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.”

Paul Crik: Is He Real, Or a Trick?

Let’s talk about Killin’ It With Paul Crik, the work of a self-help philosopher who supposedly offers a 21st century approach to living the life you want. He is ridiculous, yet entertaining — but is it an act, or is it real?

How To Pop Popcorn With a Cell Phone: Revealed!

Remember last month, when a surge of viral videos made us all wonder how you could pop popcorn with cell phones? It was quickly discovered that the campaign was created to promote Cardo Systems’s line of Bluetooth headsets, but there were no answers as to how they were actually performing the trick (just theories that required disassembling your microwave). That is, until today, when CNN turned its attentions to the phenomenon.

If you can make it through CNN’s lowest-common-denominator coverage (please, Jason Carroll, explain again what a viral video is?), Cardo Systems CEO Abraham Glezerman explains the trickery behind the hoax. Here’s a handy guide to the Cardo-approved method, in five easy steps: Read More about How To Pop Popcorn With a Cell Phone: Revealed!

NTV Station Today: Popcorn and Cell Phones, Explained; Kobe Bryant, Dissed

NTV Station It probably comes as little surprise that those videos using cell phones to pop popcorn were actually viral advertising — but for who? And how did they actually manage to pop those kernels? Today at the Station we not only track down the people responsible for the phenomenon, we also find a video that purports to solve the trick. But do you have a better theory? Don’t be afraid to speak up!

Elsewhere on the web, footage of Shaquille O’Neal’s now-infamous anti-Kobe freestyle rap found its way online, thanks to the philanthropists at TMZ — and this clip may cost Shaq his sheriff’s deputy badge.

Meanwhile, the Jonas Brothers bring their tween dream power to the United Kingdom, finding an unlikely fan in Her Majesty the Queen. And Neil Cicierega released a very strange Harry Potter video — but if you’re going to watch a Harry Potter video, you should check out our Potter Puppet Pals review from this Sunday, which features more singing — and fewer 2 girls 1 cup references. Don’t thank me. Thank the Station.