Tag Archives: algorithm

Facebook HAS been filtering out left-wing news. Is it time to check your settings? 

Facebook: presumably, all the silhouetted people here have been cut off from the left-wing news-related articles they wanted to read and are wandering aimlessly in search of them. Isn’t it time this interference was ended?

The social media platform Facebook has confirmed that it knowingly changed its news algorithms to filter out sites like Vox Political from your feeds.

The claim is that this was in response to pressure from right-wingers who claimed that they were being victimised.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, Mark Zuckerberg.

This lopsided treatment appears to have continued: SKWAWKBOX readers have reported posts they have shared disappearing from their newsfeeds, ‘see first’ settings disappearing in spite of repeated attempts to prioritise the page’s updates and other anomalies when they try to view or share news.

If you get your links to articles by This Site, or Skwawkbox, or The Canary, or any of the other left-wing sites via Facebook, it seems now would be a good time to check that the system hasn’t messed with your preference settings.

Alternatively, why not cut out the middle man altogether?

In the right-hand column of this page (if you’re using a computer) there’s a section marked “SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL”. It’s easy to use and won’t take more than a minute of your time.

Then you can be sure of receiving the articles you want to see. Isn’t that better than letting some faceless Facebook fascist separate you from what you want to see?

Source: Confirmed: Facebook changed its system to filter out left news from user feeds while leaving right untouched – SKWAWKBOX

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PMQs: here’s how Badmouther Boris got from his exams failure to accusing Keir Starmer of IRA sympathy

Johnson v Starmer: in the PMQs battle-of-words, Starmer came out the clear winner against a prime minister that didn’t seem to know what question he was being asked to answer – let alone how to do it.

Prime ministerial failure Boris Johnson showed us all he had no answers about the ‘A’ level results scandal when he wandered off in the middle of PMQs and started accusing Keir Starmer of sympathising with the IRA – by proxy.

The Labour leader had asked a reasonable question – when did Johnson know that there was a problem with the algorithm used by Ofqual and the Department for Education to produce results, as exams hadn’t taken place?

Johnson’s response was not only an insult to everybody whose results were tainted by the system that upgraded private school pupils and marked down those at state schools – it was a direct attack on Starmer, with no reason.

He was clearly off-balance; he did not know what to say about the exams fiasco – so he groped for an attack on the Labour leader that he (or more likely his team) had clearly prepared in advance.

See for yourself:

This is Johnson’s tactic, it seems: if he’s asked a tricky question, he’ll throw a dead cat on the table.

The barb about supporting the IRA had nothing to do with anything at all – particularly not Keir Starmer who, as he said, prosecuted many terrorists in his former role as a lawyer and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was simply a means of distracting attention away from the fact that his government failed ‘A’ level students across the country and he did not have an excuse.

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Has Boris Johnson’s ‘mutant’ algorithm migrated from education to planning?

Robert ‘bent as a nine-bob note’ Jenrick: perhaps he’s using the algorithm so he can blame a machine when the backlash happens.

This will fuel rumours that the Tories have been using the same algorithm to boost the rich and harm the poor for many years (and only got caught when they applied it to ‘A’ level and GCSE results).

Only a matter of days after the Johnson administration was forced to u-turn away from the school exam results achieved by using this algorithm – that boosted the rich and harmed the poor – we’re being told that Robert Jenrick will be using an algorithm in his new planning process.

The same one?

Jenrick’s idea is to use an algorithm to produce targets for development in every area of England.

But The Times is reporting that “Lichfields, the planning consultancy, has said the plan will achieve the opposite of ‘levelling up’.”

To This Writer, that indicates that this algorithm will pile the most pressure on areas inhabited by the poor, while the rich get to maintain their views, their access to Green Belt land and all the other advantages the planning system can provide.

Jenrick is already tarred with plenty of evidence that he’s as bent as a nine-bob note. This will only increase calls for his removal from government.

Source: Robert Jenrick backs housing algorithm as Tory MPs fear threat to suburbs | News | The Sunday Times

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Ofqual chief Sally Collier resigns – over letting Cummings chum’s company have contract?

