"No you’ll come to think of …" how the US elections showed the phenomenon of fake news

The Tibrigan Nicolae | April 7, 2017

"No you'll come to think of ..." how the US elections showed the phenomenon of fake news

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US elections have led the public to address an increasingly common phenomenon otherwise fake news. Ending the campaign for the US presidential election has intensified discussions about how new social media technologies have influenced public opinion and perceptions about the two counter-Oval Office. For example, Facebook has been accused of distributing false information and disinformation social platform influenced to some extent political choices of Americans. Even the Google search engine has not escaped criticism because order display in search results. Further analysis showed assumptions: fake news were distributed periodically in the US online and their contents have not only captured the interest, and generated an active response from Internet users. There were several reasons for the increasing number of false news published online, among them the enormous exposure that provides social networks. Another indirect result of this phenomenon refers to draw attention from journalists and experts in public communication on the issue of false narratives, expressed interest so management Facebook and the general public. It seems that last category is to manage increasingly harder thicket was created digitized information. From now on users will have to learn to surf online, sorting "garbage information" or lies (in) voluntary quality news and information verified.

Speed ​​(Facebook’s) * sensational (offered by designers misinformation) * No. users * No. clickbait (popularity / viral content) = money

Although Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly emphasized that Facebook is not a media company (in terms of Google, it is discussed less often), two online platforms – Google and Facebook are the main sources of information of Internet users today . They read and select news from Facebook stream, or seek through Google engine. Both companies are interested in providing the most relevant content for users – either viral clickbait content or posting the most reaction from users.

Designers misinformation and false news, discussed the most in November 2016 ( Hillary Clinton provided money, weapons, tanks and training for Al-Qaeda to kill Gaddafi and armed ISIS in Syria or Big Data reported an increase of 37% support the pro-Trump latinos ) were not removed from movie characters " a set up " (1997) directed by Barry Levinson. The difference is that when the writer could not imagine the impact on a public misinformation so wide like that offered by the Internet.

According to the analytical center Pew Research Center , 80% of Americans read news online, and 62% access them via social networks. Over 70% of US citizens show some interest regarding the news. However, the interesting thing is that the American public, 74% has greater confidence in online news given that only 35% of respondents said that the news would contain biased content.

Thus, designers misinformation and false news during the US presidential campaign had provided a favorable environment for the public to form its own sensitive opinions to certain messages or signals transmitted via online news.

Speed distribution of content, incidentally specific network Facebook, expanded considerably due formulations or specific tag. As a result, it was found that false news about the candidates in the presidential race showed a greater number of responses from users, compared with the average content distributed online by the mainstream press. Comparing the top 20 and top 20 false news top news agencies established in the US press, we find that the first generated about 8.7 million reactions, unlike the American press, which only generate 7.3 million reactions .

Source: BuzzFeedNews

How did you spread the phenomenon of fake news?

One reason keeping service implementation trending topics with the most popular postings / news on Facebook, only available for the US population. In spring 2016, the social network was accused of political bias following the creation of this service. Later it was found that certain users Trending Topics eliminated reports on the Republican Party. Thus, Facebook has tried to reduce the influence of the human factor in formulating the list of most popular posts / news. The company fired the editors responsible for service management and Topics Tranding was set to operate automatically. Despite these measures, the problem had not been solved. The algorithms that selectively news could not differentiate between journalistic quality content and fake news, and one of the main criteria of selection concerned viralitatea post. Consequently, Trending News Service show most often with fake news posts, but viral.

I must emphasize that these fake news were distributed not necessarily for political purposes or to manipulate public opinion. In just a few weeks before the presidential election, the website BuzzFeed identified about one hundred portals that launching false news online. These sites distribute their content on Facebook, luring the users with exclusive titles. Following this offer of viral content, site administrators also ensure steady traffic, relying on financial gain from advertising (clickbait).

