19 November 2016

TechReview: Facebook's Anti-Trump Fake News, Was It Effective?

Domain Mondo's weekly review of technology news:

Feature •  Facebook anti-Trump fake-news writer"There’s nothing you can’t write about now that [some] people won’t believe. I can write the craziest thing about Trump, and [some anti-Trump] people will believe it. I wrote a lot of crazy anti-Muslim stuff — like about Trump wanting to put badges on Muslims, or not allowing them in the airport, or making them stand in their own line — and [some] people went along with [believed] it!"--WashingtonPost.com

In other words, if you were a Hillary supporter you were more likely to believe anything derogatory about Trump you saw published online (and the reverse was likewise true for Trump supporters). Is anyone surprised by this? You shouldn't be--followers applaud fake news that agrees with their own pre-existing opinions, and people who disagree are more likely to be the fact checkers.

But does fake news change opinions? The answer is: No. Why? Confirmation bias--"people aggressively avoid ideas that challenge their basic philosophy and opinions. Social media has become an echo chamber, an exercise in preaching to the choir and other members of your own tribe. I’ll end this by posing just one request: If anyone switched their vote because of a Facebook post or a 140-character squib on Twitter, please let me know. I’ll be waiting."--Barry Ritholtz, Facebook Didn't Tilt the Election | Bloomberg.com.

The real problem isn't "fake news," instead it is the "misinformation crisis" in mainstream media (MSM)--According to Snopes, Fake News Is Not the Problem | backchannel.com: "... The misinformation crisis, according to Binkowski, stems from something more pernicious. In the past, the sources of accurate information were recognizable enough that phony news was relatively easy for a discerning reader to identify and discredit. The problem, Binkowski believes, is that the public has lost faith in the media broadly — therefore no media outlet is considered credible any longer ..." And for good reason.

That's why purging what someone arbitrarily or subjectively judges to be "fake news" is nothing less than censorship, the repression of free speech and free market competition in favor of  MSM channels that have lost credibility and trust. Facebook, Twitter, whatever:
Here's where it starts to get scary:
Will the Censorship "Fake News" Purge work? Doubtful. Inside Gab: The New Twitter Alternative Championed By The Alt-Right | FastCompany.com: "The purge is happening. At least according to the universe of alt-right users on social media: Many of them claim that in recent days their Twitter accounts have been suspended and that their posts on Facebook are not being promoted or shared like they used to. It’s all part of a crackdown on "fake news" in the wake of reports that misleading reports shared on Facebook and Twitter helped influence the election. To many, these efforts are an overdue attempt to maintain online civility. But to others it’s blatant censorship."
"Careful studies of media bias in the US show that most newspapers and radio or TV stations don’t try to persuade their readers and viewers; instead, they pander to the biases of their audience. It is hard to combat naive realism because the illusion that we see the world objectively is such a powerful one. At least I’ve not had to worry about it too much myself. Fortunately, my own perspective is based on a careful analysis of the facts, and my political views reflect a cool assessment of reality rather than self-interest, groupthink or cultural bias. Of course, there are people to the left of my position. They’re idiots. And the people on my right? Maniacs."--Tim Harford, Delusions of objectivity
Final Post-Election Memo: What Does The Election Mean For Us?"President Obama never sold a subscription for us or wrote a line of code for us and neither will Donald Trump. Who the President is will not make us successful (or not successful). That is on us. Ignore the noise."--CBinsights.com

Other Tech News:

•  Google commits to massive new London HQ: A new 10-story building that will be as long as London's Shard is tall, Google's new headquarters in London will have 650,000 square feet of floorspace (60,400m2), and will lie alongside King’s Cross station. Google will also continue to occupy its current building in the development, a 380,000 square feet office at 6 Pancras Square which accommodates 2,500 employees. Construction on a second building that Google will occupy but not own began earlier this year, with Google slated to be moving in in 2018. In contrast, the new headquarters will be designed and owned by Google, a first outside the United States.--more at TheGuardian.com

•  SpaceX seeks U.S. approval for internet-via-satellite network: an orbiting digital communications array that would eventually consist of 4,425 satellites--Reuters.com

•  Tencent Holding's (TCEHY) CEO Pony Ma on Q3 2016 Results | Earnings Call Transcript | Seeking Alpha.com"So, I think in terms of the mobile game business performance versus our expectations in the industry, we disclosed our mobile game revenue grew over 80% year-on-year. So you can assume that we're very happy with 80 something percent year-on-year revenue growth."

•  The Void Within Apple | SeekingAlpha.comNo one seems to be in overall charge of the product.

•  How Casino Technology Enables Gambling Addiction: "Modern slot machines develop an unbreakable hold on many players—some of whom wind up losing their jobs, their families, and even, as in the case of Scott Stevens, their lives."--TheAtlantic.com. Electronic gaming machines, which now number almost 1 million nationwide, are the prevalent mode of gambling today in the U.S., with variations on slots and video poker. This technology has accelerated gambling addiction and reaped huge profits for casino operators, with a significant amount of revenue coming from just a small percentage of customers playing machines designed to lull them into a trancelike state that the industry refers to as ‘continuous gaming productivity.’

•  Goodbye & Good Riddance: US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, known for combating Edward Snowden and lying under oath to Congress, resigns ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump--TheGuardian.com. See HasJamesClapperBeenIndictedYet.com.




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