Connect with us

Media

When Does Flagging False Content on Social Media Backfire? – Slate

Published

on


A red iPhone is held by two hands over a quilt.

Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

In the past few months, social media companies have scrambled to address the misinformation tearing through their platforms—first about the election, then the coronavirus. Twitter has started using manipulated media labels. Facebook has been more aggressively removing harmful content and flagging false news. This week, YouTube announced that it will add information panels to searches in the U.S. that might bring up misinformation.

At the heart of these measures is fact checking. At Facebook, the “epicenter of misinformation,” an expanding network of professional fact checkers is sifting through the site’s posts to slap warning labels on false content. At first glance, these efforts appear uniformly good. But what’s the psychology behind those flags? How effective are they? And do red flags ever embolden the very users they’re meant to deter?

A study published this month by researchers at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and the University of Indiana sought to answer these questions. The researchers found that credibility indicators, or flags, can reduce users’ intentions to share fake content on social media regardless of political orientation. In short, fact-checking sources are overwhelmingly trusted. Yet the more nuanced conclusion is that the effect of these flags varies significantly based on gender and political orientation: Men are more 1.5 times more likely to share news that’s been flagged as false, the study concluded, while Republicans are much more inclined to disseminate that news than Democrats or independents.

The findings were based on an online study with 1,500 participants in the U.S. These participants saw 12 true, false, and satirical headlines marked with one of four types of credibility indicators: warnings that came from fact checkers, news media, the public, or artificial intelligence. Then, they were asked if they would share the article with friends. (The indicators from fact checkers and A.I. are the most relevant to current social media policies. Facebook, for instance, has used A.I.  to spot hoaxes copied and pasted by different accounts.)

An example of one of the headlines in the study. It reads "Coiled mattresses cause cancer by amplifying radio waves," with "Multiple fact-checking journalists dispute the credibility of this news" underneath.

An example of one of the headlines in the study. It reads "Coiled mattresses cause cancer by amplifying radio waves," with "Multiple fact-checking journalists dispute the credibility of this news" underneath.

An example of a “credibility indicator” by fact checkers in the study.

Proceedings of the 2020 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

The most effective indicator by far was fact checkers. Participants intended to share 43 percent fewer headlines that were marked untrue by fact checkers: 61 percent fewer for Democrats, compared with 40 percent for independents and 19 percent for Republicans. As for A.I., Democrats intended to share 40 percent fewer untrue headlines with the A.I. indicator, versus 16 percent for independents. Notably, Republicans said they would share 8 percent more untrue news with the AI indicator. “We were not expecting that, although conservatives may tend to trust more traditional means of flagging the veracity of news,” said Sameer Patil, a co-author of the study, in a press release.

Admittedly, this is just one study, but it’s important for two reasons. First, it provides further evidence that the “backfire effect,” or the idea that fact-based corrections may actually reinforce false beliefs, isn’t as serious as some researchers have believed. Over the past decade, understanding around the effects of flagging misinformation has shifted away from the backfire effect, which was popularized by a 2010 study. But the concerns over the effect has lingered. Facebook itself noted that “[a]cademic 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,” when it temporarily ditched the disputed flag in 2017. The general findings of the new study align with a 2019 study by Paul Mena, a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who also concluded that warning labels may indeed disincentivize Facebook users from sharing fake news.

Second, the new research also provides insight into how partisanship and demographics affect misinformation campaigns—an area that’s so far been understudied. However, its conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt. The paper itself acknowledged the limitations of generalizing from this research, especially since even though they “carefully worded the indicators in a politically neutral way … [they] cannot rule out the influence of inherent systemic political biases regarding technology or the media.”

That said, this research aligns with a 2019 study that also found that during the 2016 presidential election campaign, 18 percent of Republicans shared links to fake news sites, compared to less than 4 percent of Democrats. Yet the 2019 study similarly cautioned against associating ideology with a predisposition to share false content, since most fake news circling during the campaign was pro-Trump or anti-Clinton. In Mena’s study, which did not focus on political affiliation and controlled for political leaning, Democrats were actually more likely to share false news with or without a warning label—though Republicans’ behavior was less affected by these labels. But Mena told me that this outcome likely resulted from the headlines he used being more ideologically attractive to Democrats, since the majority of his participants were Democrats. “More research is needed,” he said. “A possible explanation would be that the observed effect of political affiliation depends on the topic of the false news story.”

