A recent market analysis performed by the social network revealed that Facebook news feed leads to echo chamber, filter bubble effects.
The results of the study published on early Friday morning have strengthened the belief that Facebook’s news feed structure is isolating people.
This occurs because Facebook’s users are exposed only to those news or ideas that generally comply with their preferences. Thus, it becomes all the more difficult for Facebook users to get access to other viewpoints, especially those that do not reflect their own beliefs.
The phenomenon was described by behavioral scientists as an “echo chamber” or “filter bubble” because people hear and read only the subjects they are interested in, without getting other contradictory opinions.
The research was performed by comparing the social network behavior of Republican and Democratic Facebook users.
The analysis has revealed that Republicans and Democrats, respectively, are more exposed to information pertaining to their favorite political party because Facebook posts links on their news feed based on their past Internet preferences and behaviors.
The social network has, nevertheless, defended itself by saying that this online behavior is not entirely influenced by them. Facebook users are exposed to contradictory opinions, as well, but they prefer to read only those stories that reflect their opinions. According to Facebook, it is the users’ fault and they should be more open-minded about contradictory stories, if they want to get a comprehensive understanding of a certain matter.
The study was performed with the help of a system, intentionally created by Facebook to carry out the current research.
The system identified all the news articles that were shared at least 100 times during the last months of 2014. The query managed to identify 226,000 news articles showing users’ preferences in terms of politics, world affairs and economy.
Researchers outside Facebook criticized the study because, they say, it has too many limitations.
First of all, the analysis has focused primarily on political viewpoints and perspectives, taking into account only liberals and conservatives’ behavior. These two categories are devoted to their political parties and they rarely seek to get other contradictory opinions.
Second of all, the percentage of liberal and conservative Facebook users does not go higher than 1%. This number is too small, therefore, it cannot stand as a proof that most Facebook users live in an “echo chamber”, researchers say.
Facebook should try to study the “echo chamber” effect on other categories of users to determine the exact extent to which the social network is isolating people in a “filter bubble”.
Moreover, further studies should take a deeper look at the way in which the identified news articles have, indeed, changed users’ political behaviors and beliefs.
Image Source: Media Salon
Electronic Arts reveals Mirror Edge 2, the much-anticipated sequel of the PlayStation 4 and PC-Consoles game. The new game is set to be released in April 2016.
The world-renowned game producer hasn’t yet disclosed whether the new Mirror Edge version will be a prequel or a downright sequel.
Analysts are making assumptions regarding the new features that Mirror Edge 2 will include, as the company hasn’t made any similar declarations.
The recent announcement was intended for EA’s shareholders and not for the lay public, yet the press release has managed to calm down all critical voices related to the future of the game.
The production process has been put to a stand for more than four years, a lengthy period of time considering that other game producers take a smaller amount of time to release new versions of their existing platforms.
The news that Electronic Arts will be releasing the second sequel of Mirror Edge has emerged during E3 2014.
The producers slightly suggested then the appearance of the new version through several brief screenshots that were presented during the event.
The E3 2014 presentation of Electronic Art’s past and future prospects has mainly stressed the company’s income expectations for the future year.
There was little talk about the future projects that the company plans to develop, yet shareholders seemed satisfied with the information they received during the 2014 E3 event.
Although EA hasn’t named an exact date for the release of Mirror Edge 2, the simple fact that the company intends to make it available for consumers during its last fiscal quarter of the year, has given clients hopes.
This proves that EA hasn’t abandoned the game and narrows down the release period to a three-month interval.
Despite the good news, fans are legitimate to express their frustrations related to the release date of Mirror Edge 2.
They have already made repeated complaints given the four-year delay and they don’t seem very satisfied with the new release term either.
The majority of them claim that the April 2016 deadline is still too far for the release of the new console game.
EA has argued, on the other hand, that Mirror Edge 2 cannot be revealed prior to April 2016 as the new generation consoles will not be released until early 2016, either.
Further information about the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game is expected by the end of 2015.
Image Source: moddb.com
Monday, April 27, Facebook has launched a free VOIP video calling service, boasting high hopes to reach out to its 1.44 million users on the social network and its already 600 million Messenger user base.
The service was launched in the United States, the UK, Canada, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal and Uruguay, with other countries soon to benefit.
Messenger video calling will function over cellular and wifi connections, both on iOS and Android. The purpose of the service is to offer users quality face to face time. And since it is connected to Messenger it has been suggested that it will be exactly what the users need: a built in service that can offer sponataneity and closer relations.
