Tag: news

Facebook says it will reduce fake news

funny-pictures-auto-news-france-387930Facebook said  it will update its social media platforms in Germany within weeks to reduce the dissemination of fake news.

German Justice Minister Heiko Mass has repeatedly called on Facebook to respect laws against defamation in Germany that are stricter than those in the United States.

The Germans are worried that fake news and “hate speech” on the internet could influence a parliamentary election in September in which chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office.

Now a Facebook note said the company would make it easier to report items suspected to be fake news and work with external fact-checking organisations.

“Last month we announced measures to tackle the challenge of fake news on Facebook,” the U.S. technology company’s German-language newsroom said.

“We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.”

Its partners will be required to sing the U.S. Poynter International Fact-Checking Code of Principles, it said. Warning signs would be attached to reports identified as noncredible, and the reasons for the decision given.

Facebook would also make it impossible for spammers to forge the websites of reputable news agencies, it said.


Zuckerburg promises to fight fake news

what-we-learned-about-facebook-ceo-mark-zucke-L-gl5gYRChief chicken strangler at the social notworking site Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, has revealed what his outfit is doing to avoid fake news appearing on his site.

During the last election the site was flooded with news which was just made up and is sometimes dubbed “satire” when it is as funny as a road accident.

Writing in his bog, Zuckerburg said that Facebook took misinformation seriously and its  goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful.

“We know people want accurate information. We’ve been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We’ve made significant progress, but there is more work to be done,” he said.

Normally Facebook just relied on the members of the site to tell them what is fake and what is not. But there is the small matter of letting people share what they want whenever possible.

“We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties,” he said.

Facebook is bringing in some stronger detection systems, easier reporting, and third party checking services. The plan is to labeli stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.

A big chunk of the false news industry is driven by financially motivated spam. Facebook was looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies land better ad farm detection.

Google brings the fact check tag to news

surprised-newspaper-readerSearch engine outfit Google has added a new “Fact check” tag to Google News, which it will apply to stories from select outlets that follow a specific protocol.

The tag will join an array of others that Google already uses to highlight certain types of articles, including “in-depth,” “highly cited,” and “local source”.

Google will not be fact-checking anything, except perhaps the qualifications of publications that would like to make their stories eligible for the tag. To get this particular qualification a site has to demonstrate that it is nonpartisan and that their reporting follows fact-checking conventions.

For those who came in late that means identifying the claims that they’re checking and checking multiple claims in the same article. Eligible stories will also need to be tagged using a markup called ClaimReview.

Only 10 websites are using that markup, according to schema.org so we are not talking about many.

At first, it seems to be surfacing stories mainly from dedicated fact-checking organizations, such as Politifact, rather than articles from mainstream news organizations.

Facebook solved its problem of “editorial bias” by laying off the team of human editors responsible for its trending news section and replacing them with software. As a result, the site has been plagued of fake news stories and conspiracy theories.


EU thinking about charging Google for news snippets

face palmThe European Commission is thinking of a major update to existing copyright legislation, to reform copyright law to reflect digital content.  The move will include bringing in a failed Spanish law that requires Google to pay for news.

One feature of this reform would allow media outlets to request payment from search engines, such as Google, for publishing snippets of their content in search results.

The working paper recommends the introduction of an EU law that covers the rights to digital reproduction of news publications. This would essentially make news publishers a new category of rights holders under copyright law. This will ensure that “the creative and economic contribution of news publishers is recognised and incentivised in EU law, as it is today the case for other creative sectors.”

Media outlets rely on Google and other search engines to boost traffic to their sites, while at the same time competing with them for advertising dollars. The updated copyright proposal would allow media outlets at their discretion to charge Google for publishing snippets of articles with the results of a user’s search request.

As the proposal states, “If the investments and contribution of publishers increase the value of publications but are not compensated by sufficient revenues, the sustainability of publishing industries in the EU may be at stake with the risk of further negative consequences on media pluralism, democratic debate and quality of information.”

