Thursday, December 8, 2016

The problem with fake news, news sites and how to solve it - Mary Cummins


fake news, truth in advertising act, sponsored, advertisement, mary cummins, real estate (I wish I knew who made this graphic because it's great)

Fake news sites were a real problem in the recent election. They were sending out thousands of fake stories about the candidates. I believe some of the candidates and their supporters might have been behind some of the fake news articles, websites, radio shows. The others were making and sending out fake news about the candidates in order to make money off web traffic ads.

Before the election most of the fake stories were made and shared with the goal of making money off traffic. They had catchy click bait titles like "You WON'T believe what Miley Cyrus did now!" "Home remedy removes wrinkles better than any surgeon," "Kim to divorce Kanye due to secret baby mama," "Woman gives birth to ELEVEN babies!"...

People would click on those articles and the story would be totally false and made up or not live up to the hype of the click bait title. On that same web page would be a ton of ads and other click bait titles. They generally use photoshopped images or unrelated photos to tell the story to make it appear believable. Sometimes you'd have to click through a few pages to read the entire article. The purpose is so they can show you more ads so they can make more money. Some of these sites have disclaimers saying they don't guarantee that it's truthful. Some say it's for entertainment purposes only. Some admit they are parody and satire and some don't.

An article which is an ad to sell a product must be listed as "advertisement," "sponsored" or have a "$" sign like the pic above per the Truth in Advertising Act. Yahoo, Facebook do this with paid for promoted stories in their "news" feed. Here's one from Facebook. This is a paid ad and is noted as "sponsored." Notice the click bait title. If you go there you have to read the story one page at a time. There are now 31 "facts" with 31 pages. There are ads all over the page. They say "advertisement."



These fake news sites aren't always ads. Sometimes they pretend to be news and are shared by individuals on social media. Google news feed only includes articles by mainstream news websites like LA Times, Washington Post, NY Times, Chicago Times... They don't include fake news sites in the news feed.  Now if you search Google for everything, you will see ads in the results. They will be at the top of the search engine results and have an "Ad" image on it like this.


Google already has filters for many things including "legitimate" news and "pornography." There is "safe search" which will filter out pornography in images, websites, "When SafeSearch is on, it helps block explicit images, videos, and websites from Google Search results." Why not add safe search for the entire Internet search? Google is a private company. If they want to offer a "safe search" to their customers, that does not infringe on freedom of speech as the customer is choosing what they want to see.

Google does have a news filter which you can control. Sign into your Google account and click "Preferences" top right. https://news.google.com/ I got rid of sports news. You can filter out blogs and press releases. You can go in there and adjust sources. I suggest adding the fake news websites and click "never." Here is a list of fake news websites. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fake_news_websites

Unfortunately this only works on Google news and not on Facebook which is the biggest problem.

If you read a printed magazine or newspaper, you will see the word "advertisement" or "sponsored" if someone paid for the article to be included in the magazine. The article generally supports a product, service or person. The purpose is to differentiate it from an editorial which the magazine chooses to write about a certain subject. Even in those situations some advertisers would ask for an editorial in exchange for advertising somewhere else in the magazine.

If you search for say "Hillary Clinton child sex pizza," you will see those fake articles about the fake child sex club at a pizza joint. You won't know for sure instantly that it's a fake news site though if you had common sense you'd realize it. Here's one click bait title "FILTHY Sex Secret About Hillary Clinton And Anthony Weiner Just Leaked by FBI Agent!" If you go to the site, they pretend to be a news site US Herald. Here is their about page http://usherald.com/about/ If you go to their disclaimer, they state they are posting items "as is" and make no promises of being "accurate." http://usherald.com/terms/ If you look through the site, they are basically a fake news site that takes a few facts, photos from here and there to make up a new twisted story to fit their "conservative" agenda. They are anti-Hillary, anti-Obama, anti-Muslim... basically Trump supporters.

I personally believe some of the candidates especially Trump took advantage of these sites, promoted them and even fed them false stories to send around. When I wrote a true article about Ted Cruz's dad the Enquirer and another Trump supporter with a "fake news" site used my data to try to say Rafael Cruz was involved in the assassination of Kennedy. They fed me fake information, begged me to confirm that was a photo of Rafael Cruz with Lee Harvey Oswald. I said no. They offered me traffic, notoriety... I still said no. I'm not going to lie about someone.

