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Twitter restricts Trump’s tweet claiming that foes would ‘steal’ the election

With key wins notched in a few states, Trump didn’t declare victory prematurely on election night as social media companies feared — but he did baselessly raise the specter of voter fraud.

“We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election,” Trump tweeted. “We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”

We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020

Twitter took action against the tweet quickly, placing it behind a warning and adding a misinformation label. The company explained its actions in a tweet, stating that the president’s message contained a “potentially misleading claim about an election.”

We placed a warning on a Tweet from @realDonaldTrump for making a potentially misleading claim about an election. This action is in line with our Civic Integrity Policy. More here: https://t.co/k6OkjNXEAm

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 4, 2020

While Trump’s wording is left a bit ambiguous, the president again appears to be attacking the integrity of vote-by-mail ballots. With mail-in ballots expected to come in slowly in some states, lagging votes may play a big part in the election outcome. That scenario was expected and does not raise any concerns over the integrity of vote tallying.

Due to a huge spike in mail-in voting related to the pandemic, results were expected to be more ambiguous on election night in 2020 than in past years and so far that’s proven true. Social media companies began crafting new policies for the unusual circumstances of the 2020 election and its worrisome misinformation ecosystem in the months leading up to November.

Twitter also said in a September policy announcement that it would remove or label any tweets that incite unlawful activity and threaten a “peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession.” While tweets that Twitter restricts remain online, they’re placed behind a warning message that users must first click through in order to view their content. Restricted tweets also have their retweets, likes and comments disabled, reducing their reach.

On Facebook, where much of Trump’s Twitter content is reposted, his message earned a label reminding users that election night results and final results may differ as more ballots are counted. In an email, Facebook spokesperson Tom Reynolds said that Facebook labeled the post shortly after it went up “in accordance with the policies we shared ahead of Election Day.”

The company attached a similar label to another late night Trump post declaring “I will be making a statement tonight. A big WIN!” Facebook previously said it planned to label any posts claiming premature victory with an informational message pointing users to official election results.

TikTok stars got a judge to block Trump’s TikTok ban

TikTok has won another battle in its fight against the Trump administration’s ban of its video-sharing app in the U.S. — or, more accurately in this case, the TikTok community won a battle. On Friday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania issued an injunction that blocked the restrictions that would have otherwise blocked TikTok from operating in the U.S. on November 12.

This particular lawsuit was not led by TikTok itself, but rather a group of TikTok creators who use the app to engage with their million-plus followers.

According to the court documents, plaintiff Douglas Marland has 2.7 million followers on the app; Alec Chambers has 1.8 million followers; and Cosette Rinab has 2.3 million followers. The creators argued — successfully as it turns out — that they would lose access to their followers in the event of a ban, as well as the “professional opportunities afforded by TikTok.” In other words, they’d lose their brand sponsorships — meaning, their income.

This is not the first time that the U.S. courts have sided with TikTok to block the Trump administration’s proposed ban over the Chinese-owned video sharing app. Last month, a D.C. judge blocked the ban that would have removed the app from being listed in U.S. app stores run by Apple and Google.

That ruling had not, however, stopped the November 12 ban that would have blocked companies from providing internet hosting services that would have allowed TikTok to continue to operate in the U.S.

The Trump administration had moved to block the TikTok app from operating in the U.S. due to its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, claiming it was a national security threat. The core argument from the judge in this ruling was the “Government’s own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical.”

That hypothetical risk was unable to be stated by the government, the judge argued, to be such a risk that it outweighed the public interest. The interest, in this case, was the more than 100 million users of TikTok and the creators like Marland, Chambers and Rinab that utilized it to spread “informational materials,” which allowed the judge to rule that the ban would shut down a platform for expressive activity.

“We are deeply moved by the outpouring of support from our creators, who have worked to protect their rights to expression, their careers, and to help small businesses, particularly during the pandemic,” said Vanessa Pappas, Interim Global Head of TikTok, in a statement. “We stand behind our community as they share their voices, and we are committed to continuing to provide a home for them to do so,” she added.