A similar attempt to charge search engines for snippets in Spain resulted in the shutdown of Google News in the country, and is believed to have contributed to a 14 per cent loss in traffic and related closing of several Spanish publications.

The key objective of the reformed policy is to ensure smooth functioning of EU copyright laws in the Digital Single Market. The new policy would also cover the use of copyrighted audio visual content, including television and movies, the use of copyrighted content in teaching, and the republishing of scientific research content in various forms.

Twitter results disappoint Wall Street

Wall Street is very disappointed with TwTwitteritter and is talking about the outfit being sold or at very least its CEO Jack Dorsey being forced to walk the plank.

Twitter announced second quarter earnings that missed estimates and the company provided a  lower than expected outlook.

Its share price fell almost 15 percent and Twitter shares are down 50 percent since Dorsey returned last summer to the helm of the social media company he co-founded.

In fact Twitter continues to show almost no growth in its user base of a little over 300 million and its  advertising revenues are softer than a baby’s bottom.

The company cut its forward revenue estimate for the next quarter to $590 million- $610 million, while analysts had been expecting $681 million.

At a market cap of about $11 billon, compared with more than $40 billion at its peak, Twitter could now be a more attractive takeover target.

Verizon, which owns AOL, this week said it would buy Yahoo for $4.8 billion. Google, Disney and Apple have also been mentioned as possible acquirers of Twitter.

Twitter surged briefly earlier this month after Microsoft announced its acquisition of LinkedIn, as investors hoped for a similar deal for Twitter, but it seemed that Vole was not going to be that silly.


Integrated Device Technology buy-out rumours suspect

Suspicious_SmurfUS chipmaker Integrated Device Technology (IDTI) appeared to be about to be bought out by a shareholder investor group on Monday.

A regulatory filing by a group identifying itself as Integrated Device shareholders said it made an offer to buy the company for $32 per share in cash. The price represented a 64 percent premium to Monday’s close and valued the company at $4.3 billion.

But the filing was the first and only information that Integrated Device has received from this group.

Company’s chief executive, Greg Waters, said the company has not communicated with any of these parties.

Waters said the company is unaware of any other information that would support a determination that the group’s proposal represents a credible bona fide offer. He said the company will evaluate further information received to determine the credibility of the offer.

The filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission said that the  investor group is comprised of six Chinese and one Pakistani citizens, and is led by Libin Sun, who owns a 4.4 percent stake in the company.

The filing showed that Nauman Aly, who held a 0.1 percent stake, had acquired a block of call options for IDTI shares.

However Aly appeared to have sold all his IDTI calls for a profit of about $427,700, roughly matching the activity in those two minutes of trading.



Tim Cook earned $10.3 million in 2015

tim-cook-apple-ceoAs shareholders saw Apple’s value plummet in 2015, they will no doubt be relieved to see that the company’s CEO, Tim Cook earned $10.3 million for his efforts.

As far as Apple is concerned, Cook did extremely well during a trying time.  Despite not having a product that was noticeably different from previous years, having its “game changing” tablet disappear, entry into the wearable and television market being a disaster and leaning on a smartphone when no one wanted them any more, Cook made the company profits rise by 35 percent.

This meant that his money rose 11.5 percent to $10.3 million in 2015. The company shares fell for the first time since 2008 and are now below $100 each.

To be fair Cook was the lowest-paid of the company’s top executives. Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri’s annual compensation rose about 81 percent to $25.3 million in 2015.  Angela Ahrendts, the senior vice president for retail and online stores, was the highest paid, with a total pay package of $25.8 million

Cook’s base pay increased about 14.4 percent to $2 million last year, while non-equity incentive compensation rose about 19 percent to $8 million, according to a regulatory filing.

