Facebook fights fake news with author info, rolls out publisher context

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Red flags and “disputed” tags just entrenched people’s views about suspicious news articles, so Facebook is hoping to give readers a wide array of info so they can make their own decisions about what’s misinformation. Facebook will try showing links to a journalist’s Wikipedia entry, other articles, and a follow button to help users make up their mind about whether they’re a legitimate source of news. The test will show up to a subset of users in the U.S. when users click on the author’s name within an Instant Article if the author’s publisher has implemented Facebook’s author tags.

Meanwhile, Facebook is rolling out to everyone in the U.S. its test from October that gives readers more context about publications by showing links to their Wikipedia pages, related articles about the same topic, how many times the article has been shared and where, and a button for following the publisher within an “About This Article” button. Facebook will also start to show whether friends have shared the article, and a a snapshot of the publisher’s other recent articles.

Since much of this context can be algorithmically generated rather than relying on human fact checkers, the system could scale much more quickly to different languages and locations around the world.

These moves are designed to feel politically neutral to prevent Facebook from being accused of bias. After former contractors reported that they suppressed conservative Trending topics on Facebook in 2016, Facebook took a lot of heat for supposed liberal bias. That caused it to hesitate when fighting fake news before the 2016 Presidential election…and then spend the next two years dealing with the backlash for allowing misinformation to run rampant.

Newsroom: Article Context Launch Video

Posted by Facebook on Monday, April 2, 2018

Facebook’s partnerships with outside fact checkers that saw red Disputed flags added to debunked articles actually backfired. Those sympathetic to the false narrative saw the red flag as a badge of honor, clicking and sharing any way rather than allowing someone else to tell them they’re wrong.

That’s why today’s rollout and new test never confront users directly about whether an article, publisher, or author is propagating fake news. Instead Facebook hopes to build a wall of evidence as to whether a source is reputable or not.

If other publications have similar posts, the publisher or author have well-established Wikipedia articles to back up their integrity, and if the publisher’s other articles look legit, users could draw their own conclusion that they’re worth beleiving. But if there’s no Wikipedia links, other publications are contradicting them, no friends have shared it, and a publisher or author’s other articles look questionable too, Facebook might be able to incept the idea that the reader should be skeptical.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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[Update: New info on device] Facebook delays smart speaker reveal due to heightened privacy concerns

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Facebook has decided to delay the unveiling of a new line of smart speakers “in part because the public is currently so outraged about the social network’s data-privacy practices,” sources tell Bloomberg. The home devices were apparently planned to debut at Facebook’s developer conference in May, well ahead of their scheduled fall release date.

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[Update: New info on device] Facebook delays smart speaker reveal due to heightened privacy concerns was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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US visa applications may soon require five years of social media info

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The State Department wants to require all US visa applicants, both immigrant and non, disclose their social media handles to the US government, CNN reports. In documents that the department will file to the Federal Register tomorrow, it proposes that…
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Meizu E3 info leaks: specs to brag about at a modest price

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Details of the Meizu E3 have surfaced ahead of the scheduled March 21 unveiling. Not the best way to celebrate Meizu’s 15th birthday, but we’re not complaining. The E3 will join the 18:9 display movement with a 5.99″ 1080+ screen. Its body is made of metal with a noticeable indent on the side – that would be the fingerprint reader. Around the back there’s a 12MP + 20MP dual camera, which will allegedly use the Sony IMX363 image sensor used in the Zenfone 5z and (reportedly) in the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s. The Xiaomi connection is interesting, because this phone clearly has the Redmi 5 Plus in…

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ZenMate keeps you and your info protected and free online… and now, it’s just $49.99 for life

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If you’re looking for a more ringing endorsement for enlisting a VPN provider, look no further than the countries fighting against their use. In recent months, both Russia and China have taken strong stances against VPNs. China even asked Apple to remove VPN services from China’s App Store, according to Reuters. Countries intent on controlling and restricting the internet see VPNs for what they are: a way to travel cyberspace unshackled and uncensored. You can attain that level of freedom with a lifetime of ZenMate Premium service for just $ 49.99, an over 90 percent savings off its regular price, thanks…

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Microsoft Pix can add business card info to your contacts

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Microsoft's AI-powered camera app Pix just got a new feature. Now you can use it to upload all of the information on a business card into your iPhone Contacts as well as check out the person's LinkedIn account. All you have to do is open Pix and poin…
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Android P feature spotlight: App info gets changed up, with ‘Force stop’ and app version now hidden away

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Android P has already brought a lot of changes, including in the settings arena. But things in each application’s ‘App info’ have changed slightly as well; the ‘force stop’ button and version number have been hidden, though they’re luckily still accessible with an additional tap.

left: Android 8.1 Oreo. right: Android P.

The most immediately noticeable changes here are the losses of the blue color from the ‘Disable’ and ‘Force stop’ buttons, as well as the ‘Force stop’ button itself.

