Older people more likely to share fake news on Facebook, study finds

Older people are almost four times more likely to have shared fake news on Facebook than the younger generation, according to research published in the journal Science.

On average, American Facebook users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as those aged between 18 and 29, researchers from NYU and Princeton found in the study, which also concluded sharing such false content was “a relatively rare activity”.

The researchers analysed the Facebook history of about 1,750 American adults, cross-referencing links they had posted with lists of fake news publishers. In doing so, they found the vast majority of users did not share any articles from fake news domains in 2016 – 8.5% of those in the study as a whole shared at least one link to a domain such as denverguardian.com, truepundit.com, or donaldtrumpnews.co.

These sites, and 18 others like them, made up the list of “intentionally or systematically factually inaccurate” stories the researchers defined as fake news. Sites that are “partisan or hyperpartisan”, such as the far-right Breitbart.com, were excluded from the list of fake news purveyors.

But of those who shared links from the 21 “mostly pro-Donald Trump” domains the researchers looked at, there were clear demographic differences.

Eighteen per cent of Republican users shared at least one link to a fake news site, compared with less than 4% of Democrats. The more conservative a user was, the more articles they shared – a finding attributed to the fact that fake news in 2016 was mostly pro-Trump, and “the tendency of respondents to share articles they agree with”.

Those who shared the most content in general were less likely to share fake news, suggesting the problem is not that some people “will share anything”, the paper said. Instead, people who share a large number of links are more media-savvy, and able to distinguish real from fake online.

That findings are backed up by the demographic data: over-65s, who came to the internet later in life, shared more than twice as many fake news articles as those in the second-oldest age group, even when controlling for ideology, education and the total number of links shared.

The authors wrote: “As the largest generation in America enters retirement at a time of sweeping demographic and technological change, it is possible that an entire cohort of Americans, now in their 60s and beyond, lacks the level of digital media literacy necessary to reliably determine the trustworthiness of news encountered online.

“Within this cohort, lower levels of digital literacy could be compounded by the tendency to use social endorsements as credibility cues. If true, this would imply a growing impact, as more Americans from older age groups join online social communities.”

A second possibility, they noted, is that the findings are a specific case of the general effect of ageing on memory. “Memory deteriorates with age in a way that particularly undermines resistance to ‘illusions of truth’,” the authors wrote.

Brazil's Electoral Court Asked to Declare Bolsonaro Ineligible

The coalition The People Again Happy, demanded today that the Electoral Superior Court declares the ineligibility, for eight years, of the ultra-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro for abuse of economic power and undue use of social networks.

In its demand, the legal advisory of the electoral alliance made up by the parties of Workers (PT), Communist of Brazil (PCdoB) and Republican of Social Order (PROS) denounced there are clear clues that businesspeople financed buying of mass shooting against the PT through the Whatsapp.

Such conduct reveals three types of electoral crimes: the vetoed donation (to campaigns) by juridical persons, the use of false profiles for electoral propaganda and irregular buying of users' registers, which shows a clear economic power abuse practice to imbalance elections.

The demand presented by the coalition The People Happy Again, whose presidential candidate is Fernando Haddad (PT), is not only against Bolsonaro, but also against his candidate for Vicepresident, general Milton Mourao, businessman Luciano Hang and at least another five enterprises, including Whatsapp Inc.

According to daily Brasil 247, a demand to cancel the candidacy of former army captain and representative of the Partido Social Liberal (PSL) was also published in the portal Public Petition Brazil supported by 190 thousand citizens.

The petition says to be base don article 22 of the Electoral Code, according to which votation (in this case in the first round of October 7) can be annuled when, if viced by lies, frauds, coaction or the use of medias or propaganda processes in vote recruitment banned by law.

The demand alludes to the specific case of the so-called 'kit gay', one of the false news presented live throujgh the national network by the candidate himself, attributing to Haddad, former minister of Education during the Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva administration, the publication of the book 'Sexual Appliance and Cia'.

That 'fake news', mainly spread among the religious to generate fear and worry referring to their children's education in schools, created a support current to Bolsonaro, guaranteeing him advantage on the rest of the candidates.

  • Published in World

Facebook Launches A New Tool That Combats Fake News

During the presidential campaign trail late last year, substantial amounts of misleading information in the form of fake news spread about President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Facebook and Google. Google responded by banning fake news outlets from the AdSense display ad network and by tweaking the Google News algorithm to filter out fake news. And Facebook has just launched a tool that flags fakes news in the News Feed, according to a tweet posted by Gizmodo investigative reporter Anna Merlan.