The Tame Apple Press is claiming that Apple’s senior executives are worth every penny and shareholders have nothing to worry about.  The fact that shares are falling because no one wants to buy the iPhone 6s is nothing to worry about, apparently.

Remember that Cook suffers too if the share price goes down. He holds 3.1 million Apple shares that have not vested yet.

The shares are expected to vest between August 2016 and August 2021.


EU looking at forcing Google to pay for news

5621a13f1c0e2.imageThe European Union is looking into whether services such as Google News and Yahoo News should pay to display snippets of news articles.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, said it will consider whether “any action specific to news aggregators is needed, including intervening on the definition of rights”.

Ironically all this is happening after Brussels unveiled plans to loosen copyright rules in the 28-member bloc in order to allow citizens to watch more content online, as we reported earlier.

The publishers want a “Google Tax”, making online services pay to display news snippets.

Google News pulled out of Spain when a similar law was passed that would have forced it to pay for re-publishing headlines or snippets. In Germany, Axel Springer, the country’s top publisher, had to scrap a move to block Google from running snippets of articles from its newspapers because traffic to its sites plunged.

The Commission has said it will not tax hyperlinks, but was looking at the situations in France and Spain to see if they were delivering on their objectives. The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose members include Google, Yahoo and Microsoft called the idea of a link and snippet tax “ill-founded, controversial and detrimental to all players”.

More than 12 publishers and their associations have dashed off a letter to the Commission last week urging it not to introduce a Google Tax as it would make it harder for them to be discovered online.

A decision will be reached by the second quarter of 2016.

British read news on mobiles now

Britons are abandoning computers as their main way to access digital news in favour of updates on smartphones and tablets.

According to beancounters at Oxford University’s Reuters Institute the proportion of consumers who mostly rely on a computer to get news online has fallen by 23 percentage points in the last year to 57 percent.

Smartphones are now the main way to access digital news for 24 percent, up 11 percentage points in the same period, and tablets for 16 percent, also up 11 percentage points.

The shift in hardware is part of a broader change with potentially profound effects for society according to the report’s authors.

The study said that there was an ‘echo chamber’ effect as mobile consumers rely on increasingly narrow sources to make sense of the explosion of choice online.

Dr David Levy, director of the Reuters Institite, said: “In some countries such as the UK the established news brands have retained their loyalty in the more competitive online environment but the rapid growth of social media as a way of discovering and consuming news has a range of possible ramifications.

“While choice proliferates, consumption may narrow; reliance on recommendations from like-minded friends could mean people are less exposed to a broad news agenda.

“As the ways of reading change, some people may operate in a news echo chamber where they are less likely to be exposed to other content through chance.”

The report shows how some readers are increasingly committed to news providers amid the rapid change.

Of those who pay for digital news, 63 percent do so via a recurring subscription, compared with 42 percent a year ago, with the reputations of individual reporters and commentators increasingly seen as a selling point. 

Yahoo rumoured to buy news distribution service

The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth bit of gossip claiming that Yahoo is in preliminary talks to buy online video service News Distribution Network for $300 million.

The rumours appear to have been started by the Wall Street Journal and have been hotly denied by NDN.

NDN spokeswoman Krystal Olivieri was quoted in the Wall Street Journal story as stating that the company was not in talks to be acquired by Yahoo. Reached by phone on Monday, Olivieri declined to comment.

The deal makes a lot of sense for Yahoo. Its CEO e Marissa Mayer is looking for ways to take YouTube down a peg, or two and has made online video a centrepiece of her strategy to get users to spend more time on Yahoo pages and watching ads.

NDN is a video syndication outfit that supplies newspapers and other Web publishers with clips about news, sports, politics and other topics. It would help Yahoo expand its video offering to thousands of new sites and potentially create lucrative opportunities for marketers to work with Yahoo.

It is not the first time that Yahoo has tried to buy NDN. The company discussed it before Mayer joined in 2012, but no deal was reached. The talks have been renewed in recent weeks, apparently.