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Viral Disinformation Warning: Fake News Are Taking over Facebook

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Today’s news: Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford voted for Donald Trump, the Republican President-elect of the US, because the liberals want to take away their money; Melania Trump filed to divorce her husband, Donald Trump; Donald Trump himself said to People Magazine that Republicans are the dumbest group of voters; All the news above are fake, but trending on the social networks.

Two stories from pro-Trump site newzinbox.com appeared in the Facebook news feed of some friends in the last few days. The titles are “Brad Pitt SHOCKS AMERICA: “I’m Tired Of Liberals Taking My Money. I Voted For TRUMP!” and “Harrison Ford SHOCKS AMERICA: “I’m Tired Of Liberals Taking My Money. I Voted For TRUMP!.” Not only the titles, but also the full stories are almost word-by-word identical.

The first story is taken from compatriotnews.com, the second seems “original.” Both are fake.

If you see the trending story about Melania Trump filing to divorce her husband because she “is not prepared to be ridiculed for the next four years over her immigration status, accent and her husbands infidelities,” don’t bother to read. It’s fake news invented by clickbait fake news site Now8News. Similarly, Donald Trump never said that Republicans are the “dumbest group of voters.”

The fake news above are relatively innocuous and even hilarious. There are, however, much more disturbing examples of fake news that have been spread to support one or the other camp. I prefer not to link to those.

Earlier this year, Facebook fired its Trending News team, guilty of curating the news with a conservative bias. Facebook was accused of an editorial bias against conservative news organizations, prompting calls for a congressional inquiry against the company, The Guardian reported in an article covering leaked Facebook internal guidelines that appear to confirm the bias. “We routinely suppressed conservative news,” former Facebook news curators told Gizmodo.

After firing the human news curators, Facebook replaced them with algorithms able to choose which news you see based on many factors, including the algorithms’ own evaluation of your political preferences, and the news that your Facebook friends are sharing. But, though Facebook is making impressive advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), the algorithms’ ability to discriminate between real news and fake news is still poor. The result is that, if one of your friends falls for a fake news item and shares it, you could see the same fake news in your Facebook feed.

Did Facebook Cause President-elect Trump’s Victory?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Predictably, Facebook and its buggy news selection algorithms are now accused of causing Trump’s victory on November 8. The company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg disagrees, The Verge reports. Zuckerberg said:

“I do think there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is they saw some fake news.”

“If you believe that, then I don’t think you have internalized the message the Trump supporters are trying to send in this election,” added Zuckerberg.

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic,” said Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. “Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”

According to Zuckerberg, there’s a grey area between fake and real news. Some trending news are evidently fake, which could be spotted by better algorithms and/or human curators. But in other cases it’s difficult to draw a sharp line between fake news and stories that report authentic facts with biased omissions and interpretations. Zuckerberg notes that he hopes to share updates soon on Facebook’s News Feed FIY page, but warns that the problem is challenging:

“I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.”

Reading between the lines, Zuckerberg could have a Reddit-like system in mind, where upvotes and downvotes determine the relevance, reliability, and visibility of a story. But, on Reddit, many users downvote – or even flag as spam – important news stories with a political bias they dislike. Many stories “express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual,” says Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg doesn’t consider Facebook as a media company. But, according to the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of Facebook’s 156.5 million U.S. users now get the majority of their daily news from the site, which indicates that the social network is a media company de-facto, regardless of the intentions of its founder, and has a deep impact on political choices.

Perhaps the Trump campaign staff were just better at understanding and using social media. They built “a massive Facebook and data engine,” said Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, former head of the conservative media site Breitbart, before the election. ““Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.” Bannon is now President-elect Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor.

In related news, Zuckerberg recently resisted witch-hunting calls to end Facebook’s association with venture capitalist Peter Thiel, “guilty” of openly supporting Trump, and the social network’s interference practices are about to be relaxed.

Images from Ksayer1/Flickr and Wikimedia Commons.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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Market Overview

Markets on Edge as President Trump Cancels North Korea Meeting

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U.S. President Donald Trump has called off a highly anticipated meeting with North Korea, citing “anger and open hostility” from Pyongyang.

Strained Diplomacy

President Trump was scheduled to meet Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12 to advance a preliminary peace agreement between North Korea and South Korea. The Trump administration pledged peace and economic cooperation with the North Korean regime if it agreed to relinquish its nuclear arsenal.

Pyongyang took a combative stance last week in response to joint military drills between the United States and South Korea, a move it regarded as “provocative military disturbances.” North Korea’s rhetoric grew more threatening this week after the country’s senior envoy to the U.S. threatened America with an “appalling tragedy that it has never experienced nor imagined.”

In a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump said: “I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day I look very much forward to meeting you.”

White House officials said Thursday that the meeting could still be revived, though no further details were provided.

Markets React

U.S. stocks declined sharply in the wake of President Trump’s announcement, with Dow industrials falling more than 260 points. The blue-chip index was down 191 points, or 0.8%, at 11:31 a.m. ET.  Meanwhile, the large-cap S&P 500 Index fell 0.6% and the Nasdaq slipped 0.5%.

Gold, a preferred safe haven for investors, shot up to more than one-week highs Thursday morning. The August futures contract rose $15.50, or 1.2%, to $1,310.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Silver futures advanced 24 cents, or 1.5%, to $16.65 a troy ounce.

