Written by Adam Zewe, MIT News Office
When fighting the spread of misinformation, social media platforms typically place most users in the passenger seat. Platforms often use machine-learning algorithms or human fact-checkers to flag false or misinforming content for users.
“Just because this is the status quo doesn’t mean it is the correct way or the only way to do it,” says Farnaz Jahanbakhsh, a graduate student in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
She and her collaborators conducted a study in which they put that power into the hands of social media users instead.
They first surveyed people to learn how they avoid or filter misinformation on social media. Using their findings, the researchers developed a prototype platform that enables users to assess the accuracy of content, indicate which users they trust to assess accuracy, and filter posts that appear in their feed based on those assessments.
Through a field study, they found that users were able to effectively assess misinforming posts without receiving any prior training. Moreover, users valued the ability to assess posts and view assessments in a structured way. The researchers also saw that participants used content filters differently — for instance, some blocked all misinforming content while others used filters to seek out such articles.
This work shows that a decentralized approach to moderation can lead to higher content reliability on social media, says Jahanbakhsh. This approach is also more efficient and scalable than centralized moderation schemes, and may appeal to users who mistrust platforms, she adds.
“A lot of research into misinformation assumes that users can’t decide what is true and what is not, and so we have to help them. We didn’t see that at all. We saw that people actually do treat content with scrutiny and they also try to help each other. But these efforts are not currently supported by the platforms,” she says.
Jahanbakhsh wrote the paper with Amy Zhang, assistant professor at the University of Washington Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering; and senior author David Karger, professor of computer science in CSAIL. The research will be presented at the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing.
The spread of online misinformation is a widespread problem. However, current methods social media platforms use to mark or remove misinforming content have downsides. For instance, when platforms use algorithms or fact-checkers to assess posts, that can create tension among users who interpret those efforts as infringing on freedom of speech, among other issues.
“Sometimes users want misinformation to appear in their feed because they want to know what their friends or family are exposed to, so they know when and how to talk to them about it,” Jahanbakhsh adds.
Users often try to assess and flag misinformation on their own, and they attempt to assist each other by asking friends and experts to help them make sense of what they are reading. But these efforts can backfire because they aren’t supported by platforms. A user can leave a comment on a misleading post or react with an angry emoji, but most platforms consider those actions signs of engagement. On Facebook, for instance, that might mean the misinforming content would be shown to more people, including the user’s friends and followers — the exact opposite of what this user wanted.
To overcome these problems and pitfalls, the researchers sought to create a platform that gives users the ability to provide and view structured accuracy assessments on posts, indicate others they trust to assess posts, and use filters to control the content displayed in their feed. Ultimately, the researchers’ goal is to make it easier for users to help each other assess misinformation on social media, which reduces the workload for everyone.
The researchers began by surveying 192 people, recruited using Facebook and a mailing list, to see whether users would value these features. The survey revealed that users are hyper-aware of misinformation and try to track and report it, but fear their assessments could be misinterpreted. They are skeptical of platforms’ efforts to assess content for them. And, while they would like filters that block unreliable content, they would not trust filters operated by a platform.
Using these insights, the researchers built a Facebook-like prototype platform, called Trustnet. In Trustnet, users post and share actual, full news articles and can follow one another to see content others post. But before a user can post any content in Trustnet, they must rate that content as accurate or inaccurate, or inquire about its veracity, which will be visible to others.
“The reason people share misinformation is usually not because they don’t know what is true and what is false. Rather, at the time of sharing, their attention is misdirected to other things. If you ask them to assess the content before sharing it, it helps them to be more discerning,” she says.
Users can also select trusted individuals whose content assessments they will see. They do this in a private way, in case they follow someone they are connected to socially (perhaps a friend or family member) but whom they would not trust to assess content. The platform also offers filters that let users configure their feed based on how posts have been assessed and by whom.
Once the prototype was complete, they conducted a study in which 14 individuals used the platform for one week. The researchers found that users could effectively assess content, often based on expertise, the content’s source, or by evaluating the logic of an article, despite receiving no training. They were also able to use filters to manage their feeds, though they utilized the filters differently.
“Even in such a small sample, it was interesting to see that not everybody wanted to read their news the same way. Sometimes people wanted to have misinforming posts in their feeds because they saw benefits to it. This points to the fact that this agency is now missing from social media platforms, and it should be given back to users,” she says.
Users did sometimes struggle to assess content when it contained multiple claims, some true and some false, or if a headline and article were disjointed. This shows the need to give users more assessment options — perhaps by stating than an article is true-but-misleading or that it contains a political slant, she says.
Since Trustnet users sometimes struggled to assess articles in which the content did not match the headline, Jahanbakhsh launched another research project to create a browser extension that lets users modify news headlines to be more aligned with the article’s content.
