Facebook’s Fix on Fake News

The election is over and done with and we now wait for President Elect Trump to take the chair as President of the United States. However, looking back at the recent election has left some people wondering what is really happening with the way our generation is viewing media online and through social websites. Many are beginning to believe that Hillary Clinton’s loss seems to be due to fake news.

Facebook has been notorious for spreading videos like wildfire, creating viral videos and circulating a story around the country within a matter of hours. However, along with silly content like that, a lot of fake news stories and articles have begun to get passed along too.

Facebook has noticed an increase in fake news and has begun to implement procedures into catching, verifying and eliminating stories if they are simply false. However, this now comes into a realm of Facebook potentially limiting what the public can and cannot see.

Yes, there are fake news stories circulating around the internet and Facebook. However, who’s right is it to limit what content someone can or cannot see. Is it not up to the viewer themselves to accept or reject what they are reading into? As adults (or those younger adolescents), it is important to not take everything read off the internet as face value. Has Facebook now become a “fact checker” for all of it’s users? Why are the users not fact checking themselves?

If anything, Facebook is now filtering content based off of what they believe is appropriate to be viewed by the public. This filtering is completely opinionated and may very well be masking true stories that Facebook doesn’t want to leak. As an example, let’s say Facebook has a partnership with Coca-Cola and a TRUE article comes out saying how dangerous the soda is. Coke is going to do everything in their power to try and hide that article from the public so their company does not go down. Being their partner, Facebook will most likely do the same, trying to suppress the article from the public, even though it is true.

Facebook should not be in charge of monitoring what articles the public can and cannot see. It should be up to the user to determine that and believe what they must.

WSJ: Facebook Fake News Filtering

NPR: Tackling Fake News

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NBC’s “Hairspray Live!”

“Hairspray Live” took the stage or really the screen on NBC on December 7th, 2016 at 8pm. “Hairspray” was originally a movie which was then adapted into a Broadway musical and then was pushed to become one of NBC’s iconic live annual performances.

In the past, NBC aired “The Sound of Music” on December 5th, 2013 as their first live musical production. “Peter Pan” and “The Wiz” aired in December of 2014 and 2015 and “Bye Bye Birdie” is expected to be the next live production for next winter in 2017. For  one, I’ve seen all of the NBC live productions, however, “Hairspray Live” seemed to be the one that stood out to me the most.

When a network airs something live, they’re usually trying to bring attention either to something currently happening that’s very important or they’re trying to draw in viewers into their program. With “Hairspray Live”, the catch was that the show was a Broadway musical but it could still be watched from the luxury of sitting on your couch at home. However, with watching a Broadway show from home and seeing it performed live comes with a great deal of trouble.

For one, camera angles are constantly moving. Watching a Broadway show in a theater allows the viewer to observe and see what they want to. With a broadcast show, the camera is forced to follow the action, limiting what an audience can see and experience.

Second, the sets are not in one, central location. In fact, in “Hairspray Live”, a majority of the cast would either sprint to the next set some ways away or take a golf cart and speed to the other side of the studio lot just to set up in time for the next scene. This would take away from the musical experience and therefore create three minute gaps between scenes. In a real Broadway production, the character would usually remain on stage or run off briefly just to have the set change on stage. “Hairspray Live” was just too elaborate and took too long.

Finally, the live audience was not necessary. A majority of the scenes took place in front of a live audience which was fine. However, whenever the scenes changed and the cast would be transported to the next set, NBC decided to film the audience and get their perspective on the musical. One, I would rather have sat through a commercial than listen to other people scream about much they love the show. Two, I go to see a Broadway show to experience it as a whole, not see Darren Criss interrupt the fourth wall after every scene! Shut up! This element took me away from the production greatly.

While I do love “Hairspray” on Broadway, I’ll have to say that this live version is something that I hope I don’t have to endure again.

Rolling Stone: Best, Worst & WTF?

Forbes: NBC’s Musicals Keep Tanking

 

Twitter Allowing Freedom of Speech… Kind of…

The internet is a haven for all to express how they feel about certain issues or topics or even just talk about anything. Twitter, allows just this but only in concise blurbs consisting of only up to 140 characters. However, with the recent election of now President Elect Donald Trump, many issues from an array of sources seem to be scattering across the internet; more specifically, on Twitter.

Twitter has become the hot spot for minds alike and far apart to share their ideas and thoughts on the election and controversial topics like women’s rights, gun rights, “Black Lives Matter” and LGBTQ rights. Many are hearing backlash from both sides to the point where hate crimes are being stated and some serious statements are being made, making many people uncomfortable. Twitter is the main source for a lot of these controversial statements and recently decided to step in and work on limiting the amount of hate statements viewers are seeing.

