Tag: news

UK’s tech channel bewildered over Brexit

euThe UK’s tech channel is in a panic this morning as its managers try to get their head around Friday’s Brexit decision.

Gartner has forecast that Britain’s tech buyers will now stop spending in 2016 and 2017, turning earlier growth numbers negative and the industry will fall into recession. There is also a fear of the cost of hiring EU workers, taxes and tariffs which is enough to send the industry into a tail spin.

Still at least we won’t have those nasty foreigners telling us what to do, we can just sit around muttering there will always be an England as the French start turning off the power.

Most of the tech companies have said that they needed Brexit like a hole in the head and are wondering how they can recover their position.  Basically the issue is that global business value chains are more integrated, while Brexit envisages a market which was out of date 40 years ago with Britannia ruling the waves.

SAP has said that things might be alright if the country pulls finger quick and makes its escape as fast as possible.

However, outfits like Alfresco Software moan about the huge uncertainties which gets more than half its business from the EU.



Facebook cracking down on fake news

UhCNNFacebook announced that it will update its news feed software to flag stories that might be false and limit their spread.

The social notworking site has been a key spreader of fake news, including celebrity deaths, fake science reports mostly because some seem to think that “satire” is the same as “made up news”.

Instead of looking at the comments on a given post, it has added an option for Facebook users to flag it as “a false news story” when they run across it in their feeds.

Facebook will also look at how often it has been deleted by the people who posted it. The theory is that a widely deleted post may be one that many users regretted posting because they realized it was bogus.

The site will not remove such stories from its feed. Instead, the company said it will reduce their distribution and add an annotation warning news feed readers that they may contain false information. A post that has been either widely deleted or flagged as false news by a large number of users will now come with a note like this when it appears in your feed:

“Many people on Facebook have reported that this story contains false information.”

It is not a big technology deal. Facebook’s software will not be analysing the actual content or substance of stories to suss out the fake ones. Instead, it thinks that relying on explicit feedback from human users—is far simpler and makes more sense. Humans are collectively better than bots at recognising bogus stories when we see them, although given the number of people who think that climate warming is untrue, vaccination gives kids autism, UFOs buzzed the International Space Station and President Obama is a Muslim we would not think that humans are doing that good a job.

To make matters worse so called “satirical” articles from sites like The Onion will not be flagged . The company found in its testing that these sorts of posts are not often flagged as false by users.  Goodness knows what this will do to Fox News’ presence on Facebook.

This is not the first time that something like a hoax-flagging algorithm has been tried on Facebook.  It had a “war on clickbait” which was based on the same ideas and it did not exactly end  Upworthy’s reign of terror even when it still runs stories with intros like “you will never believe what happened next”.

Spanish press backtracks on Google News

web-abc-madrid_sevillaAfter Google stopped printing news snippets on its News page from Spanish newspapers, the websites of those esteemed organs died.

Now it seems that the Spanish newspapers are asking the government to step in to force Google back.

Google shut its Google News service in Spain after the country bought in a new copyright law which would have forced Google to pay for the use of news snippets.

The Spanish Newspaper Publishers’ Association (AEDE) issued a statement last night saying that Google News was “not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position”, recognising that Google’s decision: “will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses.

“Given the dominant position of Google (which in Spain controls almost all of the searches in the market and is an authentic gateway to the Internet), AEDE requires the intervention of Spanish and community authorities, and competition authorities, to effectively protect the rights of citizens and companies”.

In other words, Google has the newspaper industry by the short and curlies and if the Spanish government does not do something quick, there will not be an industry to moan about the search engine’s control.

The only workable option is to take the route followed in Germany: to give Google a special deal that allows it to carry on as before, but without having to pay — which would gut the new copyright law completely.

It would also mean that Google would not only be allowed to do what it likes, but continue to have total control of the world’s media. It seems the Spanish Newspapers have found out the hard way that Google already uses its algorithm to decide what is news and which magazines have a right to exist


Facebook kills off click-bait news you will not believe what happens next

no fishingThe days of social notworking sites supporting news sites which have introductions like “you will not believe what happened next” or “you will find this astounding” could be a thing of the past.

Facebook announced further plans to clean up the News Feed by reducing stories with click-bait headlines as well as stories that have links shared in the captions of photos or within status updates.

“Click-baiting” is the art of posting links with a headline without actually telling you much information. In other words, you click to see more, and you are not told enough about what to expect.

Posts get many clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, they are as popular as the Boston stranger and 80 per cent of the time people want headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article.

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm now considers how long people spend reading the given content and the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends.

If users click on an article, reading it, and maybe even came back to interact with it on Facebook, they clicked through to something valuable, while if they came straight back to Facebook and didn’t engage with the story it was probably click bait.

Facebook will be making ongoing adjustments so it is not penalising stories unnecessarily. However the change is expected to cane a publishers who do this and few will mourn their passing.

Of course they could provide news stories with a decent headline, like the old days but that is too much like hard work.

For all wif-fi needs — ask the cat

cat-at-laptop-275A US bloke has catapulted into five minutes of fame in the silly season by wiring his grannie’s cat up to sniff out wi-fi networks in his neighbourhood.

Security researcher Gene Bransfield seized his nan’s moggie Coco and stuffed his collar loaded with a Spark chip, a Wi-Fi module, a GPS module, and a battery. Bransfield reasoned that Coco would visit most places in the area and he could use the moggie to sniff out networking catastrophes such as unsecured, or at least poorly secured, wireless access points. These were then categorised by Bransfield as good, bad or cataclysmic.

Coco sniffed out dozens of wi-fi networks, with four of them using easily broken WEP security, and another four that had no security at all.

Bransfield dubbed the whole method as “WarKitteh” which is sort of a mixture of wardriving and lolcat and apparently, you can convert your moggie to something more useful for only a $100.

Of course, everyone knows that cats are evil and only get away with it because they purr and are so so soft and any network work is bound to be part of some devilish plot. “WarKitteh” allows a hacker to send their moggie out with the same collar, identify open Wi-Fi connections, hack them and use them to do evil hacker sorts of things.

Cats are a notoriously unreliable network tool. They may spend 23 hours catatonic and then, when they finally move, will go nowhere near anyone’s wi-fi for days.