TIME Social Media

Facebook’s Going to Start Weeding Out Fake News Stories

But don't worry — The Onion is safe

Get ready to see less “news” stories about Santa Claus truthers and dinosaur sightings in Utah proliferating on your Facebook feed.

The social media platform announced in a blog post Tuesday that it is making a concerted effort to decrease the number of hoaxes and misleading stories in users’ News Feeds.

Sample “hoax” post included in its press release Facebook

“People often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realize they have been tricked,” Facebook explains. “These types of posts also tend to receive lots of comments from friends letting people know this is a hoax, and comments containing links to hoax-busting websites.”

Internal data shows that people are twice as likely to delete a post after receiving a friend’s clarifying comment.

Users are given the option to report a new story as false.

Facebook’s instructions on how to report fake news stories Facebook

While Facebook won’t delete or fact-check the content, it will not only reduce the distribution of posts that have been reported as false but also add a warning to future sharers.

But don’t worry — this doesn’t mean The Onion is going anywhere.

Facebook clarified that users rarely reported satirical content, so that humorous genre won’t be impacted.

TIME Video Games

5 Reasons to Buy the New Nintendo 3DS and 5 Reasons to Wait

Nintendo

Should you pick up Nintendo's newest handheld? Here's TIME's review

Picture your ideal gaming handheld. What does it look like? Dual joysticks? Ergonomic gamepad? A plus-sized screen? Headgear-free 3D? High fidelity sonics? The battery life of a Kindle?

You won’t get all of those from Nintendo’s “New Nintendo 3DS,” the revamped 2015 edition of its popular portable, but you will get a few. The question then becomes, should you fork out $200 for the new 3DS—especially if you already own one—when it becomes available in stores on February 13?

I’ve been playing with the system for a week, polishing off a long game of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (started back in 2011!), fooling with the forthcoming Majora’s Mask remaster, and having a look at Capcom’s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Here’s my take:

The arguments for buying one

You’re really into stereoscopic 3D

The 3DS’s feature namesake seemed very cool when I first tried it at the handheld’s E3 unveiling in 2010. Seeing three-dimensionally without headgear or eyewear of some sort still feels like Clarkeian magic. Trouble is, to maintain the illusion, you had to keep your head still. Move a bit either way, and the image garbled.

The New Nintendo 3DS rectifies this by introducing camera-based eye tracking, something the company calls “Super-Stable 3D.” Now, at setup, you’ll be trained to work within a field of view that’s pretty generous, allowing you to move your head more freely without jeopardizing the effect.

It still requires you hold the handheld at least a foot (Nintendo recommends 14 inches) from your eyes, and it’s not like an IPS monitor where you can twist the screen and still see everything clearly—you’re still limited to a few degrees of leeway either way—but it’s far more forgiving than it was. Enough so that I’d deem it usable. I’ve long considered 3D on the 3DS unusable, and simply turned it off; I’m reconsidering my use of the technology now that it basically works as it should have from the start.

The only caveat: I wear glasses, and noticed the eye tracking would occasionally get confused when I had them on, whereas it was rock solid when I had them off. (I’d say it works as advertised 95% of the time with glasses on.)

You’ve been waiting for a dual joystick Nintendo handheld

The new C Stick—it looks like a pencil eraser and sits just northwest of the face buttons—isn’t as precise as a true second joystick. But if all you need is a way to shift the camera around in a 3D game, it gets the job done. Nintendo launched something called the “Circle Pad Pro” in 2012, a kludgy-looking righthand joystick attachment for older 3DS models. The C Stick works in any game with Circle Pad Pro support (a partial list is here), albeit less exactingly, like the trackstick technology once popular in older laptops.

I wouldn’t want to have to rely on it to play games that require brisk reticle finessing, say I’m aiming a ballistic weapon in a frenetic shooter, but in others like Monster Hunter 4 and Majora’s Mask, where it’s employed to swivel the camera and eyeball the scenery as you maneuver an avatar through the world with the left joystick, it’s indispensable, and should be a system seller when Xenoblade Chronicles hits in April.