As of November 15th, Twitter incorporated a new feature on their website that allows users to block and filter unwanted content on their Twitter feed. By typing in certain words, phrases or even accounts into the anti-harassment section, users can almost fully block anything they might not want to see that could be harmful, hateful or directly target them. However, this also allows user to block content they might just not want to see. For example, A very conservative user might block phrases like “CNN” or “Global Warming”, filtering their news and content to only what they want to see. The user is then filtering the content they don’t want to see and potentially do not get the true side of a story, therefore, being misinformed.

While I can see that Twitter is trying to do a service by limiting the amount of harassment and hate crimes on their service, I also think it is unfair to put in an “Anti-Harassment” service for users. Internet users need to realize that the internet is a dangerous place. Freedom of speech is exercised on the internet in every way, shape and form. For a company to come out and limit what can be seen or heard seems a bit unfair. If I’m wrong, then fine, but please explain to me why we need to care about our users and what they see? They rightfully know what they are getting themselves into.

In real life, it’s not like you can turn someone off if they say something that you don’t like.

CNN: Twitters New Tool

Pollsters Wrong- America Lied?

With the very recent results from the 2016 presidential election, quite a few were shocked to see that Donald Trump would come in to snatch the presidential candidacy. Data was pooled in from around the country saying whether Hillary or Donald would win what state and voter demographics of who would support either candidate. However, through the endless amounts of polling and voting data, America was wrong.

For one, I consider myself to be an independent voter who tends to lean slightly to the right, dependent on situations and politicians. I, like many Americans, voted for Donald Trump. However, prior to November 8th, whenever I was asked about my political views or my stance, I would refuse to speak. Many Americans were in my shoes when it came to verbally admitting that they wanted Trump to take office. Pollsters would ask who one favored and some would deny to comment or admit their true beliefs. With that in play, the polls were skewed and America was off on the prediction that Hillary would win the presidential election.

Before the election took place, these “confirmed” polls were broadcast through the media, creating this sense that Hillary was going to win. Many who watched CNN, or other liberal news networks saw that Hillary was in the lead throughout the country. It would just be a matter of the election day to make the prediction a reality.

Americans tend to believe almost anything they see on television these days; especially news networks. Usually one will gather their information from one news source rather than from an array of perspectives. No one knew the polls would be wrong down the road. They believed what they wanted and moved onto the next issue at stake.

I guess this goes to show that America can’t trust the data that is presented to us. Even the facts aren’t always factual. Unfortunately, many had faith that Hillary would win the election. The boost from the predictions only fueled the fire, only to be smothered early Wednesday morning by Donald Trump’s victory.

USA: Pollsters Wrong?

Apple’s Dilema with Microsoft Laptops

 

It seems that with the unveiling of the Windows Surface Pro 10 by Microsoft, Apple has taken a step back and is stalling on the reveal of their new Macbook Pro. The Surface Pro and the Macbook Pro both have similar features including a touch screen and touch pad. However, Microsoft has beaten Apple to the reveal and Microsoft now has an edge over Apple; for once.

Apple’s technology has become very popular in the past few years with the release of new iphones and other Apple products. The most popular and most purchased laptop computer has been the Macbook. With a sleek design and state of the art computing program, it has always surpassed Microsoft’s technology. However, Apple has always lacked the touch screen feature until this new Macbook. On the other hand, Microsoft’s main selling point was the touch screen and ability to write on a tablet with a stylist.

As far as I can see, Microsoft was very smart in revealing their Surface Pro before the Macbook because the features are very similar. If Apple were to release their product now, there really wouldn’t be any major selling point to their touch surface and consumers wouldn’t see any significant difference. Apple’s touch surface is technologically advanced, however, because it mirrors the Surface Pro, many will see Apple as a copying company and not favor it. Microsoft has the upper hand here and is using it to the best of their advantage.

As well as a touch screen, Microsoft has also developed new Virtual Reality (VR) head gear, an internal artificial intelligence and new color palettes that are more technologically advanced than Apple. It’s my hopes that Microsoft and Windows will become the new Apple and put Apple in the dust. I’m tired of this monopoly that Apple has and it’s time that Microsoft shows them who’s boss.

Business Insider: Apple v.s. Microsoft

Business Insider: Microsoft’s Edge on Apple

 

“Vine” mobile app will soon be discontinued by Twitter

Vine, a mobile application, lets users share a video up to six seconds with other application users. The app was released back in 2013 when it received a huge following. To this day, it still has many users. However, Twitter just released a statement saying that they will be taking over the app and restructuring it to fit the needs of Twitter. The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, states that they will be “making the necessary changes to ensure Twitter is positioned for long-term growth”.

