Bleats

Facebook Is On A Mission To Stop Anti-Vax Recommendations After An Outbreak Of Measles

Common sense prevails!

According to Bloomberg, Facebook has said that it is “exploring removing anti-vaccine information from software systems that recommend other things to read on its social network”.

In layman’s terms, that means that it might instruct its algorithms to stop suggesting pages or articles that are anti-vax or from anti-vax websites whenever those little ‘Suggested Pages’, ‘Articles Similar To This’, or ‘Groups You Might Like’ boxes pop up.

The move comes after Congressman Adam B. Schiff sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, expressing concern that the Facebook and Instagram algorithms were “surfacing and recommending messages that discourage parents from vaccinating their children”.

Congressman Schiff cited the state of emergency that was declared in Washington state following a measles outbreak last month, writing that:

“There is strong evidence to suggest that at least part of the source of this trend is the degree to which medically inaccurate information about vaccines surface on the websites where many Americans get their information, among them Facebook and Instagram.”

In response, Facebook said it is “exploring additional measures to best combat the problem”, which might include “reducing or removing this type of content from recommendations, including Groups You Should Join, and demoting it in search results, while also ensuring that higher quality and more authoritative information is available.”

The congressman also contacted Google with his concerns, but the web search giant did not immediately respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment. However, Google has already been taking steps to prevent misinformation from surfacing, including adjusting the way videos are recommended on YouTube so that videos with medical misinformation will no longer be recommended to users.

That doesn’t mean misinformation is hidden from users entirely, however. If you search for videos about ‘vaccines’ on YouTube, the eighth result is a documentary called ‘The Truth About Vaccines’ that has over 1.1 million views and a description that reads, “The risks of vaccines are very real, and parents are allowed to question their safety.”

So that’s not great.

But this change, if Facebook were to implement it, would be better than nothing, and would hopefully do something to prevent more people getting sucked into the echo chamber of misinformation and hysteria so easily available to them via the lawless wasteland that is Facebook Groups.

Fingers crossed Facebook decides to go ahead and train its little robots to stop recommending anti-vax groups and pages!

Can you tell I absolutely, with 100% certainty understand how Facebook algorithms work? Good.

Facebook Plans To Merge WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, And Worlds Will Collide Sooner Than You Think

You'll soon be able to communicate across the three platforms.

According to The New York TimesMark Zuckerberg has plans to integrate the messaging services across all of the social media platforms he owns – that’s Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – which will enable their 2.6 billion users to communicate across the three platforms.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean those apps are disappearing and becoming part of some FaceAppGram hybrid – they’ll still exist as standalone apps. What’s changing is the underlying infrastructure, which will be unified, enabling people to communicate across all three apps.

In addition, Zuckerberg has ordered that all of the apps incorporate end-to-end encryption, making conversations secure and only viewable by those actually involved. WhatsApp already has this feature, but Messenger and Instagram do not, although Messenger does give you the option of turning encryption on. Other secure apps include Signal, Telegram, Viber and Wickr.

In a statement, Facebook said it wanted to:

“build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private. We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”

As The New York Times explains, this move is designed to keep users “highly engaged inside the company’s ecosystem”.

Frankly, I just miss MSN, and none of what Facebook, Apple, or Google are offering me comes close to the joy of being able to nudge people or sign in and out twenty times in a row to get someone’s attention.

Twitter CEO Says Mark Zuckerberg Kills Goats With...Lasers?

Pew pew.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sat down with Rolling Stone to talk about Twitter, and the criticism it’s faced in the past year, namely the fact that it doesn’t ban Nazis from the platform, saying last year, “From a simple business perspective and to serve the public, Twitter is incentivized to keep all voices on the platform.”

But the most interesting part of the interview isn’t Dorsey’s attempt at introspection or insistence that there aren’t actually avowed Nazis on the platform, but rather, his comments about eating dinner with Mark Zuckerberg.

When asked what his most memorable encounter with Zuckerberg was, Dorsey said:

“Well, there was a year when he was only eating what he was killing. He made goat for me for dinner. He killed the goat.”

Okay, I get that. Some argue that only eating what you’re killing is the only ethical way to eat meat, as it bypasses the meat industry, its carbon footprint, and all that jazz.

But wait. It gets weirder.

When asked by the interviewer if the Zuck killed the goat in front of him, Dorsey clarifies:

“No. He killed it before. I guess he kills it. He kills it with a laser gun and then the knife. Then they send it to the butcher.”

laser gun? Does Zuckerberg have futuristic technology he isn’t sharing with us? Or has Dorsey just been watching too much Star Trek?

Dorsey went on to say:

“I don’t know. A stun gun. They stun it, and then he knifed it. Then they send it to a butcher. Evidently in Palo Alto there’s a rule or regulation that you can have six livestock on any lot of land, so he had six goats at the time. I go, “We’re eating the goat you killed?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Have you eaten goat before?” He’s like, “Yeah, I love it.” I’m like, “What else are we having?” “Salad.” I said, “Where is the goat?” “It’s in the oven.” Then we waited for about 30 minutes. He’s like, “I think it’s done now.” We go in the dining room. He puts the goat down. It was cold. That was memorable. I don’t know if it went back in the oven. I just ate my salad.”

Dorsey most likely just misspoke when he said ‘laser gun’, unless his follow-up response about stun guns was meant to throw us off the scent of Zuckerberg’s secret futuristic technology

Assuming he misspoke, using a stun gun isn’t in and of itself weird – they’re commonly used to stun livestock before killing it. The image of Mark Zuckerberg brandishing a stun gun and a knife is a troubling one, though.

Also troubling is the fact the goat was served cold. Surely goat is best when cooked well, like a good steak? I’ve never had goat, so I’m open to the possibility that I’m wrong on this one.

As Gizmodo points out, Zuckerberg did challenge himself to only eat meat he had personally killed back in 2011. Remember 2011, when the worst publicity Facebook had received was 2010’s The Social Network? Simpler times.

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