In 1995, Bill Gates made these predictions about streaming movies and fake news on the internet

Today, pretty much everyone regularly uses the internet to read breaking news and stream the latest blockbuster films. But in 1995, the internet was still in its infancy, and many Americans weren’t even online yet.

Bill Gates — as the co-founder of Microsoft (which made Internet Explorer, one of the first web browsers) — likely knew as much about the potential of internet technology as anyone in the mid-90s, however. So it’s not shocking that in 1995 Gates would be asked for his predictions on what the internet might look like a couple of decades into the future.

That’s exactly what happened when Gates sat down with author and journalist Terry Pratchett for an interview that appeared in the July 1995 edition of GQ magazine’s UK version. At the time, Gates was 39 and the world’s richest person with a net worth of $12.9 billion (he’s now second to Jeff Bezo with a $99.6 billion net worth, according to Forbes).

Gates’ conversation with Pratchett recently resurfaced online when writer Marc Burrows, who is working on a biography of Pratchett, tweeted two screenshots of the magazine interview (Gates is identified in the interview screenshots as “BG” and Pratchett is “TP”).

Not surprisingly, Gates had a couple of predictions for the future of the internet — one of which would turn out to be eerily prescient, while the other one seems to have come up short.

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Streaming movies

One prediction that Gates nailed was that the internet would forever change the way we consume entertainment, like movies and television shows. At the time, most people’s idea of a home entertainment system was a television hooked up to a VCR (electronic devices that played VHS tapes for anyone too young to remember), though video discs like DVDs were beginning to be introduced by the mid-90s.

In the interview, Pratchett is astounded when Gates tells him that “VCRs will be obsolete within ten years.”

“What? Completely obsolete?” asks Pratchett, who then asks if discs will be the primary home video format.

“Oh, they’ll be replaced by a disc player within four or five years,” Gates says. “I’m talking about access to media across the network.”

In other words, Gates is describing our ability to watch movies, TV shows and other streaming videos online. Gates, who complained that VCRs had “the world’s worst user interface,” went on to explain: “Everything we’re talking about will have screens to guide you and when you pause there’ll be a built-in personality that’ll immediately jump in and help you.”

Gates’ prediction ended up being pretty much on the money, as online video technology continued to improve over the next decade to the point where the now-ubiquitous video streaming platform YouTube was founded in 2005, 10 years after this interview took place. In 2007, Netflix announced plans to start streaming full movies and shows online. Today, Netflix has nearly 150 million streaming subscribers around the world, while more than two billion people watch videos on YouTube every month.

Pratchett also wanted to know if Gates thought that the internet would eventually make it easier to spread misinformation to large groups of people.

“There’s a kind of parity of esteem of information on the Net,” Pratchett remarked to Gates in the interview. “It’s all there: there’s no way of finding out whether this stuff has any bottom to it or whether someone just made it up.”

As an example, Pratchett proposed a hypothetical situation where someone purporting to be an expert promoted a theory online claiming that the Holocaust never happened. That theory, Pratchett argued, could be propped up on the internet and “available on the same terms as any piece of historical research which has undergone peer review and so on.”

While Pratchett’s biographer, Burrows, argued on Twitter this week that Pratchett had “accurately predicted how the internet would propagate and legitimise fake news,” Gates’ response is worth noting for the fact that the Microsoft co-founder failed to foresee the same negative effects of online misinformation.

Gates agreed with Pratchett that misinformation could be spread online, but “not for long,” the billionaire reasoned. For instance, Gates argued, the internet could contain fake news, but it would also create more opportunities for information to be verified and supported by appropriate authorities, from actual experts to journalists and consumer reports.

“The whole way that you can check somebody’s reputation will be so much more sophisticated on the Net than it is in print today,” Gates tells Pratchett.

Of course, we know now that many online platforms — from social media sites like Facebook to online video sites like YouTube — have struggled to squash the spread of misinformation and fake news on the internet. Even Gates himself says today that he’s concerned about the spread of misinformation online, admitting that “it’s turned out to be more of a problem than I, or many others, would have expected.”

But Gates also said, in a 2018 interview with Quartz, that he remains optimistic that the internet will continue to become more sophisticated as an information source over time, and that the benefits of having access to such a wealth of information on the internet will eventually outweigh the “challenges” of separating fact from fiction online.