Everything starts with a text and the transfer to video call can easily be made just by one tap. Did we really need yet another built-in VOIP service? It seems so as the competitors – Microsoft Corp’s Skype, Apple Inc. FaceTime and Google Inc. Hangouts – have a narrower satisfied user base.
Facebook aims at connecting people regardless of the the mobile connection they have. Mark Zuckerberg looks upon the new service as a further development, stating that 10 percent of the global mobile Messenger VOIP calls already account for how useful the new service is. He believes that not far from now VOIP calls will undermine phone calling and the benefit of video calling is even higher. In order to reach this goal, Messenger promises to adjust the call quality to the connection we each have at our disposal. If video doesn’t work, switching to audio is simple and the usual feature that announces the users whether their connection is weakening is also available. Facebook offers this service for free, so that we only have to worry about the data use charged my our mobile operators.
Image Source: androidplanets.com/
These elliptical and compact galaxies have been escaping their home clusters after interacting with larger galaxies.
Scientists know of about runaway stars and have discovered one runaway star cluster. Now, astronomers have found 11 runaway galaxies that have been thrown out of their homes and wonder around intergalactic space.
“These galaxies are facing a lonely future, exiled from the galaxy clusters they used to live in,” explained astronomer Igor Chilingarian from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/Moscow State University.
An object is considered runaway if it’s movement is faster than the escape velocity, which implies that it will leave its home never to return. Runaway stars reach speeds of a million mph, while a runaway galaxy has to move even faster, going at up to 6 million mph.
Chilingarian and Ivan Zolotukhin from the L’Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie at Moscow State University tried initially to find new members of a class of galaxies named compact ellipticals. These small blobs of stars are larger than star clusters but have lesser sizes than a normal galaxy, with a span of a few hundred light-years. In comparison, the Milky Way is more than 100,000 light-years across. Compact ellipticals are also 1,000 times lighter than a galaxy like our Milky Way.
Prior to this research, only around 30 compact elliptical galaxies were found, all of them being in galaxy clusters. To find new examples, Chilingarian and Zolotukhin went through public archives of data collected by GALEX satellite and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
In their quest the two astronomers identified almost 200 new compact ellipticals. Of those, 11 were extremely isolated and located far from any large galaxy or even galaxy clusters.
“The first compact ellipticals were all found in clusters because that’s where people were looking. We broadened our search and found the unexpected,” explained Zolotukhin.
These isolated and compact galaxies were not expected because scientists believed they came from larger galaxies that had lost most of their stars after interacting with an even larger galaxy. Therefore, the compact galaxies should be located near big galaxies.
Not only were the new compact ellipticals very isolated, but also they were travelling faster through space than the runaway clusters.
A hypervelocity star, which is a very fast star, can be created if a binary star system gets very close to a black hole from the center of our galaxy. One star is captured by the black hole while the other one is thrown away at incredible speeds.
Image Source: Australian Teacher
The future of the Patriot Act became uncertain Wednesday as an effort to restrict the government’s surveillance abilities was evident from both sides of the Capitol.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the debate late Tuesday evening by pushing forward a surprise bill that would maintain the Patriot Act unchanged for five years.
Meanwhile, in the House, a plan to keep the law while also making major changes to the National Security Agency was opposed by some hawkish Republicans. Now, a new bill which its backers hope to pass through committee by the end of the week is very uncertain.
Despite a June 1 deadline to reauthorize some parts of the national security law, it’s not known if any bill can get enough votes to get through the House or Senate.
Some civil liberties militants are ready to let the Patriot Act provisions lapse, saying this result is the only way to cut the government’s huge collection of personal data.
Intelligence officials and defense experts fear curbing the spy prerogatives would hamper intelligence officials and leave them powerless to potential terrorist threats.
The divide between the two sides is deepening ahead of the June deadline, when three sections of the Patriot Act will expire, including the highly controversial Section 215 that givers the government the power to collect “any tangible things” during a terrorism investigation.
The NSA has been relying on Section 215 to gather phone records about millions of Americans, obtaining the numbers involved in a call, and also when it occurred and for how long, while not accessing the actual conversation.
Early this week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) wanted to introduce the legislation that would renew the Patriot Act provisions while stopping the phone records program in its current shape. The new bill will have a requirement that the National Security Agency obtain a court order before gathering records from private phone firms, but other changes as well.