While these results show that users can play a more active role in the fight against misinformation, Jahanbakhsh warns that giving users this power is not a panacea. For one, this approach could create situations where users only see information from like-minded sources. However, filters and structured assessments could be reconfigured to help mitigate that issue, she says.
In addition to exploring Trustnet enhancements, Jahanbakhsh wants to study methods that could encourage people to read content assessments from those with differing viewpoints, perhaps through gamification. And because social media platforms may be reluctant to make changes, she is also developing techniques that enable users to post and view content assessments through normal web browsing, instead of on a platform.
This work was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.
Microsoft and LinkedIn engage 7.3 million learners in India through Skills for Jobs program, to help 10 million people learn digital skills
Will provide free access to 350 courses, six new Career Essentials Certificates, and 50,000 LinkedIn Learning Scholarships
Microsoft and LinkedIn announced the next step in the Skills for Jobs program, providing free access to 350 courses and six new Career Essentials Certificates for six of the most in-demand jobs in the digital economy. Microsoft and LinkedIn will also be offering 50,000 LinkedIn Learning scholarships to help people get ahead in their skilling journey. By 2025, Microsoft will help train and certify 10 million people with skills for in demand jobs. Today’s launch builds on the Global Skills Initiative, which helped 80 million jobseekers around the world access digital skilling resources.
To date, Microsoft has engaged 14 million learners in Asia via LinkedIn, Microsoft Learn and non-profit skilling efforts. Of this, 7.3 million learners were from India. The top six LinkedIn Learning Pathways in India were: Critical Soft Skills, Software Developer, Data Analyst, Financial Analyst, Project Manager, and Customer Service Specialist.
Using data from LinkedIn and the Burning Glass Institute, Microsoft analyzed job listings to determine six of the roles in greatest demand for the program: Administrative Professional, Project Manager, Business Analyst, Systems Administrator, Software Developer or Data Analyst. The new courses and certificates will be offered in seven languages, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese. This expansion builds on Microsoft’s commitment to supporting inclusive economic opportunity so learners around the world have equitable access to the skills, technology, and opportunity needed to succeed in a digitizing economy.
Microsoft’s new commitment to offer skilling support for the most sought-after digital jobs is aimed at enabling people and organizations to seize job opportunities, gain a competitive edge and emerge as trailblazers – as they contribute to a vibrant tech ecosystem and accelerate innovation needed for growth.
Dr. Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India said, “Bridging the skills gaps in today’s digital economy is foundational to India’s employment challenges and building towards inclusive economic and societal progress in India. Microsoft has been invested in various initiatives to skill India’s youth, tapping into the potential of underserved communities and the opportunity to bring more women into the workforce. With our new commitment to help equip another 10 million globally with highly relevant skilling support, we want to continue making tech skills accessible to all, opening up employment opportunities for people to succeed and embrace innovation. We are privileged to be collaborating with LinkedIn and our partners in our local communities, to empower every person in India to be part of a growing digital ecosystem and to achieve more, together.”
The new Career Essentials Certificates are designed to help learners bridge the gap from basic digital literacy to more advanced technical skills training and gain certifications that will be valuable to securing employment. Once a learning pathway is completed, learners will receive a LinkedIn badge to denote their certificate and indicate fluency in the skillset to employers.
All courses are available on LinkedIn at opportunity.linkedin.com. In addition, Microsoft-developed courses are also available on Microsoft Community Training (MCT) and in downloadable format for use on other Learning Management Systems (LMS) for nonprofit partners.
Indian manufacturing sector projects strong hiring outlook for Q3 – 57% of employers are keen to increase their resource pool – TeamLease
The report findings indicate that 57% employers have expressed the intent to hire and expand their resource pool
TeamLease Services, a conglomerate revolutionizing employment, employability and ease of doing business in India, has today launched their “Employment Outlook Report” for Q3 (October to December, 2022) for the manufacturing sector. The report findings indicate that 57% employers have expressed the intent to hire and expand their resource pool. From a macro perspective, the overall intent to hire, across manufacturing and services sectors combined, has increased from 61% in Q2 to 65% in Q3 and is projected to cross 70% in the next few quarters.
Deep diving into the geographic trends, the report highlights that driven by post COVID resilience, resurgence and readiness; metro and Tier I cities (91%) have indicated a higher intent to hire vs. Tier – 2 cities (69%), Tier – 3 (39%) and rural locations (21%). Mumbai (93%), followed by Bangalore (90%), Chennai (83%), Delhi (79%), Pune (67%), Hyderabad (61%), and Ahmedabad (61%) are the top cities for employment opportunities in the manufacturing segment. The top sectors across the top cities constitute Fast Moving Consumer Goods in Bangalore; Manufacturing, Engineering & Infrastructure in Mumbai; and Agricultural & Agrochemicals in Chennai.