Regardless of the effects of partisanship, the new study’s findings are positive. In his 2019 study, Mena confirmed evidence of the “third-person effect,” where people believe that others are more likely to share false news—with or without flags—than themselves; essentially, we tend to overestimate the effects of misinformation on others. Ultimately, the new study only further shows that while people generally tend to have negative opinions of others’ gullibility or intentions, a much smaller percentage of people will share hoaxes when they’re flagged. Which is to say that Facebook and other social media sites should continue to moderate and mark their content, especially when large swaths of misinformation amid the current infodemic go undetected (and even look potentially more trustworthy without a label). As Patil pointed out, making fact checkers efficient enough to tackle the current scale of falsities floating around might require greater use of artificial intelligence moderators. “This could include applying fact checks to only the most-needed content, which might involve applying natural language algorithms. So, it is a question, broadly speaking, of how humans and AI could co-exist,” he said.

Future Tense
is a partnership of
Slate,
New America, and
Arizona State University
that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Media

Hong Kong's free media fears being silenced by China's national security law – Financial Post

Published

on


HONG KONG — When a team of producers at Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) heard on May 19 that the publicly funded broadcaster planned to axe one of its most popular weekly shows, they rushed to the building next door to confront the station’s head.

A group of about 20 producers and other employees from RTHK’s TV and radio operations barged into a conference room where Leung Ka-wing, director of broadcasting, was meeting with top executives.

Some staff demanded to know why the satirical and current affairs television show “Headliner” – which had drawn official complaints after poking fun at the Hong Kong police in an episode in February – was being canceled, and whether the move was prompted by pressure from authorities.

The impromptu meeting lasted about 90 minutes, during which several staffers cried and raised their voices, according to three people present. Leung said he took the decision to cancel the show in order to “protect RTHK” and its staff, according to the three people.

As conversations continued inside the conference room, RTHK announced it was suspending production of the Chinese-language show, which had been running since 1989, at the end of the current season. RTHK apologized to anyone offended by the station’s output but did not give a reason for the suspension.

Leung, 67, who made his name in broadcasting during the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing in 1989, declined to answer Reuters’ questions about the meeting. He denied making the comment about protecting RTHK, according to RTHK spokeswoman Amen Ng. Other executives in the meeting that Reuters could identify did not reply to requests for comment.

Hong Kong’s government did not comment on whether it had pressured Leung to cancel the show.

RTHK, founded in 1928 and sometimes compared to the British Broadcasting Corporation, is the only independent, publicly funded media outlet on Chinese soil. It is guaranteed editorial independence by its charter.

The cancellation of “Headliner” has prompted fear among some journalists that mounting pressure from the Hong Kong government and Beijing will destroy that independence.

Hong Kong reached boiling point last summer as millions of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets and some of them clashed violently with police, posing one of the biggest challenges to China’s leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

In response to the protests, China said last month it would introduce national security legislation in Hong Kong to prohibit secession, subversion and external interference. More than a dozen people working at RTHK and other media organizations told Reuters they fear that legislation could be used to silence or shut down independent media in the territory.

The situation is like being under the blade of a guillotine, said Jimmy Lai, the publisher of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, which like RTHK, has for years drawn the ire of Hong Kong’s government and Beijing: “There’s no half-way. It’s falling.”

Lai, 72, has been repeatedly denounced by state-run Beijing media and pro-China media in Hong Kong, painting him as the local face of what they describe as a U.S. interference campaign. He has been arrested twice this year on charges of illegal assembly related to protests last year.

Lai and some other members of the media fear the new legislation – which has not yet been set out in detail – will make Hong Kong more like mainland China, where the ruling Communist Party runs or controls the vast majority of media and routinely censors dissenting views. The country imprisoned at least 48 journalists last year, more than any other country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has denied the new legislation would curtail media freedom, saying last month that “freedom of expression, freedom of protest, freedom of journalism, will stay.” Hong Kong is guaranteed freedom of speech and the press under Article 27 of the Basic Law, the mini-constitution agreed by China when it took back control of former British colony in 1997.

A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Reuters the proposed legislation “only targets activities related to subversion, separatism, terrorism and foreign interference into Hong Kong affairs,” and that it will “not affect freedom of speech, media freedoms, or any other rights and freedoms.”

China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, Beijing’s official base in the city, did not reply to requests for comment on whether China sought to control or suppress RTHK or if the new national security legislation would curtail media freedom in Hong Kong.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Scrutiny of RTHK has increased dramatically since late February, when a two-minute segment on “Headliner” entitled ‘Police Farce Report’ showed an actor dressed as a Hong Kong police officer standing inside a large rubbish container with his hands covered in plastic.

