Getting Informed through Facebook: A Risk

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Through its massive proportions, Facebook has become an important outlet for news and media. Lots of people get their daily updates of what happens around the world from what is being liked and shared on Facebook. However, this phenomenon has given rise to so-called “fake news”. The terminology leaves nothing to the imagination. These posts entail completely made-up stories, often tailoring to populistic topics in order to generate the most amount of views.  The problem became especially prevalent during the recent elections in the United States; an array of misinformation proliferated across social media, giving skewed, or down-right wrong, impressions of events and statements. Facebook has acknowledged the problem, and is working on a solution.

 

Users have noticed a new feature to appear on their Facebook webpage. Under a shared article, a Likert scale is provided (The Guardian, 2016). This scale asks the user whether or not the article withholds any important information of the article, rated from “Not at all” to “Completely”. With this feature, articles can be given a rating of validity. Users can then base their trust of the truthfulness of the article on that rating.

 

Independent initiatives to battle fake news are also going online. BS Detector is a plugin for web-browsers that checks the source of an article against a database of known fake news sources. If an article is recognized as originating from a blacklisted site, the plugin will insert a red banner over the article with a warning of the potential of misinformation.

 

Despite actions currently undertaken, fake news will still be found in abundance on social media. We must all still rely on our own judgement of the reliability and validity of a news article being shared on Facebook. Technology has allowed us all to reach each other. It is up to us to be our own BS detector, and not believe anything shared on Facebook without second thought.

 

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/06/facebook-tool-fake-news-rank-misleading-language-data-collecting

Featured Image:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/37992793/i-write-fake-news-that-gets-shared-on-facebook

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Grading the quality of posts will lead AI to pass the Turing test

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According to Hillary Clinton, “fake” news can be dangerous. This response seems to refer to an attack at a local pizzeria. An armed man wanted to investigate this pizzeria after a post of a complot theory that Hillary Clinton and her campagne manager run a pedophile network through this pizzeria. Luckily, this man was caught before he could do any harm.
Clinton says that this kind of fake news is becoming an epidemic and a danger, which needs to be cared of. She calls out for politicians and companies to protect the democracy and its innocent citizens (Garcia, 2016).

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During the US presidential election last month, social media was an essential key in winning votes. Both candidates were victims by false posts, which slandered to through the social web. Hard lies and several accusations were sold as straight severe news articles, which a naïve person would believe it instantly. According to the Financial Times, the social media platforms are the ones to blame for these posts and need to fight these kind of fake news (Waters, Garrahan and Bradshaw, 2016).

Earlier this week, Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that they started to ask users on a small scale to rate articles’ use of “misleading language”. Responses ranged from “not at all” to “completely” (Coldewey, 2016). This action was to detect fake news articles and help preventing new ones on the platform.

However, Facebook claimed “that this is an official effort, they did not answer to questions how it works, how the data is used and retained, and so on” (Coldewey, 2016). This means that they can use the data for other purposes.

 

Figure 1: Survey on Facebook

 

The way this survey is set up is useful in a way. Users are asked to answer the question based on text/post, whether it can be defined misleading or not (figure 1). This classification can lead text mining at large to whether specific words are used to mislead persons. The language is being understood better by labeling the words and context to its ‘actual’ meaning. These hidden messages are normally only understandable to an average person.

Text mining is a main source for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to better understand the language in general. What Facebook is doing with defining misleading text, is actually contributing to better performances of AI. Will robots in the future better understand humans through machine learning from these kinds of action? Will the future robot pass the Turing test* due text mining?

videolectures-most-popular-text-mining-words

 

After this first step of data/text mining, a second step could be adding a change in grading the of quality of posts in social media. Eventually, this will influence an AI in better recognition of human interpretations in the future. This leads AI into better understanding of jokes, sarcasm, irony, et cetera: things what distinguishes humans from robots.

This is scary.

*A Turing test is a test for determining whether an AI is capable of thinking like a human. For this, see the movie Ex Machina.

 

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Sources
Coldewey, D. (2016). Facebook begins asking users to rate articles’ use of ‘misleading language’. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/05/facebook-begins-asking-users-to-rate-articles-use-of-misleading-language/?ncid=rss [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].

Garcia, F. (2016). Hillary Clinton says fake news is a ‘dangerous epidemic’ that puts lives at risk. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hillary-clinton-fake-news-epidemic-lives-at-risk-pizzagate-a7464546.html [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].