Lawmakers said they “are still working to perfect it.” At first, bipartisan advocates of the bill had hoped for a place in the panel on Thursday. Now, the committee’s target is to unveil it “soon,” an official said, “so that it can move forward with legislation that ends the bulk collection program, strengthens protections for Americans’ civil liberties, and protects our national security.”
Image Source: Fox News
British journalists form The Guardian cited sources who said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been seriously injuerd in a March air strike in western Iraq, and his condition had made it very difficult for him to lead the organization.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, has been severely injured in a March 18 airstrike in western Iraq, the Guardian newspaper announced on Tuesday.
Citing several sources from Iraq, the report mentioned that although al-Baghdadi’s wounds are no longer life-threatening, his condition is keeping him away from being the terrorist organization’s leader.
The Guardian also added that “Baghdadi’s wounding led to urgent meetings of Isis leaders, who initially believed he would die and made plans to name a new leader.” The March strike targeted the al-Baaj a district of Nineveh, very close to the border with Syria, two separate sources told the newspaper.
Baghdadi was reportedly traveling in a convoy with other ISIS leaders. The three-car convoy that was hit by the U.S.-lead coalition forces, and at least three people were killed. It appears the coalition did not know Baghdadi was sitting in one of the cars. The coalition has been targeting ISIS leadership as a very important part of its campaign against the Caliphate..
It is not the first time that Baghdadi is reported to be seriously injured. In October 2014, after intense coalition attacks on ISIS’ major stronghold city of Raqqa in Syria, Baghdadi was supposedly injured. The ISIS leader was said to have left for Mosul in Iraq. News statements in November announced he may have been killed, but a few days later later ISIS released an audio tape they argue was of Baghdadi.
It is thought that on December 14, 2014, Baghdadi was nearly killed as the convoy he was travelling in was hit and one of his most important aides lost his life, but his car was not attacked. There have been other news from Syria in January that he was gravely injured in an airstrike, but Baghdadi was rarely seen in public even before the coalition begun its air campaign against ISIS.
Baghdadi has always been careful to tell little about himself and the places he visits, and even his own troops do not speak about meeting him face-to-face. The ISIS leader also appears to wear a mask when addressing his commanders and is sometimes called “the invisible sheikh”.
Image Source: Great News
China and Pakistan kick-started a plan on Monday which implies $46 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan, in a move which will connect their economies and further build China’s economic ambitions in Asia.
China’s President Xi Jinping traveled to Pakistan to be present at the signing of agreements that target the establishment of a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The project is centered in Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port on the shores of the Arabian Sea and China’s Xinjiang region.
The project, which would be much greater than U.S. spending in Pakistan over the last ten years, is part of China’s plans to forge land and sea links to markets in the Middle East and Europe.
Xi Jinping, whose trip to Pakistan fill finish on Tuesday, explained the move cemented an “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership” between his country and its neighbor.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif explained the corridor would help Pakistan transform into a regional hub and offer China a cheaper and shorter route for trade with much of Asia, but also with the Middle East and Africa.
“Friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” Sharif mentioned in a speech.
The corridor, a network of railways, roads, and pipelines, will transit Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, where poverty and a long-running separatist insurgency which the Pakistani army has promised to crush will shed some doubts over the feasibility of the scheme.
China is also concerned about Muslim separatists from Xinjiang, whom are partnering up with Pakistani militants. Although Xi did not address the issue on Monday, he said that economic cooperation is closely linked to security in a statement on Sunday.
“Our cooperation in the security and economic fields reinforce each other, and they must be advanced simultaneously,” Ji said, while Sharif mentioned: “I assured President Xi that Pakistan considers China’s security as important as its own security.”
Pakistan army officials added the Waziristan army offensive has killed a large number of militants. Afghanistan also has captured and handed over more than a dozen anti-China fighters it captured on its territory in recent months.
Xi requested greater efforts to settle peace in Afghanistan, where Pakistan is eager to restrict the influence of its main local rival India.
The two neighbors also have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in civil nuclear energy, maritime and space technology, as well as counter-terrorism and defense.
Image Source: Pakistan Today
Public health officials are piling up the pressure on the U.S. government to hastily regulate and bar access to e-cigarettes after new research data showed use tripled among high school and middle school teens last year.
The data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday raised worries among health authorities who warn e-cigarettes will build a new generation of nicotine addicts who will eventually turn to smoking conventional cigarettes.
Cigarette use fell more than a quarter over the same period. E-cigarette advocates explained the data could indicate e-cigarettes are steering young people away from traditional cigarettes, a theory denied by tobacco control advocates.
