Facebook Fake News Fact Checking to Increase

Facebook is to send more potential hoax articles to third-party fact checkers and show their findings below the original post, the world’s largest online social network said on Thursday as it tries to fight so-called fake news.

The company said in a statement on its website it will start using updated machine learning to detect possible hoaxes and send them to fact checkers, potentially showing fact-checking results under the original article.

Facebook has been criticised as being one of the main distribution points for so-called fake news, which many think influenced the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook Fake News Fact Checking to IncreaseThe issue has also become a big political topic in Europe, with French voters deluged with false stories ahead of the presidential election in May and Germany backing a plan to fine social media networks if they fail to remove hateful postings promptly, ahead of elections there in September.

On Thursday Facebook said in a separate statement in German that a test of the new fact-checking feature was being launched in the United States, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

“In addition to seeing which stories are disputed by third-party fact checkers, people want more context to make informed decisions about what they read and share,” said Sara Su, Facebook news feed product manager, in a blog.

She added that Facebook would keep testing its “related article” feature and work on other changes to its news feed to cut down on false news.

Google Offered to Buy Snapchat Parent for $30 Billion: Report

Search engine giant Google had offered $30 billion (roughly Rs. 1,91,044 crores) to buy Snap – the parent company of popular messaging app Snapchat – in 2016 and a similar offer is still open, a media report said.

Google had held informal dialogue with Snap and floated an offer of $30 billion before the latter’s last funding round, said a report in Business Insider on Thursday.

“One person claimed Google and Snap also had discussions about a potential buyout just ahead of Snap’s initial public offering earlier this year, and that an offer in the ballpark of $30 billion has continued to be on the table since the IPO. Chatter that Snap passed up a chance to sell to Google for at least twice its current value could be especially painful for investors and employees grappling with the company’s sinking stock,” the report notes.

Google Offered to Buy Snapchat Parent for $30 Billion: ReportSnap’s CEO Evan Spiegel, who is widely considered as being independent, apparently did not show interest in selling his firm to Google or anybody else.

Spiegel also values running Snap in Southern California and outside of Silicon Valley, where Alphabet – Google’s parent company is headquartered.

Earlier, in 2013, Google was rumoured to have been tried to acquire Snapchat for $4 billion after Spiegel refused an offer from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the report added.

Snap is set to announce earnings report next week, its second since going public at $17 just four months ago.

Facebook Bid to Fight Fake News, Related Articles, Rolls Out More Broadly

After receiving positive feedback on how ‘Related Articles’ helped people determine whether the news they are reading is misleading or false, Facebook has now rolled out the feature more broadly.

According to a report in TechCrunch on Friday, the feature is rolling out in the US, Germany, France and the Netherlands, because Facebook already has partner fact checkers in those countries.

“It might take a while to reach other locations, depending on how quickly Facebook can cut deals with local fact checkers worldwide,” the report added.

‘Related Articles’ was launched in 2013 to help people discover new articles they may find interesting about the same topic.

Facebook Bid to Fight Fake News, Related Articles, Rolls Out More BroadlyThese articles appear in News Feed after people read an article.

Earlier this year, Facebook added articles in this section that provided people easier access to additional perspectives and information, including articles by third-party fact checkers.

In a blog post, Facebook on Thursday said it will start using updated machine learning to detect more potential hoaxes to send to third-party fact checkers.

“If an article has been reviewed by fact checkers, we may show the fact checking stories below the original post. In addition to seeing which stories are disputed by third-party fact checkers, people want more context to make informed decisions about what they read and share,” Facebook said.

The company said it will continue testing updates to “Related Articles” and other ongoing News Feed efforts to show less false news on Facebook and provide people context if they see false news.

Facebook Translation Services Now Use AI-Based Neural Networks Instead

To improve the quality of translations on its platform, Facebook has infused artificial intelligence (AI) into its translation services that account for more than 2,000 translation directions and 4.5 billion translations each day.

With over two billion users, Facebook supports over 45 languages.

“We recently switched from using phrase-based machine translation models to neural networks to power all of our back-end translation systems,” the company said in a blog post late on Thursday.

“These new models provide more accurate and fluent translations, improving people’s experience consuming Facebook content that is not written in their preferred language,” it added.

According to Facebook, their previous phrase-based statistical techniques were useful but they also had limitations.

“One of the main drawbacks of phrase-based systems is that they break down sentences into individual words or phrases, and, thus, when producing translations, they can consider only several words at a time,” the researchers said.

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This leads to difficulty translating between languages with markedly different word orderings.

To remedy this and build our neural network systems, Facebook started with a type of recurrent neural network known as sequence-to-sequence LSTM (long short-term memory) with attention.

Such a network can take into account the entire context of the source sentence and everything generated so far, to create more accurate and fluent translations.

“With the new system, we saw an average relative increase of 11 percent in BLEU ((bilingual evaluation understudy) – a widely used metric for judging the accuracy of machine translation – across all languages compared with the phrase-based systems,” the team noted.

