Category Archives: Fake News

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Facebook promoted lies and conspiracy theories following Amtrak crash

Facebook just can’t help itself. 

Following news Wednesday morning that an Amtrak train full of Congressional Republicans crashed into a truck, the social media site was soon promoting conspiracy theories and lies purporting to explain the sinister forces behind the tragedy that left one person dead. 

SEE ALSO: This was the year we turned on social media

For a company that has publicly and repeatedly been accused of enabling the spread of so-called “fake news,” this is just yet another major misstep in a long line of missteps. 

First spotted by The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins, Facebook’s screw up du jour involved the “People Are Saying” section of Trending Topics. The phrase “Charlottesville, Virginia,” which is near where the train wreck occurred, was trending, and clicking through brought a Facebook user to a page with information about the incident.  Read more…

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Trump’s Fake News Awards were a total disaster

President Donald Trump’s Fake News Awards were, perhaps unsurprisingly, a complete and total disaster.

After weeks of anticipation the event turned out to be, well, not an event at all. In fact it was just a quick listicle which, for many, displayed as a 404 page.

SEE ALSO: Trump’s first presidential physical prompts ‘girther’ conspiracy

Earlier this month, Trump boasted that he would hold “THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR.” The made up award show was supposed to criticize various news outlets for their reporting of the president. But a day before the event was initially scheduled, Trump tweeted that it would happening on Jan. 17 instead.  Read more…

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Facebook became your news diet. Now, it’s going to serve you junk.

Forget about media outlets and Facebook — worry about readers. 

Facebook’s 2 billion monthly users have come to rely on the social network as a way to keep up with the news. Now Facebook is limiting the reach of news publishers, leaving a vacuum to be filled with… well, it’s anyone’s best guess.

The change is simple. Facebook is going to show users more posts that their friends and family have either created, shared, or commented on. In turn, Facebook is reducing the reach of pages including news outlets. That may sound innocuous, but the shift turns up the dial on the signals that help amplify fake news. And there’s no way to tell how bad this is going to get — not even Facebook knows for sure. Read more…

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Americans say social media is destroying the news — but nobody knows what to do about it

Social media truly is bringing Americans together… in our frustration over social media giants. 

Americans are fed up with the role that big tech companies now play in the news media, according to a new study from the Knight Foundation and Gallup. 

Maybe worse — we’re enormously conflicted on what to do about that.

SEE ALSO: The first scientific fake news study is here to confirm your worst fears about America

On Tuesday, the Knight Foundation and Gallup published a sweeping study about the public’s perception of the media — including tech companies — and its role in politics and society. 

Entitled “American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy,” the study surveyed 19,196 Americans over the age of 18 about their news consumption habits, the extent that they believe the media is important to a democracy, whether they believe the media is succeeding in informing the public, how the proliferation of online news sources is contributing to their consumption of current events, the extent of the problem of fake news, and more.  Read more…

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In ongoing battle against fake news, Facebook decides to get local

As Facebook continues to battle the scourge of “fake news,” it’s trying out a new feature that it hopes will connect users with local news, events, and announcements called “Today In.”

The new feature will push local content from publishers approved by the company’s News Partnership team, according to Recode. The feature is available on mobile in just six cities so far: New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Billings, Montana; Peoria, Illinois; Olympia, Washington; Binghamton, New York. 

By clicking the menu button and selecting “Today in,” users who identify themselves as living in those six cities will see a selection of content. According to a Facebook spokesperson, “Today In” is intended as a place on Facebook where users can find news from vetted local news sources, community events, and even alerts from local authorities. Read more…

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Tense CNN showdown with Trump staffer leaves supporters of both sides feeling like they won

2018 is already off to a surreal, hot fire start thanks, in part, to a lot of fire and fury over Michael Wolff’s new book on the first year of the Trump administration and the debate over what’s true and what’s not.

SEE ALSO: The 14 most mind-blowing items from Michael Wolff’s tell-all Trump book excerpt

Enter CNN’s Jake Tapper, one of the mainstream media’s most consistent truth-tellers, and Trump staffer Stephen Miller, one of the administration’s most steadfast figures and a man who will fight you over that poem on the Statue of Liberty. 

