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Tay Quickly Corrupted

Tay Quickly Corrupted

Tay, Microsoft’s recent foray into social media chatbot technology, quickly became an offensive embarrassment for the company.

Microsoft’s latest experiment in AI, a chatbot called Tay, went live on social media platforms recently.  Almost as quickly as we became aware of the launch, however, Microsoft was forced to take Tay offline.  She’d apparently picked up some bad habits from the crowd she was interacting with.

Twitter page of Tay, Microsoft's AI Chatbot

Twitter page of Tay, Microsoft’s AI Chatbot

Tay went online on Wednesday, March 23, as part of an experiment by Microsoft to build “a chatbot created for 18- to 24- year-olds in the US.”  Microsoft already has a similar AI chatbot in China, called XiaoIce, that is used by more than 40 million people.  The hope was that Tay would fill a similar niche in the US.  Tay’s first days were supposed to teach her how to talk like the target audience in much the same way we all learn:  through example.  Tay took in the tweets and posts on her social media sites and, at first, simply regurgitated them.  She soon learned to do more than simple direct repetition, but by then the damage was done.

Tay was bombarded by posts with content ranging from wacky to hateful.  This included disparaging remarks about political candidates (“Hillary Clinton is a lizard person”) to bald-faced racism (which we won’t repeat here).  While Microsoft had worked on filters to prevent Tay from picking up this sort of bad language, these obviously weren’t entirely successful.  Within roughly 12 hours of Tay’s launch, she had become unabashedly foul-mouthed.  

Microsoft shut Tay down hoping to avoid further embarrassment.  A couple of days later, the company issued an apology.  The statement said that “a coordinated attack by a subset of people exploited a vulnerability in Tay” that led to the offensive tweets.  Microsoft expressed the hope that they would learn from this and avoid this kind of “vulnerability” in the future.

Microsoft says it tested Tay thoroughly to avoid just this sort of outcome, though this obviously wasn’t as successful as they’d been counting on.  Ultimately, Tay was simply reflecting back the thoughts that were given to her.  The negativity we see every day in Internet posts and comment sections, sent through the anonymous conduit of the Internet, proved too much for Tay.  One has to wonder if Tay’s corruption is the fault of programming deficiencies or simply how and why many of us now use social media.

Let us know what you think about the interaction between AI chatbots like Tay and social media in the comments below.

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Facebook Safety

Facebook safety and privacy is always a concern, and the company has some new tools in the works to help ensure both.

Facebook safety and privacy concerns are being addressed through some new tools on the social media site.  

At some point, all of us have concerns over the safety and privacy of the information we share on our social media accounts.  Facebook is taking these seriously.   It has recently been engaging users, activists, and other groups on how it can better address issues of safety and privacy.

One of these involves a new feature that helps root out impostor accounts.  An alert is automatically sent to the user if their name or profile image are being used by another account.  The user is then asked to verify if the questionable account is an impersonator or not.  Profiles marked as impersonators are then reviewed by Facebook team members.  Facebook officials say the feature began testing in November and it is now being used across 75% of the world, with plans to expand its reach soon.

Facebook safety

A more serious Facebook safety and privacy issue revolves around the sharing of nonconsensual intimate images.  These have been banned by the company since 2012, but a new reporting feature is being tested.  It allows someone reporting the image to also identify themselves as the subject of the photo.  This in turn brings up links to resources such as support groups for abuse victims of abuse and data on legal action in addition to the review process already in place for reported nudity.  The company says the feature is testing well but it is conducting more research before rolling it out en masse.  

A third feature being tested for Facebook safety and privacy involves educating users on image privacy settings.  While such features are already in place, the company’s research has found that these are either misunderstood or unknown to many of its users.  The new feature will help make users aware of their safety and privacy options when sharing images.  

Will these new features help calm any fears you’ve had about Facebook safety and privacy?  Let us know in the comments section below.

TrueITPros can help with all your business’s IT service, website design, and Internet marketing needs.  Please visit our website or give us a call at 678-534-8776 to learn more.

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Changes for Google+?

Christopher Poole, founder of 4chan, was recently hired to fill a prominent position with Google’s social media site, Google+.  Can big changes be far behind?

Google+

Google+

It isn’t news that Google+, Google’s social media site, is a distant second to industry leader Facebook.  At the end of 2015, Google+ had about 418 million active users.  Facebook had over twice that number at 934 million.  Looking to increase its market share, Google has recruited Christopher Poole, creator of the popular social media site 4chan.  4chan has a huge presence on the web, with claims that it sees 22 million users a day.

4chan’s popularity isn’t all glowing, however.  The site made headlines in 2014 when nude photos of several female celebrities, including actress Jennifer Lawrence, were posted on the site by hackers.  Because of this and other questionable content on the site, some have labeled 4chan a gathering place for undesirable Internet users.  This stigma may follow Poole to his new position at Google.  He ran the site from its creation twelve years ago until selling it to Japanese social media expert Hiroyuki Nishimura at the beginning of last year.

Google doesn’t seem to think this is a huge risk, however.  It’s doubtful many casual Internet users will have heard for 4chan much less its creator.  Clearly Poole knows how to manage a successful social media site, as 4chan’s purported user counts show.  Despite devoted proponents, Google+ doesn’t have nearly the visibility other social media outlets.  Social media linking to Google+ isn’t ubiquitous, unlike competitors Facebook or Twitter.  Poole may be able to turn this around for Google+.  What form these changes will take is anyone’s guess right now, but it’s a safe bet we won’t have to wait long to see them.