[“source=cnbc”]

Tech Firms Should Be Made Liable for ‘Fake News’ on Sites: UK Lawmakers

Tech Firms Should Be Made Liable for 'Fake News' on Sites: UK Lawmakers

Tech firms like Facebook should be made liable for “harmful and misleading” material on their websites and pay a levy so they can be regulated, British lawmakers said, warning of a crisis in democracy due to misuse of personal data.

Facebook has increasingly become a focus of the media committee’s inquiry into “fake news” after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by British-headquartered consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The cost of higher privacy standards will hit Facebook’s profit margins for several years, the firm said on Wednesday, wiping over $120 billion (roughly Rs. 8.35 lakh crores) off its share price, and the company is coming under concerted regulatory scrutiny in Britain, the United States and the European Union.

“Companies like Facebook made it easy for developers to scrape user data and to deploy it in other campaigns without their knowledge or consent,” Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said in a statement.

“They must be made responsible, and liable, for the way in which harmful and misleading content is shared on their sites.”

The committee’s interim report and Collins’s comments were embargoed until July 29. Other news organisations broke the embargo after a copy of the report was published online by Dominic Cummings, who ran the officially designated Vote Leave campaign in the EU referendum.

The standards of accuracy and impartiality which tech companies are held to could be based on regulator Ofcom’s rules for television and radio, the lawmakers said.

The committee’s report also suggested a levy on tech firms which could contribute to an increased budget for Britain’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in the way in which the banking sector pays for the upkeep of its watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority.

The ICO earlier this month fined Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, has denied its work on the US president’s election made use of the data in question.

It has also said that while it pitched for work with campaign group Leave.EU before the Brexit referendum in Britain in 2016, it did not end up doing any work on the campaign.

The committee however said that adverts used online in the campaign were not clearly labelled, and expressed concern about a breach of spending rules by rival campaign group Vote Leave.

“We are facing nothing less than a crisis in our democracy – based on the systematic manipulation of data to support the relentless targeting of citizens … by campaigns of disinformation and messages of hate,” Collins said.

The findings were made in an interim report, with the full report due in the autumn.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Spread of fake news prompts literacy efforts in schools

Sunshine Year Media LiteracyIOWA CITY — Alarmed by the proliferation of false content online, state lawmakers around the country are pushing schools to put more emphasis on teaching students how to tell fact from fiction.

Lawmakers in several states have introduced or passed bills calling on public school systems to do more to teach media literacy skills that they say are critical to democracy. The effort has been bipartisan but has received little attention despite successful legislation in Washington state, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

Several more states are expected to consider such bills in the coming year, including Arizona, New York and Hawaii.

“I don’t think it’s a partisan issue to appreciate the importance of good information and the teaching of tools for navigating the information environment,” said Hans Zeiger, a Republican state senator in Washington who co-sponsored a bill that passed in his state earlier this year. “There is such a thing as an objective source versus other kinds of sources, and that’s an appropriate thing for schools to be teaching.”

Advocates say the K-12 curriculum has not kept pace with rapid changes in technology. Studies show many children spend hours every day online but struggle to comprehend the content that comes at them.

For years, they have pushed schools to incorporate media literacy — including the ability to evaluate and analyze sources of information — into lesson plans in civics, language arts, science and other subjects.

Their efforts started getting traction after the 2016 presidential election, which highlighted how even many adults can be fooled by false and misleading content peddled by agenda-driven domestic and foreign sources.

“Five years ago, it was difficult to get people to understand what we were doing and what we wanted to see happen in education and the skills students needed to learn,” said Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. “Now there is no question about the vitalness of this in classrooms.”

A study published last year by Stanford University researchers also brought the issue into focus. It warned that students from middle school to college were “easily duped” and ill-equipped to use reason with online information.

The researchers warned that “democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish.”

In June, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill establishing an advisory council to develop recommendations that will include instructing students on evaluating what they see and read online.

Jennifer Rocca, a high school librarian in Brookfield, Connecticut, was among several supporters who urged lawmakers to pass the legislation.

Her digital literacy course, a requirement for freshmen, challenges students to evaluate the credibility of online sources so they can spot falsehoods and biased information. She requires students to cite their sources when conducting research and explain why each would have the authority to be credible.

Without stronger statewide standards, Rocca said she worries that some school districts will not do enough to develop skills that are critical for students and society.

“You should be expected to navigate the internet and evaluate the information no matter where you go to school,” she said.

Many of the state bills are based on model legislation backed by a coalition of groups, including Media Literacy Now and the Digital Citizenship Institute. Advocates say the laws are a good first step that must be paired with updates to teacher education programs, funding for professional development and other changes throughout the education system.