The Facebook AI Research (FAIR) team recently published research on using convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for machine translation.

“We worked closely with FAIR to bring this technology from research to production systems for the first time, which took less than three months,” the blog post read.

FAIR was recently in news for reportedly shutting down one of its AI systems as chatbots defied the human-generated algorithms and started communicating in their own language.

FAIR team later denied such reports, saying that that while the idea of AI agents inventing their own language may sound alarming/unexpected to people outside the field, it is a well-established sub-field of AI, with publications dating back decades.

“Simply put, agents in environments attempting to solve a task will often find unintuitive ways to maximise reward. Analysing the reward function and changing the parameters of an experiment is NOT the same as ‘unplugging’ or ‘shutting down AI’,” FAIR researcher Dhruv Batra said in the post.

“If that were the case, every AI researcher has been ‘shutting down AI’ every time they kill a job on a machine,” he added.

WhatsApp Tests Facebook-Style Coloured Text Status Feature: Report

Late last year, Facebook started rolling out coloured statuses on its Android app that allowed users to write their status update with a colourful background, font, and emoji combination. Now, the same feature has been spotted on WhatsApp as well, and while currently it’s in beta, it can be expected to arrive for all users soon.

Android Police was first tipped about this feature, and it is showing up in Android beta version 2.17.291. The report states that even though you might be on this latest version on the WhatsApp Android beta app, it is possible that you may not see this feature. It is presumably a server side switch from WhatsApp’s end, so only select users are seeing it now even in beta. We can’t see it either. In any case, few users are now seeing a floating pen icon in the Status tab at the bottom of the screen, right above the camera icon. Clicking on the pen icon brings up the option to type a status, choose a font, emoji, and the background colour as well.

When you’re done writing the status and making the necessary changes, you can then hit the green arrow key to send the text status, just like how you send media content now. The status will then be published on WhatsApp for all your contacts to see.

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Photo Credit: Android Police

The revamped WhatsApp Status feature was launched in February, and has managed to achieve more than 250 million daily active users in such a short span, much more than what Snapchat itself enjoys currently.

You can check if you’re seeing this coloured text status feature by enrolling yourself for the Android beta program, and updating to the latest version. Alternatively, you can download the latest APK Mirror from here.

Facebook to Feature Local Politicians’ Posts in News Feed to Aid Civic Engagement

Amid allegations of fake news on Facebook affecting election results, social networking giant Facebook is testing a feature that slips “top posts” from local politician’s into your News Feed.

The feature will appear not more than once per week, and only for users who follow at least one local, state or federal representative from their area, Recode reported on Friday.

“We are testing a new civic engagement feature that shows people on Facebook the top posts from their elected officials,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“Our goal is to give people a simple way to learn about what’s happening at all levels of their government,” the spokesperson added.

this week in government facebook recode facebook

Photo Credit: Recode

But what you see would not be based on political affiliation.

The social networking site will only slip posts with highest engagement regardless of political party, according to the spokesperson.

Facebook has been trying to get its user base involved in politics for some time now. This new feature is expected to encourage more politicians to be social media savvy.

Facebook Groups App to Be Discontinued on September 1

Facebook’s standalone Groups app, meant for heavy users of its Groups feature, is not a very popular app and this is why it wouldn’t come as a surprise to many that the social media company has finally decided to discontinue the app. On September 1, Facebook Groups app will be discontinued and the company will improve the Groups features within the main app itself.

While it is currently unclear how Facebook will be improving the Groups experience within the main app, starting next month, the Groups app will cease to exist, as pointed out in a report by Android Police. In its note to app users, Facebook said, “Thanks for using the Groups app. On September 1, this app will be going away so we can focus on improving groups experience in the main Facebook app.”

Facebook Groups App to Be Discontinued on September 1Facebook further assured users that their groups are not going away and that they will still be able to access them from the main app. The company said that it is currently working towards making the Groups experience even better in the main app. While we will have to wait and see if the company will be able to keep the current app users happy with its addition to the main app, hopefully the company will be able to do so without affecting the user experience of the main Facebook app.

Currently, the Facebook Groups app is available on both Android and iOS.

Recently, Facebook surpassed Microsoft and Google’s parent company Alphabet in terms of profit per employee for 2017. Facebook, as per a report by Recode, made $188,498 (roughly Rs. 1.2 crores) per employee.

Blue Whale Game: What Is It in 6 Points

In what could be one of the strangest things you would ever come across, there is an Internet trend growing in popularity that encourages its participants to hurt themselves in real life. Called the Blue Whale game, this 50-day challenge requires participants to receive instructions from an anonymous administrator, and their final task is to commit suicide. As horrible as it may sound, the mysterious Blue Whale game has been in existence for at least four years. Over 100 deaths in China, United States, and other countries have been linked to this challenge over the years. At least two recent deaths in Indiahave been linked to this sick challenge as well.

