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Rid Your Feed of Fake News With This Hoax-Detecting Chrome Extension

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If you’re like 62 percent of Americans, you get the bulk of your news from social media. Facebook has done a great job at getting your attention, but when it comes to filtering out fiction from fact they haven’t been so successful. Headlines like “Pope Francis Shocks the World, Endorses Donald Trump” and “Britain Threatens to Invade Switzerland Over Toblerone Shape Row” (both of which are flat-out false) pop up alongside stories from respectable news sources. What’s worse, fake stories can rack up thousands of likes and shares, making it difficult for readers to spot a hoax when it’s in front of them.

Programmer Daniel Sieradski has taken this problem into his own hands by creating a Chrome extension called the “B.S. Detector,” Mashable reports. After installing the plug-in, Facebook users will see a red warning appear over any posts that lead back to dubious sources. The outlets Sieradski has flagged include fake news sites, satire sites, and untrustworthy sources from all political leanings.

The extension isn’t a perfect B.S. filter—it detects the sites, not the content of the articles themselves, and is only limited to the sources Sieradski programmed into the code. But it’s a good start for Facebook users looking to navigate their feed with a more skeptical eye. Facebook is just now beginning to crack down on false content, announcing recently that fake news sites were banned from using their advertising network. Still, experts remain pessimistic about the company taking more drastic action against the problem anytime soon.

In the meantime, there are plenty of steps web users can take to avoid getting duped. When reading an article, keep an eye out for things like detailed author biographies, citations and references, and original reporting to judge whether the piece is legitimate. Fake-sounding author names and headlines that seem too outrageous to be true are possible indicators that a story is a hoax. If you still aren’t sure if what you just read should be taken at face value, do a quick Google search to see if other outlets have covered it. If it’s nowhere else to be seen, there’s likely a reason for that.

[h/t Mashable]

Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist (who is the subject of today's Google Doodle) predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.

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Apple Unveils Zombie, Yoga, and Breastfeeding Emojis
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We’ve been so very patient, and now the wait is almost over. That’s right: the sandwich emoji is coming soon. Apple announced the long-overdue addition, plus others, in celebration of World Emoji Day.

This latest suite of pictograms and smileys has been in the works since autumn of 2016, when the folks at Emojipedia proposed 51 new icons, many created in response to user requests. Apple took those ideas and applied their own graphic twist, as they're wont to do.

Illustration of four smiley emojis: one with starry eyes, one with an exploding head, one vomiting, and one with rolling eyes and a lolling tongue.

An Apple press release described the T. rex, zebra, zombie, and elf emojis as “a fun way to describe situations.” We’re not sure exactly what those situations could be; clearly, we’ve been living our lives the wrong way.

In addition to the long-awaited sandwich, we’ll also be getting a pretzel, a slice of pie, and a coconut; a person wearing a headscarf; a woman breastfeeding; a guy with a hipster beard; and a dude doing yoga.

Apple has not provided a release date, although some have speculated that the new emoji will be included in iOS updates in autumn of 2017.

[h/t The Verge]


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