Twitter Removes Image Tweet by Trump Over Copyright Complaint

Twitter Inc has taken down an image tweet by the U.S. President Donald Trump on June 30, in response to a report from a copyright holder. Twitter now displays the message “This image has been removed in response to a report from the copyright holder,” in place of the tweet. News website Axios reported that the tweet was removed after a copyright complaint from the New York Times, which owns the rights to the photo. 

China’s Long-Term Plan to Shape the Future of Technology

In a rare twist to Washington’s long-standing restrictions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Commerce Department recently reversed its ban preventing U.S. firms from working with Huawei on developing new technical standards.The move was seen by many in China as an admission by President Donald Trump’s administration that it cannot ignore Huawei’s influential role in developing the technical standards critical for future technologies. “America finally bowed its head” read a headline by Chinese network Phoenix TV.The new rule, announced by the Commerce Department on June 15, amends the Huawei “entity listing” to allow American companies to collaborate with Huawei on setting standards that will determine the technical rules of the road for 5G and other emerging technologies.  “This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the entity list in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities despite Huawei’s pervasive participation in standards-development organizations,” the department said. FILE – Pedestrians use their mobile phones near a Huawei advertisement at a bus stop in central London, April 29, 2019.The Commerce Department said the move “promotes U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by facilitating U.S. leadership in standards-development bodies.”The situation with Huawei is no accident. For years, Beijing has focused on joining international standard-setting bodies, such as 3GPP and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which are little-known among the public, but make some of the most consequential decisions in modern telecommunications.3GPP and the future of your smartphoneNestled in a quiet industrial park in southern France, a technology consortium with esoteric name, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP, sets the technical standards behind the world’s communication platforms, the fundamental building blocks for product development. As the primary global standard setting organization for the last 20 years, 3GPP helped create technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as today’s 5G high-speed networks.“Standards are not very sexy but extremely important,” Andrew Polk, partner at Beijing-based research and consultancy firm Trivium China, told VOA. “And it takes sustained long-term effort and attention. While Western companies try to set standards, China has a long-term coordinated game plan to influence standards,” he said.A 5G logo is displayed on a screen outside the showroom at Huawei campus in Shenzhen city, China’s Guangdong province.China’s leaders have long seen technology as a key to the country’s economic and military might, and the country has financially backed companies such as Huawei to become powerful global competitors that will help the country’s political and military goals. Critics say Beijing takes the same approach to setting technical standards.”Beijing views standards as foundational to its goals to reshaping global governance and expand geostrategic power,” said Dr. J. Ray Bowen, analyst of Pointe Bello, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic intelligence firm.Even though U.S. companies remain world leaders in most areas of technology, observers such as Dustin Daugherty, head of North America Business Development at Dezan Shira & Associates, a pan-Asia business consulting firm, say China’s strategy means “in the future the U.S. could fall behind a coordinated government effort in standard setting (such as from China).”China’s long-term planAs of May, Chinese firms and government research institutes have accounted for the largest number of chairs or vice chairs in 3GPP, holding 16 of the 45 available leadership positions, according to VOA’s count based on data release by 3GPP. By comparison, U.S. companies hold nine such leadership positions.A year ago, representatives from Chinese and U.S. companies each held 12 chair and vice chair positions, according to data 3GPP sent to VOA.While the 3GPP is the primary global group setting 5G standards, another major global organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is now led by a former Chinese government official, Zhao Houlin.Zhao, who began his career in China’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, was first elected as the secretary-general of ITU in 2014. He was reinstated in November 2018 for second four-year term.Established in 1865, ITU is one of the oldest international organizations in the world and has historically avoided politics. However, Zhao publicly criticized Washington in its dispute with Huawei, the Chinese communications giant that U.S. officials say has deep links to the military.“I would encourage Huawei to be given equal opportunities to bid for business,” Zhao told reporters in Geneva earlier this year. “But if we don’t have anything then to put them on the blacklist – I think this is not fair.”FILE – People gather at a Huawei stand during the Consumer Electronics Show, Ces Asia 2019 in Shanghai, June 11, 2019.Under Zhao’s leadership, another Chinese national, Richard Li, serves as the chairman of a critical group with the ITU called Focus Group Technologies for Network 2030. Li, according to his LinkedIn Page, is employed by Huawei as Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Network Technologies and is in charge of examining the world’s emerging technologies and 5G.Doug Barry, the spokesperson for The US-China Business Council (USCBC), a private organization with the mission of promoting trade between the two countries, said there are companies that are concerned about the abuse of leadership positions by China, but so far he has not heard any examples of this happening.”Most international standards-setting bodies have strong due process, which makes it difficult for stakeholders to abuse leadership positions to force proposals through or block proposals,” Barry said.Daugherty said that because Chinese companies are among the most important international players in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, their presence in industry groups and standard-setting bodies is logical. But he said there is an important difference between them and their counterparts from democratic countries. “Chinese companies (and by extension possibly their individual representatives on such bodies) may ultimately need to answer to Beijing’s priorities for strategically important issues,” Daugherty said.In an interview with VOA, he said the politicization of such international bodies could conceivably lead to a decrease in legitimacy in international standard setting. “The damage could be immense,” he said.Flooded with proposalsHolding leadership positions is one part of Beijing’s strategy. Another part involves massive investments in submitting technical proposals to the international groups.In a rare disclosure last September, Huawei said for one particular technical area alone, the company submitted 18,000 5G New Radio proposals. “If printed on A4 paper and piled up high, would stand a staggering 10 meters tall,” it said proudly on its official twitter account.The U.S.-China Business Council said last February this is an issue of concern.”Some companies and experts complained that Chinese stakeholders submit large numbers of proposals that are low-quality or irrelevant to market needs in some industries, including for products that China does not actually produce.”The report titled “China in International Standards Setting” said this takes valuable time and resources away from considering serious proposals.China also sends more people to attend international meetings that discuss, vote and make decisions on standards.According to a report release last November by German intellectual property research firm Iplytics, Huawei dispatched more than 3,000 engineers to participate in the 5G standard-setting process. American chipmaker Qualcomm sent 1,701 engineers to attend 3GPP meetings.Dr. Melanie Hart, director for China Policy Center for American Progress, said the Chinese government is channeling state financial support to help Huawei and other Chinese firms send personnel to attend 3GPP meetings and flood the process with Chinese technical contributions.”It is difficult for private companies from other nations to match that level of activity because sending engineers overseas to participate in 3GPP meetings and devoting R&D resources to develop 3GPP technical contributions are costly activities,” she testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission last March.