Better sounding sound

Nintendo isn’t advertising this one, but I think it’s noticeable enough to callout: the stereo speakers—now piped through five-point cross-shaped holes—sound notably louder and clearer than the ones on the older models. Did Nintendo include superior sound hardware (or algorithmic processing)? Or is it simply the size of the holes and/or the shape of the speakers? I have no idea, but something’s clearly different, and better.

The promise of future power

We’re taking Nintendo’s word here, but Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime claims the new 3DS’s leap over the old 3DS, power-wise, is tantamount to the 3DS’s processing leap over the DS. If the claim’s accurate, it’ll be a pretty serious bump, though all we’ve seen so far, game-wise, is preliminary video of Monster Games’s Xenoblade Chronicles port.

Nintendo says getting around the 3DS’s menus should also be faster. I haven’t done any comparison timing tests with my standard 3DS XL, but then interface speed never felt sluggish to me on the prior models.

The most tangible improvement? Download speeds. I had no idea how much data transfer from the eShop was hampered by the system itself in the older models, but the new system is wowsers fast, capable of pulling down 5,000-block files in a matter of minutes.

All the tiny but significant refinements

Want a battery that lasts slightly longer? An ambient light-sensitive backlight that automatically adjusts the screen brightness? Built-in amiibo and NFC wireless support, so you don’t have to buy an add-on peripheral? A web browser that can finally playback videos? A second set of shoulder buttons that mimic the secondary triggers on a gamepad? A volume slider that now sits comfortably on the lefthand side of the screen, parallel to the 3D one? All the activity indicator lights in one place? Easily depressible Start and Select buttons positioned where Start and Select buttons belong?

This is clearly the best version of Nintendo’s 3DS, in other words. If you’re into the games and the idea of two-screen gaming, this is without question the iteration to own. True, 3DS owners who’ve already paid hundreds of dollars have to fork out another $200, but when you consider what some people pay to upgrade smartphones or tablets annually—and as a mainstream gaming device, the 3DS leaves smartphones and tablets in the dust—it’s arguably a steal.

The arguments against buying one

You think stereoscopic 3D’s a gimmick

My regular 3DS XL’s 3D switch has been off pretty much since I bought it. I avoid 3D versions of films in theaters. I’ll never owned a stereoscopic 3D television. I have no interest in the current flavors of the technology’s crude, eye-straining, aesthetically pointless visual trickery. You can still disable the technology on the New Nintendo 3DS, but as a system-selling feature it’s still ironically the least interesting thing about the 3DS.

You’re waiting for a Nintendo handheld with a retinal display

The New Nintendo 3DS’s main screen still runs at the old 3DS’s 400 by 240 pixel resolution. On a nearly 5-inch screen, that’s pretty anemic, well below even the old NTSC standard (640 by 480 pixels) that games like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask supported back in the 1990s. (By contrast, the PS Vita’s 5-inch screen has supported 960 by 544 pixels since 2011, and Apple’s 4.7-inch iPhone 6 runs up to 1334 by 750 pixels.)

It’s not a dealbreaker: games on the 3DS, new or old, look perfectly competent. But it’s past time Nintendo brought its handheld visuals up to par with industry trends. Imagine what a high-definition Nintendo handheld might do for the company’s coffers.

You hate glossy exteriors

My original Aqua Blue 3DS had a shiny, high-reflective finish. I didn’t mind because the non-black coloring mitigated visible fingerprint smudging. But I was happiest with the 3DS XL, which employed something nearer a matte finish, making it easier to grip and smudge-proof.

Not so the New Nintendo 3DS, which resurrects the old shellacked look in either red or black colors. Nintendo sent me the black model, so I can’t comment on whether the red finish mitigates fingerprint visibility, but the black model’s outsides look pretty grubby after extended use.

All the odd feature back-stepping

For instance: the New Nintendo 3DS doesn’t come with a separate AC adapter, though it’s compatible with any other 3DS adapter. The power button now weirdly sits on the bottom of the unit instead of on the interior lower half of the clamshell, which can lead to accidentally turning it on. It also trades SD for micro SD support and ships with a paltry 4GB card. Worse, a tiny screwdriver is required to remove the entire backplate just to access/change said card.

