By hiding hoaxes, Facebook hovers between publisher and platform

If you’re driven bonkers by the fake viral news stories that proliferate on your Facebook feed, usually posted by that girl you went to high school or your excitable uncle in Vermont, it’s your lucky day. Instead of you having to be that jerk who comments with the Snopes retraction, Facebook will start weeding out fake posts itself. Kind of.

The company has altered its algorithm so that hoaxes and scams appear less in people’s feeds, which ultimately limits their spread.

Facebook is crowdsourcing the determination of what counts as a “fake” news story. It added a flagging button that allows users to report whether a story is fake. It’s algorithm will also collect information on which stories people are deleting after posting, since that’s an indicator of a hoax. In addition to lessening a scam’s appearance in people’s feeds, Facebook will occasionally stick a warning sentence on top of the post.

It was quick to say it wasn’t asserting any editorial control. “We are not removing stories people report as false and we are not reviewing content and making a determination on its accuracy,” a Facebook product manager wrote in the blog post announcing the change.

What’s the difference between editorial judgment and newsfeed algorithm judgment? In a day and age when we get our content increasingly from Facebook’s newsfeed instead of newspapers or website home pages, they’re arguably coalescing. Like it or not, the company has become the number one social director of traffic.

Although Facebook may just be aggregating content created by others, it’s acting in an editorial role by making the decision that fake news isn’t as valuable as real news. It’s just putting its algorithm — and users — in charge of the editorial execution. Facebook, like Medium, is playing with the gray area between platform and publisher.

It claims that satire websites will be spared Facebook’s newsfeed wrath because people are less likely to report them as hoaxes or delete their articles after sharing them. But as Mike Isaac mentioned on Twitter, the people Facebook is relying on for this judgment are the same population whose favorite passwords are “password” and “123456.”

Beware of fake iPad Smart Covers for sale on Amazon

As the holiday gift-giving season is upon us, a good reminder to read reviews of products before buying online: Dozens of complaints on Amazon show that many of the “Apple Smart Covers” and ” Apple Smart Cases” for sale on the site are not the real thing.

Fake: A Programmable Browser for OS X

Does the Mac community need another Web browser? Probably not if we’re talking conventional browsers, as there’s a luxury of choices already available: Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and a gaggle of others. But Fake is different, and it could just be the time-saver you’re looking for.

WWD Screencast: Automated Screenshots With Fake

Yesterday I wrote a post about a nicely-design Mac browser automation tool. I noted that it was very easy to use, even for non-developers, so to show just how simple it is to automate some tasks (and why that might be useful), I made a screencast:

Browser Automation With Fake

Fake is a new Mac browser automation tool. While it’s probably most useful for web developers who need to run test tasks, it’s surprisingly easy to use, which makes it useful for anyone who’d like to automate tedious or repetitive browser tasks.

The Megawoosh Waterslide Viral: How It Was Really Done

One of the hottest viral videos of the last couple of days shows a man in a neoprene suit on a DIY waterslide, flying 115 feet and then landing safely in a kiddie pool. It’s accumulated more than 1.4 million views since it got uploaded to YouTube last week, and reactions were all over the place, ranging from dropped jaws to sheer amazement to a more cynical, “Nah, this can’t be real.”
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkwh4ZaxHIA]
And, after a bit of investigating, we’ve verified that it indeed wasn’t. The video was a carefully crafted viral ad for Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Office suite Project 2007, and the production of the clip involved, among other things, a stuntman, a lot of editing, and a long piece of rope. Read on for more details about the campaign as well as an exclusive snippet of unedited video from the waterslide shoot.
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