Facebook's political

Facebook’s ban on new political ads won’t change anything – CNBC

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, checks his phone during the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images 

Facebook’s new policies on the U.S. election are so narrow that there’s no chance they’ll have any impact on the political discourse and news consumption across the site, leaving the same holes open for misinformation to spread.

The social media giant announced Thursday that it will ban new political ads the week before the Nov. 3 election and enforce other policies around mail-in voting and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement wasn’t just a poorly executed PR stunt from Facebook, it’s a doubling down of the policies that have allowed a poisoning of the platform for years.

Despite Facebook’s flashy announcement, the site is going to look the same as it has all year, with some very minor exceptions. It’s much ado about nothing.

Let’s break it down as simply as possible:

You’ll still see political ads on Facebook, even during the week before the election. The political ad ban only affects new ads submitted after Oct. 27. Political ads submitted before then will still run, and the advertisers will still be allowed to adjust the targeting on those ads so they reach the people they want to reach. Those ads can also contain lies or misinformation, based on Facebook’s existing policy. The only thing this will prevent are political ads about last-minute issues that arise in the final seven days of the campaign.

Also, there’s nothing stopping political advertisers from front-loading their ad buys on Facebook before the ban goes into effect so they can still run right up to Election Day.

Facebook’s changes go into effect just a week before the election, after millions will have already voted. Between early voting in states where it’s available, mail-in voting and absentee voting, a record number of voters, up to 80 million, are expected to cast their ballots before Election Day, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Facebook’s changes to those voters’ media diets will come far too late for millions to make an informed decision.

Users, including political candidates, will still be able to spread false information about mail-in voting and the pandemic. The only content that’s explicitly banned in the new policy are posts that say you’ll catch Covid-19 if you go out and vote. If you post that, Facebook will remove it. Other false or misleading content related to voting and/or the pandemic will be labeled with a link providing accurate information.

But you have to ask yourself: In such a polarized environment, are users more likely to believe false claims posted by their favorite candidate or a link to more information posted by Facebook? I think we all know the answer to that.

Political candidates will still be able to claim victory or cast doubt on the election results, even if the election hasn’t been called yet. Again, Facebook will add a link to those posts with accurate information. But candidates will still be allowed to claim victory before the election is called or claim election fraud if they lose, even if there’s no evidence to back up those claims. It’s difficult to believe that Facebook’s fact-checking will have any real impact on what people think.

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Malheur political

‘It’s very much real, it’s not political’: Malheur County is moving back to Phase 1 next week as cases rise –

The county’s head department director doesn’t think Phase 1 will make much of a difference since people aren’t following guidelines on public gatherings.

MALHEUR COUNTY, Ore. — Malheur County’s step back in Oregon’s reopening plan will take effect on Monday, August 17 after Governor Kate Brown made the decision on Thursday night in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has made the eastern Oregon county one of the state’s biggest hotspots.

“Over the past month, COVID-19 cases in Malheur County have risen so much that restrictions must be put back in place or we risk further illnesses and death in the region,” Brown said in a press release. “I know this change is difficult, but immediate action is necessary in order to reduce the spread of the disease and protect all those who call Malheur County home.”

Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said the department saw this coming since the county was placed on the state’s watch list several weeks ago.

“We knew that this potentially was coming, we’ve been trying to avoid it,” she said.

However, she doesn’t think the restrictions in Phase 1 will make a big difference for Malheur County.

“I don’t feel great about it because I don’t think Phase 1 is necessarily addressing all the reasons why we see the cases,” she said.

Poe told KTVB that the health department is seeing cases that are coming from outbreaks in essential businesses and from family gatherings. Business restrictions wouldn’t stop people from gathering at other houses.

“Then, people sometimes don’t quarantine and stay home and then we see spread from people who should’ve been quarantined or households with a lot of people,” Poe said.

In a press release, Gov. Brown also outlined the situation in the county regarding COVID-19:

• Malheur County has a case rate of 266 cases per 10,000 people—the third highest in the state.

• Over the past two weeks, the county has had a test positivity rate of 26%, which is far above the state average of approximately 5.8% for the last two weeks.

• The county has reported an average of 15 cases per day over the past two weeks.

• Over the past week, 55% of new cases were sporadic cases that could not be traced back to a known source.

• One larger long-term care facility outbreak (23 cases) and a few small workplace outbreaks have been reported.

 • The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has provided assistance with messaging and masking requirements and is also providing ongoing case investigation support for weekend coverage.

Poe said the health department knows what works to slow the spread, but people need to listen to the guidance to get the numbers down.

“We have to avoid crowds, we want people to wear face coverings, keeping distance and staying home with any symptoms, and quarantined. That’s not debatable,” she said.

Some of the numbers for Malheur County’s total number of cases do come from the Snake River Correctional Institution, the state prison located in the county.

As of August 9, Malheur County reported 800 cases of COVID-19, 176 of them were from adults in custody or staff at the prison. That amounts to 22% of the county’s cases, leaving 78% of the county’s case total coming from the community.

“Even when you take them out it still is an increase in community spread and really concerning across Malheur County,” Poe said. “We’re seeing far too many people are having really severe cases and 15 people have died associated with COVID-19, and so for a small community that’s a really big number and we’re also concerned about our hospital system.”

The hospital system in Ontario is St. Alphonsus and Dr. Brian Kitamura is the head of the emergency department there.

“Without a doubt, the last several weeks we’ve seen a big increase in cases,” he said. “Young, old everywhere in between. Not unusual to have five, six, seven patients a day that are coronavirus alone.”

Kitamura told KTVB that that’s around a quarter of the number of patients that come into the hospital every day.