Of all the changes/subtractions, the removal of a hard “wireless off” switch and shifting of the stylus and game cartridge slot to the system’s underside make the most sense, but the rest—compromises based on form factor rejiggering, or in the adapter’s case, to keep the price at $200—leave a slightly sour taste.

You really wanted a non-XL option

The New Nintendo 3DS, which shipped in both basic and XL versions in Japan, is only available in XL sizing stateside. Getting specific, that’s a not insubstantial weight difference of 329 grams (XL) versus 253 grams (basic), and a proportions one of 6.3 inches by 3.68 inches by 0.85 inches (XL) versus 5.6 inches by 3.17 inches by 0.85 inches (basic).

Nintendo says it’s only selling the XL version stateside because that’s the version buyers prefer, and who am I to argue? (It’s certainly my preferred version.) It’s just a shame the market couldn’t accommodate the apparent minority looking for something a little lighter and more totable: the basic version was just barely pocketable; the XL definitely isn’t.

TIME technology

A Chinese Company 3D-Printed This Five-Story Apartment Building

And a 12,000 square foot mansion

In the not-so-distant future, you might be able to have your 3D printed cake and eat it in your 3D printed apartment.

A Chinese company unveiled a five-story apartment building and three-story mansion that were constructed using a 500-foot-long 3D printer, CNet reports.

Construction company WinSun presented the apartment building at Suzhou Industrial Park:

Here’s the 11,840-square-foot mansion:

According to CNet, the villa cost about $161,000 to build, decreased production time between 50 and 70 percent and saved between 30 and 60 percent of construction waste.

This isn’t WinSun’s first 3D construction feat. In April, the company claimed to print 10 houses in less than 24 hours.

The future is here.

TIME Innovation

Researchers Make Super Mario Self-Aware

I, for one, welcome our new plumber overlords

Mario doesn’t need you anymore to help him rescue the princess. A new project by German researchers, called Mario AI, gives the famous Italian plumber the ability to understand speech and learn new skills as he navigates his colorful world.

Plopped into a level from Super Mario World, this super-smart version of Mario can understand verbal commands from humans spoken in both English and German. He can explore the level of his own volition and make discoveries that he relays to a human observer. For instance, ask Mario what a Goomba is (the most famous of Mario enemies) and he’ll initially say he doesn’t know. Wait until he’s killed one of the creatures, though, and he’ll say, “If I jump on Goomba, then it maybe dies.”

Mario also has different emotional states that dictate his activities in the game world. When he’s hungry, for instance, he’ll search out coins to eat, and when he’s curious, he’ll perform more acrobatics to explore more parts of the level.

The project was developed by a team at Germany’s University of Tubingen. It makes use of speech recognition software developed at Carnegie Mellon Univeristy.

[Mashable]

TIME apps

This Is What It’s Like To Have Your Skype Call Automatically Translated

Skype
In this photo illustration, the Skype Internet phone program is seen September 1, 2009 in New York City. Mario Tama—Getty Images

Hands on with Microsoft's new real-time voice translation service

Microsoft’s Skype Translator, designed to automatically translate conversations between speakers of two languages in real-time, is far from flawless. In fact, sometimes it’s unintentionally hilarious. But for all of its botched words, delayed responses, and its curious ability to recognize “Kim Kardashain” but not “Kanye West,” there’s no denying that it works.

Skype Translator is in fact a package of four technological feats stitched together into one experience. First it transcribes spoken words into text, which is displayed in a running feed alongside the video conference. Next it prunes out the “um’s” and “ah’s” and repetitious words from the conversation, while adding punctuation to the written record. Then it translates the text and finally reads it aloud to the end user. In total, the program takes roughly four seconds to clear all of these hurdles — to varying degrees of success.

I got the chance to try Skype Translator Monday at Building 99, Microsoft’s research hub in Redmond, Washington. It stumbled right out of the gate when I introduced myself to Karin Nova, a professional translator in Slovakia who was contracted by Microsoft to demonstrate the software.

