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Researchers Claim, Infusing Machine Learning Will Not Curb Fake News

"The more people are exposed to some piece of false information, the more familiar it becomes, and the more willing they are to accept it"

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According to researchers, fraud in the mobile channel has grown significantly over the last several years, with 70 per cent of artifice originating in the mobile channel in 2018. Pixabay

Just tweaking algorithms and infusing Machine Learning (ML) into them will not protect us from misinformation and fake news on social media platforms, warn researchers.

Technological fixes cannot stop countries from spreading disinformation on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, said Erik Nisbet and Olga Kamenchuk of The Ohio State University.

Policymakers and diplomats need to focus more on the psychology behind why citizens are so vulnerable to disinformation campaigns, they stressed.

“There is so much attention on how social media companies can adjust their algorithms and ban bots to stop the flood of false information,” said Nisbet, Associate Professor of Communication.

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A third kind of disinformation campaign simply aims to increase a foreign audience’s everyday, incidental exposure to “fake news.” Pixabay

“But the human dimension is being left out. Why do people believe these inaccurate stories?”

Governments the world over are fighting the menace of fake news, including political interference from nation-state actors.

In a paper published in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Nisbet and Kamenchuk, Research Associate at Ohio State’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies, discussed how to use psychology to battle these disinformation campaigns.

The researchers discussed three types of disinformation campaigns: identity-grievance, information gaslighting and incidental exposure.

Identity-grievance campaigns focus on exploiting real or perceived divisions within a country.

“The Russian Facebook advertisements during the 2016 election in the US are a perfect example,” Nisbet said. “Many of these ads tried to inflame racial resentment in the country.”

Another disinformation strategy is information gaslighting, in which a country is flooded with false or misleading information through social media, blogs, fake news, online comments and advertising.

A recent Ohio State study showed that social media has only a small influence on how much people believe fake news.

“But the goal of information gaslighting is not so much to persuade the audience as it is to distract and sow uncertainty,” Nisbet added.

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“It sometimes seems easier to point to the technology and criticize Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, rather than take on the larger issues, like our psychological vulnerabilities or societal polarization,” he said. Pixabay

A third kind of disinformation campaign simply aims to increase a foreign audience’s everyday, incidental exposure to “fake news.”

“The more people are exposed to some piece of false information, the more familiar it becomes, and the more willing they are to accept it,” Kamenchuk said. “If citizens can’t tell fact from fiction, at some point they give up trying.”

These three types of disinformation campaigns can be difficult to combat, Nisbet noted.

“It sometimes seems easier to point to the technology and criticize Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, rather than take on the larger issues, like our psychological vulnerabilities or societal polarization,” he said.

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But there are ways to use psychology to battle disinformation campaigns.

More generally, diplomats and policymakers must work to address the political and social conditions that allow disinformation to succeed, such as the loss of confidence in democratic institutions, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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WhatsApp Rolls Out Feature To Share Stories On Facebook

Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp has begun rolling out a feature for Android users to let them share their status stories directly on Facebook Story

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp has begun rolling out a feature for Android users to let them share their status stories directly on Facebook Story and other apps.

Just like Instagram, WhatsApp’s status Stories let users post images, text and videos on your profile that disappear after 24 hours.

WhatsApp hasn’t made an official announcement yet but several users reported this on Twitter.

“So WhatsApp has a new feature, you can share your story on WhatsApp to Facebook. For me, this is quite interesting, a centralized mode of communicating to various platforms,” posted one user.

“The New #WhatsApp update allows you to share your statuses on to your #FacebookStory as well,” wrote another.

To use this feature, tap on share button which will show you the apps you can share your WhatsApp status with.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Tapping on “Share to Facebook Story” will let you share WhatsApp Status to Facebook Story.

Currently, there was no option to have WhatsApp status automatically shared to another service and the instant messaging app intends that the feature should be an active decision on the part of the user.

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The roll out appears to be part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to create a unified app combining WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram to let over 2.6 billion users communicate with each other cross-apps by 2020.

The move could let the social networking giant tout higher user engagement to advertisers, thus, ramping up its advertising division at a time when growth has slowed down. (IANS)