April 2017

Facebook Announces Further Steps to Block the Purposeful Spread of Misinformation

Facebook recently announced that they are going to be stepping up the level of protection for their platform as they work to further eliminate the spread of fake news. Specifically, Facebook has decided to target Information Operations which are typically started with the goal of spreading misinformation to manipulate political sentiment. While the initial users in these operations are working to spread the information purposefully, real users often get caught up in the operation and take part unknowingly. Facebook has already begun to use different tools to prevent this, which have succeeded in identifying 30,000 fake accounts that Facebook was able to take action against.

Facebook’s focus on preventing these accounts from operating within their platform stems from the fact that hackers used Facebook as a tool for spreading misinformation during the U.S. election. Facebook’s plan to prevent this in the future, includes using new tools to identify strange behavior. They have created algorithms which can block bots from creating fake accounts and others that can recognize when accounts post the same item again and again or send a huge number of messages.


Preventing these Information Operations is something that is more complex than fighting traditional scammers and hackers. This is why Facebook has had to spend time working on creating tools to identify false accounts so that Facebook can suspend them or delete the accounts. These tools include machine learning software and tools that encompass intelligence-agency level analysis. The hope is to prevent the unnatural spread of false information before it reaches real accounts that begin spreading it further.


Facebook has stated that they’ll be doing more to stop the spread of fake news through their platform. They intend Facebook to be a place for people to engage and communicate much more authentically. As fake accounts and the spread of false information can drown out real conversation, they are determined to eliminate this as much as possible by creating new tools to identify and shut down these practices.

Instagram’s Newest Feature Makes it Easy to Organize Saved Posts

instagramWhile Instagram has allowed users to save posts since December, until now there has been no real organization in the way that the different posts are saved in your personal collection. As part of the newest update to Instagram, users will now be able to save these posts into specific collections. This will make it so that Instagram users will be able to organize all the posts they save rather than having a jumble of various saved posts in their collection.


To save posts to new categories, you just have to tap and hold the bookmark icon beneath any post. Instagram will then allow you to either create and name a new collection or to add this post to any existing collections. By separating saved posts into categories, users will be able to go into their collection later on and to find the posts that they saved much more easily. This can make things easier when users are sharing posts with friends or just trying to look back and something that they saved.


This new feature will make it easier for users to store recipes, outfit ideas, and so much more in their collection without everything being lost in the jumble. Since many users may already have a lot of posts saved to their collection, they’ll be glad to find that there is a way to sort existing posts that have been saved. Users can sort these posts into collections by clicking the plus sign in the upper right corner of the screen and adding a new collection and then choosing which posts to add to this category as well.


These new collections will show up under the saved posts tab on your Instagram profile. The collections will remain private and visible only to you just as they were before. Many users have started to compare the new feature to Pinterest, where people are able to save pins and sort them into a variety of categories so it is easy for them to find them and to view them at a later point in time. Instagram users who like to save a lot of different posts will be especially glad to have this feature to use.

Twitter’s Update Prevents @Usernames from Counting Toward Character Limits in Replies

conversationOver the past year, Twitter has made many moves to prevent their 140-character limit from being too limiting to users. This has meant making it so that pictures and videos don’t count toward the 140-character limit on tweets. In Twitter’s latest update, it has begun preventing @username tags from limiting characters left when replying to posts. This allows users to have more characters to give to their reply rather than having characters eaten up by tags.


Instead of having to add @username to a reply tweet, users will now be able to tap on a button labeled “Replying to…” to manage which people are part of this conversation. This will make it so that the username will appear above the text of the Tweet rather than as a part of it, giving you more of your 140-character limit to use in the reply.


This change is going to make it so that conversations between two or more people on Twitter can move a lot more smoothly. People won’t have to look at the clutter of @username tags on the beginning of the tweet when they are trying to read a conversation. This should help to clear up conversation and make it easier for people to communicate thorough twitter.


The main goal of the update is to make it so that Twitter is a place where conversation is allowed to flow a lot more easily and naturally. Despite this goal, some people worry that this new feature will allow reply tweets to become a lot more spam like in quality. People will be able to post replies to a wide number of people much more easily as these tags don’t count against the character count.

Facebook Adds New Tools to Prevent the Spread of Revenge Porn

facebookOne of the problems that Facebook has faced in the past is the spread of pictures within their various platforms. The way that Facebook sharing and the internet in general work can make it challenging to stop the spread of an image once it is out there. This can be frustrating and unpleasant for people who have their pictures being distributed without permission. Facebook has recently been working on tools that can help prevent the spread of these different images and especially of what is often called “revenge porn.”


Initially Facebook had been controlling the spread of these images simply by having users report them and then removing them as they appeared. The main problem with this was that the images would still continue to spread as people would see them and share them or save them before the image could be reported. For this reason, Facebook has extended the tools it uses. They will now be using image matching software to find images that have been previously reported and removed. When someone tries to post this image or send it to another user, they will automatically receive an alert saying that the content violates Facebook policy.


Some people have voiced concern about how this software will work. Many are worried about the way that the images will be stored so that Facebook can use them with photo matching software. Facebook says that the images will be kept for a certain period of time, but then they will be reduced to data that is essentially the image’s virtual fingerprint. Photos cannot be reconstructed from this information, allowing for greater privacy. Images that are stored temporarily will have parts blurred out to further protect privacy.


It is likely that a recent case involving a young girl in which Facebook was found to have fault for failing to prevent the spread of these images has contributed to Facebook’s desire to control these different types of images better. While pictures will still have to be reported initially, Facebook will be able to use software to prevent the images from appearing again within their various platforms.

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