Reliance on Social Media News Amplifies COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, Report Finds

People who get most of their news from social media like Facebook and YouTube are much more likely to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from Kings College London. The report also suggests those reliant on social media for news are much more likely to ignore government messaging on staying safe during the pandemic and more likely to disobey lockdown rules.The research was published earlier this month in the journal A 5G logo is displayed on a screen outside the showroom at Huawei campus in Shenzhen city, China’s Guangdong province.One prominent conspiracy theory is that 5G mobile technology is causing the disease. In recent weeks, dozens of 5G mobile telecom towers have been destroyed across Britain. Police say a belief that the masts are causing the respiratory ailment appears to have motivated many of the attacks. The researchers questioned 2,254 British residents. Overall, 8 percent believed that 5G technology was causing the pandemic. Of those people, 60 percent said they got their information from YouTube. Out of the 92 percent of people who don’t believe the 5G conspiracy theory, only 14 percent said their information came from YouTube.Among people who believe the coronavirus does not exist at all, some 56 percent cited Facebook as their primary source of news. Allington says the most disturbing finding has been the readiness among those who believe in conspiracy theories about the disease to break quarantine and lockdown rules.“We found that people who had gone out, gone outside or gone to work despite having what they knew were possible coronavirus symptoms were much more likely to be getting their information from social media,” Allington told VOA.That presents a health risk that must be addressed, says British lawmaker Damian Collins, co-founder of the group ‘Infotagion’ which aims to fight misinformation about the pandemic.“A lot of this content is still there and a lot of the times when it’s referred to social media companies, they don’t act immediately to take this content down,” Collins told VOA via Skype, adding that he has big concerns over the role social media might play in any vaccination program. “If we get to a position where we’ve got a vaccine and for the vaccine to be effective, we need the vast majority of people to agree to take it. It’s important that people have got confidence in that. And if people are spreading conspiracy theories and lies about the vaccine and trying to persuade people not to take it, then there’s a serious public health risk to that.”FILE – The Twitter and Facebook logos are seen with binary cyber codes in this illustration, Nov. 26, 2019.Facebook, YouTube and Twitter say they have removed hundreds of thousands of videos and posts relating to COVID-19 misinformation that could lead to imminent harm. In written evidence submitted to the British parliament, Facebook said that during the month of April it had “displayed warning labels on around 50 million pieces of content related to COVID-19 on Facebook,” adding, “…When people saw those warning labels, 95% of the time they did not click to view the original content.”Despite such claims, the internal systems in place to deal with misinformation remain opaque, says Allington of Kings College London. “Those systems have got to be opened up for auditing by democratically-accountable bodies,” he told VOA.The social media giants are facing a backlash on multiple fronts. More than 150 companies – including Starbucks and Coca-Cola – have stopped buying advertising on Facebook over concerns around misinformation and hate speech.At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May seeking to strip social media companies of legal immunity for the content posted by users, after Twitter tagged one of his tweets with a fact-check notice. “If Twitter were not honorable and you’re going to have a guy like this being the judge and jury, I think you shut it down, as far as I’m concerned. But I’d have to go through a legal process to do that,” Trump told reporters May 28.

