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Google Adds New Tools to Help Limit the Spread of Misinformation Online

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Google Adds New Tools to Help Limit the Spread of Misinformation Online


With International Fact-Checking Day coming up on April 2nd, Google has provided a new overview of its evolving efforts to detect misinformation online, and limit the reach of false reports in partnership with its fact-checking partners.

Google has significantly ramped up its efforts to address misinformation, with a range of Search upgrades and alerts to help users better understand the sources that they’re connecting with for updates.

And now, Google’s bringing more tools to the fight.

First off, Google’s adding a new notice on evolving news stories which will alert searchers that the facts are still being clarified.

As you can see in this example, the new alerts, rolling out for English-language searches in the US, will make the searcher aware of the evolving nature of the story, and will include tips to help the user evaluate information online, like a reminder of the importance of relying trusted sources.

Small prompts like this are often all that’s required to get users to take a moment of pause for clarity on such, before re-distributing false narratives, while it could also serve as a learning tool to improve digital literacy, by underlining the dangers of trusting everything that you read online.

Google’s also adding a new ‘Highly Cited’ label to help users find the source info for major news stories.

Google Highly Cited tag

As explained by Google:

“Let’s say a local news organization breaks an investigative story looking into problems at your local school district. The story is so big that it gets picked up by numerous other media outlets. But what if you didn’t see that original story, which had unique context for local residents? We’re introducing a way to help you identify stories that have been frequently cited by other news organizations, giving you a simple way to find the most helpful or relevant information for a news story.”

The new label will appear on Top Stories, while everything from articles, to interviews to press releases will be eligible for the new tag.

And aside from promoting key source research, Google’s also hoping that it will help to elevate original reporting, “making it even easier for people to discover and engage with the publishers and journalists whose work brings unique value to a story.”

The highly cited label is launching soon on mobile in English for the US, with other regions to follow in the coming weeks.

In addition to these upgrades, Google also suggests that Searchers familiarize themselves with its Fact Check Explorer tool, which enables users to search for any topic that they have questions about, and cross-references over 150,000 fact checks to provide more context.

Google Fact Check Explorer

While you can also cross-check the history of any website via the Search results page.

Google page history

Google also highlights its continued support of a number of fact-checking programs through its Google News Initiative, helping to enhance the expertise available to examine and verify online information.

Which is a battle that can never be won, not fully, as the rapid pace of online publishing makes it impossible to completely stop the spread of false and misleading information, either via bad actors or unwitting users and publications. But it can be slowed significantly. With the right systems in place, Google, as well as all the other major platforms, can detect and limit the spread of potentially harmful untruths, and stop them from gaining viral traction, which is the key focus of initiatives like this.

Still, Google-owned YouTube remains a key source of misinformation, while Google also inadvertently funds many click-bait farms through its ad tools. As such, it clearly has a way to go in addressing these elements, but every step is another move in the right direction, and it’s good to see Google continuing to evolve its fact-checking programs, especially as people increasingly rely on online sources over more traditional (legacy?) news outlets.

You can read more about Google’s evolving fact-checking and misinformation detection efforts here.  



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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

Pinterest is taking a unique approach to Black History Month, with a new ‘Find Your Routes’ Black Travel Hub initiative, which aims to highlight places that have strong connections to Black history, while also showcasing Black-owned businesses.

As explained by Pinterest:

“Find Your Routes” is inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book aka “The Green Book”. The Green Book was a guidebook for Black travelers during the Jim Crow era that provided a list of accessible hotels, boarding houses, taverns, restaurants, service stations and other establishments throughout the country that served Black Americans patrons.”

The Black Travel Hub, which you can find here, will present a range of travel options, along with their history, with creators from the US, Colombia, Jamaica, Brazil and more, all taking part in presenting their city.

It could be a good way to provide education alongside inspiration in the app, while also helping people to connect, and support highlighted communities.