I think this is a huge step for Twitter. With the ever growing competition of Snapchat and Instagram, video sharing has never been so huge. Video sharing originally started on YouTube, connecting people from around the world. Snapchat has seemed to do that and much more as well as Instagram but with different layouts and styles. Twitter claims to have a clear vision of how they want the organization to move. Competition is huge in the social media age right now and it seems that Twitter is really the only one to not have made a huge transition recently. I think this acquisition will really put them in the lead with Snapchat and Instagram as far as media content sharing goes.

Seeing that Vine always had a big following, I have no doubt that the acquisition to Twitter will be no problem. I really think many will be excited for the new release of the program. Seeing how other companies like Snapchat have developed their app to continuously expand their audience outreach, Twitter seems to be following their footsteps. Hopefully they will potentially take some of those followers for themselves too. Until the new Vine-incorporated release, Twitter is going to keep everything really a secret to the public. I’m really excited to see what new features will come of this!

Twitter Discontinues Vine Mobile App

 

“Workplace” – Facebook for Professionals

Social media seems to be the hot thing lately with everyone communicating with each other, commenting on each other’s posts and posting the latest videos on what Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is up to. Some profiles seem to be littered with inappropriate posts and pictures of weddings and night’s out while others have hundreds of pictures of last weeks vacation to Peru.

When employers look at new hires, part of the process usually requires them to search for the potential employee on social media. This allows the employer to get a feel for the behavior and work ethic of the employee and potentially catch them off guard with an inappropriate photo or two. However, with Workplace, invented by Facebook Inc., this problem is avoided. Users can create a professional profile with an up-to-date resume and previous connections, very similar to Facebook’s layout. Workplace includes a news feed from friend’s that one may follow as well as corporate business news and breaking news articles. Users are able to connect with co-workers and other professionals in an appropriate interface. Some features with Workplace include the ability to conference call, join specific groups/organizations and video chat with multiple people at once, similar to Skype.

How I see it is that it is very similar to LinkedIn, where it allows users to create a profile and connect with other workers. LinkedIn also allows users to add skills and endorsements to their profile for others to see and like. As far as the business world goes, Workplace is not much different from LinkedIn. If anything, the only added benefit Workplace has is the ability to like various groups and conference call/video call with teams in them.

As far as the future for Workplace goes, I can see it starting to become a bigger enterprise. However, I believe that Facebook Inc. will have to find the selling point to Workplace over LinkedIn. Right now, both are too similar and Workplace does not stand out. Then again, Facebook Inc. has come up with some great material in the past and I would not doubt it if this interference becomes the new norm for societies and organizations to operate on. Maybe one day Workplace will replace LinkedIn because more people are attracted to the fact that Facebook Inc. made it. Maybe that’s the selling point.

 

Wired: Facebook’s Workplace

Snapchat… or really now “Snap Inc.”

Oh my. Seeing Snapchat grow throughout the years to what it has become now has been an amazing sight. I remember first downloading Snapchat onto my phone probably around three years ago. I will say that it is hands down one of the best apps invented.

As far as social media and interaction goes, Snapchat allows users to simply “snap” pictures or videos (up to 10 seconds) and share them with other Snapchat users and friends. After a designated viewing time is up for the receiver, the content disappears, never to be retraced again. This is the main concept of the app. However, through the years, Snapchat has developed updates, further enhancing the picture/video capturing experience. From adding “bestfriends” of the people you snap the most to having one of the biggest updates, “Snap Stories” where people can share daily snaps in one location for others to look at. These updates have began to draw in more and more users, making Snapchat one of the largest privately owned app companies. Today, Snapchat is estimated to be worth well over $20 million. Another big update Snapchat jumped on were the involvement of advertisers. From snapstories coming from big companies like CNN and Fox and gossip from Buzz Feed and Comedy Central, the amount of content a user can experience is essentially endless; constantly being updated around the clock.

One of the biggest and most successful launches Snapchat has had was their unveiling of filters and “Geofilters”. Depending on the users location and the day, a picture can be taken and the filter can be altered, possibly with fireworks around the picture, advertised by Walmart for Independence Day or a Christmas tree advertised by Hollister. The amount of involvement outside companies have on Snapchat are huge. The money that is brought in is massive. The audience is young and vulnerable and best of all, the advertising doesn’t take away from the Snapchat experience. This is by far one of the most brilliant marketing strategies I have yet to see.

Just recently, Snapchat changed its’ name (as of two weeks ago) to Snap Inc. Snap Inc. has also just released an actual, physical product called “Spectacles” which allows users to record video from a camera in the sunglasses. Snap Inc. is getting huge. They’ve moved from virtual to physical. Once released, these glasses will revolutionize the way users capture and share the world they see, real-time.

