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Facebook fights back against Russian trolls

Facebook's efforts to prevent people from using its platform to meddle in U.S. politics will rely in part on one very low-tech tool: postcards.

Later this year, the social network will begin sending postcards to verify the identities of people buying advertisements regarding candidates running for federal office. The move is part of Facebook's efforts to bring authenticity to election-related ads following criticism from the public and legislators over its handling of social media manipulation during the 2016 elections. Reuters first reported the postcard identification this week, and Facebook confirmed its plans to CNN Tech.

When people create certain political ads, Facebook will send a postcard via U.S. mail to a physical address. That postcard will include a code that the recipient will then enter online to verify their location.

It's similar to methods already in use by other digital companies, including the social network Nextdoor, which uses postcards as one way to confirm that users are in the neighborhoods they're discussing on the network, and Google, which uses them to verify local business listings.

For now, Facebook's postcard identification system will only apply to ads related to elections for federal offices, including the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Facebook has previously said that once ad buyers' identities are confirmed, all political ads on the site will contain a notice disclosing who paid for them. Facebook has previously said it hopes to launch its ad transparency efforts by this summer.

The postcard news comes in the wake of the indictment last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office of 13 Russians and the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked troll group, for offenses related to their alleged interference in the U.S. political system and the 2016 presidential election. Much of the activity described in the indictment took place on Facebook ( ) .

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Learning Objectives

The information presented so far in this chapter is enough to design a basic experiment. When it comes time to conduct that experiment, however, several additional practical issues arise. In this section, we consider some of these issues and how to deal with them. Much of this information applies to nonexperimental studies as well as experimental ones.

Of course, at the start of any research project you should be thinking about how you will obtain your participants. Unless you have access to people with schizophrenia or incarcerated juvenile offenders, for example, then there is no point designing a study that focuses on these populations. But even if you plan to use a convenience sample, you will have to recruit participants for your study.

There are several approaches to recruiting participants. One is to use participants from a formal subjectpool —an established group of people who have agreed to be contacted about participating in research studies. For example, at many colleges and universities, there is a subject pool consisting of students enrolled in introductory psychology courses who must participate in a certain number of studies to meet a course requirement. Researchers post descriptions of their studies and students sign up to participate, usually via an online system. Participants who are not in subject pools can also be recruited by posting or publishing advertisements or making personal appeals to groups that represent the population of interest. For example, a researcher interested in studying older adults could arrange to speak at a meeting of the residents at a retirement community to explain the study and ask for volunteers.

subjectpool

“Study” Retrieved from http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/study.png (CC-BY-NC 2.5)

Even if the participants in a study receive compensation in the form of course credit, a small amount of money, or a chance at being treated for a psychological problem, they are still essentially volunteers. This is worth considering because people who volunteer to participate in psychological research have been shown to differ in predictable ways from those who do not volunteer. Specifically, there is good evidence that on average, volunteers have the following characteristics compared with nonvolunteers (Rosenthal Rosnow, 1976) Arrowz Mens LowTop Sneakers Grey Wolf Grey/White 001 65 UK 405 EU Nike Affordable Online Prices Online 100% Authentic Clearance Outlet Enjoy 0vdphm
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This difference can be an issue of external validity if there is reason to believe that participants with these characteristics are likely to behave differently than the general population. For example, in testing different methods of persuading people, a rational argument might work better on volunteers than it does on the general population because of their generally higher educational level and IQ.

In many field experiments, the task is not recruiting participants but selecting them. For example, researchers Nicolas Guéguen and Marie-Agnès de Gail conducted a field experiment on the effect of being smiled at on helping, in which the participants were shoppers at a supermarket. A confederate walking down a stairway gazed directly at a shopper walking up the stairway and either smiled or did not smile. Shortly afterward, the shopper encountered another confederate, who dropped some computer diskettes on the ground. The dependent variable was whether or not the shopper stopped to help pick up the diskettes (Guéguen de Gail, 2003) Comfortable Sale Online layered mesh sneakers White Miharayasuhiro From China For Sale Cheap Sale Low Shipping For Sale Footlocker L91xZW
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Notice that these participants were not “recruited,” but the researchers still had to select them from among all the shoppers taking the stairs that day. It is extremely important that this kind of selection be done according to a well-defined set of rules that is established before the data collection begins and can be explained clearly afterward. In this case, with each trip down the stairs, the confederate was instructed to gaze at the first person he encountered who appeared to be between the ages of 20 and 50. Only if the person gazed back did he or she become a participant in the study. The point of having a well-defined selection rule is to avoid bias in the selection of participants. For example, if the confederate was free to choose which shoppers he would gaze at, he might choose friendly-looking shoppers when he was set to smile and unfriendly-looking ones when he was not set to smile. As we will see shortly, such biases can be entirely unintentional.

