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New Twitter Study Discovers “Global Superdialects”

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Do you say sneakers, gym shoes, or trainers? Soda, pop, or fizzy drink? Your choice has a lot to do with where you’re from. Certain terms vary by region, and it should be possible to get a good picture of regional differences in vocabulary by searching for these terms on Twitter and plotting where they come from using geolocation data.

As MIT Technology Review reports, a new study did just that for variable terms in Spanish. As expected, terms known to distinguish various dialects of Spanish mapped well, in tweets, to the areas they are commonly associated with. For example, the map above shows that a computer is called a computadora in Mexico, an ordenador in Spain and a computador in Chile. The different terms for car—auto, carro, coche, concho, and movi—are also mapped. The size of the dots corresponds to the number of tweets with that term.

But researchers Bruno Gonçalves and David Sánchez also found something unexpected when they combined the data on all the words together. There were two main dialect groups, and they were divided not by region, but by population density. There were two “superdialects”—one in dense, urban centers, and another in smaller towns and rural areas. The rural areas “keep a larger number of characteristic items and native words,” while cities, more subject to the forces of globalization, tend toward “dialect unification, smoothing possible lexical differences.” The urban superdialect is a less differentiated, international Spanish, and the rural superdialect is more varied and less subject to international leveling, despite the fact that everyone in the study is using Twitter.

We don’t speak differently just because we live in different places, but because we live differently. This is something sociolinguists have known for a long time. Advances in techniques for analyzing the huge amount of language data on Twitter offer new ways to look at how our lives influence our language.

The original paper is here.

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technology
Facebook Just Made It Easier to Tell the Difference Between Fake News and Real Reporting
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On Facebook, fake news stories "reporting" international conflicts over Toblerones can appear alongside fact-checked journalism from trustworthy outlets. This leads to some bogus stories racking up thousands of shares while real news stories are deemed "fake" by those who disagree with them. With its latest news feature, Facebook aims to make the distinction between factual and fictional posts clearer.

As The Verge reports, articles shared on Facebook will now display a "trust indicator" icon. Clicking on it reveals information about the publisher of the piece, including their ethics statement, corrections policy, fact-checking process, ownership structures, and masthead. By providing that context, Facebook hopes that more users will make better decisions about which news outlets to trust and which to disregard.

The social media network is launching the feature with a handful of publishers and plans to open it up to more down the road. But unless it becomes mandatory for all media pages, it won't be the end of Facebook's fake news problem: Phony sites and real publishers that leave this information blank will still look the same in the eyes of some readers. Additionally, the feature only works when people go out of their way to check it, so it requires users to be skeptical in the first place.

If you want to avoid the fake news in your feed, looking for trust indicators is a good place to start. To further sharpen your BS-detecting skills, try adopting the CRAAP system: The American Library Association has been using it to spot sketchy sources since before the Facebook era.

[h/t The Verge]

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How to Stop Instagram Photos From Automatically Posting to Facebook
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If you have Instagram photos you don’t mind sharing with your aunts, exes, and former high school classmates, Facebook is the perfect place to post them. But some pictures are better suited to more intimate audiences: For those scenarios, you’ll want to unlink your Facebook from your Instagram account. The Daily Dot put together a simple how-to guide.

To keep your Instagram photos from automatically showing up on your Facebook profile, head to the Instagram app. Go to your profile, tap the gear icon next to Edit Profile, and then scroll down to the Linked Accounts option under Settings. If every photo you share through Instagram is published on Facebook, you should see Facebook highlighted in blue with a checkmark next to it under Linked Accounts. After tapping this, hit the Unlink Facebook button and Unlink a second time when the app asks you to confirm your decision.

Once that’s taken care of, any new posts you share through Instagram will only be seen by your Instagram followers (unless your account is linked to Twitter or some other social media site, in which case you can follow the same steps above). To undo this action, just return to Linked Accounts and tap Facebook to join the two accounts again.

This is a smart way to limit your social media presence or curb potential damage if hackers ever access your Instagram. But if you’re looking to distance yourself from Facebook because of issues you have with the site itself, simply unlinking it from Instagram won’t cut it. Facebook owns Instagram, so any information you post to either profile goes to the same place. There are better ways to control how Facebook handles your personal data. Read this to learn more about the social media giant’s ad targeting practices and what you can do about them.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

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