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  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fake news, gofundme, Snopes   

    Hoax busting site Snopes facing financial shutdown 

    Hoax busting site Snopes facing financial shutdown

    The scourge of conspiracy theorists and urban legend believers everywhere, Snopes.com is facing a financial crisis that could result in the website shutting down. Snopes was started in 1994 by the married couple of Barbara and David Mikkelson, who created the site in order to have a resource where people could debunk urban legends. Prior to the internet, urban legends would break out in various pockets of the country and would spread like wildfire with nothing to stop them. Some of these tall tales have gone on to ruin the reputations of prominent regional figures. In 2014, the couple divorced with Barbara Mikkelson selling her half of the site to a digital media corporation and that is where Snopes’ current problems seems to have originated.

    Snopes is accusing this digital media company of cutting off its advertising revenue stream in a power struggle for ownership of the site. According to the website SaveSnopes.com

    Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.

    Because of this Snopes is going the crowd funding route by trying to raise $500,000 on the fund-raising site GoFundMe. As of this writing, Snopes has raised close to $350,000 toward its goal.

    If Snopes were to close down, it’s almost a guarantee another site could rise from its ashes. However, none of them would have the cache and credibility Snopes does. Losing Snopes would not only embolden conspiracy theorists and partisan ‘news’ sites, it would also be a great loss of a plethora of investigative information that has had a big hand in trying to prevent ignorance on the internet.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fake news, ,   

    Facebook turns to old media to fight fake news prior to UK election 

    Facebook turns to old media to fight fake news prior to UK election

    In the run up to Election Day in the UK, Facebook has turned to an unlikely ally in their continuing struggle against ‘fake news’. The social network behemoth has taken out several print ads in UK newspapers on how to recognize fake news.

    While the ads do contain helpful information on how to be a more discerning news consumer, it does indicate something Facebook probably won’t admit to itself. Facebook may feel some responsibility for the fake news that many think unduly affected the 2016 US Presidential Election. Thousands of dummy Facebook accounts have also been purged in anticipation of the election.

    However, the problem with the fake news argument is certain individuals have such a confirmation bias that they can’t be turned into more responsible content consumers. Take vaccinations for example. It was once claimed vaccinations caused autism, which caused many parents to forgo immunizations for their children. Even though that claim has been discredited many times over, there are still many people who cling to that fallacy.

    For many people, politics are their vaccinations. They blindly follow whatever dogma their chosen political party subscribes to no matter who the candidate may be. With those political leanings, many of these people will only read news from sources biased towards their own affiliation. It’s too late for Facebook users like that, they are lost to us.

    The only way to combat this kind of ignorance is for those of us who can discern fake news from fact to become more active in political matters and to get out and actually vote.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fake news, propaganda   

    Facebook claims that foreign agents used propaganda to influence 2016 election 

    Facebook claims that foreign agents used propaganda to influence 2016 election

    Facebook recently released a report claiming that there were agents they believe were backed by foreign governments who tried using the social network to influence the 2016 presidential election. While not outright saying that it was the Russians, Facebook did say in its report that their findings did not contradict the US Director of National Intelligence’s claim that Russia was allegedly interfering.

    The propaganda was supposedly spread through the following ways. First, bad actors would create legitimate looking websites that would post false information, or as we commonly call it now, ‘fake news’. They would then set up fake Facebook accounts by the thousands and repost the false information. Then, actual people, who don’t know it’s false information, would repost these false stories. Surprisingly, this wasn’t done by using bots, or automated scripts, but were done by multitudes of human users.

    The social network has said that it’s taking steps to prevent these kinds of events from happening again, but don’t Facebook’s users bear some responsibility in this matter? It’s so much easier to just click share rather than researching a story. This is especially true for people who prefer to remain in their own echo chambers with their personal biases.

    While Facebook can take steps to try to prevent this spread of misinformation, it’s ultimately up to us to be more discerning with what content we post to our virtual walls.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fake news, Jimmy Wales, , WikiTribune   

    Another ironic name pledges to fight fake news 

    Another ironic name pledges to fight fake news

    The concept of fake news continues to make headlines in the real news. First it was Mark Zuckerberg and the monolithic Facebook who vowed to combat fake news, even though most fake news is spread like an office cold through Facebook. Then it was Craig Newmark of craigslist fame who poured millions of dollars into fighting fake news while his site continues to house racists, scam artists and criminals. Now, another person who shouldn’t throw stones in a glass house has thrown his weight behind the fight against fake news. Jimmy Wales is the founder of Wikipedia, and he just launched a new platform called WikiTribune to help combat the supposed menace that is fake news.

    So I’m sure you’re asking. “What’s wrong with WikiTribune”? On the surface, nothing yet. However, if it follows the same pattern as Wikipedia before it, WikiTribune could eventually end up propagating the fake news it claims to prevent.

    While Wikipedia is a valuable resource on the web, it’s not 100% reliable. Go to just about any page on Wikipedia that deals with a controversial topic and click on the ‘Talk’ tab and you might just be able to see the heated arguments over facts that go on behind the scenes. Also, some trusted Wikipedia editors have been known to have biases on certain subjects and edit their pet pages to reflect that. That’s not even taking into consideration that Wikipedia is often subject to cyber-vandalism since the pages can be edited by just about anyone.

