Monday, 29 May 2017

Soon, Social Media Sites Will Decide What 'Real News' Is

Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard dropout who created Facebook, loved hanging out with President Barack Obama. 
Even more, the Zuck loved suppressing conservative news reports from Facebook's Trending Topics section.
And soon, the curly-haired 33-year-old who is looking ever more like a politician, will love deciding what "real news" is.
Four out of 10 millennials get their news off of Facebook's news feed, according to a new survey released by LendEDU. "With all of the recent news regarding fake news articles running rampant on the social networking site, this is certainly a worrisome trend developing where consumers rely on Facebook stories, accurate or not, to keep them informed,” Mike Brown, research analyst at LendEDU, told FOX Business.
Now comes word that Facebook will revamp its Trending Topics feature to highlight "other publications," (whatever that means) with hopes to doing so will help people "feel more informed about the news."
"You’ve always been able to click on a topic to see related posts and stories, but we’ve redesigned the page to make it easier to discover other publications that are covering the story, as well as what your friends and public figures are saying about it," Facebook said in a blog post written by Ali Ahmadi, product manager, and John Angelo, product designer.
"Now, when you click on a Trending topic, you’ll see a carousel with stories from other publications about a given topic that you can swipe through. By making it easier to see what other news outlets are saying about each topic, we hope that people will feel more informed about the news in their region."
Facebook, which was caught red-handed suppressing conservative news reports, says there's nothing nefarious in the change. "There is no predetermined list of publications that are eligible to appear in Trending and this update does not affect how Trending topics are identified, which we announced earlier this year."
In a new report, The Hill says Facebook is determined to expunge what it considers fake news from news feeds.
Facebook says that it also has been working to make sure that its platform does not become a vehicle for malevolent actors to artificially influence users. Facebook noted in a recent report that it removed thousands of fake accounts in advance of the recent French and British elections. 
 
Facebook also noted that it is taking steps to keep bots, which falsely amplify some types of information and content, off its platform. Experts have said that these types of bots on social media are often used by foreign actors as tools to manipulate trending topics and put misleading or incorrect information in front of real people.
 
The company stressed that it has not found evidence that Russia or other countries compromised Facebook accounts. 
Other social media platforms are taking similar steps:
In December, Google rolled out a set of features and updates that allow users to flag potentially false stories as “disputed,” triggering a review for validity by independent organizations. Facebook also recently updated its algorithms to preemptively spot potential fake stories. 
 
Google has adjusted its news rankings to prioritize known sites over less established ones in an effort to keep false stories from prominent display. The company has also banned publishers with a track record of spreading false information.
 
“It is a problem for social media companies to manage [fake news],” said Mike Horning, a communications professor at Virginia Tech who focuses on the intersection of politics and news reporting. “What is the line between fake news and partisan spin?”
 
“I think that adds a layer to social media that these companies didn’t anticipate,” Horning added.
So soon, your social media platforms will decide what "real news" is. There's no way that can turn out well.

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