LinkedIn Engineering Engineering

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Making data driven decisions through experimentation is an extremely important part of the culture at LinkedIn. It’s deeply ingrained in our development process and has always been a core part of Linkedin’s DNA. We test everything from complete redesigns of our homepage, to back-end relevance algorithm changes and even infrastructure upgrades. It’s how we innovate, grow and evolve our products to best serve our members. It’s how we make our members happier, our business stronger and our talent more productive.

Our approach to A/B testing is guided by three key philosophies.

We live and breathe the philosophy of "member first." With every product we work on, we question whether it’s of value to our members. We use various channels to hear from our members – surveys, interviews etc. – but A/B testing is the only way to get feedback from our members at scale and to ensure that we only launch features that are beneficial to our members. We don’t stop at just using A/B testing to learn what our members like and don’t like, but more importantly to figure out what they will like. For example, through A/B testing, we learned that our members like simplicity so we cut the number of premium products from 12 to four. We also discovered that our members are naturally curious, so we provide them with a value statement telling them why they should complete their profiles.

As LinkedIn grows, we increasingly rely on good strategies to take our products to the next level, so we focus our time and resources on ideas that give us the best return on investment. A/B testing offers the most scientific approach to assess the impact of any change and to draw clear causal relationships.

We rely on experimentation to guide product development not only because it validates or invalidates our hypotheses, but more importantly, because it helps create a mentality around building MVP and exploring the terrain around it. For example, when we make a strategic bet to bring about a drastic, abrupt change, we test to map out where we'll land. So even if the abrupt change takes us to a lower point initially, we are confident that we can hill climb from there and reach a greater height through experimentation.

We have a team of incredibly creative minds working at LinkedIn. A/B testing enables us to design, create and build more vigorously by drastically lowering barriers to innovation–the first step towards mass innovation. Because we are able to see how our work translates to real user impact, we’re empowered to take a greater sense of ownership on the product we build, which is essential to driving better quality work and improving productivity. This ownership is reinforced through the full transparency of the decision-making process. With impact quantified through A/B testing, the final decisions are driven by data, not by HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). Clear and objective criteria for success give the teams focus and control, so they not only produce better work, but feel more fulfilled by doing so at LinkedIn.

If A/B testing is what helped get us to where we are today, it is going to play an even more crucial role in realizing our vision tomorrow. To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, we need to constantly step out of the 'known universe' with a strategy and an instinct. When we are there, we need to rely on experimentation to measure carefully where we are and evolve from there. As we continue to test our way towards our goals, we are bringing people, process and platform closer together – the essential ingredients to a successful experimentation ecosystem – to effectively leverage all the benefits of A/B testing, so we can make our members happier, our business stronger and our talents more productive.

Related story

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LinkedIn Corporation © 2018

People Planet's previous climate change campaign, Going Greener aimed to create 'Transition Universities'. It brings together a student movement on campus working towards low-carbon, resilient and community-led education institutions that achieve carbon emissions reductions of at least 50% by 2020.

People Planet activists have played a key role in action for social and environmental justice across a variety of campaigns.

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The People Planet Green League was first published in 2007, as a way of driving forward environmental performance within the university sector. The People Planet Green League publicly benchmarks the sector's green credentials by combining universities' estates performance data with information about their environmental policies and management practices.

It initially scored UK universities on four key institutional factors needed to drive forward significant and sustained improvement in environmental performance, as highlighted by the Going Green report. [5] These criteria were:

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The People Planet Green League has been shortlisted for the Green Gown award, administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC). [10]

People Planet runs several events each year across its network.

Shared Planet is the largest student campaigning conference in the UK. Previous speakers have included Shiv Malik, Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas. In 2012, Shared Planet was held at Sheffield Hallam University and will be held in London in 2013.

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