The skit shows police in various situations wearing biohazard suits and masks, satirizing how well equipped police officers are compared to medical workers. The actor, Kwong Ngai-yee, told Reuters the idea was based on the “Sesame Street” puppet Oscar the Grouch and that he hoped to “ease public anger through humor.”

Hong Kong police were not amused. The force’s commissioner Chris Tang complained to Leung in writing in early March, saying the show “smeared the police and their work during the coronavirus period.” RTHK had “reversed right and wrong, and we simply can’t accept it,” Tang wrote in the letter, which was made public by RTHK.

On the morning of May 19, Hong Kong’s Communications Authority, which regulates the city’s broadcast and telecoms sectors, published a report criticizing the broadcaster, saying the segment “smeared the police by suggesting that the police were trash, worthless and revulsive.”

As the RTHK employees met with Leung that evening, Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, which oversees RTHK, released a statement on its website demanding that the broadcaster examine its production and editorial processes and “follow up or take disciplinary actions” on any staff found to have committed “negligence or errors.”

Nine days later, the Commerce Bureau announced an unprecedented, government-led review of RTHK’s governance and management – spanning its administration, financial control and manpower – to ensure it complies with its charter. The review is expected to be concluded by the end of the year.

A spokesman for the Commerce Bureau told Reuters in an email that RTHK has editorial independence, but as a government department, RTHK and its staff “are subject to all applicable government rules and regulations.”

“Ultimately RTHK is part of the government, and in theory it could do anything to us,” said Gladys Chiu, the chairperson of RTHK’s program staff union, which represents about 400 of the station’s 700 staff. The new legislation and increased scrutiny of RTHK could be used “to coerce the staff into broadcasting or reporting in a way that is approved by the government,” she said.

RTHK also faces pressures at street level. Small groups of pro-Beijing protesters regularly gather outside its headquarters in Kowloon, waving Chinese flags and signs accusing the broadcaster of anti-government bias.

“Shut it down,” the crowds chanted continuously during one protest in January, according to video news coverage, while calling RTHK a “cockroach” station, a description some police have used to describe pro-democracy protesters.

Some RTHK staff have been threatened in social media posts and targeted in the pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong for perceived anti-government bias. Some pro-Beijing lawmakers also routinely attack RTHK. One outspoken critic, Junius Ho, last month demanded the broadcaster become a “government mouthpiece.”

“It’s very worrying because we see RTHK being reined in by every means,” said Shirley Yam, vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

RISING TENSION

China and the United States have been engaged in a tit-for-tat spat over the presence of the other’s journalists for several months.

The United States slashed the number of journalists permitted to work at Chinese state-owned media outlets in the country to 100 from 160, citing a deepening crackdown on independent reporting inside China. In March, Beijing revoked the media credentials of about a dozen American reporters working in mainland China for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times, saying the reporters would not be allowed to relocate and work in Hong Kong.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on the State Department’s website last month that the Chinese government “has threatened to interfere with the work of American journalists in Hong Kong,” without giving details.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that if the row with the United States escalates further, Beijing could intervene in the issuance of work visas for foreign journalists in Hong Kong.

The spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Visa issues are a matter of national sovereignty. The Chinese government manages affairs related to foreign media and foreign journalists according to laws and regulations.”

Intervening in the issuance of journalists’ visas would be a highly contentious move for Hong Kong, which although part of China, operates with a high degree of autonomy. In 2018, the visa of the Financial Times’ Asia editor, Victor Mallet, was not renewed by Hong Kong after he moderated a speech by a pro-independence activist at an event hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) in the city. The move alarmed some diplomats and business groups in Hong Kong.

The event angered China, and a senior official said at the time that the FCC had broken the law by hosting a “separatist.” Hong Kong authorities never publicly explained why Mallet’s visa had not been renewed, saying they could not comment on individual cases.

Hong Kong’s global media freedom ranking is in free-fall. Reporters without Borders (RSF) said Hong Kong fell to 80th place in 2020 in its global press freedom index, down from 18th in 2002. Over the past year, reporters covering protests in the city have been detained, pepper-sprayed and shot with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters by police.

“A security law dictated by China would give a massive blow to press freedom in Hong Kong,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau. “(It would) allow the regime to engage in the type of intimidation that we see on their side of the border.” (Reporting by James Pomfret and Greg Torode in Hong Kong Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom Editing by Bill Rigby)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Media

Hong Kong's free media fears being silenced by China's national security law – The Globe and Mail

Published

on


Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily, speaks during an interview responding to national security legislation in Hong Kong on May 29, 2020.

TYRONE SIU/Reuters

When a team of producers at Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) heard on May 19 that the publicly funded broadcaster planned to axe one of its most popular weekly shows, they rushed to the building next door to confront the station’s head.