“I’ve never seen anything like that on such a prolonged basis in my years of medicine where one diagnosis has taken up so many of our beds,” he added.

The hospital system is managing right now, but if a serious case comes in, the patient is usually transported to Boise due to the recovery time in the hospital.

“We’re managing fine, we’re doing well but it’s quite a burden on the resources,” Kitamura said.

Poe and Kitamura also said that one reason why cases continue to rise in Malheur County is that folks can drive across the state line into Idaho where there are few to no restrictions in place.

“We have these phases and mandates in Oregon that are here to help protect us and keep us safe and I will say they have been quite effective,” Poe said. “The numbers statewide in Oregon are far fewer than Idaho when Idaho only has 40% of the population of Oregon.”

Malheur County residents could be feeling a false sense of security since the same restrictions for them aren’t in place in Idaho, according to Kitamura.

“It’s very much real, it’s not political and sure lots of people get it and do well and the people that do poorly which is not an insignificant number, it’s a really long hard road,” he said.

In Oregon’s Phase 1, recreational sports, swimming pools, events and venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades remain closed. Non-essential local travel is allowed. Personal services businesses are allowed to operate with health and safety measures in place. Restaurants and bars are open for dine-in service until 10 p.m. with health and safety measures in place. Indoor social gatherings remain capped at 10 people as long as physical distancing is maintained. Other gatherings are limited to 50 indoors and 50 outdoors, including faith-based, civic, and cultural gatherings.

Malheur County will be in Phase 1 for at least 21 days. After three weeks have passed, the state will re-evaluate what phase the county should be in. 

The county could be moved back to Phase 2, stay in Phase 1, or be moved back to a stay at home order if the situation doesn’t improve or worsens.

Poe and Kitamura encourage people to wash their hands frequently, social distance when going out in public, and wearing a mask when leaving the house.

Facts not fear: More on coronavirus

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political prop'

‘Word of God as a political prop’: GOP senators criticize Trump after George Floyd protesters forced out of park – USA TODAY

Published 3:37 p.m. ET June 2, 2020 | Updated 4:43 p.m. ET June 2, 2020


Police used tear gas to clear protesters from a park before President Trump walked over to St. John’s Episcopal Church.


WASHINGTON – Republican senators were split on President Donald Trump’s decision Monday to push back protesters from an area surrounding the White House so he could visit a historic church across the street to take a photo with a Bible.

“I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement. While there is no right to riot or destroy property, he said, there is a “fundamental — a Constitutional — right to protest.” 

The split reaction from Republicans came after another day of protests in the nation’s capital and across the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police May 25. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. 

During a Monday speech, the president threatened to send the military if cities and states did not put an end to violent protests. As he spoke from the White House, police outside forcibly removed protesters gathered in Lafayette Square with riot shields, flash bangs and chemical agents. A few minutes later, Trump walked through the park and posed for photos with a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, which suffered slight damage after it was set on fire by protesters late Sunday night.

Many Democrats criticized the event as a stunt while some GOP lawmakers joined them in condemning Trump’s actions.

‘Law and order’: Trump returns to 2016 theme as violence spreads after George Floyd death

More: DC mayor says using tear gas on protesters outside White House before curfew is ‘shameful’


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Sen. Tim Scott, the Senate’s sole black Republican, said he did not approve of the move. 

“As it relates to the tear gas situation and the Bible… it’s not something that I thought was helpful or what I would do without any question,” he told Politico. “If your question is: Should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo op? The answer is ‘no.'”

Even close confidants of the president, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also questioned the decision.

“I don’t know what the point the president was trying to make,” he said. “Trying to restore order is a good thing. Attack on a church is a terrible thing. I don’t think it advanced the ball one way or another.”

But other Republicans applauded the president, arguing it sent a message to the rest of the country that the president was going to restore order and keep Americans safe. 

“I thought what the president did in visiting the church was not only appropriate, it was needed,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told reporters. “It sent a message to the American people that its government is going to protect the innocent.” 

‘Most of you are weak’: Trump rails at the nation’s governors, urges crackdown on violence

More: Calling violent protests ‘acts of domestic terror,’ Trump says he’ll send in military if they aren’t controlled

Some Republicans pointed to violence that has broken out in recent days, including in front of the White House, and accused protesters of provoking authorities.

“They know that the police have to move forward on them. That will trigger the use of tear gas. And it plays right into the imagery that they want,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “That was provocation that was created deliberately for national television.”


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on President Donald Trump to be a “healer in chief” and not a “fanner of the flame” as the nation reels from mass protests over the treatment of black people in the United States. (June 2)

AP Domestic

House Democrats are demanding information about the chain of events that led to peaceful protesters being forcibly removed from the park. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, asked the director of the Secret Service to appear before the committee to brief them on the incident, writing that he was “stunned, disturbed, and furious at the sight of federal authorities tear-gassing peaceful protesters.”

Asked Tuesday whether the president’s conduct merited censure, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he believed it did warrant such a move but noted the full Democratic caucus had not discussed taking that step. Censuring Trump was discussed last year in the House as an alternative to impeaching him, but Democrats ultimately decided against censure, which is a formal statement of disapproval. 

“It is certainly an action worthy and appropriate to censure and to criticize. It was a terrible act,” Hoyer said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “It was an act indicating the total lack of understanding and empathy with the anger and frustration and cry for justice that was being put out simply to facilitate a photo op obviously designed for political purposes, not designed to bring the country together.” 


U.S. president Donald Trump said he would deploy the military if state officials didn’t quell the violence amidst protests after George Floyd’s death.


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