From The Editors Technology

Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Create Global Utopia With Facebook

In a letter posted on Facebook this morning, Mark Zuckerberg plays savior as he addresses the global community with a 6000-word letter, outlining his growing concerns about the divided world we are living in and how Facebook can help create the perfect global community that is a win-win for all.

According to Facebook CEO, the world seems to be going in the opposite direction to the global community he had envisioned with the introduction of his social networking site.

With Trump pushing for stronger borders, his attempt to crackdown on immigrants with his Executive Order, and the U.K. opting out of the European Union he feels that the Facebook mission of keeping the world harmoniously connected is in jeopardy AND it is Facebook that can come to the rescue of the global communities.

“When we began, this idea was not controversial,” he explains. Every year, the world got more connected and this was seen as a positive trend. Yet now, across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection.”

Zuckerberg goes on to talk about his fanciful and ambitious plans of creating a utopian world community by providing an ideal platform, read Facebook, to crack down on unwanted elements like terrorists, fake news and propaganda proponents with the help of technology such as Artificial Intelligence, new tools to “encourage thoughtful civic engagement” and “additional perspectives and information” in news feeds.

Don’t forget that Facebook and a few others were on the receiving end of some hard criticism on the role they played in the outcome of the US presidential election by encouraging fake news and propaganda on their social platforms.

Although Mark Zuckerberg had played down Facebook’s role in the eventual result of the 2016 election, “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,” he had also gone on to say, “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.”

Coming back to the letter, without speaking about the business aspects of Facebook, he talks about ways Facebook seeks to reverse the trend that is going against his “global community” vision.

He speaks about how Facebook could help people build “supportive communities”, “safe community”, “smart community”, “informed community”, “civically-engaged community”, and “inclusive community” and goes on to elaborate at length on each of these areas of concern.

Zuckerberg, however, does realize that elaborate plans such as the ones he has in mind will take a long time to implement and, perhaps, even longer to see them come to fruition. This, he makes very clear at the outset itself.

“This is a time when many of us around the world are reflecting on how we can have the most positive impact. I am reminded of my favorite saying about technology: “We always overestimate what we can do in two years, and we underestimate what we can do in ten years.” We may not have the power to create the world we want immediately, but we can all start working on the long term today. In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.

From The Editors Technology

Facebook Finally Takes Initiatives to Discourage Fake News

Soon after Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, Facebook came under fire for causing the upset result by allowing the spread of fake news on its social networking site.

Initially reluctant to admit Facebook’s role in the poll results, which according to Mark Zuckerberg was a minuscule percentage and had no bearing on the election outcome, the world’s most popular social networking site has announced measures that would go a long way in discouraging the spread of hoaxes and fake news.

Although Facebook and Google had earlier announced their intentions of incorporating measures to disallow the spread of fake news on their respective platforms ( Read more Facebook and Google Come Down Hard on Fake News Websites ), Mark Zuckerberg’s most recent Facebook post in this regard speaks about incorporating meaningful measures to do away with hoaxes and fake news on his site.

Speaking broadly about the strategy being implemented, he wrote:

“Today we’re making it easier to report hoaxes, and if many people report a story, then we’ll send it to third-party fact-checking organizations. If the fact checkers agree a story is a hoax, you’ll see a flag on the story saying it has been disputed, and that story may be less likely to show up in News Feed. You’ll still be able to read and share the story, but you’ll now have more information about whether fact checkers believe it’s accurate. No one will be able to make a disputed story into an ad or promote it on our platform.”

According to information provided by Facebook’s newsroom on December 15, they cannot act as “arbiters of truth” and hence the solution to the problem had to be approached carefully.

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

Basically, according to the update, there are four areas that need to be worked on “Easier Reporting,” “Flagging Stories as Disputed,” “Informed Sharing,” and, “Disrupting Financial Incentives for Spammers”.

On the “Easier Reporting” aspect of the four-pronged strategy, the Facebook team is experimenting different ways of making hoax and fake news reporting easier for users. Facebook believes that they have to rely heavily on the FB community to help it “detect more fake news.”

The other area of work in this regard is “Flagging Stories as Disputed.” Flagging a story as disputed, hoax or fake is not easy work; hence, third party involvement becomes essential.

“We’ve started a program to work with third-party fact-checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles,” writes Adam Mosseri, VP of News Feed.

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

In simple terms what this means is, once a news or story has been identified as disputed (fake, hoax) by the fact-finding third party, it will get flagged as ‘disputed.’

In addition, for better user understanding, one would guess, a link providing access to information on the “why” of the dispute, will also be provided.

“Informed Sharing,” is the third area of activity as far as Facebook’s endeavour toward tackling the menace is concerned. Again community involvement is of prime importance – Facebook can only indicate and warn.

Last, but by no means the least, is the “Disrupting Financial Incentives for Spammers” area that is being tackled on war footing. In fact, one is forced to think that this is the most important of the four because the monetary gain is the biggest reason for most disputed stuff on different sites, FB included.

“It’s important to us that the stories you see on Facebook are authentic and meaningful. We’re excited about this progress, but we know there’s more to be done. We’re going to keep working on this problem for as long as it takes to get it right,” concluded the FB newsroom piece on the subject.

From The Editors Technology

Facebook and Google Come Down Hard on Fake News Websites

Over mounting criticism of encouraging fake news on their sites, Facebook and Google have announced measures to eliminate the use of their ad platforms for fake news. A barrage of accusations started coming in soon after the election results because many felt that Facebook and Google may have influenced the results of the recently concluded U.S. elections.

Fake news websites make money by directing traffic to their sites through the Facebook and Google’s ad platforms. Both the internet giants have admitted, to some extent, that their sites may have been misused, but announced on Monday that concrete steps would be taken to disallow such sites to take advantage of their sites.

Google said on Monday that they will take steps to disallow websites that “misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose.” They already have a strict ban in place for pornography and hate sites.

Despite the announcement that necessary action will be taken to discourage fake news on FB, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was reluctant to admit that FB had a role in the outcome of the elections.

Speaking to interviewer David Kirkpatrick at the “Technonomy” conference, he 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.”

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

On a Facebook post of November 12, Zuckerberg wrote, “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.”

Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook played no real role in influencing the outcome of the presidential election
Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook played no real role in influencing the outcome of the presidential election

Both the companies in question have, according to numerous statements they have made, have updated their policies to ban false news sites from taking advantage of their advertising platforms. While Google’s advertising placement service is called AdSense, the Facebook Audience Network.” “FAN” lets brands advertise through this medium.

The source for making illegal profits by these fake and hoax news sites would diminish considerably if not totally eliminated by the new ad policies introduced by both Google and Facebook. A Google spokeswoman said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal, “We clearly didn’t get it right, but we are continually working to improve our algorithms”.

Mark Zuckerberg in a 13 Nov post wrote, “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.”

Facebook and Google users and fans should appreciate the efforts being made by both the companies to weed out the menace of fake news. Who would want to be directed to a fake news site!? It’s going to be a tough challenge ahead of Google and Facebook to deliver on their pledges.