[“Source-Thedailynonpareil”]

Why Social Media Companies Can’t Stop ‘Fake News’

Image result for Why Social Media Companies Can’t Stop ‘Fake News’

Why Social Media Companies Can’t Stop ‘Fake News’

Right before the holiday, Guy Benson noted that two widely-spread viral tweets about the tax reform bill were flat-out false. The first, from actress Jenna Fischer, contended that because of the GOP-supported tax reform, “school teachers can no longer deduct the cost of their classroom supplies on their taxes.”

Cut Fischer a little bit of slack; she eventually corrected her assertion and offered a lengthy apology. Her information was outdated; the House version of the bill would indeed have eliminated the $250 deductions that teachers could take for purchasing school supplies for their students. A short time earlier, it was a fair complaint; the final version of the bill kept the deduction intact. Still, her original complaining Tweet was retweeted at least 46,000 times; her apology was retweeted 3,600 times.

The second, from a now-deleted Twitter account called “@Sykotik_Dreams” – declared, “My wife’s friend just received a letter from Medicaid and Social Security saying her severely disabled autistic 7 year old son just lost his healthcare and benefits. The letter states that it’s due to your #TaxScamBill. It’s 3 days before Christmas you [bad word] [bad word]!!” This, too, was retweeted more than 46,000 times before it was deleted.

Everyone should have smelled “lie” coming off this one. Nothing in the tax bill affected Medicaid and Social Security benefits decisions. The Tweet was written on December 22nd and the final version of the bill passed the House of Representatives on December 20th. A decision like that almost certainly would have had to have been reached, and the letter would have had to have been drafted, before passage of the final legislation. The individual sharing the story offered no further illuminating details – which agency wrote the letter, any justification, or anyone who could be reached to verify the claim.

“Fake news” doesn’t just come from Moscow or Lithuanian server farms. It comes anytime someone offers something false, inaccurate, or deeply misleading, and people choose to believe it and spread it to their friends. In many cases, those who spread it and amplify it want it to be true, because it confirms part of their previous worldview. If you hate Republicans, you want to believe that their tax bill is doing nothing but terrible things to good people, that it’s living up to Nancy Pelosi’s label of “Armageddon,” and that it’s taking away health care from innocent 7-year-old autistic boys. If this dire scenario is true, it means you, the good outspoken liberal who keeps berating your relatives for their intolerably retrograde political views at Thanksgiving, is a hero, and your relatives are monsters for disagreeing with you.

Who’s to blame for fake news, the creators or those segments of the public who choose to believe it?

Facebook just learned the hard way that labeling something “fake news” does not erode the audience or appetite for that information.

Today, we’re announcing two changes which we believe will help in our fight against false news. First, we will no longer use Disputed Flags to identify false news. Instead we’ll use Related Articles to help give people more context about the story. Here’s why.

Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs – the opposite effect to what we intended. Related Articles, by contrast, are simply designed to give more context, which our research has shown is a more effective way to help people get to the facts. Indeed, we’ve found that when we show Related Articles next to a false news story, it leads to fewer shares than when the Disputed Flag is shown.

Second, we are starting a new initiative to better understand how people decide whether information is accurate or not based on the news sources they depend upon. This will not directly impact News Feed in the near term. However, it may help us better measure our success in improving the quality of information on Facebook over time.

Let me help you understand how people decide whether information is accurate or not, Facebook. A great many people have strong belief systems, and at the core of those strong belief systems is the idea that they are good and people who disagree are bad; alternately, my tribe is good and the other tribes are bad. If new information comes along and appears to confirm that they and their tribe are good, or that the other tribes are bad, then they choose to believe it. If new information comes along and appears to confirm that they and their tribe are bad, or that the other tribes are good, they will declare the information false.

[“Source-nationalreview”]

Meet the fake news of the online marketing world (that Google loves!): Review sites

A recent visit to TopSEOs.com revealed some amazing “facts” about online marketing vendors. Did you know, for example, that:

  • One of iProspect’s biggest clients is Circuit City (which went bankrupt in 2008)?
  • iCrossing’s annual revenue is between $1 million and $3 million?
  • Geary LSF (which closed in early 2016) currently has 93 employees and revenue of more than $10M. Oh, and they are the #59 best SEO agency in the US as of July 2017.
  • My company, 3Q Digital, also has revenue between $1 million and $3 million (wrong), has three founders (all of which founded an agency we acquired and only one of which has ever been part of my agency), is located in an office we haven’t rented for four years and is apparently the #7 best mobile marketing company in Australia (if only we had an Australian client).
  • An agency in Lehi, Utah, is ranked #1 in the US for search engine optimization, local SEO, remarketing, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, YouTube advertising, web design, web development, site audits, App Store Optimization, inbound marketing, infographic design, medical SEO, multilingual SEO, online marketing, video marketing, voice search optimization, and web marketing? They also rank highly in Canada and the UK. (I’m not providing a link here because I don’t want to help the organic results.)