Exams: If Sally Collier had examined Public First a little more closely, she might not have had to resign.

The big development in the ‘A’ level scandal yesterday (August 25) was the resignation of Ofqual boss Sally Collier – apparently under criticism about the algorithm that marked down students from poorer backgrounds.

That’s what Tory mouthpiece the BBC is saying:

Ofqual chief Ms Collier has been under fire for a controversial algorithm which changed GCSE and A-level marks, making them unfair, according to heads.

It also led to many A-level students losing university places they had been offered, and a crunch on degree places.

But didn’t that only happen because Ofqual had hired useless lobbying/research firm Public First, run by friends of Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove?

A spokesperson said: “Due to the exceptional circumstances presented by the cancellation of exams, the single tender justification process was used for this contract, due to the need to urgently procure the work, in line with our procurement policy.”

This comment makes it clear that Public First was hired to find a way forward for students’ exam results. It came up with the infamous algorithm and caused a scandal.

And we now know that the government paid £49,000 for that disaster.

So it seems Ms Collier has resigned, but the fault lies with James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, the people behind Public First.

Other contracts given to the firm under the “no competition” regulations which apply when a service is deemed “urgent” during emergency circumstances include £840,000 to research public opinion on government policies – including Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not bad for a firm whose registered office is a residential address – a house – in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire.

Another contract saw the company handed £116,000 by the Department of Health and Social Care to identify ways to “lock in the lessons learned” by the Government during the Covid-19 crisis.

But will the Tories learn the obvious lesson – that Public First should not be hired to carry out any work under any circumstances at all, whether in an emergency or not?

It seems doubtful.

Source: Ofqual chief Sally Collier steps down after exams chaos – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Victory for school pupils as Tories give up attempt to downgrade them for not being rich

Gavin Williamson: he had to find an excuse to backtrack.

Tory Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has given up his bid to use the Covid-19 lockdown as a weapon against school pupils.

After a wave of protest swept the UK over his use of an algorithm that automatically gave pupils at private schools higher grades than those at state schools – and in fact downgraded state school pupils’ grades based on the performance of previous exam candidates from their school who were nothing to do with them, it seems clear that Williamson has been looking for a way it.

He found it today (August 17). Consider this, from the BBC’s article: “He added the government decided to change policy – bringing England in line with the other UK nations – after it saw a number of outliers that did not ‘make sense’ when Ofqual released additional data about its algorithm at the weekend.”

It’s a rather obvious excuse.

In reality, I think we all know that the Tories – who currently rely heavily on public opinion to form their policies – had realised that they had gone too far with what seemed a clear example of class war.

The attack on ‘A’ level students’ grades would have affected their entire future lives and careers – and although the electorate is generally thought to have a short memory, nobody is likely to forget that kind of betrayal in a hurry.

Here’s the evidence:

The weekend saw a wave of protest:

… including ill-feeling towards the children of richer parents who benefited from the algorithm the Tories used to pretend they had fared better than their poorer counterparts:

But the last straw was probably the decision by the Labour-run Welsh government to follow its Scottish counterpart and ignore the prejudiced Tory algorithm in favour of teachers’ assessments.

It meant the general public would consider the devolved governments – run by political parties other than the Tories – to be on their side, while the Tories were trying to harm them.

So we get this decision to give up and let both ‘A’ level and GCSE pupils have the grades they deserve, and a claim that it is because the government found a fault in its algorithm – which is easy to make as we all know prejudice was written into it.

But I don’t think it will save them at election time, once these pupils are old enough to vote.

They know what the Tories were doing – what Gavin Williamson wanted to do.

He wanted to steal their futures and hand them to people who don’t deserve them.

And I think they’ll remember that.

Note: Say what he likes, Keir Starmer had nothing to do with the government’s u-turn.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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Is the algorithm method stopping my messages from multiplying?

facebook

What is going wrong with the social media giant Facebook?