The pair clashed on Tapper’s State of The Union show on Sunday morning, sparring about Wolff’s book and Trump’s recent boast of being a “stable genius” on Twitter… and things went how you might expect if you’re familiar with these two men (complete interview here). Read more…

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Trump’s NYE bash has a ‘modern fantasy garden’ theme. We have some better suggestions.

President Donald Trump is often accused of living in his own personal fantasy world where white supremacists are “very fine people” and New Jersey muslims celebrated the 9/11 attack. So it is perhaps fitting that his New Year’s Eve celebration at Mar-a-Largo has, according to The Washington Post, a “modern fantasy garden” theme.

And while we’re excited to see what mythical bullshit takes root in such a gathering of sycophants and enablers, we also can’t help but note that Team Trump passed up a wonderful opportunity to explore other themes perhaps more germane to the 45th presidency of these great United States.  Read more…

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Commons Inquiry Into Fake News To Hold First Public Evidence Session

A Commons committee is to hold its first public evidence session as part of an inquiry into fake news.

The digital, culture, media and sport select committee, chaired by Conservative MP Damian Collins, will hear from a panel of experts in Parliament on Tuesday.

They will explore the role that artificial intelligence and algorithms play in the dissemination of misinformation, and ways in which misinformation can be tackled, hearing from representatives from the Oxford Internet Institute and the University of Sheffield.

A second panel session, hearing evidence from the managing director of Spanish newspaper El Pais, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and the Instituto de Empresa university in Madrid, will focus on alleged Russian influence in the Catalonian independence referendum.

Earlier this year, Collins wrote to both Facebook and Twitter to ask for details of any known activity by Russian-linked accounts relating to the 2017 general election and the EU referendum.

The social media giants said their own investigations had uncovered just nine adverts, but Collins said they had failed to give enough information. 

“I asked Facebook to provide the committee with details relating to any adverts and pages paid for, or set up by Russian-linked accounts. In their response to the Electoral Commission, Facebook responded only with regards to funded advertisements to audiences in the UK from the around 470 accounts and pages run by the Russian based Internet Research Agency, which had been active during the US Presidential election,” he said.

“It would appear that no work has been done by Facebook to look for Russian activity around the EU referendum, other than from funded advertisements from those accounts that had already been identified as part of the US Senate’s investigation.

“No work has been done by Facebook to look for other fake accounts and pages that could be linked to Russian backed agencies and which were active during the EU referendum, as I requested.”

Collins said social networks should carry out more extensive research similar to that of Facebook’s investigation into the French presidential election, which identified tens of thousands of fake pages and accounts, and asked Facebook to submit a fuller response to the fake news inquiry.

“Are we to believe that Russian backed targeting of voters through social media with fake news was limited only to Twitter during the referendum, when both Twitter and Facebook had been used in the USA during the Presidential election?,” he said.

“I have met with Facebook and again asked them for a full response to my letter sent on behalf of the select committee on 19th October.

“This includes looking for Russian activity linked to the 2017 general election, as well as the EU referendum.”

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Journalists are being jailed for ‘fake news,’ and critics blame Trump

A record 262 journalists were jailed in 2017 simply for doing their work, according to a report published Wednesday by the Committee to Project Journalists. That figure is higher even than last year’s historic peak of some 259 journalists behind bars.

The nonprofit’s annual census found that, of those arrested, an astonishing 21 were arrested on “false news” charges. Others have been jailed for vague “anti-state” charges.

In an era of regular “fake news” accusations from Donald Trump, many have pointed a finger at the president for exacerbating the situation.

SEE ALSO: ‘Fake news’ isn’t just a U.S. problem — it’s everywhere Read more…

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Facebook doesn’t scan Messenger for fake news. But it definitely should

Facebook has been cracking down on fake news, but it’s been missing one very important place of conversation.

Messenger, the standalone app for Facebook’s private messaging feature, is not being included in the company’s fact-checking program. 

SEE ALSO: Facebook Messenger just made sharing photos way better

In March, Facebook recruited a team of third-party fact-checkers to flag fake news articles that were being shared on its network. It was part of an increased effort to limit the reach of misinformation on the site in wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Fake news articles now receive a disputed tag when they are posted to the Facebook News Feed. But that’s not the case if a user sends the same article to an individual or group through Messenger.  Read more…

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