The TikTok community coming to the rescue on this one aspect of the overall TikTok picture just elevates this whole story. Though the company has been relatively quiet through this whole process, Pappas has thanked the community several times for its outpouring of support. Though there were some initial waves of “grief” on the app with creators frantically recommending people follow them on other platforms, that has morphed over time into more of a “let’s band together” vibe. This activity coalesced around a big swell in voting advocacy on the platform, where many creators are too young to actually participate but view voting messaging as their way to participate.

TikTok has remained active in the product department through the whole mess, shipping elections guides and trying to ban QAnon conspiracy spread, even as Pakistan banned and then un-banned the app.

 

 

 

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns, citing ‘political environment’

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns, citing 'political environment'

Kevin A. Mayer, the chief executive officer of TikTok, has resigned after less than four months in the job, citing current political pressure on the company. 

“In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” Mayer wrote in an email to staff, according to the New York Times. “Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company.” Read more…

More about Trump Administration, Tiktok, Tech, Social Media Companies, and Big Tech Companies

Stephen Colbert breaks down WTF happened at the White House on Wednesday

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What a morning.

On Wednesday, all eyes were on the White House, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Donald Trump of throwing a “temper tantrum” and leaving a meeting with Democrats meant to discuss potential infrastructure legislation.

Then, the president called a press conference in the Rose Garden, firing back at Pelosi for saying he’s currently “engaged in a cover-up.” In the briefing, Trump said he won’t work with the Democrats while they’re investigating him.

It’s a lot. So on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert broke it all down.

“Trump has a clear stance on infrastructure: It’s my way or no highways,” said Colbert. It’s ten minutes but proves quite the highlight reel. Read more…

More about Donald Trump, White House, Stephen Colbert, Nancy Pelosi, and Trump Administration

U.S. slams Alibaba and its challenger Pinduoduo for selling fakes

China’s biggest ecommerce company Alibaba was again on the U.S. Trade Representative’s blacklist over suspected counterfeits sold on its popular Taobao marketplace that connects small merchants to consumers.

Nestling with Alibaba on the U.S.’s annual “notorious” list that reviews trading partners’ intellectual property practice is its fast-rising competitor Pinduoduo . Just this week, Pinduoduo founder Colin Huang, a former Google engineer, wrote in his first shareholder letter since listing the company that his startup is now China’s second-biggest ecommerce player by the number of “e-way bills”, or electronic records tracking the movement of goods. That officially unseats JD.com as the runner-up to Alibaba.

This is the third year in a row that Taobao has been called out by the U.S. government over IP theft, despite measures the company claims it has taken to root out fakes, including the arrest of 1,752 suspects and closure of 1,282 manufacturing and distribution centers.

“Although Alibaba has taken some steps to curb the offer and sale of infringing products, right holders, particularly SMEs, continue to report high volumes of infringing products and problems with using takedown procedures,” noted the USTR in its report.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Alibaba said it does “not agree with” the USTR’s decision. “Our results and practices have been acknowledged as best-in-class by leading industry associations, brands and SMEs in the United States and around the world. In fact, zero industry associations called for our inclusion in the report this year.”

Pinduoduo is a new addition to the annual blacklist. The Shanghai-based startup has over the course of three years rose to fame among China’s emerging online shoppers in smaller cities and rural regions, thanks to the flurry of super-cheap goods on its platform. While affluent consumers may disdain Pinduodou products’ low quality, price-sensitive users are hooked to bargains even when items are subpar.

“Many of these price-conscious shoppers are reportedly aware of the proliferation of counterfeit products on pinduoduo.com but are nevertheless attracted to the low-priced goods on the platform,” the USTR pointed out, adding that Pinduoduo’s measures to up the ante in anti-piracy technologies failed to fully address the issue.

Pinduoduo, too, rebutted the USTR’s decision. “We do not fully understand why we are listed on the USTR report, and we disagree with the report,” a Pinduoduo spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We will focus our energy to upgrade the e-shopping experience for our users. We have introduced strict penalties for counterfeit merchants, collaborated closely with law enforcement and employed technologies to proactively take down suspicious products.”

The attacks on two of China’s most promising ecommerce businesses came as China and the U.S. are embroiled in on-going trade negotiations, which have seen the Trump administration repeatedly accused China of IP theft. Tmall, which is Alibaba’s online retailer that brings branded goods to shoppers, was immune from the blacklist, and so was Tmall’s direct rival JD.com.

