Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Challenges of Fake News, Algorithms and more

  • On Nov. 12, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “After the election, many people are asking whether fake news contributed to the result, and what our responsibility is to prevent fake news from spreading. These are very important questions and I care deeply about getting them right. I want to do my best to explain what we know here … Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. 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 … That said, we don't want any hoaxes on Facebook. Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful, and people want accurate news. We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here. We have made progress, and we will continue to work on this to improve further.”
  • Addressing concerns about a fake story in its news feed, Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville, said “The goal of search is to provide the most relevant and useful results for our user… in this case, we clearly didn’t get it right, but we are continually working to improve our algorithms.”
  • On Nov. 17, U.S. President Barak Obama said “Because in an age where there’s so much active misinformation and it's packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television … If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.”
  • On Oct. 25, German chancellor Angela Merkel said “I’m of the opinion, that algorithms must be made more transparent, so that one can inform oneself as an interested citizen about questions like, ‘What influences my behavior on the internet and that of others?’ Algorithms, when they are not transparent, can lead to a distortion of our perception; they can shrink our expanse of information.”
  • Regarding fake news – Any automated process used to identify “fake” or biased news will likely introduce its own set of biased outcomes.  As a result, users should take a more active role in understanding the integrity of their news sources.
  • Regarding algorithms – Algorithms can help manage tasks ranging from the repetitive to the complex.  Requests for more checks and balances to improve system design and minimize biased logic will likely increase.


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