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Android P feature spotlight: App info gets changed up, with ‘Force stop’ and app version now hidden away was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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California to Introduce ‘Right to Repair’ Bill Requiring Smartphone Manufacturers to Offer Repair Info and Parts

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California is preparing to join several other states with a new Right to Repair bill, which will require smartphone manufacturers to provide repair information, replacement parts, and diagnostic tools to product owners and independent repair shops.

California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman this afternoon announced plans to introduce the new California Right to Repair Act. Eggman says the bill will provide consumers with the freedom to choose a repair shop of their choice.

iPhone X image via iFixit

“The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence,” Eggman said.

Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste said smartphone manufacturers and home appliance makers are “profiting at the expense of our environment and our pocketbooks” while Kit Walsh, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the new bill is “critical to protect independent repair shops and a competitive market for repair,” which will lead to “better service and lower prices.”

In addition to California, 17 other states have already introduced similar Right to Repair legislation, including Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Several states began introducing Right to Repair legislation early last year, and the Right to Repair movement has continued on since then, spurred by Apple’s iPhone throttling controversy.

Since last year, Apple has been lobbying against Right to Repair bills in various states, as have several other technology companies. In Nebraska, for example, Apple said approving Right to Repair would turn the state into a “mecca for bad actors” making it “easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska.” Other arguments from tech companies and appliance manufacturers have suggested Right to Repair bills would compromise device security and safety.

Right to Repair bills are heavily endorsed by repair outlets like iFixit, independent repair shops, and consumer advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In California specifically, the Right to Repair bill is particularly interesting because as Motherboard points out, there are strong repairability laws already in place. California Civil Code Section 1793.03 states that companies must offer parts for repair for at least seven years after a product is released, which is why on Apple’s vintage and obsolete products list, it lists California as the sole state where consumers can continue to get repairs on vintage products.

Apple currently requires customers who have Apple products in need of repair to visit an Apple retail store, mail a product to an Apple repair facility, or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to receive support for their devices. Repairs from third-party repair shops that are not Apple Authorized Service Providers can void a device’s warranty.

Apple’s current flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, earned a repairability score of 6 from repair site iFixit. Repairs on the device require a special Apple-specific screw driver, delicate cables are often in the way and are difficult to replace, and Apple’s waterproofing makes repairs complicated. Other Apple products, like MacBooks, have much lower repairability scores.

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Jaguar releases more info on its electric SUV, still no price

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After what seems like an eternity, Jaguar finally has pre-order information for its I-PACE crossover SUV, which looks to take on Elon Musk's Model X. The truck will be available to purchase starting today in a handful of trim options, but a delivery…
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Future Computers Will Process and Remember Info at the Same Time, Functioning More Like Real Brains

Brain-Like Computers

As much as it might seem like our computers are “thinking” as they perform human-like tasks, like recognizing our faces and predicting what we might say next, they don’t actually function like the human brain — at least not yet. Researchers at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering have developed a device known as the “memtransistor,” which performs both memory and information processing functions. This makes it remarkably similar to a neuron and unlike a computer, which can only complete these processes separately. The team’s work was recently published in the journal Nature.

An artist's depiction of the memtransistor, which looks something like a gray square computer chip, in between two halves of a "brain." Image Credit: Hersam Research Group
An artist’s depiction of the memtransistor in between two halves of a “brain.” Image Credit: Hersam Research Group

The memtransistor is essentially a combination of a memristor and a transistor. Memristors, or memory resistors, remember the voltage that has been applied to them but can only control a single voltage channel. By transforming such a memristor from a two-terminal to a three-terminal device in the memtransistor, the Northwestern team made this tech much more capable for complex circuits and systems.

Developing an efficient, working neural network that operates like the memtransistor would not only be more brain-like; it might also use less energy than digital computers, as it would eliminate the need to run two separate processes.

Transforming Tech

Study leader Mark C. Hersam clarified in a press release why the abilities of the memtransistor allow it to be more brain-like and effective, explaining: “…in the brain, we don’t usually have one neuron connected to only one other neuron. Instead, one neuron is connected to multiple other neurons to form a network. Our device structure allows multiple contacts, which is similar to the multiple synapses in neurons.”

The researchers believe that it will be relatively simple to scale up this technology for larger, practical use.

“Making dozens of devices, as we have done in our paper, is different than making a billion, which is done with conventional transistor technology today,” Hersam qualified. However, he added that: “Thus far, we do not see any fundamental barriers that will prevent further scale up of our approach.”

Whether this scale-up will actually take place is yet to be seen. But such technology could make the computers and smart devices that we interface with every day smarter and more capable, and even perhaps make them start to feel more organic and even human. It could also allow neural networks to advance and perhaps make futuristic tech like brain-computer interfaces much more possible.

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