Oil prices continued lower in the wake of a shock inventory report on Wednesday from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA said crude stockpiles surged 5.8 million barrels in the latest week, confounding expectations of a 1.9 million-barrel drop.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down 66 cents, or 0.9%, at $71.18 a barrel Thursday. Brent crude, the international futures contract, declined 67 cents, or 0.8%, to $79.13 a barrel.

In economic data, U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, though the underlying picture continued to point to a tightening labor market. The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 in the week ended May 19.

The National Association of Realtors also reported a bigger than expected drop in U.S. existing home sales for April. Sales of previously-owned homes declined 2.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 551 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Blockchain

How Blockchain Can Help Companies Face the New GDPR Rules

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The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines governing the European Union (EU) officially come into play on May 25. Businesses and their associated websites had about three years to comply with the new set of rules. The companies that didn’t bother adjusting their data collection methodologies could face stiff fines.

Most companies issued a new “Terms of Use” to be on the safe side of the road. However, a blockchain system could solve the problem once and for all.

According to the GDPR, companies are expected to follow new guidelines in order to be allowed to operate for European citizens. Those regulations include the ability for the user to consent to their data being processed, the knowledge of who is processing the data and the ability to withdraw consent at any time..

Blockchain can play a vital role in this process. Websites that have users register on a distributed ledger system provide an upper hand, allowing them to be in charge of the data they provide.

Blockchain’s Role

When applied to systems in need of identity management, blockchain can operate in a level no other protocol can. The way it stores, collects and distributes data is revolutionizing. There is a brand new set of capabilities not available on any existing data protection method.

Blockchain verifies data usage through a complicated combination of public and private signatures, data hashing and encryption. This allows a person’s data and identity to be saved only on his end, rather than on a server. When that data is requested, it has to be provided from the user’s device instead of the main server.

While running on a blockchain system, the user is able to process exchanges personally, meaning the company that wants his data will have to get his consent in order to access them. This allows the user to have absolute control over his information, as well as know the company that uses it, meeting the GDPR’s “Right to Erasure” condition.

The use of blockchain also eliminates the need for massive databases since each user stores his own data. Blockchain makes it possible for each user to connect when needed, allowing companies to keep minimum information on customers and employees. Applying those changes to their products as well allows the company to meet GDPR’s “privacy by design” condition.

Privacy by design is, in essence, a new GDPR provision. According to it, companies are obligated to have platforms that are built on data privacy, with their products or services privacy in the cognizance of the rightful user. With blockchain technology, the process is automatically private, thus meeting the privacy by design criteria.

It remains to be seen if GDPR rules come into place on May 25 and whether fines will actually be levied on websites that do not comply. According to GDPR, the fees may come up to 4% of its annual global turnover, or €20 million, whichever is greater. This amount is enough to deter both small and large companies, although implementation will be key.

Blockchain can be the pioneer system behind the web sooner than we think. GDPR paves the way for greater blockchain adoption at a level that extends far beyond core business functions and cryptocurrency transactions.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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The First Governmental Elections Powered By Blockchain Technology

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While blockchain technology can be used in countless different ways and applied in any possible industrial and/or governmental sector, not all of them have been explored so far.

One of these yet unexplored regions is using the disrupting tech for elections, allowing users to vote in a decentralized fashion from anywhere at any time, while secured by blockchain technology.

United States’ West Virginia took the first step and started the first-ever government-run, blockchain-mediated vote globally.

In the primary elections that concluded on May 8th, blockchain voting was trialed on a limited amount of people, namely deployed military members and Americans eligible to vote absentee under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), as well as their spouses and dependents.

Participation in the trial was further restricted to voters registered in two of the state‘s 55 counties: Harrison and Monongalia.

Voatz, the company behind the voting system has created an application that basically allows you to vote regardless of your geolocation, while the company makes sure the person voting is eligible to do so.

If the trials prove to be successful and trustworthy, Mac Warner, the West Virginia Secretary of State, is considering making the system available to all UOCAVA voters registered in West Virginia for the general election this November.

He is expected to make the decision during this summer so that the process is as smooth as possible during the election period, already tested and “ready-to-go”.

“Our team believes blockchain does provide a heightened level of security on this type of mobile voting app. We’re genuinely hoping that will allow this type of a mobile app to be made available in the future – as early perhaps as our general election – to military voters.” 

Mike Queen, communications director for Mac Warner stated on Ethnews.

In charge of conducting the results of the audit will be Voraz, clerks representing Harrison and Monongalia counties and the state’s governor among other parties.

“The Secretary’s office is very encouraged so far today and we believe that [blockchain-based voting] is a real viable option. There are a lot of other states who are asking about this mobile voting solution and who are also interested in it.” 

However, despite all the excitement of the Secretary of Office state, the whole exercise was questioned by third parties.

Professor Duncan Buell, a computer scientist in the University of South Carolina, doesn’t seem to trust the process, as he considers that Voraz application does not run a trustworthy fingerprint-scanning and facial-recognition technology, meaning the results could be vulnerable to hacking. Thus voting actually becomes trusting a company instead of the government.

While the traditional way people participate in the election process is working for some political systems, it might not be ideal for other.

In traditional elections, participants are required to travel to the city they are registered in order to take part in the process, and even if they do so, they are obliged to vote for a decision that in most common scenarios will not be able to be altered until the next planned elections.

Blockchain technology may empower voters, allowing them to actually make direct decisions regarding their residential location, rather than deciding the person to represent their decisions.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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