Author: Sarah

Secure The News: HTTPS encryption on news websites

Secure The News, a project of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, is designed to track and promote the adoption of HTTPS encryption by major news organizations’ websites.


Our goal is to encourage news websites to adopt HTTPS encryption by default as soon as possible.

The news articles you read can provide intimate details about your interests, your work, and your personal life that you may want to keep private from prying eyes. Without HTTPS, an eavesdropper—whether it’s a snooper on public wifi, or a government collecting information about websites you visit—can trivially see exactly what news articles you read when you go to sites like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Eavesdropping on people reading the news is a real threat, as demonstrated by the NSA and GCHQ spying on visitors to

HTTPS prevents this type of spying, and while an eavesdropper might be able to determine you visited the New York Times’ website, they wouldn’t be able to see which specific stories you read.


Source: Secure The News

Datawetenschap in de journalistiek: Zo berekent Blendle wat jij wil lezen

Het nieuwe wapen in Blendles strijd om de betalende lezer heet curatie. Niet de toegang tot de artikelen, maar de selectie ervan moet het bedrijf onmisbaar maken voor de lezer. Daarom bouwt Blendle aan een aanbevelingsmachine die per gebruiker precies berekent wat hij het liefst leest. Waar je woont, wat je vrienden leuk vinden, of je vaak over katten praat – tientallen factoren en duizenden berekeningen gaan bepalen welk artikel je krijgt voorgeschoteld.

Niet alleen het onderwerp van een artikel is een mogelijk signaal voor de voorkeuren van de lezer. Hetzelfde geldt voor de auteur van het stuk, en het medium waarin het gepubliceerd was. De nieuwsbriefredactie van Blendle bedacht daarnaast drie eigen categorieën die mogelijk informatie geven over de voorkeuren van de lezer: gravity, feel, en complexity.

Source: Datawetenschap in de journalistiek: Zo berekent Blendle wat jij wil lezen

Zuckerberg: the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election is ‘crazy’

Kirkpatrick also pressed Zuckerberg on whether Facebook created a so-called “filter bubble” — an echo chamber where Hillary supporters only see views from fellow Hillary supporters, and Trump supporters only see views from fellow Trump supporters. “All the research we have suggests that this isn’t really a problem,” he said. Zuckerberg cited a study of 10.1 million politically affiliated Facebook users that the company published in Science last year. It found that liberals and conservatives see about 1 percent less news from the opposing side than they would if Facebook didn’t tweak the news feed.

One hard truth that did emerge from the study is that people are simply less likely to click on articles that do not reinforce their previously held beliefs. “I think we would be surprised by how many things that don’t conform to our worldview, we just tune out,” Zuckerberg said. I don’t know what to do about that.”

Zuckerberg said he is deeply concerned about how Facebook could affect democracy, and said there were (unspecified) things the company could do better in the future to improve the way it distributes news. “I really care about this. I want what we do to have a good impact on the world. I want people to have a diversity of information.”


Source: Zuckerberg: the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election is ‘crazy’ – The Verge

Relatively Few Americans Live in Partisan Media Bubble, but They’re Influential

New research shows that the great majority of people learn about political news from mainstream, relatively centrist media sources, not ideological websites or cable channels. However, relatively small numbers of partisans, especially Republicans, are heavy consumers of a highly polarized media diet.

This, then, is the paradox of echo chambers: Few of us live in them, but those who do exercise disproportionate influence over our political system.

Source: Relatively Few Americans Live in Partisan Media Bubble, but They’re Influential – The New York Times

Facebook’s legendary algorithm demystified by looking at patents filed

For an upcoming INMA report on Facebook, I reviewed more than a dozen patents filed by Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook’s employees since 2006.

What did I learn?

The algorithm calculates the probability of the user performing different types of interactions with the story and assigns a value score, or a number, to each one. It is Facebook that determines which interactions are more valuable — for example, whether “comment” has a higher value than “share” — or which content generates certain interactions.

(What the author doesn’t mention is that we are not sure if Facebook actually uses all the patents filed; but it is still interesting)

Source: INMA: Facebook’s legendary algorithm demystified

The Reason Your Feed Became An Echo Chamber — And What To Do About It

At the outset, the Internet was expected to be an open, democratic source of information. But algorithms, like the kind used by Facebook, instead often steer us toward articles that reflect our own ideological preferences, and search results usually echo what we already know and like.

As a result, we aren’t exposed to other ideas and viewpoints, says Eli Pariser, CEO of Upworthy, a liberal news website. Pariser tells NPR’s Elise Hu that as websites get to know our interests better, they also get better at serving up the content that reinforces those interests, while also filtering out those things we generally don’t like.

(Listen to the full radio item on the NPR website)

Source: NPR