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

In the screenshot above, you will notice a headline that says “Trump’s Unsecured Android Device Source Of Recent White House Leaks.” This fake news article was spread by a website called TheSeattleTribune.com. While this domain might sound legitimate and the homepage does not show any signs of the website being a fake news source, it has an inapparent disclaimer that says “The Seattle Tribune is a news and entertainment satire web publication. The Seattle Tribune may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within The Seattle Tribune are fictional and presumably satirical news – with the exception of our ‘list style’ articles that include relevant sources.” However, the article about President Trump's "unsecured Android device" was viewed nearly 200,000 times and TheSeattleTimes.com financially benefitted from duping people into thinking it was real news.

Fortunately, Facebook’s new tool appears to be showing that the article was “Disputed by Snopes.com and PolitiFact” so that users should not be fooled into thinking that it is true going forward. Snopes is a website that clears up misinformation that spreads on the Internet and PolitiFact fact-checks political claims by officials. All of the non-partisan fact-checkers that Facebook appointed to help with the prevention of misinformation are required to sign a "Code of Principles" by the Poynter non-profit school for journalism.

Back in December 2016, Facebook said that it would bury fake news articles and label them as hoaxes in the News Feed. Facebook also made it easier to report a hoax if you see one in the News Feed by clicking on the upper right-hand corner of a post and tapping on “It’s a fake news story.” After a story is flagged as disputed, it will be reviewed by the third-party fact-checkers. And if it has been proven to be a fake news story, then the post cannot be turned into an ad or promoted. 

During the presidential campaign trail late last year, substantial amounts of misleading information in the form of fake news spread about President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Facebook and Google. Google responded by banning fake news outlets from the AdSense display ad network and by tweaking the Google News algorithm to filter out fake news. And Facebook has just launched a tool that flags fakes news in the News Feed, according to a tweet posted by Gizmodo investigative reporter Anna Merlan.

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

Anna Merlan

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

In the screenshot above, you will notice a headline that says “Trump’s Unsecured Android Device Source Of Recent White House Leaks.” This fake news article was spread by a website called TheSeattleTribune.com. While this domain might sound legitimate and the homepage does not show any signs of the website being a fake news source, it has an inapparent disclaimer that says “The Seattle Tribune is a news and entertainment satire web publication. The Seattle Tribune may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within The Seattle Tribune are fictional and presumably satirical news – with the exception of our ‘list style’ articles that include relevant sources.” However, the article about President Trump's "unsecured Android device" was viewed nearly 200,000 times and TheSeattleTimes.com financially benefitted from duping people into thinking it was real news.

Fortunately, Facebook’s new tool appears to be showing that the article was “Disputed by Snopes.com and PolitiFact” so that users should not be fooled into thinking that it is true going forward. Snopes is a website that clears up misinformation that spreads on the Internet and PolitiFact fact-checks political claims by officials. All of the non-partisan fact-checkers that Facebook appointed to help with the prevention of misinformation are required to sign a "Code of Principles" by the Poynter non-profit school for journalism.

Back in December 2016, Facebook said that it would bury fake news articles and label them as hoaxes in the News Feed. Facebook also made it easier to report a hoax if you see one in the News Feed by clicking on the upper right-hand corner of a post and tapping on “It’s a fake news story.” After a story is flagged as disputed, it will be reviewed by the third-party fact-checkers. And if it has been proven to be a fake news story, then the post cannot be turned into an ad or promoted. Here is a video that Facebook posted in December about the new reporting tool.

Facebook is also compiling a list of website domains that have been notorious for posting fake news so that it is automatically flagged.

As the words "fake news" became more mainstream over the last few months, President Donald Trump started using them on a regular basis to describe some of the larger news outlets such as CNN and The New York Times.

Screenshot from President Donald Trump's Twitter account

Donald Trump via Twitter

Screenshot from President Donald Trump's Twitter account

Former President Barack Obama also acknowledged that the spread of fake news on Facebook became a major problem during Hillary Clinton's campaign trail. “The way campaigns have unfolded, we just start accepting crazy stuff as normal. And people, if they just repeat attacks enough and outright lies over and over again, as long as it's on Facebook and people can see it, as long as it's on social media, people start believing it. And it creates this dust cloud of nonsense,” said Obama during a Hillary for America rally in Ann Arbor last year.

One of the biggest victims of fake news was a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. called Comet Ping Pong. A fake news article claiming Hillary Clinton and her aides were involved in human trafficking at the Comet Ping Pong location in Washington, D.C. quickly spread on social media. So a 28-year-old from North Carolina fired his rifle inside the pizzeria and attempted to search for child slaves. Later he surrendered to the police after discovering there weren’t any child slaves there. This incident has been labeled as "PizzaGate."

