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States launch ‘trusted information’ efforts against fake news on social media



(CNN)A Facebook account impersonating the Swain County board of elections in North Carolina. Unfounded rumors that Tarrant County, Texas, doesn’t have former Vice President Joe Biden on the ballot. Wrong claims in Maine that Election Day is on different days for Republicans than for Democrats.

The misinformation on social media is contributing to a heightened alert ahead of Super Tuesday, when millions of Americans are expected to cast 2020 primary ballots.

“Misinformation is the most likely source of trouble we’re going to experience this year,” Keith Ingram, elections director at the Texas Secretary of State’s office, told CNN.

State officials say misinformation poses as big a threat to elections as cyber-attacks that could cripple voting infrastructure. So to counter the bad information online, states are increasingly going on the offensive — trying to spread good information to inoculate the public.

But while experts commend the effort, many have questions about its effectiveness — and some say states could be doing more.

Earlier this week, California’s secretary of state sent emails to the 6.6 million registered voters with email addresses on file, directing them to the state’s election education guide. North Carolina’s board of elections ran radio ads recently reminding voters that photo identification will not be necessary in the state on Super Tuesday, thanks to a recent court ruling.

Ingram said Texas’s online portal for accurate election information,, is being “pounded in people’s minds” through social media.

And across the country, officials are using the hashtag #trustedinfo2020 to tell Americans exactly where to find the bedrock truth for election information.

“Your source for #TrustedInfo2020 is ALWAYS your state and county election officials,” Oklahoma’s state election board tweeted last week — pointing voters to an internet portal for identifying polling places and requesting absentee ballots. The hashtag campaign is organized by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

Drowning out misinformation

By flooding the zone with constructive content, states are hoping to drown out negative or harmful material. It’s an idea linked to a growing body of research on online extremism, which has found that offering a contrasting view against hate speech can minimize its impact and lead to more engagement for the positive messages on social media.

“The #trustedinfo2020 campaign is really a sort of reminder to people that there are resources that they can trust if they hear something or if they have some question about the news,” said Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap in an interview with CNN.

Meanwhile, in California, Secretary of State Alex Padilla has taken out ads on social media to promote the visibility of accurate information, according to Sam Mahood, an agency spokesman. In some cases, Mahood said, posts from the secretary’s official social media accounts correcting online misinformation were picked up by news outlets who helped further suppress the spread of false claims.

Social media platforms have also dramatically improved their relationships with states compared to 2016 and 2018, election officials said. Whereas some states once lacked ways to contact Facebook or Twitter in earlier cycles, that’s changed, said Ingram.

“They’ve all made themselves accessible,” he said. “They all have folks who reach out to us, and we have their [contact] information.”

The same goes for the federal government. The Department of Homeland Security has established real-time communications channels for state and local officials to share reports of suspicious activity. Those portals are mostly focused on cybersecurity threats. But the US government will “continue to plan for the worst” as it anticipates Russia continuing its misinformation efforts this year, acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf told CNN last week in North Carolina.

Wolf also called on voters to make sure they are “getting their information straight from the source.”

States reaching out to social media

As recently as last week, Facebook removed a misleading page that falsely told North Carolina voters they could fill out one bubble on a general-election ballot in order to vote for a single party across all eligible races, said Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the state board of elections. The page risked confusing North Carolinians and damaging trust in the democratic process, he added, but Facebook removed it at the state’s request.

Still, playing Whack-a-Mole against individual cases of misinformation is no substitute for providing credible information, according to state officials.

Experts say awareness campaigns like #trustedinfo2020 are critical to improving public trust in the democratic process.

But, they added, there’s no single solution for a problem as abstract and multi-faceted as online misinformation, said Matt Sheehan, managing director of the Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida.

“I wish there was a fix as simple as a hashtag, but it runs counter to how we’re wired as humans,” he said. “Our personalities and worldviews color the information we find credible, or seek out as consumers.”

The dedication of those trying to mislead voters, as well as the natural ebb and flow of ordinary misinformation, makes it hard for officials to compete, said Rachel Goodman, an attorney at the civil society nonprofit Protect Democracy.

“The unfortunate reality is, because there’s so many resources on the misnformation side,” she said, “it’s hard to see until we’re really in the crucible how it really measures up.”

By some estimates, the #trustedinfo2020 campaign doesn’t appear to have spread very far. One researcher who analyzed the hashtag told CNN that since late last year, it has been mentioned in about 10,000 tweets, mostly in posts created by election officials themselves. NASS declined to comment.

“Ten thousand mentions since mid-November is a relatively low volume,” said Ben Nimmo, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “It shows there’s been some pickup, but it’s not a viral phenomenon yet.”

CNN’s Geneva Sands contributed to this report.

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What can ChatGPT do?



ChatGPT Explained

ChatGPT is a large language model developed by OpenAI that is trained on a massive amount of text data. It is capable of generating human-like text and has been used in a variety of applications, such as chatbots, language translation, and text summarization.

One of the key features of ChatGPT is its ability to generate text that is similar to human writing. This is achieved through the use of a transformer architecture, which allows the model to understand the context and relationships between words in a sentence. The transformer architecture is a type of neural network that is designed to process sequential data, such as natural language.

Another important aspect of ChatGPT is its ability to generate text that is contextually relevant. This means that the model is able to understand the context of a conversation and generate responses that are appropriate to the conversation. This is accomplished by the use of a technique called “masked language modeling,” which allows the model to predict the next word in a sentence based on the context of the previous words.

One of the most popular applications of ChatGPT is in the creation of chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation and can be used in customer service, sales, and other applications. ChatGPT is particularly well-suited for this task because of its ability to generate human-like text and understand context.

Another application of ChatGPT is language translation. By training the model on a large amount of text data in multiple languages, it can be used to translate text from one language to another. The model is able to understand the meaning of the text and generate a translation that is grammatically correct and semantically equivalent.

In addition to chatbots and language translation, ChatGPT can also be used for text summarization. This is the process of taking a large amount of text and condensing it into a shorter, more concise version. ChatGPT is able to understand the main ideas of the text and generate a summary that captures the most important information.

Despite its many capabilities and applications, ChatGPT is not without its limitations. One of the main challenges with using language models like ChatGPT is the risk of generating text that is biased or offensive. This can occur when the model is trained on text data that contains biases or stereotypes. To address this, OpenAI has implemented a number of techniques to reduce bias in the training data and in the model itself.

In conclusion, ChatGPT is a powerful language model that is capable of generating human-like text and understanding context. It has a wide range of applications, including chatbots, language translation, and text summarization. While there are limitations to its use, ongoing research and development is aimed at improving the model’s performance and reducing the risk of bias.

** The above article has been written 100% by ChatGPT. This is an example of what can be done with AI. This was done to show the advanced text that can be written by an automated AI.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”


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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.


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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.


Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

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Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is




MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.

Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple

Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.

However, 39% said that they trust Amazon  by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.

By adding up the scores in the positive categories,

Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.

Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.

Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.

74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive

The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.

The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?

Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”

The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”

Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.

When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”

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