We’ve seen a lot of political turmoil in recent years, and technology has been front and centre of the blame game.
In this episode of That Startup Show, we’re asking whether it has disrupted democracy for better or worse.
Chrome: The same open-source software company that wants to keep covert cryptocurrency mining out of your browser also wants to keep "fake news" from enriching your life. Or, at the very least, Eyeo wants to show you whether your favourite news sites are full of FUD and bias.
At Google I/O earlier this month, CEO Sundar Pichai showcased an experimental Google Assistant feature called Duplex which can make routine phone calls on your behalf. In one striking demo, the digital assistant called a hair salon and scheduled an appointment with an employee at the other end in a voice punctuated with the vocal tics of a real human.
Today, sweet-toothed Aussies awoke to the distressing news that Starburst lollies are being pulled from supermarket shelves. "Say goodbye to your childhood!" one news story proclaimed. "A sad day for your tastebuds!" shrieked another. Except the panic is entirely unfounded. Starburst lollies aren't going anywhere.
Using an increasingly sophisticated method for making fake videos, or "deepfakes," video editors can realistically face-swap someone into a video. (As our sister site Gizmodo reports, the technology has been especially popular for making fake celebrity porn.) Deepfakes will soon make it hard to tell when a video of a famous figure is real. To demonstrate, BuzzFeed and director Jordan Peele created a "deepfake" of Barack Obama saying things like "President Trump is a total and complete dipshit."
Okay, that headline is a complete fabrication. A lie. Some people will read it and be delighted or disgusted, even sharing it on social media without realising I am making all this up.
So, Today I (actually) Discovered just how instrumental Twitter has become in spreading fake news, thanks to new research out of MIT.
Facebook has been teasing a massive overhaul to the News Feed - its core product - after widespread, utterly deserved criticism that it had acted as a megaphone for disinformation on an unprecedented scale. Today, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced how his platform will handle news, and it's quite possibly the stupidest solution imaginable.
Facebook has a fake news problem. Its most recent trending news misstep promoted misinformation from anonymous messageboard 4chan about the Las Vegas shooting. To combat the spread of fake news (and growing backlash against the company), the social network is testing out a new feature enabling users to tell the difference themselves between an article from a trustworthy publisher, and one that's a bit more suspect than usual, by hitting a "more information" button.
Major news events such as Hurricane Harvey produce thousands of photos, and thousands more tweets and Facebook posts of fake, outdated or out-of-context photos. This time the big winner is a photoshop of a shark on the freeway which pops up during every major hurricane.
When you see a video online that seems a bit too wild to be true, chances are it probably is. Along with fake news stories, fake viral videos are all over Facebook and YouTube, a lot of them made by people who know what they're doing, which makes it hard to determine whether or not they're on the up and up. Fake videos like that one of a bald eagle snatching a child, or the video of a friend accidentally causing another's death, can be alarming when you don't realise they're stunts.
The theory of a flat earth is wrong. To the point where even typing the words 'the theory of a flat earth is wrong' is giving the "theory" too much credit. But a confession: I find flat earth theory and the people who believe in it fascinating. I don't mean to patronise. It's just really interesting.
I also really, really love the drawings and paintings: the depictions of what a flat earth might look like from space, created by artists who are 100 per cent serious. Here are a few of my favourites.
It seems the old curse "may you live in interesting times" has come true. We now live in a world where "fake news" and "alternative facts" are part of our vernacular and something we must guard against. But one of the challenges of the online world is that misinformation can be spread quickly and become "fact" before there's a chance to verify it. Google is having a crack at verifying sources and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is as well.
Everyone is trying to crack down on fake news, but there's still little understanding of why such preposterous information spreads so easily. One recent study may have revealed a very important piece of the puzzle, however: People trust their friends too much.
Fake news has been a big talking point the last few weeks, and today, Facebook's finally rolling out tools to help you report fake news so that it doesn't continue to spread.
Chrome: Facebook has a very real fake news problem. To help combat this, BS Detector will show a little red warning when you're about to click a link that comes from a questionable, "satirical" or fake news source.