    So far it seems the Generals leading the fight against fake news have never heard the phrase “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on April 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fake news   

    Facebook and craigslist team up to fight fake news, not notice irony 

    Facebook and craigslist team up to fight fake news, not notice irony

    Since the 2016 Presidential Election, ‘fake news’ has been the story that’s refused to die with Facebook being ground zero for most fake stories that are perpetrated on the internet. In the past Facebook has taken steps to combat this problem without really fixing anything in our opinion. Now Facebook must be absolutely serious about the problem because they’ve teamed up with that bastion of truth and integrity, craigslist. Sarcasm fully intended, by the way.

    While we’ve been over this before, but it bears repeating. With Facebook, anyone can post just about anything no matter how libelous it may be, pay to get the story boosted, then when the story turns out to be blatantly false, it takes nothing short than an act of God to get the story removed. As for craigslist, you can post an ad for just about anything including, but not limited to, revenge ads soliciting the sexual assault of just about any person you feel has wronged you. That’s not including the paranoid, racist and otherwise hate-filled scribes that inhabit the rants and raves section.

    Both sites, and their founders by extension, are acting like they’re standing on some kind of moral high ground. In reality the high ground their standing on is the mountain of lies perpetrated by their users and encouraged by the sites themselves.

     
  • Geebo 10:57 am on January 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cnn, fake news, fallout,   

    CNN uses video game footage to portray Russian hackers 

    CNN uses video game footage to portray Russian hackers

    As we’ve shown on this blog, one of the hot topics of 2016 was the tide of fake news that plagued the internet at large. What makes the fake news so acceptable these days is when cable news channels inadvertently engage in it.

    Recently, CNN was discussing the spate of news regarding so-called Russian hackers. In order to portray the alleged hacking CNN used a graphic of a green computer screen that appeared straight out of the early 80s. The problem was that the graphic CNN used was actually a clip from the video game Fallout 4.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the Fallout franchise it’s a series of games that take place in the alternate history of a post-apocalyptic 22nd century. For some reason in this alternate timeline, computer science never progressed past the 1980s. Throughout the game are these ancient looking computer terminals that the player has to ‘hack’ in order to open locked doors. The hacking consists of guessing already displayed passwords.

    So why is this a big deal? Well, how can we dismiss fake and misleading news when supposed legitimate news outlets are seen making preventable gaffes like this?

     
  • Geebo 1:24 pm on December 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fake news, safety check   

    Fake news story triggers Facebook’s safety check 

    Fake news story triggers Facebook's safety check

    While the internet has dubbed 2016 the year that killed celebrities, it’s also been the year of fake news and in many ways Facebook has taken a brunt of the blame for the spreading of said untrue news.

    Facebook has grabbed one last possible fake news headline of 2016 as a fake news story has triggered their safety check. On the 27th the safety check was triggered in Thailand after a year old story about an explosion in Bangkok started trending. Facebook has denied the gaffe stating the safety check was triggered after someone threw fireworks at a government building.

    This is what happens when we rely on one place for all of our news and the ‘news’ is spread by anybody that can post anything and call it news. Maybe if we stepped out of Facebook every once in a while the fake news problem wouldn’t be a problem at all. The internet is a large and wonderful place and is full of some great news sources that report actual news. Even if a prison is comfortable and welcoming place like Facebook, it’s still a prison.

     
  • Geebo 12:08 pm on December 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fake news   

    Facebook’s fighting fake news again 

    Facebook's fighting fake news again

    It feels like old home week again when it comes to the news. First we had yet another Yahoo hack and now Facebook is implementing new measures to fight fake news, again. This time they mean it.

    According to reports, Facebook is testing new tools for reporting fake news. It’s basically the same tools they have for reporting spam. When some users click the little down arrow that comes with most news stories on Facebook, they’ll be able to flag the story as false or misleading. This is said to trigger a review process that could end up have the story labeled as misleading or disputed.

    While it sounds great in theory, I’m sure there’s no way that the system could be abused. That was sarcasm by the way. This system could remind someone of the ‘community policing’ touted by a certain less than scrupulous classifieds site. While it was originally intended to report scammers and illegal ads, it’s since deteriorated into a tool for petty squabbles and trolling.

    This doesn’t even take into account that Facebook takes money from just about anyone in order to ‘boost’ their post or news article. It almost seems a conflict of interest for Facebook to rake in all this cash while claiming to fight fake news when anyone can pay to be featured.

    It seems like Facebook is trying to be both the cause of and the solution to fake news but logic dictates it can be only one of them.

     
  • Geebo 10:56 am on December 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fake news,   

    Fake news is a problem, but is it Facebook’s problem? 

    Fake news is a problem, bus is it Facebook's problem?

    A lot has been made about Facebook and its problem with fake news articles appearing on its social network. We even started discussing this back in August. Ever since Facebook eliminated its human curation staff the site seems to have flooded over night with fake or misleading headlines.

    In a blog post on Quartz, they discuss a study that shows that a majority of traffic to these fake, or what they call hyperpartisan news sites, comes from Facebook. As you may have surmised, hyperpartisan news sites are specifically designed to garner traffic from members of whatever political party they tend to represent For example, a site called ‘Occupy Democrats’ gets almost 80% of traffic from Facebook alone while the New York times only gets 11%.

    While Facebook’s former curation team would have prevented stories like this from ending up in their trending topics, it’s ultimately up to the Facebook user who shares and spreads this disinformation or hyperbole. Again, there are too many people on Facebook and the internet in general, who are too eager to share articles that reinforce their confirmation bias no matter how outlandish the premise of the story may be.

    While Facebook’s fake news quandary is indeed a problem, ultimately it’s not really Facebook’s problem. As a wise man once said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

     
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