The Food and Drug Administration is the regulatory body of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco. It proposed to expand its authority to e-cigarettes, among other products, in 2014.
FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum announced on Friday the agency is “moving forward to finalize the rule.” Its purpose is to release it in June, but a delay is very probable. The agency was sent more than 135,000 public comments on the move and must review them all, in accordance to the law.
The proposal must be reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The next step is the approval of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which studies the potential economic consequences of the new regulation.
OMB has not yet obtained the rule, and when it does, it has at least 90 days to approve it.
The proposal would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to people who are under the age of 18. Also, approval of new products will require FDA approval. Public health officials have also demanded a ban on flavored tobacco products, but also on internet sales and television advertising, which they claim attract children.
The agency has announced the rule would be the first step in a series of potential future rulings.
Some states are moving to set restrictions of their own. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer pushed forward a proposed legislation that would offer the Federal Trade Commission the right to determine what constitutes marketing to children, a step which would allow the FTC to collaborate with states’ attorneys general to impose bans.
At least 43 states have laws that restrict e-cigarettes sales to minors and some are targeting to incorporate e-cigarettes into clean air acts that ban smoking in public places.
Image Source: Guardian Liberty Voice
Pope Francis is considering to add a stop in Cuba during his U.S. trip in September but until now now official decision has been made, said the Vatican.
Pope Francis has been lauded for his help offered to United States and Cuba in reaching their historic renewal of ties by writing to the leaders of both countries. Francis also offered the Vatican as the place where their delegations will be hosted for the final negotiations.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, explained Pope Francis “is considering the idea of a Cuba stop” but that discussions with Havana are at an early stage. He added it’s too soon to say that an arrangement has been made or that there is an operational plan underway.
Francis is scheduled to reach three U.S. cities in the last week of September. He will speak in Congress and have a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. Pope Francis will also address the U.N. in New York and participate at a church rally in Philadelphia.
A Cuba stop could be possible on either end of the United States trip. If he goes to Havana, Francis would become the third pope to visit the Cuban nation after the historic 1998 visit of St. John Paul II. Then, the Vatican leader said Cuba should “open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.”
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI also went to Cuba, on a 2012 trip during which he expressed the Vatican’s long-standing position that the U.S. sanctions and embargo was unjust and was only felt by the most vulnerable people on the island.
Francis also declared himself out against the U.S. embargo while also blaming socialism.
Francis’ intervention in the U.S.-Cuban negotiations was one of the most visible signs that he wants the Vatican to have greater influence in international diplomacy. A more controversial mediation was his recent declaration about the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago, an act Francis considers it was “genocide.”
Catholics in Cuba are used to have greater religious freedom than the believers form other Communist states.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday The Wall Street Journal was the first media outlet to report the possibility of the pope visiting Cuba later this year.
Image Source: National Catholic Register
Recent American weather has been very diverse. While the East Coast had more snow, the West Coast has been drier than usual.
A “blob” of warm water near the West Coast, which is approximately 2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, is behind disturbing fish and seal behavior, according to two studies by the Geophysical Research Letters.
The warm patch is not caused by climate change, even if it shares many of the similar effects for West Coast weather.
Nick Bond, a climate scientist at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean explained: “In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn’t cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen it for that time of year.”
Bond, who works for the research group formed by scientists from both the UW and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, offered the name “the blob” in June 2014 in his monthly statement as Washington’s state climatologist. He mentioned the huge patch of water, which is 300 feet deep and 1,000 miles wide, had been behind Washington’s mild 2014 winter and could be the cause of a warmer summer.
Today, the blob is still near the shores, but is squeezed against the coast and reaching about 1,000 miles offshore, covering a space which spans from Mexico to Alaska. Water temperatures in the blob are 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. Bond mentions all the analysis suggest that it will not go away until the end of this year.
The new research explores the blob’s beginnings. It discovered that it relates to a high-pressure ridge. The ridge was the main cause for the calmer ocean condition which were experienced during the past two winters. Very little heat from the water was lost to cold air. The increasing temperatures we experience now are caused by less winter cooling.
The researchers also observed at how the blob is affecting the marine life from the West Coast. They announced fish sightings in bizarre and unusual places. This findings suggest that West Coast marine ecosystems are suffering, while the food chain has been severely disrupted by warm Pacific Ocean water, which has less nutrients.
The blob’s is also affecting land temperatures. Air passes over warmer water and brings more heat to the coast. It also brings less snow, which the study shows helped cause current drought in California, Washington and Oregon.
Image Source: NBC News