normal procedure, when alerted about stupid censorship, Facebook admitted it was a ghastly mistake and apologised profusely. Fair enough, but in passing it still shows exactly how shoddy the process is behind the scenes.

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Facebook logoFacebook has unveiled more changes to the News Feed of its 2 billion users, announcing it will rank news organizations by credibility based on user feedback and diminish its role as an arbiter of the news people see.

In a blog post accompanying the announcement, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote:

Facebook is not comfortable deciding which news sources are the most trustworthy in a world with so much division. We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.

The new trust rankings will emerge from surveys the company is conducting. Broadly trusted outlets that are affirmed by a significant cross-section of users may see a boost in readership, while less known organizations or start-ups receiving poor ratings could see their web traffic decline significantly on the social network.

The company’s changes also include an effort to boost the content of local news outlets, which have suffered sizable subscription and readership declines as news consumption migrated online.

On Friday, Google announced it would cancel a two-month-old experiment, called Knowledge Panel, that informed its users that a news article had been disputed by independent fact-checking organizations. Conservatives had complained the feature unfairly targeted a right-leaning outlet.

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emmanuel macronEmmanuel Macron has vowed to introduce a law to censor ‘fake news’ on the internet during French election campaigns. He claimed he wanted new legislation for social media platforms during election periods in order to protect democracy.For fake news published during election seasons, an emergency legal action could allow authorities to remove that content or even block the website, Macron said. If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules.

He said France’s media censor, the CSA, would be empowered to fight against any attempt at destabilisation by TV stations controlled or influenced by foreign states. Macron said he wanted to act against what he called propaganda articulated by thousands of social media accounts.

Macron has an axe to grind about fake news, during the election campaign in spring 2017 he filed a legal complaint after Le Pen, the Front National leader, referred to fake stories about him placing funds in an offshore account in the Bahamas. Also a bogus website resembling the site of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported that Saudi Arabia was financing Macron’s campaign. Le Soir totally distanced itself from the report.

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facebook fake news advertFacebook says it is changing how it identifies ‘fake news’ stories on its platform to a more effective system.Facebook had originally put red warning signs on disputed stories that fact-checkers found false.

Instead, now it will bring up related articles next to the false stories that give context from fact-checkers on the stories’

Facebook said that in its tests, fewer hoax articles were shared when they had fact-checkers’ articles spooled up next to them than when they were labeled with disputed flags.

Facebook have also changed the criteria for identification as ‘fake news’ Previously it required 2 fact checkers to concur but under the new system related articles can be attached under the authority of just one fact checker.

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EU flagThe European Union is in the process of creating an authority to monitor and censor so-called fake news. It is setting up a High-Level ‘Expert’ Group. The EU is currently consulting media professionals and the public to decide what powers to give to this EU body, which is to begin operation next spring.The World Socialist Web Site has its own colourful view on the intentions of the body, but I don’t suppose it is too far from the truth:

An examination of the EU’s announcement shows that it is preparing mass state censorship aimed not at false information, but at news reports or political views that encourage popular opposition to the European ruling class.

It aims to create conditions where unelected authorities control what people can read or say online.

EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans explained the move in ominous tersm

We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming. The EU’s task is to protect its citizens from fake news and to manage the information they receive.

According to an EU press release, the EU Commission, another unelected body, will select the High-Level Expert Group, which is to start in January 2018 and will work over several months. It will discuss possible future actions to strengthen citizens’ access to reliable and verified information and prevent the spread of disinformation online.

Who will decide what views are verified, who is reliable and whose views are disinformation to be deleted from Facebook or removed from Google search results? The EU, of course.

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yale logoFacebook touts its partnership with outside fact-checkers as a key prong in its fight against fake news, but a major new Yale University study finds that fact-checking and then tagging inaccurate news stories on social media doesn’t work.The study , reported for the first time by POLITICO, found that tagging false news stories as disputed by third party fact-checkers has only a small impact on whether readers perceive their headlines as true. Overall, the existence of disputed tags made participants just 3.7 percentage points more likely to correctly judge headlines as false, the study said.

The researchers also found that, for some groups–particularly, Trump supporters and adults under 26–flagging bogus stories could actually end up increasing the likelihood that users will believe fake news. This because not all fake stories are fact checked, and the absence of a warning tends to add to the credibility of an unchecked, but fake, story.

Researchers Gordon Pennycook & David G. Rand of Yale University write in their abstract:

Assessing the effect of disputed warnings and source salience on perceptions of fake news accuracy

What are effective techniques for combatting belief in fake news? Tagging fake articles with Disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers warnings and making articles’ sources more salient by adding publisher logos are two approaches that have received large-scale rollouts on social media in recent months.

Here we assess the effect of these interventions on perceptions of accuracy across seven experiments [involving 7,534 people].

With respect to disputed warnings, we find that tagging articles as disputed did significantly reduce their perceived accuracy relative to a control without tags, but only modestly (d=.20, 3.7 percentage point decrease in headlines judged as accurate).

Furthermore, we find a backfire effect — particularly among Trump supporters and those under 26 years of age — whereby untagged fake news stories are seen as more accurate than in the control.

We also find a similar spillover effect for real news, whose perceived accuracy is increased by the presence of disputed tags on other headlines.

With respect to source salience, we find no evidence that adding a banner with the logo of the headline’s publisher had any impact on accuracy judgments whatsoever.

Together, these results suggest that the currently deployed approaches are not nearly enough to effectively undermine belief in fake news, and new (empirically supported) strategies are needed.

Presented with the study, a Facebook spokesperson questioned the researchers’ methodology–pointing out that the study was performed via Internet survey, not on Facebook’s platform–and added that fact-checking is just one part of the company’s efforts to combat fake news. Those include disrupting financial incentives for spammers, building new products and helping people make more informed choices about the news they read, trust and share, the spokesperson said.

The Facebook spokesman added that the articles created by the third party fact-checkers have uses beyond creating the disputed tags. For instance, links to the fact checks appear in related article stacks beside other similar stories that Facebook’s software identifies as potentially false. They are powering other systems that limit the spread of news hoaxes and information, the spokesperson said.