Sharing his views about the industry and the report’s findings, Dr. Mahesh Bhatt, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Services, said, “Post COVID, global employment growth has recovered by 2.7% and is currently on a strong growth trajectory in H2 2022. Q3 projections for the intent to hire, especially in the manufacturing segment, stand strong. Much of this optimism is driven by the resurgence in the industry, increased consumer demand this festive season and the additional impetus introduced by the government. The INR 2.65 lakh crore stimulus package by the Government of India to generate job opportunities and provide liquidity support to Tourism, Aviation, Construction and Housing has been lucrative towards increasing employment opportunities in the manufacturing sectors.
Large manufacturing firms, with scale and technological heft lead the hiring intent (65%) by a huge margin as they have ramped up to cater to festive demand and optimize production capacities; followed by small scale industries at 41% and medium sized businesses at 39%.
“Majority of the sectors in the manufacturing segment (177 out of the 311 surveyed) are indicating a higher intent to hire in Q3. COVID 19 brought a paradigm shift in the Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals sector and for Q3, close to 92% employers have expressed the intent to increase their resource pool comparatively with the Q2 in 88%. Additionally, driven by higher consumer demand and sales this festive season, 79% employers in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector are also keen to hire. Agricultural & Agrochemical (66%), Manufacturing, Engineering & Infrastructure (62%) and Electric Vehicle & Infrastructure sector (61%) are other top sectors”, added Balasubramanian A, Vice President and Business Head – Consumer and Healthcare, TeamLease Services.
The Employment Outlook Report for October to December 2022 quarter for the manufacturing sector highlights the job market sweet spots for candidates. Manufacturing firms are looking to scale in a post-pandemic world and are staffing their frontlines with young talent. Junior level talent (57%) commands the best demand, hierarchically, and is closely followed by entry level talent (51%), mid-level (29%) and senior-level (21%). From a job function perspective, manufacturing companies are focusing more on operations and the profiles which are projected to have a higher hiring inclination are sales (95%), marketing (79%), information and technology (77%), engineering and blue collar (67%)
Further, according to the report, the manufacturing industry has fared comparatively better when it comes to talent retention. Apart from Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals (14.71%), all the other sectors sit with low single digit attrition rates.
The TeamLease Employment Outlook Report is a forward looking tool, which has surveyed 311 manufacturing companies across 14 cities in India. The Intent to Hire indicator is particularly adapted to capture both moderate and significant changes in hiring sentiment as companies. The metric enables to accurately record the environment during a certain quarter and contrast it with the environment from the preceding quarter.
iCreate hosts 35 incubators for a three-day ISBA conference to discuss the growth of incubation centres in India
Participants learnt the essence of brand building, managing and growing of an incubation centre
iCreate (International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology), Indiaʼs leading tech innovation-based start-up incubator in association with ISBA (Indian STEPs & Business Incubators Association) hosted a 3 day capacity building programme from 13-15th October at its campus with 35 incubators from across the country. CEOs and Incubation Managers of ISBA’s member incubators underwent an intense training to understand strategies for incubation growth and stakeholder management under the ISBALEARNX program. Incubation experts from across the country were invited to lead these sessions.
Addressing the crowd, Mr. Avinash Punekar, CEO, iCreate said, “The last 5 years have witnessed significant development in India’s entrepreneurial landscape as the number of recognised startups in the country has increased manifold. This clearly explains the prowess of Indian inventors and the reason for growing investor confidence in Indian startups and therefore the need for development and growth of incubators in the country. We are grateful to be associated with an organization like ISBA that has been supporting us and has been at the forefront of assisting incubators and startups with different frameworks and actively engaging with State and Central Government for various policies. We are delighted and privileged to have the support of some of the most distinguished organizations in the country. Together with ISBA, we look forward to developing a stronger incubation culture in India and work on the mutual mission of making India the start-up hub of the World.”
In an effort to focus energies on objectives like brand management and growth strategies for their incubation centers, the congregation saw participation from leading incubators like National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli; Pilani Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Society; Science and Technology Park, Pune, Vellore Institute of Technology; SINE, IIT Bombay; IIT Mandi Catalyst and COEP’s Bhau Institute of Innovation Entrepreneurship and Lead to name a few.
Extending his gratitude Mr. Prasad Menon, Vice President ISBA and CEO, CIBA said, “ I express my heartfelt appreciation to iCreate for organizing and conducting an event of this stature. Being one of the leading incubators of India, we have known iCreate for its commitment in promoting growth and entrepreneurial energies in the country and are proud to be associated with them. Incubators globally have become an ecosystem with an array of initiatives that support the economy leading the way in improving our global position as a start-up hub. ISBA aims to build awareness about the value an incubator adds to the industry and with this conference we see a commitment to our vision of transforming the incubator ecosystem in India. ISBA has been conducting such capacity building programs for more than a decade now. More than 1000 Incubation managers have benefited from such learning programs. Having partners and members like iCreate in our family, we are certain that we will successfully achieve our mission to build a conducive incubation ecosystem by bringing together various industry stakeholders”.
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