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.”

Some iPhone Coders Padding Resumés With Lies

Resume IconAccording to a report by the Silicon Alley Insider, if you’re looking to hire an iPhone dev, it’s probably best to make sure you do a thorough background check before you do. Some coders have been claiming credit for work they didn’t do, and are using the false accolades to try and wrestle more work from unsuspecting companies and individuals looking to cash in on the App Store phenomenon.

Some of the lies being perpetrated are coming from firms that look otherwise legit. Lots of offshore development companies are cashing in on the trend by providing low-cost alternatives to in-house or domestic U.S. solutions, and some of those are taking serious heat for what appear to be bald-faced lies. Read More about Some iPhone Coders Padding Resumés With Lies

The Value of Twitter Followers: Quality Over Quantity

Twitter followers have become the status symbol of 2009, but how valuable are they, really? I think we’re placing too much importance on the numbers and paying far too little attention to the actual reasons why followers can be valuable to us.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t want to have a lot of followers. I’m saying that you don’t want to have a lot of the wrong followers. There is nothing to be gained by accumulating “empty” followers. Why? Because they are not listening to you! Your core followers — those you who actually listen to you and interact with you — are the real value of Twitter, and that’s why you should never, ever automate your Twitter account to increase follower count.

ViddyHo Mounts Phishing Scam

A site called ViddyHo is running a phishing scam on Google (s goog) chat users. The scam propagates via an IM from a contact telling the recipient to “check out this video.” When recipients click through, they’re asked to share their Gmail credentials. Then the site IMs the same message to the recipients’ contact list.

Warnings of the scam are all over Twitter, with many stemming from video personality Veronica Belmont, who warned followers after getting many such messages from her contact list. Our own Liz Miller was taken in after receiving a chat from a trusted tech-savvy source, so be careful.