“Hi, nice to meet you,” I said to Nova, “I’m Dan.” The program, thrown by the proper name, told Nova that I was “down.” In fact, it had an insistent habit of translating names into similar-sounding words. Our brief discussion about the the marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West translated the first name flawlessly, but Kanye West was alternatively transcribed as “Conde West” and “con you whilst.”

Surprisingly, Skype Translator does better with longer sentences, thanks to the extra context clues. Nova’s explanation of how frequently she uses Skype Translate came through without a hitch. “I think that I don’t know the exact number,” came her translated response, “but over the last few months. Five a week surely.”

That awkward period breaking apart her last sentence highlights one of the Skype team’s trickiest challenges: How to get punctuation in its proper place. That’s a surprisingly essential feature — fragmented sentences require several readings to make any sense.

The program also includes a profanity filter, that, when switched on, discreetly mutes curse words. My attempts to slip an obscenity past Skype’s filter failed. Novak, who’s fluent in nine languages, politely smiled at each juvenile attempt to trick the system.

But most often, the translations fell somewhere between awkward and comprehensible. I know Novak was eager to visit New York City — that much was clear when she said, “I want to meet all of New York City and I want to attach it with a concert of a group I like.” From that, I also gathered she probably wants to see a concert during her visit.

Usually any confusion can be cleared up with a follow-up question. The result is a conversation that requires a few extra sentences of clarification, but the meaning eventually comes through intact. And that’s where the promise of this technology becomes apparent — Skype Translator is far from eliminating language barriers, but it has already lowered them considerably.

That raises a sensitive subject for professional translators like Novak: Does she feel threatened by this technology? “Not yet,” was her translated response, “and in the future I think. The machine of humans, they can work together.”

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Google Invests in SpaceX

The investment could make SpaceX valued at $10 billion

Google invested $1 billion in SpaceX, valuing SpaceX at $10 billion or more. SpaceX, the private space transportation company backed by Elon Musk, may be what Google needs to expand into providing Internet-by-satellite to billions.

See what this might mean for both companies in today’s Know Right Now, and read more here.

TIME Security

5 Surefire Signs That Craigslist Ad is Fake

man-behind-laptop
Getty Images

How to tell if that post is legit

This story was originally published at the Daily Dot.

If the Internet is like the Wild West, Craigslist is one of its most lawless saloons.

Illustrating this perfectly was a recent ad that appeared on the site offering dog-walking services. Coming out of Seattle, the ad quickly went viral, with many praising it as basically the best thing ever. However, the narrative surrounding the ad has quickly taken a turn, as the Seattle poster has suggested it was a joke, and the Internet quickly labeled it a hoax. However, author Jason O. Gilbert has come forward to say that he originally wrote it sincerely, albeit comedically, four years ago in New York.

Regardless of ownership, however, the viral dog-walking ad poses interesting questions about Craigslist, and the Internet at large. How do you know what is fake, and what is real anymore online? Fortunately, when it comes to Craigslist, there are several helpful signs to help you figure it out.

1) It seems like it’s trying to be funny

In its recent form, the Craigslist dog-walking ad was lauded for making fun of rich people, student loans, and life after college. However, Gilbert’s version is supposedly more about just being broke and the appeal of laying all your cards out on the table. It’s pretty funny stuff either way, but according to Gilbert, the ad is less satire than it is an attempt to be playful and clever. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the overt silliness of the ad should be an indicator that it’s not your average Craigslist posting.

A better example of this may be a supposed American Airlines ad from March of last year, looking for a pilot and crew for some jets coming in from Brazil. Coming out of Dallas, the almost assuredly fake post mentions that the planes “are extremely shiny and they have that new plane smell that pilots love.” It further tells the reader: “Contact me anytime. Seriously. Anytime. I’m desperate here . . . I may already be screwed. Ugh. Please call. Please? Hello?”

In any case, the fact is that while Craigslist is ridiculous, and people post all manner of crazy yet entirely real stuff on it, most users aren’t going to take the time to craft a long, comedic ad, if they have something legitimate they want to accomplish on the site.

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

TIME Social Networking

Twitter Buys Indian Mobile Marketing Startup

Zipdial allows people without internet connection to get advertisements and promotions on their cellphones

Twitter is buying an India-based mobile marketing startup for an undisclosed sum, as it seeks to attract users in the developing world.