Blue Whale Game: What Is It in 6 PointsHere’s what you need to know about this challenge.

  1. Last month a 9th standard student in Andheri in Mumbai jumped to death, apparently because of the Blue Whale game. A 7th standard student in MP jumped off a third floor this week.
  2. The Blue Whale challenge is not a video game. It is simply a set of instructions, like a chain letter, but made viral with social media.
  3. Social media savvy teens have discovered this challenge from different hashtags on Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
  4. Networks like Tumblr and YouTube are now trying to help by showing suicide prevention groups contacts when users post Blue Whale related keywords.
  5. The challenge was created by Philipp Budeikin, a 22-year-old Russian, who directly handed out instructions to some children. In an interview this year, he said he made the game to “clean society,” as people who participated in it were “biological waste.” He has been jailed for three years. It remains unclear who is the current administrator now, and how many of them exist.
  6. It gets its name from beached whales, that get stranded and die. Reports of deaths linked to the Blue Whale game go back to 2015, and started in Russia..

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger May Still Put User Information at Risk, Claims Study

Do you know that despite the end-to-end encryption provided by popular messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber, your sensitive information is vulnerable to hacking?

A research report has highlighted the importance of what is called an ‘authentication ceremony’ to help mitigate the risk.

Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) at Utah in the US found that most users of popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber are leaving themselves exposed to fraud or hacking because they are unaware of important security options like an ‘authentication ceremony’.

The ‘authentication ceremony’ is a security practice to ensure the members involved in a communication are authentic. It is done by identifying the message recipient before sending out any sensitive or confidential information.

But because most users are unaware of the ‘ceremony’ and its importance, “it is possible that a malicious third party or man-in-the-middle attacker can eavesdrop on their conversations”, said Elham Vaziripour, Computer Science student at BYU who led the study.

The researchers conducted a two-phase experiment in which they prompted participants to share a credit card number with another participant. Participants were warned about potential threats and encouraged to make sure their messages were confidential.

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger May Still Put User Information at Risk, Claims StudyOnly 14 percent of users in the first phase managed to successfully authenticate their recipient. Others opted for ad-hoc security measures like asking their partners for details about a shared experience.

In the second phase, after researchers emphasised the importance of ‘authentication ceremonies’, 79 percent of users were able to successfully authenticate the other party.

However, the participants averaged 11 minutes to authenticate their partners.

“Once we told people about the authentication ceremonies, most people could do it. But it was not simple, people were frustrated and it took them too long,” noted Daniel Zappala, Professor, Computer Science, BYU.

Most people don’t invest the time and effort to understand and use these security measures because they don’t experience significant security problems. But there’s always a risk in online communications.

The researchers are now working to develop a mechanism that makes the ‘authentication ceremony’ quick and automatic.

“If we can perform the authentication ceremony behind the scenes for users automatically or effortlessly, we can address these problems without necessitating user education,” said Vaziripour.

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger May Still Put User Information at Risk, Claims Study

Do you know that despite the end-to-end encryption provided by popular messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber, your sensitive information is vulnerable to hacking?

A research report has highlighted the importance of what is called an ‘authentication ceremony’ to help mitigate the risk.

Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) at Utah in the US found that most users of popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber are leaving themselves exposed to fraud or hacking because they are unaware of important security options like an ‘authentication ceremony’.

The ‘authentication ceremony’ is a security practice to ensure the members involved in a communication are authentic. It is done by identifying the message recipient before sending out any sensitive or confidential information.

But because most users are unaware of the ‘ceremony’ and its importance, “it is possible that a malicious third party or man-in-the-middle attacker can eavesdrop on their conversations”, said Elham Vaziripour, Computer Science student at BYU who led the study.

The researchers conducted a two-phase experiment in which they prompted participants to share a credit card number with another participant. Participants were warned about potential threats and encouraged to make sure their messages were confidential.

Only 14 percent of users in the first phase managed to successfully authenticate their recipient. Others opted for ad-hoc security measures like asking their partners for details about a shared experience.

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger May Still Put User Information at Risk, Claims StudyIn the second phase, after researchers emphasised the importance of ‘authentication ceremonies’, 79 percent of users were able to successfully authenticate the other party.

However, the participants averaged 11 minutes to authenticate their partners.

“Once we told people about the authentication ceremonies, most people could do it. But it was not simple, people were frustrated and it took them too long,” noted Daniel Zappala, Professor, Computer Science, BYU.

Most people don’t invest the time and effort to understand and use these security measures because they don’t experience significant security problems. But there’s always a risk in online communications.

The researchers are now working to develop a mechanism that makes the ‘authentication ceremony’ quick and automatic.

“If we can perform the authentication ceremony behind the scenes for users automatically or effortlessly, we can address these problems without necessitating user education,” said Vaziripour.