from the that-didn't-work-out-quite-like-we-hoped dept.
Google has apologized on behalf of its algorithm(s), which promoted a fake news story identifying the wrong man as the recent Las Vegas shooter:
After yesterday's mass shooting in Las Vegas, Google briefly gave its "Top Stories" stamp of approval to two 4chan threads identifying (and triumphantly smearing) the wrong man as the shooter. Google apologized for including "inaccurate" web pages in its top results, saying that its algorithm had spotted a burst of activity around a little-used search term (the name of 4chan's so-called suspect), created a Top Stories carousel, and favored "fresh" content there above more authoritative sources.
This is far from the first time Google's search results have purveyed misinformation. In March, it finally instructed human quality raters — who manually evaluate web pages to train the Search algorithm — to flag offensive and factually incorrect material, which Search could then downgrade for users seeking general information about a topic. As the 4chan incident shows, though, it still has blind spots. And that's not really because of a problem with Google's algorithm. It's happening because Google's core business has never been about defining truth — yet that's what Top Stories is implicitly promising.
Facebook also promoted the "fresh" content:
[A] story by the pro-Trump political website "The Gateway Pundit" named a different person as the shooter, citing a Facebook page to claim the individual was "a far left loon" and "a Democrat who liked (MSNBC host) Rachel Maddow." Posters on the anonymous, anarchic 4chan.org forum likewise trumpeted supposed findings that the same individual was both the shooter and a "social democrat." BuzzFeed saved screenshots of the stories, which no longer turn up on either Gateway Pundit or 4chan.
[...] Facebook said its security team removed Gateway Pundit results and other similar posts from its social network, some within minutes. But because that removal was "delayed," the company said, images of the incorrect story were captured and circulated online.
"We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.
Also at BBC.
Previously: Over 50 dead in mass shooting in Las Vegas
A gunman fired upon thousands of people attending a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night, in a brutal attack that is blamed for at least 58 deaths, police say. In the mass shooting and panic that ensued, 515 people were injured. At least one of the dead is an off-duty police officer who was attending the concert.
Editorializing: Interesting how media always emphasize ISLAMIC terrorists, but downplay domestic terrorism as psychologically disturbed individual lone-wolfs.
Facebook has released guidelines for publishers who want to appear in the "news feed":
Facebook has released new guidelines that outline how publishers can adapt to the company's efforts to fight back against fake/false news and other low-quality content.
Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri unveiled the guidelines at an event this morning at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where he said they don't represent any changes to Facebook's approach — they're just a way for publishers to understand the strategy.
He added that Facebook's efforts in this area are "targeted at bad actors." But for legitimate publishers, the guidelines can still be important to "make sure you don't get caught up in the crosshairs."
Publishers have panicked at recent news feed changes:
The new feature Facebook is trying out is called Explore. It offers all sorts of stories it thinks might interest you, a separate news feed encouraging you to look further afield than just at what your friends are sharing. Meanwhile, for most people, the standard News Feed remains the usual mixture of baby photos and posts from companies or media organisations whose pages you have liked.
Sounds fine, doesn't it? Except that in six countries - Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia - the experiment went further. For users there, the main News Feed was cleared of everything but the usual stuff from your friends and sponsored posts - in other words, if you wanted to have your material seen in the place most users spend their time you had to pay for the privilege.
In a Medium post entitled "Biggest drop in organic reach we've ever seen", a Slovakian journalist Filip Struharik documented the impact. Publishers in his country were seeing just a quarter of the interactions they used to get before the change, he said. What had become a vital and vibrant platform for them was emptying out fast. Other journalists around the world have looked into the future and hate what they see. Their organisations have become addicted to Facebook as the one true way of reaching audiences and going cold turkey would be very painful.
Previously: The Tentacles of Facebook
Facebook is Going to Let Publishers Start Charging Readers to View Stories this Autumn
Google, Facebook Algorithms Promote 4chan Threads Identifying Wrong Man as Vegas Shooter