Waters, R., Garrahan, M. and Bradshaw, T. (2016). Harsh truths about fake news for Facebook, Google and Twitter. [online] Ft.com. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/2910a7a0-afd7-11e6-a37c-f4a01f1b0fa1 [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].

 

 

 

 

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Aquila: Social Media Giant’s drone

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Just a month ago, Facebook, the social media giant, was under investigation by National Aviation Safety Board (NASB) after its experimental drone Aquila crashed on a test flight in June. Wait, what? Facebook is building a drone? Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg and his team, the Facebook Connectivity Lab, are committed to develop new technologies to bring affordable internet access to more people. After the satellite destruction in SpaceX’s rocket explosion and the deep disappointment followed by the accident, the company focused on its plan to build a solar-powered drone that will beam internet to remote parts of the world. Aquila.

Aquila is one of the creations of the Connectivity Lab team, designed to deliver Internet to everyone. The drone has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737, but weights just the one third of an electric car, mainly because of the carbon fiber body (650 kg). The plane is made in purpose so light aiming to make it stay aloft for months at a time. Additionally, it consumes the energy of three hairdryers and it is mostly self-sufficient but it is still monitored by a team of technicians on the ground. The drone will be load with technology able to transfer data 10 times faster than existing systems and its communication diameter will be 60 miles. The first test flight that took place in June was successful and Aquila flew for about 100 minutes, 3 times more than the planned mission length. The technicians gathered tones of data about the performance of the drone to optimize the flight and succeed greater height in the next flights. Mark Zuckerberg, made known the successful test flight of Aquila, with a post in his personal account on Facebook right after the flight. That was the last news regarding the drone and its flights, till mid-November when the NASB started an investigation. Eventually, the test flight was not so successful as the drone crashed during the landing, making it unsuitable for flight.

Facebook tries to differentiate its self from the “social media giant” identity, experimenting and investing in other projects. The company recently unveiled its 10-year plan which includes artificial intelligence and virtual reality, as well as satellites and drones. They are working on a standalone VR headset and an AI picture-editing tool that will let users add “intelligent” filters to videos as they film. “Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected,” said Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, outlining the plan at the annual Web Summit conference.

 

References:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/08/facebooks-10-year-plan-drones-satellites-and-virtual-reality/

http://www.theverge.com/a/mark-zuckerberg-future-of-facebook/aquila-drone-internet

https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/the-technology-behind-aquila/10153916136506634/

Facebook’s Giant Internet-Beaming Drone Finally Takes Flight

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Social media is decreasing productivity

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The fact that everything is becoming digital and that we might call this a digital revolution is hardly deniable. Logically, you would expect that through all these current technological developments, the productivity per employee should increase. However, the opposite seems to be true. Productivity is barely increasing or is even decreasing. But why?

Economists are still in doubt and researching this phenomenon, but maybe the reason is simple; digitization is just not leading to higher efficiency. According to Tony Crabbe the continuous checking of emails is leading to a major disturbance in the production process and it also leads to an increase of the stress level. He states that employees should only check their mailbox once a day.

Social media as a company
In the end, Twitter and Facebook also want to make money next to offering a service. Thus they are focused on making as much money as possible through our contributions. Calvin Newport, professor of cultural sciences, argues that social media do not only have a devastating effect on society and politics, but also on the economy. Social media makes employees addicted to excitement, therefore they get easily distracted and they will find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on their work. Instead of achieving goals, employees are continuously convincing the world how important they are, where they are and what cool things they do.

Social media as connector
The counter argument that social media works as a connector, it brings people together and makes communication easier and quicker is getting weaker and weaker. Communication is getting less personal and also the influence of the social media platforms being companies is noticeable in them forcing you to get more friends on Facebook, post more Tweets or keep writing blogs. Additionally, it is said that being active on social media is important for finding a job. You will become a brand and the more positive your brand is, the more employers will be interested in hiring you. Nonsense, according to Newport. People need to be original and distinguish themselves by NOT being active on social media. He states that in a capitalistic economy the market will reward those who are rare and therefore valuable.

All in all, people shouldn’t let themselves be leaded by the social media companies. They should just be their original self and not put so much time in updating their timelines causing more and more distraction. Other causes for the decrease in productivity are for instance the fact that the population (in the Netherlands) is aging and low investments. Social media can now be added to that list as it went from accelerator to brake for the digital economy.

 

Source:
de Waard, P. (2016). Zijn sociale media rem op productiviteit?. [online] Volkskrant.nl. Available at: http://www.volkskrant.nl/economie/zijn-sociale-media-rem-op-productiviteit~a4424669/ [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

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“To Make the World More Open and Connected?”