Taobao has spent over a decade trying to revive its old image of an online bazaar teeming with fakes and “shanzhai” items, which are not outright pirated goods but whose names or designs intimate those of legitimate brands. Pinduoduo is now asked to do the same after a few years of growth frenzy. On the one hand, listing publicly in the U.S. subjects the Chinese startup to more scrutiny. On the other, small-town users may soon demand higher quality as their purchasing power improves. And when the countryside market becomes saturated, Pinduoduo will need to more aggressively upgrade its product selection to court the more sophisticated consumers from Chinese megacities.

Congress readies for Mueller report to be delivered on CDs

If there weren’t enough obstacles already standing between Congress and the results of the special counsel’s multiyear investigation, lawmakers are expecting to need an optical drive to read the document.

A Justice Department official told the Associated Press that a CD containing the Mueller report would be delivered to Congress tomorrow between 11 and noon Eastern. At some point after the CDs are delivered, the report is expected to be made available to the public on the special counsel’s website.

.@PaulaReidCBS reports the Mueller report will be delivered to the Hill on CDs tomorrow.

House Judiciary Committee staff was prepared for this possibility — among many — and checked they still have a computer with a working CD-ROM drive (they do).

— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan) April 17, 2019

Any Congressional offices running Macs will likely have to huddle up with colleagues who still have a CD-capable drive. Optical drives disappeared from Apple computers years ago. With people increasingly reliant on cloud storage over physical storage, they’re no longer as popular on Windows machines either.

Tomorrow’s version of the report is expected to come with a fair amount of detail redacted throughout, though a portion of Congress may receive a more complete version at a later date. The report’s release on Thursday will be preceded by a press conference hosted by Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. If you ask us, there’s little reason to tune into that event rather than waiting for substantive reporting on the actual contents of the report once it’s out in the wild. Better yet, hunker down and read some of the 400 pages yourself while you wait for thoughtful analyses to materialize.

Remember: No matter what sound bites start flying tomorrow morning, digesting a dense document like this takes time. Don’t trust anyone who claims to have synthesized the whole thing right off the bat. After all, America has waited this long for the Mueller report to materialize — letting the dust settle won’t do any harm.

New border wall bill draws on Palmer Luckey’s new defense company

 After being ousted from the VR empire he built, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is wasting no time on his next project: building the wall. As CNN reports, Luckey’s newfound interest in defense is evident in the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act, proposed by Texas Representative Will Hurd. Hurd partnered with other Republican representatives from border states… Read More

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Vote now to eliminate your favorite government agency!

 For every bad idea, there’s a crowdsourcing campaign with a soapbox and a big-ass megaphone, ready to make it even worse. Interested? In case you missed it, it’s not too late to vote to shake up the executive branch — surely the number one priority of every red-blooded American in these mostly ho-hum, sleepy times. As the giant stack of paper behind Office of Management… Read More

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Jack Dorsey apologizes for Twitter glitch forcing some users to follow Trump’s @POTUS

jack dorsey alt angle code conference Twitter chief Jack Dorsey today apologized for what he says were technical problems causing some Twitter users to involuntarily follow the @POTUS account as it was handed over to Donald Trump. As Sarah Perez reported here yesterday, Twitter users were bewildered as to why they were forced to follow the Trump @POTUS account, and many accused Twitter of doing the new administration’s… Read More

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Jack Dorsey apologizes for Twitter glitch forcing some users to follow Trump’s @POTUS

jack dorsey alt angle code conference Twitter chief Jack Dorsey today apologized for what he says were technical problems causing some Twitter users to involuntarily follow the @POTUS account as it was handed over to Donald Trump. As Sarah Perez reported here yesterday, Twitter users were bewildered as to why they were forced to follow the Trump @POTUS account, and many accused Twitter of doing the new administration’s… Read More

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Jack Dorsey apologizes for Twitter glitch forcing some users to follow Trump’s @POTUS

jack dorsey alt angle code conference Twitter chief Jack Dorsey today apologized for what he says were technical problems causing some Twitter users to involuntarily follow the @POTUS account as it was handed over to Donald Trump. As Sarah Perez reported here yesterday, Twitter users were bewildered as to why they were forced to follow the Trump @POTUS account, and many accused Twitter of doing the new administration’s… Read More

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