Turkish President Calls for Tighter Social Media Controls

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he would tighten controls on social media, days after remarks were made on Twitter about his daughter and son-in-law.“Turkey is not a banana republic,” Erdogan said in a televised address to his party members. “We will snub those who snub this country’s executive and judicial bodies.”Erdogan’s eldest daughter, Esra Erdogan, and his son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak reportedly received what were called insulting tweets after the couple announced the birth of their fourth child on social media.Eleven of 19 Twitter users who allegedly insulted Erdogan’s family were detained, Turkish police said in a statement on Wednesday.“Do you understand now why we are against social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Netflix?” Erdogan ask while addressing his party. “These platforms do not suit this nation. We want to shut down, control [them] by bringing [a bill] to parliament as soon as possible.”Rights groups have accused Erdogan of using the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to tighten controls on the media, with only a few independent publications continuing to report on the Turkish president’s handling of the pandemic.Turkey’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, called Twitter a “propaganda machine” after it recently suspended 7,340 accounts. Twitter said the accounts were “employing coordinated inauthentic activity” promoting favorable narratives to Erdogan and his party. 

In Rare Move, US Clears Limited Cooperation Between US Firms, Huawei

In a rare twist to Washington’s long-standing restrictions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Commerce Department recently reversed its ban preventing U.S. firms from working with Huawei on developing new technical standards.The move was seen by many in China as an admission by President Donald Trump’s administration that it cannot ignore Huawei’s influential role in developing the technical standards critical for future technologies.  “America finally bowed its head” read a headline by Chinese network Phoenix TV.The new rule, announced by the Commerce Department on June 15, amends the Huawei “entity listing,” to allow American companies to collaborate with Huawei on setting standards that will determine the technical rules of the road for 5G and other emerging technologies.   “This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the entity list in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities despite Huawei’s pervasive participation in standards-development organizations,” the department said.  The situation with Huawei is no accident. For years, Beijing has focused on joining international standard-setting bodies, such as 3GPP and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which are little-known among the public, but make some of the most consequential decisions in modern telecommunications.
 3GPP and the future of your smartphone
 
Nestled in a quiet industrial park in southern France, a technology consortium with esoteric name, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP, sets the technical standards behind the world’s communication platforms, the fundamental building blocks for product development. As the primary global standard setting organization for the last 20 years, 3GPP helped create technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth as well as today’s 5G high-speed networks.
“Standards are not very sexy but extremely important,” Andrew Polk, partner at Beijing-based research and consultancy firm Trivium China, told VOA. “And it takes sustained long-term effort and attention. While western companies try to set standards, China has a long-term coordinated game plan to influence standards,” he said.FILE – A staff member holds a Huawei ‘Mate20 X 5G’ smartphone at the IFA 2019 tech fair in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 5, 2019.China’s leaders have long seen technology as a key to the country’s economic and military might, and have financially backed companies such as Huawei to become powerful global competitors that will help the country’s political and military goals. Critics say Beijing takes the same approach to setting technical standards.
 
“Beijing views standards as foundational to its goals to reshaping global governance and expand geostrategic power,” said Dr. J. Ray Bowen, analyst of Pointe Bello, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic intelligence firm.
 