So, um, yeah, it seems like a lot of the in-depth research on TopSEOs is at least 3 to 4 years old. I give them some credit, however, for updating the data they had in 2012, when they listed Google as being based in Seattle with annual revenue of $5 million to $10 million.

When top SEO rankings go to fake reviews sites

Now, you might be thinking: Why does this matter? There are plenty of junky pay-to-play review sites that exist entirely to drive leads to their sponsors. Here’s the rub: Google’s SEO algorithm apparently can’t separate the fake review sites from real content. To wit, I did a few Google searches and found TopSEOs highly ranked on numerous terms including:

  • #1 – Top SEO Agency
  • #2 – Best SEO Company
  • #3 – Top PPC Agency
  • #4 – SEO Agency
  • #5 – Best SEM Agency
  • #5 – PPC Agency

And then there’s Clutch.co — which happens to rank their sponsoring service-providers in the top spot for most categories — that is also doing smashingly in the organic results:

  • #1 – Best SEO Agency
  • #1 – Best SEO Company (right in front of TopSEOs)
  • #1 – Top PPC Agency
  • #1 – SEO Agency
  • #1 – PPC Agency
  • #2 – Top SEO Agency (right behind TopSEOs)
  • #3 – Best SEM Agency

It’s one thing for an agency to tout a bunch of fake rankings on their own website, but when Google is giving top SEO rankings to fake ranking sites, it gives these sites an aura of legitimacy that could lead businesses to trust the rankings.

Indeed, the agency that appears to be paying a ton of money to TopSEOs, and has been awarded top-ranking in the majority of categories, has a 1.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp and has received 12 negative reviews (none positive) on the Better Business Bureau’s website. (Snippets from the reviews include “in the end probably created more harm than good,” “they very obviously didn’t care about their work,” and “this is the most dishonest company I’ve ever dealt with.”)

I have a pretty simple theory as to why these review sites continue to impress Google’s algorithms. Every company that “wins” a high ranking promotes the ranking on their website, which means that the fake review sites are getting dozens of links from agencies. So Google’s algorithm sees a bunch of SEM and SEO agencies linking back to a site about “top SEM agencies” and concludes that this must be the most relevant site!

This is the same “link bombing” that resulted in George Bush showing up #1 for the term “miserable failure.” Google has developed algorithms in the past to fix egregious link bombing, so it’s a bit surprising that this problem still exists.

And even if the algorithm isn’t up to snuff, Google allegedly has 10,000 human reviewers who are on the look-out for bad and irrelevant content. It’s hard to believe that none of these folks have ever come across these fake review sites and imposed a ranking penalty.

I do have to give TopSEOs credit for one thing: making me laugh. They have a page about their testing facility that is fantastic, and I recommend reading the whole thing here. To give you a taste of its awesomeness, however, just check out this paragraph about their office, which uses high-falutin’ words to describe what appears to be a thermostat, desk lamps, computers with built-in speakers, nearby restaurants, and a hospital!

Our testing facility is outfitted with temperature control systems, audio capabilities, and automated lighting solutions to provide each team member with the optimal work environment. Our infrastructure makes communication convenient while the location of the testing facility ensures ease of access to products and services which team members may require for sustenance or medical concerns.

All joking aside, I’d like to see Google take their organic results a little more seriously and clean up the “fake news” that is no doubt misleading many businesses.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

[“Source-searchengineland”]

Fake university degree websites shut down

Graduates

More than 40 fraudulent websites have been shut down in a major crackdown on the sale of fake degrees.

The sites closed included those selling authentic-looking certificates using the names of real British universities.

Others were providers offering distance learning courses but were not valid UK degree awarding bodies.

An agency set up to investigate the issue, Higher Education Degree Datacheck(Hedd), said it had reports of more than 90 bogus institutions.

It follows a BBC South East investigation which found fake University of Kent degree certificates on sale online in China for £500.