My practical solution to the problem is for browsers, search engines, websites like Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter ... to add a filter to list credible news sources such as LA Times, Washington Post...as "News" or "Safe News" with a tiny image next to the link. Then people can be assured it won't be fake news. Reputable news sites do their best to make sure what they report is truthful. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter already have filters which state which posts are sponsored ads. They can easily add another filter for "real news."

Let me preface this next sentence. I don't support McAfee and I hate their product. I just want to note that their security system checks links before you click on them. If the link is safe, you see this image. If it's not, you see a red warning and an "unknown" warning. One thing about the fake news sites is that they are generally unsafe sites as well. You sometimes get trapped in many windows full of ads.



Besides marking "real news" sites I think they should also add a filter for known "fake news," satire and parody sites. We, Gmail filter our email to get rid of spam, virus. Anti-viral software also filter out virus websites. We need the same for fake news websites. People should have an option to report fake news. They just need to make sure people don't abuse the report feature to report honest sites. Some older people, people who can't read certain languages well, people who aren't too smart can't tell the difference between real and fake news. Some don't even read the article and just share it based on the title and a photo. Some know it's fake news but they want to spread it around because it helps their political candidate.

Twitter filter for "promoted" ads. They can just modify the filters using the top image as a guide. Mark articles from legitimate credible news sites as "News"


For anyone who wants to make some money and knows how to code, make an app that has filters and sell it. Or make some filters and sell it to Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Twitter.

My legal solution to the problem of fake news site is the Truth in Advertising Act. All ads must be noted as ads if they are promoting a product, service, candidate... The product that is being sold here is the article which has ads all over it. The websites are making money off the articles. Some sites say they are for "entertainment" purposes only. Then they are selling the entertainment of the article. For this reason they must be truthful about what they are selling.

In the last few hours after Hillary Clinton stated that fake news articles were used against her the fake news sites are begging Trump to not allow the government to infringe on their freedom of speech and "conservative" values. Commercial speech is also protected as freedom of speech but they still must be truthful. POM Juice got popped by the FTC for false advertising many times.

Recently a bill passed in regard to PhotoShop'd images used in advertising. In the ads they are directly selling the product in the ad generally a wrinkle remover or hair restorer.

"The Truth In Advertising Act of 2016 (TIAA) is a bi-partisan bill introduced in 2016 in the U.S. Congress. It asks the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop what's called a "regulatory framework" for ads that significantly change the people in them through image-altering techniques like "photoshop.""

With fake news they are selling the article and all the products in the link that you click. They use cookies to see what shopping you've done, where you've been on the internet, city/state...to give you ads suited to your online activity. They lure you in with the fake news, click bait story. That is false advertising in my book. Sue a couple of the big wealthy offenders to set an example.

Below is information about the Truth in Advertising Act.

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/truth-advertising

"When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence. The Federal Trade Commission enforces these truth-in-advertising laws, and it applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears – in newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses. The FTC looks especially closely at advertising claims that can affect consumers’ health or their pocketbooks – claims about food, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, alcohol, and tobacco and on conduct related to high-tech products and the Internet. The FTC also monitors and writes reports about ad industry practices regarding the marketing of alcohol and tobacco.

When the FTC finds a case of fraud perpetrated on consumers, the agency files actions in federal district court for immediate and permanent orders to stop scams; prevent fraudsters from perpetrating scams in the future; freeze their assets; and get compensation for victims."

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

Mary Cummins, Mary K. Cummins, Mary Katherine Cummins, Mary Cummins-Cobb, Mary, Cummins, Cobb, real estate, appraiser, appraisal, instructor, teacher, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Brentwood, Bel Air, California, licensed, permitted, single family, condo, pud, hud, fannie mae, freddie mac, uspap, certified, residential, certified resident, apartment building, multi-family, commercial, industrial, expert witness, civil, criminal, orea, dre, insurance, bonded, experienced, bilingual, spanish, english, form, 1004, 2055, land, raw, acreage, vacant, insurance, cost, income approach, market analysis, comparative, theory, appraisal theory, cost approach, sales, matched pairs, plot, plat, map, diagram, photo, photographs, photography, rear, front, street, subject, comparable, sold, listed, active, pending, expired, cancelled, listing, mls, multiple listing service, claw, themls,

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