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Facebook has been blocked in China ever since the 2009 Ürümqi riots. Independence activists were using Facebook to communicate and plan the movement, thus, it had to be stopped. However, times have changed, it might no longer be the activists groups giving Facebook the largest use. Mark Zuckerberg has been working on his relationships with Chinese leaders as a way to enter the Chinese market, which would provide a huge milestone for Facebook. The actual entering to the market has not been agreed upon yet, however, there are hints that it will not take long until it occurs.

According to Facebook employees, who asked to remain anonymous, Facebook has developed software to suppress posts depending on geographical locations. The idea would be to partner with a Chinese company that will be in charge of doing the actual censorship. Doing so will allow Facebook to enter the Chinese market more strongly, as the Chinese company will have the local knowledge that Facebook does not posses. Moreover, it will allow Facebook to create distance between themselves and suppressing of the posts, which goes against their company mission:
“To make the world more open and connected”.

We must also think about the reasons why Chinese leaders would want Facebook in China, which many would immediately link to control. Wouldn’t having a suppressed newsfeed allow you to control what people think to a certain extent? What would the data that Facebook could provide mean to the governance of the COUNTRY?

China is currently testing a new way of social control called the social credit system. This ranks citizens depending on their social and financial behavior. The score could affect a large amount of aspects of a person’s life, such as acquiring loans or traveling abroad. Startups have had ideas similar to these, using Facebook to assess people’s eligibility for loans, but Facebook itself has prevented these.

Could the desire of entering this enormous market be strong enough to lure Facebook into changing its mind again?

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/technology/facebook-censorship-tool-china.html?_r=0

http://fortune.com/2016/11/23/facebook-censorship-return-china/

http://fortune.com/2016/11/29/china-social-control-credit-rating/?xid=time_socialflow_facebook

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Innovation in social media? Forget Facebook!

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Power of social media

In the current digital arena, social networks have touched the lives of almost every human being on earth, allowing us to share life’s novelties with friends and loved ones. However, social networks are not restricted to sharing and commenting on pictures, but giving rise to innovation among individuals to help make our world a better place.

Social media can be an excellent way to reach out to both existing and potential customers and take advantage of their creativity. There are two ways to involve your network in developing new products and services:

  • Crowdsourcing – asking your network to brainstorm solutions to a particular problem your company is experiencing, either on their own or in groups. The community collects, develops and ranks the contributions to reveal the strongest performers.
  • Open innovation – allowing people to submit their own competitive ideas and inventions for your company to harness.

Rise of new entrants

With so many minds able to network together, open innovation allow people to work together on a massive scale. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have already become immensely popular for setting up robust platforms for online communities and many enterprises are using them as an effective medium to innovate. However, today there are very good examples of social networks where niche communities not only find work, but also hire a development team, innovate their business, and collaborate from different corners of the world.

The world of social media might be crowded, but that’s certainly not stopping new players entering the market. The success of Pinterest and Instagram  has shown that it’s possible for relative newcomers to make a big impact. And while Facebook may boast close to a billion users, many alternatives are aimed at a more exclusive audience. The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. Why? There’s too much content on Facebook and the company is forced to ratchet down the reach. We’ll have to either spend a lot more money on Hollywood-quality content, a lot more money on advertising or both. This will force some businesses to reconsider Facebook as a viable channel and enable a migration to less noisy venues.

Source: Cosenza 2016

Future of open innovation

Innovation and idea generation are no longer confined to the boundaries of office buildings now that niche social networks create room for like-minded people to come together and give their input to deal with particular challenges. Idea sharing on a global scale leads to innovative solutions in a shorter period of time. Businesses now also rely on niche social networks for innovative ideas to increase their sales, establish brand value and convert prospective customers into loyal ones.

Without a doubt, social networks posses incredible potential for innovation among individuals from all walks of life. Businesses, non-profit organizations and governments also realize the efficacy of social networks in making this world a better place, which is why they are all using niche social networks to connect with people of similar interests and innovate solutions to deal with specific challenges.

Sources:

Arno Ch. (2012), The rise of niche social networks. http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/rise-niche-social-networks

Cosenza V. (2016), Social Media Statistics, https://vincos.it/social-media-statistics

Kind. C (2015), 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-predictions-for-2015

NIBusinessInfo (2015), Online business networking and social networking. https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/using-social-media-support-innovation

Singh M. (2016), How innovation develops among individuals in niche social networks. http://www.innovationmanagement.se/2016/02/11/how-innovation-develops-among-individuals-in-niche-social-networks

 

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