Jayne Rowley, the higher education services director at Prospects which runs Hedd, said last September was its busiest month so far, with the closure of four bogus university sites and three websites selling fake degree certificates from multiple UK universities.

“One of the institutions we shut down in September was Stafford University. Now, of course there is an entirely genuine Staffordshire University, so they are piggy-backing on a name,” she said.

“There are some sites where they’ve actually taken the name of a real university – Surrey for example.

“There was a bogus provider shut down by us a couple of months ago calling itself Surrey University, and we’ve had ‘Wolverhamton university’ without the ‘p’ in the middle.”

Other fake certificates have purported to have come from Salford and Anglia Ruskin universities, while degrees from the University of Manchester were sold on the auction website eBay.

The government announced a crackdown on bogus providers in June 2015, with the aim of prosecuting and taking down fraudulent websites.

Ms Rowley said Hedd had taken action against offenders both in the UK and overseas.

She said: “Under UK law you are not allowed to call yourself a university unless you are entitled to do so and that requires an order from the Secretary of State.

“If you are using the name of a real university that is breaching trademark laws, you are not allowed to trade on somebody’s good name.”

Hedd has now asked new graduates not to take photographs with their real degree certificates in case they inadvertently aid fraudsters.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Degree fraud cheats both genuine learners and employers so we’ve taken decisive action to crack down on those seeking to profit from it.”

[Source:- BBC]

Study: Ad-tech use shines light on fringe, fake news sites

Study: Ad-tech use shines light on fringe, fake news sites

What distinguishes mainstream news sites from those devoted to fake news or other hyper-partisan takes on events? It’s not just the stories they run, but also the way they use online technology that tracks readers and shows them ads, according to a new study by a web analytics firm.

In particular, the study—from the New York-based startup Mezzobit—showed that such fringe news sites are relatively unsophisticated in the way they make money from online ads, perhaps because many are shoestring operations that can easily cover their costs.

Stories shown on fake or fringe news sites are anything but mainstream. They run from made-up articles to pieces that start with a grain of truth but exaggerate it to fit highly opinionated perspectives. But they use the same underlying ad technology, which serves up ads intended to appeal to every individual who visits, as their mainstream counterparts—just in different, and sometimes revealing, ways.

For starters, fringe sites typically aren’t as focused on using tools that maximize ad revenue by auctioning slots to the highest bidder, according to the Mezzobit study. Instead, they generally tap run-of-the-mill services from ad networks like those run by Google and Facebook.

One reason? Mainstream sites need to make a lot of money. After all, it’s more expensive to fund actual journalism than to make things up from thin air. Fringe sites “can make money with just a small footprint,” said David Carroll, professor of media design at the Parsons School of Design in New York. Carroll, who is not affiliated with Mezzobit, was given an overview of the report.

“This is how propaganda operates,” Carroll said. “Propaganda is not a direct economic business—it’s politically motivated media practice.”

Mezzobit compared the underlying ad technology used at fringe and mainstream news sites the week of Dec. 5. It started with a list of fringe sites created by Jonathan Albright, a professor who studies data journalism at Elon University in North Carolina. Albright calls the fringe sites “hyper-biased” propaganda.

For a mainstream comparison, Mezzobit used a list from Amazon’s Alexa that tracks the top news sites on the web. The list is comparable with other ranking systems such as comScore’s.

To be sure, some of the differences in the ad-tech footprints of mainstream and fringe news sites are similar to what you’d expect to find from comparing any large companies to smaller rivals, said Joseph Galarneau, Mezzobit’s CEO and co-founder.

“A lot of the fringe sites looked a lot more sparse,” he said. They had fewer tracking cookies and fewer links to outside sites and content. As a result, they were also 8 percent faster to load than the mainstream sites.

Carroll said he was more troubled by the similarities between mainstream and fringe sites.

The study revealed that advertisers aren’t shunning fringe news sites the way they avoid placing ads on sites that feature porn or gambling. And major ad networks appear to be letting advertisers place ads on fringe sites.

Although Google says it will prohibit its ads from being placed on “misrepresentative content,” it doesn’t explicitly single out “fake news” as part of this. Google also licenses its ad technology to advertisers it might not normally accept, indirectly profiting from such sites. Facebook has said that it bans fake news articles it knows about from its advertising network, but it doesn’t do so for entire sites.

“This presents a really challenging problem to the industry and to advertisers,” Carroll said. “The report shows plenty of exposure from Facebook and Google and the rest of the industry to this stuff.”

[Source:- phys]