Posts Tagged “fake news”
My sister, whose political slant is irrelevant, has a common lament. “Who can you believe these days?” Indeed, those days where 90 percent of news consumption was provided by the Big 3 (ABC, NBC, and CBS) evening news programs are so far in the past that the younger generations have no reference to objective reporting in that tradition. Back in those days, a reporter had an honorable and now bygone standard.
If your reporting showed your political bias then you are not doing your job.
My how things have changed. Today, those days of Walter Kronkite (and anchors like him) where the principal message was the facts has almost completely eroded into advocacy journalism. On the extreme side of this, which ironically has gone mainstream (it’s very confusing), an entire network — FoxNews — no longer even pretends to be objective. Yet, at the same time, its audience still thinks they are getting objective journalism. In fact, so overt is FoxNew’s alignment to the Trump administration that the likes of Sean Hannity act as a shadow “chief of staff” to the president, meeting and advising him sometimes daily while, at the same time, reporting on matters in which he is directly involved and clearly influencing. How anyone can call this journalism is beyond me. But this is the era we live in.
Featured article: Artificial Intelligence.
On the other side of the mainstream spectrum, the legacy of Kronkite survives (albeit as an endangered species) through the dry and unemotional delivery of the Mr. Spock-like Wolf Blitzer. How do we know this? As yourself the same question journalists used to ask themselves. Can you identify Blitzer’s politics by the way he reports? Not really.
Between Hannity and Blitzer is filled-in with right-leaning advocacy journalism, although CNN is still considered centrist (only slightly to the left of center) whereas MSNBC is clearly left-of-center and undeniably advocating for the left.
But political slant is one thing. Getting to the truth, however, is often transcendant of political bias. After all, like my sister, honest seekers of the truth are still out there searching for the facts. Fortunately, FactCheck.org has provided a helpful guide (video) for bringing skepticism to your news consumption, and how to avoid spreading it.
The bottom line is this. Make sure you are getting news that is actually real. From there, choose your poison.
By Diane Israel
It’s about time. For many, say around 40 percent of the U.S. voting population, there are but two expressions of news. FoxNews and everyone else, with much derision, referred to by president Trump and many others as, Fake News. Similarly, the Robert Mueller III investigation into, among other things, Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, there is no longer any doubt that the Russians did indeed meddle, and meddle big time, creating Fake social personas, pages, events and Facebook advertising to create as much political division as possible with the hopes of a prescient Trump victory.
To counteract at least some of this mayhem, Israeli and American researchers have developed a method to detect fake user accounts on Twitter, Facebook and many other social networks.
Although not exactly a product, but an algorithm which can detect unusual link building that does not unfold in the way a human would do, it automatically flags these improbable links.
“With recent disturbing news about failures to safeguard user privacy, and targeted use of social media by Russia to influence elections, rooting out fake users has never been of greater importance,” said Dima Kagan, lead researcher and a PhD student in BGU’s department of software and information systems engineering.
The algorithm consists of two main iterations based on machine-learning algorithms.
- The first constructs a link prediction classifier that can estimate, with high accuracy, the probability of a link existing between two users.
- The second iteration generates a new set of meta-features based on the features created by the link prediction classifier.
The algorithm can also be used to reveal the influential people in social networks, but how it does it is still a mystery that compels additional scrutiny.
The irony is that human deceipt and meddling may have met its match, and not by any populist pushback, but rather, through an ethical algorithm. Perhaps the time has come whereby what’s wrong with human behavior can be best countermeasured by ethically-minded data mining. Of course, countermeasures to the countermeasure should be expected to follow suit. And maybe this is the future of artificial intelligence with automation serving as proxies to our moral dilemmas.