In the end, I want Snap Inc. to go public and have an IPO as soon as possible. I want to be the first to find out too.

The Wallstreet Journal: Snap Inc & Spectacles

The Entrepreneur: Changing to Snap Inc.

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Is “Blackshades” really something to be afraid of?

Some of my academic classes are in lecture halls, filled with dozens of students on their phones and laptops. Some of which pay attention to the professor and some who just zone off into their internet filled world, tuning out the entire class. As for myself, I pay attention most of the time but sometimes I just can’t help but wander and look around the room at everyone not paying attention. Something that has caught my eye many times are the tape on everyone’s webcams, just at the top. I’ve always wondered what they were for and why so many people have done that.

Just this week I happened to stumble upon an article explaining the need for putting little pieces of paper or tape over laptop webcams. As CNBC explains, “Cyber-criminals [have been] taking over victims’ computers for spying and money-making purposes”. With the development of a new software called Blackshades, cyber-spies are able to access documents and pictures as well as control the entire desktop from the microphone to what you download to even the webcam. In other terms, this is performed using a RAT or Remote Access Tool. With this RAT, experts are telling users to beware of what they are downloading and be aware of spontaneous and undesired mouse movement.

I think it is ridiculous that all these students are now covering their webcams. Now, I understand that they are trying to be secure and safe by not having anyone see what they’re doing but in all honesty, I think it’s nonsense. If you are a laptop user, you should be aware of what you are downloading and how willing you are to share your information with the world. With that being said, it is unnecessary to put a piece of paper over your webcam. It looks dumb and it’s unnecessary if you’re smart about your computer usage. I guess this really all just comes from my beliefs that everyone is afraid of everything and people need to stand up for themselves and take charge. It also feeds my theory that everyone believes everything they see and hear.

Looking at the Blackshades program, it’s very interesting to see how programs now being developed are able to access someone else’s computer and documents. Especially with the advancement of cyber security and antivirus software, hackers are still able to get around these hurdles and still access someone’s computer. It makes one wonder how these hackers are able to get around the system… Did they develop the antivirus software a certain way so only certain hackers could get through (like themselves)? Maybe this is all a scheme to make people continuously invest in antivirus software so the market doesn’t die.

 

For all we know this could be an inside job.

 

LINK: Inside “Blackshades” and its’ Hackers

 

Moving Forward with Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR), seems to be the way that technology is beginning to head towards. With movies always being a popular icon and attraction for entertainment, there seems to be this need for something more. Just like music, one will sometimes want to “vibe” or “groove” with the music, often dancing to the beat, matching motion with sound. Now almost most of the time, DJs will use lights to enhance the experience one may have with music. With that being said, movies are starting to make the turn to really getting interactive in a whole new way.

If you go to Disney World or another theme park, there tends to be 4D movies or IMax. This allows an audience member to become more immersed into their cinematic experience. With 4D, the audience uses more senses than just seeing the movie. They smell and feel what’s on the screen. With IMax, a viewer can look around almost 360 degrees to see what is on the screen, making it as if they are almost really there. However, with the advancement of VR coming into play, the ballgame has really changed.

VR, an up and coming invention, allows the user to use a headset and goggles to listen and watch the movie or short film. The user can move their body, tilt their head or rotate and still maintain the scene, except with a first person perspective; as if they’re actually there. This past August, Netflix released a trailer for Stranger Things, on “Popular Science” in complete VR 360. This allowed users to experience the 2D version, but now as if they were actually inside the trailer. Now, Popular Science is starting to shed light on the use of VR and how it will potentially become the new norm for watching shows and movies.

Personally, I own one of these VR headsets. I think it’s very interesting how immersed one can actually get into a three minute short. Sometimes I take off the set wanting more. The experience under the headset is unreal and truly does feel like you are within the scene. As for moving forward, I think VR will be the new way to experience movies. Directors and writers will want their audience to actually be a part of the story, making it more emotional and potentially breaking the movie-audience barrier that has never been touched. Imagine witnessing a murder in VR with another character. Only you and that character know what was seen. For the rest of the movie, the actions you make and the events you experience will potentially put the criminal in jail or let him go free. That emotional bond to bring the murderer to justice will be unlike any other emotional rollercoaster experienced at the movies.

VR is only the beginning. At some point, we may be able to interact with characters within media and alter a storyline based on actions. Looking even further, this might be the way all media is transmitted; the news. Soon, these goggles might not be called “virtual reality” anymore. They might become “reality goggles” and life will become the virtual reality.

 

Woah.

 

LINK: Netflix Releases VR 360 Trailer