A group of about 20 producers and other employees from RTHK’s TV and radio operations barged into a conference room where Leung Ka-wing, director of broadcasting, was meeting with top executives.

Some staff demanded to know why the satirical and current affairs television show “Headliner” – which had drawn official complaints after poking fun at the Hong Kong police in an episode in February – was being cancelled, and whether the move was prompted by pressure from authorities.

Story continues below advertisement

The impromptu meeting lasted about 90 minutes, during which several staffers cried and raised their voices, according to three people present. Leung said he took the decision to cancel the show in order to “protect RTHK” and its staff, according to the three people.

As conversations continued inside the conference room, RTHK announced it was suspending production of the Chinese-language show, which had been running since 1989, at the end of the current season. RTHK apologized to anyone offended by the station’s output but did not give a reason for the suspension.

Leung, 67, who made his name in broadcasting during the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing in 1989, declined to answer Reuters’ questions about the meeting. He denied making the comment about protecting RTHK, according to RTHK spokeswoman Amen Ng. Other executives in the meeting that Reuters could identify did not reply to requests for comment.

Hong Kong’s government did not comment on whether it had pressured Leung to cancel the show.

RTHK, founded in 1928 and sometimes compared to the British Broadcasting Corporation, is the only independent, publicly funded media outlet on Chinese soil. It is guaranteed editorial independence by its charter.

The cancellation of “Headliner” has prompted fear among some journalists that mounting pressure from the Hong Kong government and Beijing will destroy that independence.

Hong Kong reached boiling point last summer as millions of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets and some of them clashed violently with police, posing one of the biggest challenges to China’s leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Story continues below advertisement

In response to the protests, China said last month it would introduce national security legislation in Hong Kong to prohibit secession, subversion and external interference. More than a dozen people working at RTHK and other media organizations told Reuters they fear that legislation could be used to silence or shut down independent media in the territory.

The situation is like being under the blade of a guillotine, said Jimmy Lai, the publisher of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, which like RTHK, has for years drawn the ire of Hong Kong’s government and Beijing: “There’s no halfway. It’s falling.”

Lai, 72, has been repeatedly denounced by state-run Beijing media and pro-China media in Hong Kong, painting him as the local face of what they describe as a U.S. interference campaign. He has been arrested twice this year on charges of illegal assembly related to protests last year.

Lai and some other members of the media fear the new legislation – which has not yet been set out in detail – will make Hong Kong more like mainland China, where the ruling Communist Party runs or controls the vast majority of media and routinely censors dissenting views. The country imprisoned at least 48 journalists last year, more than any other country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has denied the new legislation would curtail media freedom, saying last month that “freedom of expression, freedom of protest, freedom of journalism, will stay.” Hong Kong is guaranteed freedom of speech and the press under Article 27 of the Basic Law, the miniconstitution agreed by China when it took back control of former British colony in 1997.

A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Reuters the proposed legislation “only targets activities related to subversion, separatism, terrorism and foreign interference into Hong Kong affairs,” and that it will “not affect freedom of speech, media freedoms, or any other rights and freedoms.”

Story continues below advertisement

China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, Beijing’s official base in the city, did not reply to requests for comment on whether China sought to control or suppress RTHK or if the new national security legislation would curtail media freedom in Hong Kong.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Scrutiny of RTHK has increased dramatically since late February, when a two-minute segment on “Headliner” entitled ‘Police Farce Report’ showed an actor dressed as a Hong Kong police officer standing inside a large rubbish container with his hands covered in plastic.

The skit shows police in various situations wearing biohazard suits and masks, satirizing how well equipped police officers are compared to medical workers. The actor, Kwong Ngai-yee, told Reuters the idea was based on the “Sesame Street” puppet Oscar the Grouch and that he hoped to “ease public anger through humour.”

Hong Kong police were not amused. The force’s commissioner Chris Tang complained to Leung in writing in early March, saying the show “smeared the police and their work during the coronavirus period.” RTHK had “reversed right and wrong, and we simply can’t accept it,” Tang wrote in the letter, which was made public by RTHK.

On the morning of May 19, Hong Kong’s Communications Authority, which regulates the city’s broadcast and telecoms sectors, published a report criticizing the broadcaster, saying the segment “smeared the police by suggesting that the police were trash, worthless and revulsive.”

As the RTHK employees met with Leung that evening, Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, which oversees RTHK, released a statement on its website demanding that the broadcaster examine its production and editorial processes and “follow up or take disciplinary actions” on any staff found to have committed “negligence or errors.”

