14 Feb

She spent all day writing this blog post, what she wrote will surprise you…

But probably not that much. It’s always a let down, when you click on links posted on Facebook designed specifically to get you onto their site. Otherwise known as clickbait.

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There is still a lot of debate as to the exact definition of clickbait. Some people define it as anything that is designed to get you to click. Others will call any article they don’t like or disagree with clickbait. It is definitely up there as one of the most annoying day to day elements of the internet and social media. If they really had something interesting to say, they would put it in the title. The problem with this tactic is, yes you will get views, but you won’t get shares unless you have something worth sharing. You’ll also manage to annoy people in the process.

I think the worst kind are those that mislead. Closely followed by those that don’t really say anything and end in an ellipsis. Often coupled with a picture of someone doing something, but you can’t quite see what. Clever.

I have had to train my curiosity to combat this. And if nobody clicked on this type of headline, wouldn’t we see less and less of it?

Please, if you see a headline such as “She spent all day writing this blog post, what she wrote will surprise you…” don’t click on it!

Lesson learnt.

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21 Oct

Think before you share: How to spot an online hoax

Social media users are among the worst for clicking share absent-mindedly. It was only this morning that I saw street artist Banksy has been arrested yet again (he hasn’t). Lately we’ve also seen a three-breasted woman, reports of being able to charge your new iPhone in a microwave,  and so many crazy things reported about the latest Ebola outbreak.

Everyone can afford to be a little more skeptical about online reporting. Here are some top tips:Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.03.30

1. Evaluate it’s likelihood.

I remember a couple of years ago there was a story that surfaced that claimed ‘SAMSUNG PAYS APPLE $1 BILLION SENDING 30 TRUCKS FULL OF 5 CENT COINS’. They didn’t. They most definitely didn’t. You couldn’t fit $1billion in 5 cent coins into 30 trucks. You couldn’t even fit them into 1000 trucks. And you most certainly couldn’t get your hands on that many coins in the first place. This interesting article from the Guardian explains in more detail why.

2. Evaluate the source.

Just because something was retweeted thousands of times on Twitter doesn’t make it true. Actually, more credible sources sometimes get it wrong too. The problem with journalism in the digital age is stories are shared so quickly and can be written by absolutely anyone that myth can easily be taken as fact by thousands, even millions of people. So what is a good rule to go by? “If a story is viral, truth may be taking a beating”.

3. Is it satire?

There are some really excellent satirical news sites out there. I still see people sharing these articles with shocked emoticons or outraged tag lines attached. Then about ten or so of their friends replying with equally angry comments before someone has to point out their mistake.

4. Do I really know what I’m sharing?

The internet has exploded with info graphics and memes lately. Anyone can create one, and anyone can make them for their own agendas. This means that if you see a picture of a melancholy pensioner with a caption that angrily states his pension is less than that of an immigrant, alongside some facts and figures, it’s probably best that you stop to consider the bigger picture.

One of the biggest culprits of this is Britain First and their ruthless Facebook campaign.

As Another Angry Voice states, “Britain First use populist infographics to dupe unsuspecting people into following their hate group. In between Islamophobic rants and immigration lies the Britain First admins intersperse images that the majority of people agree with (infographics decrying animal cruelty, anti-paedophilia memes, support our troops/football team memes, don’t leave dogs in hot cars memes …) so that ordinary people get hooked in to following their page.”. Read the full article here.

Ease of communication with millions around the world is one of the most exciting things about the world we live in today. Just use the power wisely. Remember George Orwell’s novel 1984, and the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history. We were always told “don’t believe everything you read”, which is now more relevant than ever.

Boromir meme

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16 Mar

The best bits of Facebook

There’s so many things I hate about Facebook. I think we all despise it in some way. The lack of privacy, the endless inane drivel, the social politics… the list goes on.

I stick with it though, but why?

Half of me feels forced. It would be foolish to exclude myself completely from this big player in the social networking scene, at least for now. The other half sticks around because I wouldn’t want to miss the few pieces of absolute gold found somewhere amongst the dirt. Scrolling past the selfies, food porn and cryptic status updates begging for attention, I stumbled upon the two best Facebook pages I follow.

  1. Humans of New York – Posts that include a photograph of a person and a caption. That’s all there is to it. The person will be snapped in New York, mainly in the street going about their daily business, and the caption will be a quote from the person. It is beautiful, and so well put together that every post is intriguing and thought-provoking in a way that I never thought possible. People are wonderful things, mostly, and they all have their own stories, opinions, beliefs, issues, heartache and love. Take a look. I promise you won’t be disappointed. (Full website here).Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 18.32.20
  2. I f***ing love science – or the more child/work-friendly Science Is Awesome. I want to read at least 90% of the things posted on this page. It’s the fun and interesting side to science; new discoveries, amazing facts, microscopy images, animations of the way things in the universe work. It’s just a great collection of things. (Full website here).Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 18.29.35

It’s worth staying just for the exposure to these delights (of course, StumbleUpon is much better at this…). Do you have a favourite Facebook page that never fails to brighten your day? Let me know in the comment box below.

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11 Mar

When tech ruins film

I love watching films. I love being sucked into a great plot. Believability is key. There’s nothing quite as disappointing as watching a great piece of cinema, only to be pulled right out of that experience quicker than you can say ‘yeah, right’.

I’m talking about the way technology is portrayed in Hollywood. Some great films, mainly set in the future, maintain the illusion because who’s to say that we won’t have that in another hundred years? Minority Report springs to mind as one of those films that just get it right. The Matrix, Fifth Element and the amazing Star Wars of course, draw you into the story. Their use of technology only enhances the experience. Time machines and aliens aside, it’s still believable within the context of the world they are displayed in.

My hate, and I ALWAYS complain to anyone who will listen, is when technology is used in film or television that isn’t supposed to be unreal. Yet they have ‘experts’  that hack passwords with 2 clicks of the mouse, and people that type as if they are having a muscle spasm on the keyboard.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this though. See the video below, The Worst Hacking Scenes in Movies by College Humor, and have a little chuckle to yourself.

Come on guys, this is NOT how it works…

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10 Mar

Breaking Google

I didn’t really break Google, I just stumbled across a really awesome, completely unnecessary and very playful version of the famous search engine’s homepage. Check it out here.

Another JavaScript experiment that excites the geek in me, courtesy of Mr Doob.

The best bit is using the search bar. Well, I had fun with it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 21.50.39

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22 Oct

Wikipedia paid entries ‘shock’

It has recently been uncovered that hundreds of accounts have been set up on Wikipedia to create and edit pages to contain biased and promotional material. Wikipedia editors have expressed their shock at this ‘new’ information. The rest of us, however, are not surprised in the least.

The majority want to comply by the rules of Wikipedia, in the interest of this brilliant collective global information source, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be those few who want to use it for their own gains. There will always be this issue with a site in which anyone can come along and edit a post. It is Wikipedia’s brilliance as well as flaw.

There was a Dispatches documentary that aired just a couple of months ago uncovering the vast amounts of fake accounts that plague Facebook and Twitter, and the people paid pennies to like well-known, seemingly reputable brands.

 

 

We all know this goes on, and it is increasingly hard to combat. Damage to a company’s reputation is probably the main deterrent. So accusations of this activity really need to be investigated. But as an individual, there is something we can do – take ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and anything written on the internet, books or any media with a pinch of salt.

As the saying goes, “don’t believe everything you read”.

Read about another example of Wikipedia fraud here.

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