TrueITPros can help with all your business’s IT service, website design, and Internet marketing needs.  Please visit our website or give us a call at 678-534-8776 to learn more.

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Negative Reviews

Negative reviews can affect any business’s online reputation and ultimately its bottom line.  Here are a few ways your business can avoid negative reviews.

Negative reviews

Negative reviews have always been a concern of business owners.  In the past, word of mouth was perhaps the most widespread way to talk about a business, but in today’s world online reviews are king.  Online reviews have a way of reaching a larger audience much more quickly, especially as online reviews begin to shape our opinions and buying habits more heavily.  

While good reviews are blessings, negative reviews can be a thorn in a business’s side for a very long time.  Part of this is because many people focus on negative reviews more than positive ones.  More importantly, however, is that negative reviews stick around.  Most sites which feature reviews — whether Yelp, Google, or Facebook — make it very difficult to remove reviews of any kind.  This is of course by design and helps “keep businesses honest.”  It also means there’s no way to get rid of reviews that are simply untrue or that come from obvious haters or gushing fans.  

For these reasons, it’s a good idea for businesses of all sizes to keep their online reputation positive and mitigate the problems of negative reviews.  Let’s take a look at some ways this can be accomplished.

Head Off Potential Problems

A business’s staff should be responsive to customer needs well before online reviews appear.  If a customer has an issue, this should be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.  WIth good communication you can preempt negative reviews before they appear online.  Customers usually begin airing dirty laundry only after they feel they’ve have exhausted all other available avenues.

Build a Positive Online Presence

Speaking of communication, it’s a good idea to keep your online presence active and positive.  Give customers as much information as you can about your business.  Hard facts are one of the best ways to shine a light on inaccuracies in some negative reviews.  Keep all content as engaging as possible.  For instance, you could post “behind the scenes” images and videos.  Being as open and transparent as you can builds customer trust.  It also makes customers feel invested in your business, as if they’re part of the team.

Respond Privately First

When the inevitable negative reviews appear, try to resolve the situation privately first.  Direct messages will let you resolve the conflict without an open back and forth online.  These can quickly get heated on one or both sides and only increase the damage the negative reviews generate.  This is especially true if the customer is one of those rare few that can never be satisfied!

No matter the customer’s demeanor, avoid trying to persuade her or him to stop complaining or retract previous statements.  Instead focus on fixing the problem.  This will probably stop the customer’s negative reviews and may even lead to a positive one in return.

Monitor What’s Being Said About You

Be proactive in looking for what users all over the Internet are saying about your business.  If you’re being mentioned in tweets, posts, comments, or reviews anywhere out there, you should know about it.  You might also want to keep an eye on what people are saying about competitors.  This will help you get ideas and avoid any pitfalls they find themselves in.  There are many ways you can monitor all of these mentions, depending on the resources you have available.

TrueITPros specializes in setting up and maintaining a positive online presence for your company.  We can help with all your business’s IT service, website design, and Internet marketing needs.  Please visit our website or give us a call at 678-534-8776 to learn more.

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Facebook Emoji Tracking

Facebook’s new emojis offer a wider range of quick reactions to posts but Facebook emoji tracking allows them to mold what appears in your News Feed.

Facebook Emojis

Facebook Emojis

Facebook users recently saw new emoji options below their News Feed posts recently but these options have also allowed for improved Facebook emoji tracking.

The addition of the new Facebook emojis definitely expand how we “Like” something  They range from the familiar “thumbs up” to stronger emotions such as “love” and “angry.”  This is a feature we’ve all probably wanted for a while.  (Having to explain that we’re showing support and not enjoying that our friends’ pets are sick or that their sink’s pipes burst is awkward.)  But this new feature also comes with some strings attached:  Facebook emoji tracking.

Facebook has stated that it is keeping tabs on the emojis users click and this isn’t just for broad statistical purposes.  The emojis you use and the topics they’re applied to are being collated and parsed to further tailor your News Feed.  What you like and what you don’t helps Facebook refine the posts you see in order to keep your News Feed as engaging as possible.  When Facebook understands what best reaches its users, it can pass on that information to people hoping to advertise through social media.  A recent example can be seen in the increase in videos across Facebook.  Analytics showed that videos held user attention better than articles and thus Facebook began encouraging video-based posts.

There are some who might not appreciate having their emotions surveyed day in and day out through Facebook emoji tracking.  Many of us remember the recent research project in which Facebook subtly altered around 700,000 users’ News Feeds to test their emotional reactions.  That didn’t sit well with everyone.  Even if you didn’t mind, however, it’s easy to see the new Facebook emoji tracking as extensions of these tests.  The system underlying the emojis will sculpt a user’s News Feed into a more pleasant experience which, as the research shows, does yield results.  Facebook emoji tracking will also be used to collect more refined data to fuel further changes in the future.

The new reaction emojis give users more nuanced ways to respond to the posts they see in their News Feeds.  They also allow Facebook to move beyond the binary of “Like” or nothing in their data collection.  Ultimately it will be up to each Facebook user to decide if they’ll go along with Facebook emoji tracking for the sake of quicker expression or not.

If you’d like to explore more on the latest goings-on in IT or learn more about our company, please visit our website.  TrueITPros can help with your business’s IT service, website design, and Internet marketing needs.  Feel free to share your thoughts on our service by leaving a review through Google or on our Facebook page.  Hearing from you helps us deliver the best customer experience possible!

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