By now, we all know that Facebook took it upon itself to target and attack bloggers – primarily with WordPress, as I understand it – who use the site to publicise their articles, last week. Vox Political was one of those sites.

The censorship took the form of an alert message that appeared on readers’ screens when they clicked through from Facebook to an article by the writers who had been targeted. This message stated: “Facebook thinks this site may be unsafe. If you’re not familiar with it, please provide feedback by marking it as spam (you’ll be brought back to Facebook).”

Anyone trying to ‘share’ a link with other Facebook users was subjected to the infamous and annoying ‘Captcha’ box – this is the time-consuming and difficult method of proving you are a human being by reading a series of letters or numbers, that have been stretched or bent on the screen in a way that we are told prevents automated ‘spam’ systems from understanding it, and then typing the sequence correctly into a box. This is off-putting as it takes time and effort, and many users may have decided not to bother.

All this took place around the time the House of Lords was voting on the regulations that will allow private firms to compete to run NHS services – the privatisation of the NHS; and it also coincided with bowel cancer sufferer Mark McGowan’s crawl from King’s College Hospital to 10 Downing Street, pushing a toy pig with his nose to highlight his view that the privatisation marked out the Conservative-led government as pigs with their snouts in the money trough.

I can’t comment on how this affected anybody else, but my own site certainly suffered as a result, and I complained to Facebook about this treatment, pointing out that the alert message clearly lowered me in the estimation of right-thinking members of the public generally, and caused me to be shunned and avoided – fulfilling not just one but two criteria necessary for an act to constitute defamation – otherwise known as libel.

The problem appeared to resolve itself just before the weekend. Facebook said that it was all a mistake, made by its automated spam-filter algorithms. It seems that WordPress sites all over the world were affected, and there was discussion of it on the WordPress user forums, ending with a post from a staff member saying that “the problem seems to have been fixed on Facebook‘s end on or around April 26th.”

And that should have been the end of it, right?

Well… were these automated systems malfunctioning again on Sunday and Monday? That would seem very strange behaviour, so soon after an initial ‘mistake’ that was so widely discovered, reported and discussed.

Still, I posted an article yesterday and, when I checked this morning, found that – according to Facebook statistics – it had reached a total of 16 people. The previous article, a link to a reblog that I also posted yesterday, had amassed more than 1,700 readers (according to the stats). The article before that – more than 2,000.

That was seriously odd, I thought. Nobody loses 2,000 readers in a day.

Still, I had another article to promote, so I posted the link to “Tory department of dirty deeds swings into pre-election action”. Half an hour later – by which time I would normally have expected to see a ‘total reach’ in the hundreds, that number had stalled on two.

That’s right – two.

“Yes,” said one of my readers in response to a (Facebook) status report asking what the devil was going on, “the government is putting pressure on Facebook to delete some posts and groups which contain political themes, and to slow the process of certain posts being sent for others to see.  Guess Cameron is feeling the heat.”

Conspiracy-theory nonsense? Or a rational response to the evidence? I thought about this for a while. Then I decided to put it to the test.

If Facebook is using spam-filtering algorithms to censor certain messages, then it must be programmed to detect particular words, or combinations of words, I reasoned. Maybe my use of “Tory” alongside “dirty deeds” was what got the article kicked into touch?

So what would happen if I posted a link to the very same article, but this time with an innocuous – if unlikely – headline such as “Peace and harmony breaks out between the British political parties”?

I’ll tell you what happened: ‘Total reach’ of 542 people within half an hour – that’s what! More than the original link – to the same article – had achieved all day. More than it has achieved as I type this, in fact.

Maybe I’m being paranoid – Johnny Void thinks so; he’s been trying to convince me that this really was an innocent glitch, and I’d like to believe him.

But I also want some solid answers. Wouldn’t you?

I’ve written to Facebook; let’s see what happens.

And, while we’re waiting, I might create a new page on Facebook: BASTARDS for CONSERVATISM! The description will read: “We may be illegitimate, but we know our own when we see them!”

That ought to confuse this dodgy algorithm!