The Bangalore-based ZipDial allows consumers interested in a company’s services to dial its number and hang up before connecting. The company then sends them free text messages, app notifications and voice calls containing advertisements. The so-called “missed call” marketing means users aren’t charged for the service, because their initial call never connects.

Twitter will use ZipDial to reach consumers who aren’t connected to the Internet. ZipDial’s campaigns have reached nearly 60 million users, the Wall Street Journal reports, and could be used to reach users in Indonesia and Brazil. The company has 56 employees.

Consumers in countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia with developing Internet infrastructures are key markets for Twitter, and 77% of the social network’s 284 million monthly active users are outside the United States.

“By coming together with ZipDial, we’ll help more people around the world enjoy great and relevant Twitter experiences on their mobile phones,” Twitter said in a statement.

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games To Play This Week

Try 1+2=3, a deceivingly difficult game of quick calculations

Looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week. Enjoy!

  • Shadowmatic

    Shadowmatic
    Shadowmatic Shadowmatic

    Shadowmatic is one of the most challenging puzzle games around, not necessarily because the puzzles themselves are impossible to solve, but because the game requires players to think differently. The goal is to contort objects in order to match a shadow cast on a wall. Use objects from your surroundings in order to solve the puzzle. It’s like a mind-bending shadow-puppet spectacle.

    Shadowmatic is available for $2.99 in the App Store.

  • Flockers

    Flockers
    Flockers Flockers

    Flockers is shockingly similar to the yesteryear gaming hit Lemmings, in which players must lead a flock of animals over a series of obstacles and, hopefully, not to one of many violent deaths. It’s a puzzle game in action. Take your sheep through 60 levels and see if they can survive the gruesome machines and pitfalls designed to pulp your clueless herd.

    Flockers is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

  • Lowlander

    Lowlander
    Lowlander Lowlander

    In a world full of retro games, Lowlander is so retro that it’s nearly analog. It’s a throwback to a time of pixels the size of a quarter, and game movement as simple and as straightforward as the arrow keys. Actions are selected from a drop down menu as you try to battle your way through the Amazon. Imagine the RPG Tom Hanks plays in Big, but colorful, and on your iPhone.

    Lowlander is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

  • 1+2=3

    1+2=3
    1+2=3 1+2=3

    There’s a level of inanity to this game that’s hard to stomach, were it not for the fact that it’s been near the top of the iTunes chart for the last week. Clearly players are responding to the idea that basic math equations thrown at them at top speed are not only a lot of fun, but strangely challenging. It’s literally single digit operations, and yet, it’s not hard to make mistakes. Not really a brain teaser as much as a puzzle game, 1+2=3 is a great way to spend a few minutes of free time.

    1+2=3 is free in the App Store.

  • Hexxy Snake

    Hexxy Snake
    Hexxy Snake Hexxy Snake

    A lot like the classic game Snake, Hexxy Snake is a game in which players control a growing snake, navigate it towards food and around obstacles, and, more importantly, away from its ever-growing tail. The added challenge to this game is anticipating the slightly fractal element of guessing the precise angle at which your snake will turn when it comes to a fork in the hex background.

    Hexxy Snake is $2.99 in the App Store.

TIME intelligence

U.S. Cracked North Korea’s Computer Systems

Kim Jong Un North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks through a pair of binoculars as he guides the multiple-rocket launching drill of women's sub-units under KPA Unit 851, in Pyongyang in this undated photo released on Dec. 30, 2014. KCNA/Reuters

It reportedly happened before the devastating Sony hack

Comments by top U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, that blamed North Korea for the Sony Pictures cyberattack were apparently rooted in a top-secret penetration of North Korea’s computer systems by the National Security Agency, according to The New York Times — a report independently confirmed by NBC News.

The Times reported that the penetration occurred before the hack of Sony, but U.S. intelligence officials would not discuss the report Sunday or confirm its details. But the Times report says the evidence gleaned from the U.S. penetration of North Korean government hackers’ activities persuaded Obama and other top officials that North Korea was behind the attack…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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