Initially, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was skeptical that the spread of fake news on the social network could have influenced the election. During an interview at the Techonomy conference in November 2016, Zuckerberg said that it was a "pretty crazy idea." But about a month later, he published a Facebook status that said: "While we don't write the news stories you read and share, we also recognize we're more than just a distributor of news. We're a new kind of platform for public discourse -- and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed."

Facebook's Fake Advertisement Problem

Interestingly, Forbes staff writer Matt Drange recently pointed out that Facebook is also vulnerable to fake advertisements. Facebook ads are being created that appear to be directing users to a trustworthy website, but it redirects them somewhere else when the ad is clicked on using a bait-and-switch approach also known as “domain spoofing” and “clickjacking.” This can be done in the Facebook ad platform where users are able to manually enter the URL displayed in each ad. Google faces a similar problem with its AdWords platform and the Internet giant ended up having to remove 1.7 billion ads in 2016 alone — which is more than double the previous year.

Facebook spokesman Tom Channick told Drange that the ability to edit the URL is “not always misleading or malicious.” As an example of the URL changing feature being beneficial, Channick said a nonprofit that is running a donation campaign through a third-party site would likely want to display the organization website URL in the ad instead.

When Will I See The Facebook Post Disputes?

Facebook posts that have been flagged as disputes are not appearing for everyone yet. It seems like Facebook is rolling out the feature over time. Most likely, every Facebook user should see this feature appear in the coming weeks.

What are your thoughts about Facebook's new fake news tool? Do you think this is a good way to prevent the spread of misinformation?

  • Published in World

‘Fake news, military budget, trade deals’: Trump speaks at CPAC

President Donald Trump intends to keep his promises to the American people, from securing the border and fighting terrorism, to rebuilding US industry and the country’s military, he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland.

On media

“The media didn’t think we would win. The pundits didn’t think we’d win. The consultants that sucked up all that money… didn’t think we would win. But they all underestimated the power of the people. And the people proved them all wrong,” Trump said, to cheers from the crowd.

“I’m not against the media,” Trump said, explaining what he meant when he called some media “enemies of the people” in a tweet. “I am against only the fake news media or the press. Fake,” he stressed.

“I’m against the people who make up sources and make up stories,” he said, while urging the media to stop quoting unnamed sources and cite people by name.

Criticizing journalists does not run against the constitutional protection of free speech, Trump argued.

“I love the First Amendment. Nobody loves it more than me. Who uses it more than I do?” he joked, adding that it also gives people the right to criticize “fake news.”

“[Fake news] doesn’t represent the people, it never will represent the people, and we have to do something about it,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Make America great again’ & other Trump pledges after 30 days as US President

‘I like Bernie’

The president had some kind words for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, but lost to Hillary Clinton.

“Bernie was right on one issue: trade,” Trump said, adding that he had attracted a lot of Sanders supporters in the general election. “Actually, I like Bernie.”

Sanders’ movement “petered out,” because the Democratic primary system was “a little rigged against him,” Trump said, adding just one word – “Superdelegates!” – to the laughter of the audience.

Keeping promises

“Basically, all I have done is keep my promise,” Trump said, reminding CPAC attendees of his campaign platform and the steps he has taken to implement it – from cracking down on illegal immigrants and building a border wall to repealing Obamacare and reviewing “terrible” trade deals.

“Remember the lie, 28 times? ‘You can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan?’ Over and over you heard it. So, we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said, referring to his predecessor’s pitch for the healthcare mandate.

“Politically, the best thing to do is nothing. Let it implode. Two years, don’t do anything. Democrats will come to us and beg,” he said. “But it’s not the right thing to do to the American people.”

“The era is empty talk is over. Now is the time for action,” Trump said.

 

U.S. President Donald Trump © Jonathan Ernst

America first

“The core conviction of our movement is that we are a nation that puts and will put its own citizens first,” Trump told the audience at CPAC.

Building the wall will stop drugs from “pouring into our nation and poisoning our youth.”

A border tax will fund the rebuilding of neglected communities, including inner cities. Deporting illegal immigrants will “save countless American lives.”

Right now, immigration enforcement is rounding up criminals and “throwing them the hell out of our country,” he said.

Trump reminded the audience that he has already made good on one promise: withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He pledged to cut regulations that stifle business, while keeping the ones related to safety and the environment in place. He also vowed to cut taxes on the middle class and businesses and simplify the tax code.

“It’s time for all Americans to get off of welfare and go back to work. You’re going to love it!” Trump said.

At the same time, the president promised a massive military build-up.

“Nobody will dare question our military might again. We believe in peace through strength and that’s what we’ll have,” he said.

“There is no dream too large, no task too great. We are Americans. The future belongs to us,” Trump said, adding “America is going to be bigger, and better and stronger than ever before.”

  • Published in World
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