Archive for November 2016

With shifts in national mood come shifts in the words we use…

In the wake of the election (and our Thanksgiving dinner), it’s clear that American society has been fractured. Negative emotions are running amok, and countless words of anger and frustration have been spilled. If you were to analyze any news outlet for the ratio of positive emotional words to negative ones, would you find a dip linked to the events of the past few weeks?

It’s possible! This comes from a research study published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Analyzing Google Books and The New York Times’s archives from the last 200 years, the researchers examined a curious phenomenon known as “positive linguistic bias,” which refers to people’s tendency to use more positive words than negative words. Though the bias is robust — and found consistently across cultures and languages — social scientists are at odds about what causes it.

In this study, the authors shed light on some possible new patterns of communication that are  behind the effect. Across two centuries’ of texts, they found that people’s preference for positive words varied with national mood, and declined during times of war and economic hardship.

Read the rest of this NYT article by clicking here.

Is it impossible to stop deceptive news?

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Friday night posted a message on his Facebook page about so-called fake news and the controversy over his company’s role in carrying it to hundreds of millions of users. “The bottom line is: We take misinformation seriously,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg is in an impossible spot. Since the election he has been under attack based on conjecture that made-up information presented as news, mostly pro-Trump, and circulated on Facebook may have tipped the election’s outcome. This is like blaming AT&T and Verizon for the lies people tell on the phone, but of course it’s also different. Everything on Facebook runs through Facebook servers and can be analyzed by the company, which is critical to its pitch to advertisers that they can target their ads, within limits, based on users’ interests and histories.

More from Fortune magazine by clicking here.

Facebook Considering Ways to Combat Fake News

After more than a week of accusations that the spread of fake news on Facebook may have affected the outcome of the presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg published a detailed post MarkZFriday night describing ways the company is considering dealing with the problem.

Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chairman and chief executive, broadly outlined some of the options he said the company’s News Feed team was looking into, including third-party verification services, better automated detection tools and simpler ways for users to flag suspicious content.

“The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible.”

More from the New York Times by clicking here.

NSA Missed ‘Big Red Flags’ in Leak Suspect’s Behavior

Year after year, both in his messy personal life and his brazen theft of classified documents from the National Security Agency, Harold T. Martin III put to the test the government’s costly system for protecting secrets. And year after year, the system failed.

Martin got and kept a top-­secret security clearance despite a record that included drinking problems, a drunken-­driving arrest, two divorces, unpaid tax bills, a charge of computer harassment, and a bizarre episode in which he posed as a police officer in a traffic dispute. Under clearance rules, such events should have triggered closer scrutiny by the security agencies where he worked as a contractor – but it didn’t.
Get the rest of this New York Times article by clicking here.