Facebook’s trap

Facebook user network offers a steady flow of news in accordance with a predetermined algorithm, in fact, quite complex because several parameters settings. In this regard, network developers have proposed to provide news as relevant for each user. Trying to come to our help to more easily navigate through the information flow generated postings News Feed, Facebook set algorithm so that our friends have appreciated some posts, then they might interest us and us. 2-3 reaction from users is sufficient for the posting to appear to an audience of two or even ten times larger. Then comes the snowball effect and news can reach the top most viral posts on the network.

Switching from autonomous selection of posts to display content according to predetermined algorithms is the main cause of popularity false news and creating so-called "information bubble".

Even the company Cambridge Analytica, who campaign of Donald Trump were based on the principle of operation of these "bubbles" created by social networks and search engines, while the company was inviting Internet users to complete personality tests ( over one million) and to groups according to personality types, assessing their openness and conscientiousness. The company also looked at the extent to which respondents are extroverts or neurotic, producing a sort of "psychographic" potential voters pro-Trump. According to Alexander Nix, CEO at Cambridge Analytica, by integrating this information can determine not only what the message is appropriate, but that is the best way to deliver it – social media, advertisements during television shows etc. "It’s about understanding what matters most for one person – why do people care what’s worrying," said Alexander Nix for "The Telegraph".

Supervision (selection algorithm) content is the new reality of modern virtual space. The amount of information is growing exponentially and the user fails to cope with. In addition, online services (offered by Facebook) focused on the selection of information for us. Reading news or watching other online materials by chronological parameters disappeared. Once Google terminate your use of RSS (project Google Reader) today are very few people who read the news through service or directly visit the source. And why would they do it while the news agencies periodically update their Facebook page? However, readers through Facebook often forget that the network is interested economic operators (including popular page owners) to buy advertising and to increase audience. Display the impact for individual posts, or in combination, is used to determine the page owner to buy online promotion among certain categories of users.

The algorithms used by Facebook is no different operation algorithms of search engine Google, totaling filters and different playback options of the final results for the various settings of the browser being used.

Thus, sophisticated algorithms for selecting content for users and "kaching titles" for clickbait led to the popularity of false news.

How combat lie online?

It is unlikely that Facebook and Google to give up the search filters and algorithms select online content. At the same time, the two companies will have to respond to allegations of forgery spread information. Facebook is accused of spreading false news speed network and Google that allowed their display among the first results from searches.

Checked Google News

Google announced last year that will mark the verified news with a special indicator: Fact Check . Currently, the service is only available to US users.

capture Google.com

Limiting gains from advertising

Both Google and Facebook have promised to limit access to websites with fake news to their promotional tools. Which means that on such sites will no longer find advertisements on Google or Facebook.

Reporting introduction of the "fake news story"

Facebook introduced a service that allows reporting false news, which allows any user to mark false news spread on the social network. The service is available only for the English version of Facebook.

capture Facebook.com

How can we avoid false news eleven steps

First, we should keep in mind the basic rules of internet user.

  • Read only reliable sources;
  • Before distributing news on the social network, first check the primary sources of the material;
  • Do not distribute news without ensuring that it is based on reliable data;
  • Limit the use of Facebook as the main source of news;
  • Subscribe to a newspaper or choose to access live news agencies ( New Yok Times , Washington Post , The Guardian , Hot News , Adevărul.ro , Digi24 );
  • When using Facebook network, select accurate news and news from the News Feed;
  • Use news aggregators services and smartphone browsers – Feedly , Digg Reader , YamNews , Biziday
  • Google remove browsing history and cookies to get rid of "information bubble" set of algorithms;
  • Avoid accessing news with bombastic headlines or exclusive beggar clickbait "will not you going to believe what he said …" "Shocking", "incredible buzz of …" or "Trust" etc.
  • Use multiple search engines to validate the veracity of news;
  • Fact checking regularly access platforms: Snopes , org , PolitiFact , ABC News , StopFake , Factual.ro and CheckMedia .

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