Story continues below advertisement

Nine days later, the Commerce Bureau announced an unprecedented, government-led review of RTHK’s governance and management – spanning its administration, financial control and manpower – to ensure it complies with its charter. The review is expected to be concluded by the end of the year.

A spokesman for the Commerce Bureau told Reuters in an e-mail that RTHK has editorial independence, but as a government department, RTHK and its staff “are subject to all applicable government rules and regulations.”

“Ultimately RTHK is part of the government, and in theory it could do anything to us,” said Gladys Chiu, the chairperson of RTHK’s program staff union, which represents about 400 of the station’s 700 staff. The new legislation and increased scrutiny of RTHK could be used “to coerce the staff into broadcasting or reporting in a way that is approved by the government,” she said.

RTHK also faces pressures at street level. Small groups of pro-Beijing protesters regularly gather outside its headquarters in Kowloon, waving Chinese flags and signs accusing the broadcaster of anti-government bias.

“Shut it down,” the crowds chanted continuously during one protest in January, according to video news coverage, while calling RTHK a “cockroach” station, a description some police have used to describe pro-democracy protesters.

Some RTHK staff have been threatened in social media posts and targeted in the pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong for perceived anti-government bias. Some pro-Beijing lawmakers also routinely attack RTHK. One outspoken critic, Junius Ho, last month demanded the broadcaster become a “government mouthpiece.”

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s very worrying because we see RTHK being reined in by every means,” said Shirley Yam, vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

RISING TENSION

China and the United States have been engaged in a tit-for-tat spat over the presence of the other’s journalists for several months.

The United States slashed the number of journalists permitted to work at Chinese state-owned media outlets in the country to 100 from 160, citing a deepening crackdown on independent reporting inside China. In March, Beijing revoked the media credentials of about a dozen American reporters working in mainland China for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times, saying the reporters would not be allowed to relocate and work in Hong Kong.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on the State Department’s website last month that the Chinese government “has threatened to interfere with the work of American journalists in Hong Kong,” without giving details.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that if the row with the United States escalates further, Beijing could intervene in the issuance of work visas for foreign journalists in Hong Kong.

The spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Visa issues are a matter of national sovereignty. The Chinese government manages affairs related to foreign media and foreign journalists according to laws and regulations.”

Story continues below advertisement

Intervening in the issuance of journalists’ visas would be a highly contentious move for Hong Kong, which although part of China, operates with a high degree of autonomy. In 2018, the visa of the Financial Times’ Asia editor, Victor Mallet, was not renewed by Hong Kong after he moderated a speech by a pro-independence activist at an event hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) in the city. The move alarmed some diplomats and business groups in Hong Kong.

The event angered China, and a senior official said at the time that the FCC had broken the law by hosting a “separatist.” Hong Kong authorities never publicly explained why Mallet’s visa had not been renewed, saying they could not comment on individual cases.

Hong Kong’s global media freedom ranking is in free-fall. Reporters without Borders (RSF) said Hong Kong fell to 80th place in 2020 in its global press freedom index, down from 18th in 2002. Over the past year, reporters covering protests in the city have been detained, pepper-sprayed and shot with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters by police.

“A security law dictated by China would give a massive blow to press freedom in Hong Kong,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau. “(It would) allow the regime to engage in the type of intimidation that we see on their side of the border.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Media

Changes being made to Saskatchewan print media as focus shifts online – Global News

Published

on


Both the Leader-Post and The Star Phoenix will not be printing a Monday copy of the paper starting on June 22nd.

The media outlets will move to a digital-only edition and will produce the printed edition Tuesday through Sunday.


READ MORE:
‘We’re back’: new Saskatoon community paper hits newsstands next week

Mark Taylor, the head of the school of journalism department at the University of Regina says, this change is not a surprising one.

“I think it’s part of a gradual shift that we are seeing lots of other newspapers doing and if this works and goes over without too many problems, it might be Tuesday, Wednesday, until eventually the paper is completely online,” Taylor said.

Readers will have access to the online version, which is the exact same version as the printed one.

Story continues below advertisement

Taylor added that the papers might see some push back from the older demographic of readers who are not online.


READ MORE:
LISTEN: The future of print media and journalism in the digital age

“I feel for the people like my parents and I think a lot of older readers who get the hard copy,” Taylor said.

“They always have and they might not be real web-savvy and they don’t want to get their news online.”

There will be no change in the subscription price.






1:56
Lacombe Globe set to print newspaper’s final edition


Lacombe Globe set to print newspaper’s final edition

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending