Four students solve Facebook’s fake-news problem in 36 hours

❝ Facebook is facing increasing criticism over its role in the 2016 US presidential election because it allowed propaganda lies disguised as news stories to spread on the social-media site unchecked…

❝ Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s reaction to this criticism “tone-deaf.” His public stance is that fake news is such a small percentage of the stuff shared on Facebook that it couldn’t have had an impact. This even while Facebook has officially vowed to do better and insisted that ferreting out the real news from the lies is a difficult technical problem.

❝ Just how hard of a problem is it for an algorithm to determine real news from lies?

Not that hard.

During a hackathon at Princeton University, four college students created one in the form of a Chrome browser extension in just 36 hours. They named their project “FiB: Stop living a lie.”

❝ The students are Nabanita De, a second-year master’s student in computer science student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Anant Goel, a freshman at Purdue University; Mark Craft, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Qinglin Chen, a sophomore also at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

❝ Their News Feed authenticity checker…classifies every post, be it pictures, adult content pictures, fake links, malware links, fake news links as verified or non-verified using artificial intelligence…

The browser plug-in then adds a little tag in the corner that says whether the story is verified.

Game, set and match. Facebook is one of the sponsors of that hackathon. Better take a closer look at the coders, Zuck.

Online undergrads learn equally well without class bond

College students participating in a new study on online courses said they felt less connected and had a smaller sense of classroom community than those who took the same classes in person – but that didn’t keep online students from performing just as well as their in-person counterparts.

The UNL study gauged students’ perception and performance in three undergraduate science courses that had both online and face-to-face class versions. It found that online students did not feel a sense of cohesion, community spirit, trust or interaction, elements that have been shown to foster effective classroom learning.

At the same time, in the portion of the survey about students’ perception of their own learning, online students reported levels equal to those reported by face-to-face students. And at the end of the day, their grades were equivalent to their in-person peers…

Though the results may suggest that face-to-face courses are no more effective for student learning than online courses, Robert Vavala said they also show that online courses could be even more effective if they could foster a culture of class cohesion, spirit, trust and interaction among students…

“Because online classes lack actual face-to-face contact, instructors face many challenges in creating classroom community. One of those challenges is that community might not be as important to the online student as it is to their in-person peers,” Vavala said.

You get to cheer for the football team on television and stay warm. If you are up for dating classmates, there are always electronic means for meeting and bonding. Email and IM sort out suggestions, criticism and teacher-student dialectics.

Or you can learn and earn just like the rest of us hermits.

American college students are multi-media junkies

American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.

Susan Moeller, the study’s project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.

“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” said one student. “Between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin.”

Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, e-mail and Facebook…

Few students reported watching TV news or reading a newspaper.

RTFA. Any surprises?

Anyone expect that greater immersion in communications actually leads to an equivalent upgrade in content? Are you still stuck into Marshall McLuhan?