Pinterest will also be showcasing Black-owned businesses on Pinterest TV, while internally, it’s also hosting a company-wide event ‘to help employees gain knowledge about the history, present, and future of Black travel through the lens of Black Pinployees’.

As noted, it could be a good way to both spark important conversations, and inspire new travel journeys, which include an extra level of cultural understanding and education, along with a leisure break.

It’s an interesting take on the celebration either way, and it’ll be worth noting what sort of reaction the initiative gets, and whether it inspires more travel as a result.

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Snap Tumbles On Weak Revenue, Gloomy Outlook

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Snap Tumbles On Weak Revenue, Gloomy Outlook

Snap shares plunged after missing analyst expectations in Q4, while forecasting a year-over-year revenue decline.

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Snapchat Adds 12 Million Users in Q4, Posts Lower Than Expected Revenue Result

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Snapchat Adds 12 Million Users in Q4, Posts Lower Than Expected Revenue Result

Snapchat added 12 million more active users in Q4 2022, and Snapchat+ subscriptions continue to rise, but company revenue missed market estimates, in another mixed result for the private social app.

First off, on users – as noted, Snap added 12 million more actives, taking it to 375 million DAU.

As you can see, North American user growth is still flat, while European users saw a slight uptick. But it’s the ‘Rest of the World’, specifically India, which is driving Snap growth.

Which is helping to boost the overall usage numbers, and expand opportunity. But on the revenue side, it’s not pushing things forward in a significant way.

Snap Q4 2022

As you can see in this chart, Snapchat’s revenue has increased, but a key problem here is that it’s still reliant on the US and Canada for the majority of that spend, with other markets trailing well behind on the revenue front.

Snap Q4 2022

In this chart, you can see that Snap’s Revenue Per User has actually declined year-on-year – so while it is growing, it’s not bringing in revenue at equivalent scale, and it’s even going backwards in some respects.

Which is why its stagnant growth in North America is a problem – though Snap has also seen take-up of its Snapchat+ subscription service increase.

“In Q4, our subscription service Snapchat+ reached over 2.0 million paying subscribers. Snapchat+ offers exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features, and in Q4 we launched new features such as Custom Story Expiration and Custom Notification Sounds, providing subscribers with over 12 exclusive features.”

That’s a handy additional revenue stream, but as with all social media subscription services (including Twitter Blue), take-up is generally limited, and at 2 million subscribers, that’s still only 0.5% of Snapchat’s active user base that’s been willing to pay extra for these add-on elements.

Snap has also faced challenges in rebuilding its ad business, in the wake of Apple’s iOS 14 update, which has impacted data collection, and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says they still have some way to go on this yet:

“We continue to face significant headwinds as we look to accelerate revenue growth, and we are making progress driving improved return on investment for advertisers and innovating to deepen the engagement of our community.”

Snap has seen improvement in its commerce integrations, which includes digital items for Bitmoji avatars which Snap is eventually looking to translate into real-world item sales as well. Snap also says that it’s facilitated over than 161 million product trials by over 35 million Snapchatters for Walmart, leveraging its Catalog-Powered Shopping Lenses at-scale.

Snapchat AR shopping

Those point to bigger opportunities, but right now, amid the broader economic downturn, and restrictions on data collection and targeting, Snapchat is in a tough spot, and will be for some time yet.

Essentially, then, you’re banking on Snap’s future, and its advanced tools that could help it better align with expanded AR and VR use. And Snap is seemingly in a good position on this front – though again, the impacts of the last year, which also forced Snap into lay-offs, will also have some effect.

Really, then, the results here are relative to your perspective.

For advertisers, more Snap users means more potential reach – but most of Snap’s growth is coming from outside the US. More advanced AR activations could become a bigger deal in future, but it depends on how you’re looking to connect, and product fit.

Investors won’t be overly happy with the numbers, but there are positive signs on the horizon. It’s just that the horizon, in this respect, remains well in the distance at this stage.

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