Monday, March 11, 2013

I don't see how is going to survive the lawyers

Newsle has great potential but its also the home of disturbing defamation of character.

I just signed up for which has an interesting promise:

"Never miss an important story about a friend, professional contact, or public figure you care about.
Newsle is a web application that allows you to follow real news about your Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, and favorite public figures."

The problem is with this part:
"We’ve developed sophisticated algorithms to disambiguate between people with the same name, to evaluate the importance of news articles, and to optimize your newsfeed as you rate and interact with articles."

The problem is that their algorithms don't work.

For example, there is an article about a school friend of mine beating up his girlfriend. Trouble is, while the part of England matches and the name matches its not him. My friend is in their late 30's and this person was in their 20's. Even if the age matched there is still a huge risk in false positives that result in putting out stories about people without proof its the same person. 

So, I see big legal woes ahead for Newsle, with pressure (at least) to: 
a) Avoid stories that are very negative such as involving bankruptcy, criminal or cival proceedings
b) Providing a way for friends to dispute stories about people
c) Indicate on stories their level of confidence so people can judge when to trust.