Friday Five: Facebook tries to stem tide of fake climate news
Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. Facebook tries to counter fake climate news
Facebook has announced it will establish an information hub to try to stem the tide of climate change denialism that is prevalent on the platform. The long-standing problem has become worse in the wake of wildfires raging across the US west coast, with one article falsely accusing leftwing extremists being shared 63,000 times.
The Climate Science Hub, will seek to counter falsehoods and misinformation by furnishing users with facts, figures and data. Of course, a lot of people aren’t particularly interested in facts, and prefer to believe incendiary headlines that back up their prejudices. Perhaps someone could direct President Trump to the hub?
2. YouTube aims to replicate TikTok’s success
YouTube is rolling out a new short-form video creator called YouTube Shorts in a not-so-subtle attempt to piggyback on the runaway success of TikTok. The beta version of Shorts has been launched in India (where TikTok is banned), and allows users to make 15-second videos that can be set to music (sound familiar?).
Instagram recently did something similar when it launched its TikTok clone, Reels — although, as a regular Instagram browser, I don’t even know how you can view a Reel. YouTube is hoping that creators will be tempted by the opportunity it provides to perform for a potentially huge audience, with more than 2 billion monthly users.
3. Apple to launch workout subscription service
Apple has unveiled a new personalised workout subscription service called Fitness+. It collects health data gathered by an Apple Watch and then displays it alongside workout videos which can be viewed on an iPhone, iPad or on Apple TV. The platform will compete with the likes of Peloton (minus the bike) and Fitbit.
Like its rivals, Fitness+ will allow users to compare their efforts with others who have completed the same fitness routine. Launching in six countries (including the UK and US) before the end of 2020, Fitness+ will cost £10 a month or £80 a year, and can be shared between members of the same family, which seems pretty good value.
4. Instagram unveils AI-powered video captions
Instagram has launched AI-powered automatic video captions for IGTV, its standalone app for videos from creators, as part of an effort to make the platform more accessible. Users will automatically see the captions, which are available in 16 languages, if their volume is turned all the way down.
This is the latest step Instagram has taken to promote accessibility. In 2018 it introduced automatic alternative text, which allows people with visual impairments to hear descriptions of photos through a screen reader. It also rolled out custom alternative text, which allows users to add stronger descriptions of their photos.
5. Kartta Labs recreates historical maps in 3D
Google has launched Kartta Labs, an open-source, scalable system that reconstructs in 3D what cities looked like in the past from historical maps and photos. Kartta looks like Google Maps, but with a time slider that selects the map year, and moving the slider shows how features in the map change over time.
A crowdsourcing platform allows users to upload historical maps of cities and match them to real-world coordinates, while another platform runs on top of maps to create a 3D experience by using AI to reconstruct buildings. The creators’ aim is to organise the world’s historic maps while making them accessible and useful.