Even though U.S. companies remain world leaders in most areas of technology, observers such as Dustin Daugherty, head of North America Business Development at Dezan Shira & Associates, a pan-Asia business consulting firm, say China’s strategy means “in the future the U.S. could fall behind a coordinated government effort in standard setting (such as from China).”
 China’s long-term plan
 
As of May, Chinese firms and government research institutes have accounted for the largest number of chairs or vice chairs in 3GPP, holding 16 of the 45 available leadership positions, according to VOA’s count based on the data release by 3GPP. By comparison, U.S. companies hold nine such leadership positions.
 
That’s up from a year ago, when 3GPP sent VOA a file showing that representatives from Chinese and U.S. companies each held 12 chair and vice chair positions.
While the 3GPP is the primary global group setting 5G standards, another major global organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is now led by a formal Chinese government official Zhao Houlin.
 
Zhao, who began his career in China’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, was first elected as the secretary-general of ITU in 2014. He was reinstated in November 2018 for another four-year term.
 
Established in 1865, ITU is one of the oldest international organizations in the world and has historically avoided politics. However, Zhao publicly criticized Washington in its dispute with Huawei, the Chinese communications giant that U.S. officials say has deep links to the military. “I would encourage Huawei to be given equal opportunities to bid for business,” Zhao told reporters in Geneva earlier this year. “But if we don’t have anything then to put them on the blacklist – I think this is not fair.”FILE – Zhao Houlin, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, May 28, 2018.Under Zhao’s leadership, another Chinese national, Richard Li, serves as the chairman of a critical group with the ITU called Focus Group Technologies for Network 2030. Li, according to his LinkedIn Page, is still currently employed by Huawei as Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Network Technologies, is in charge of examining the world’s emerging technologies and 5G.
 
Doug Barry, the spokesperson for The US-China Business Council (USCBC), a private organization with the mission of promoting trade between the two countries, said there are companies that are concerned about the abuse of leadership positions by China, but so far he has not heard any examples of this happening in practice.
 
“Most international standards setting bodies have strong due process which makes it difficult for stakeholders to abuse leadership positions to force proposals through or block proposals,” said Barry.
 
Daugherty said because Chinese companies are among the most important international players in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, their presence in industry groups and standard setting bodies is logical. But he said there is an important difference between them and their counterparts from democratic countries.  
 
“Chinese companies (and by extension possibly their individual representatives on such bodies) may ultimately need to answer to Beijing’s priorities for strategically important issues,” said Daugherty.
 
In an interview with VOA, he said the politicization of such international bodies could conceivably lead to a decrease in legitimacy in international standard setting. “The damage could be immense,” he said.
 Flooded with proposals
 
Holding leadership positions is one part of Beijing’s strategy. Another part involves massive investments in submitting technical proposals to the international groups.
 
In a rare disclosure last September, Huawei said for one particular technical area alone, the company submitted 18,000 5G New Radio proposals. “If printed on A4 paper and piled up high, would stand a staggering 10 meters tall,” it said proudly on its official twitter account.FILE – A 5G logo is displayed on a screen outside the showroom at Huawei campus in Shenzhen city, in China’s Guangdong province, March 6, 2019.The U.S.-China Business Council said last February this is an issue of concern.  “Some companies and experts complained that Chinese stakeholders submit large numbers of proposals that are low-quality or irrelevant to market needs in some industries, including for products that China does not actually produce.”
 
The report titled “China in International Standards Setting” said this takes valuable time and resources away from considering serious proposals.
 
China also sends more people to attend international meetings that discuss, vote and make decisions on standards.
 
According to a report release last November by German intellectual property research firm Iplytics, Huawei dispatched over 3,000 engineers to participate in the 5G standard-setting process. American chipmaker Qualcomm sent 1,701 engineers to attend 3GPP meetings.
 
Dr. Melanie Hart, director for China Policy Center for American Progress, said the Chinese government is channeling state financial support to help Huawei and other Chinese firms send personnel to attend 3GPP meetings and flood the process with Chinese technical contributions.
 
“It is difficult for private companies from other nations to match that level of activity because sending engineers overseas to participate in 3GPP meetings and devoting R&D resources to develop 3GPP technical contributions are costly activities,” she testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission last March.   

Facebook Bans Violent ‘Boogaloo’ Groups, Not the Term Itself

Facebook has banned an extremist anti-government network loosely associated with the broader “boogaloo” movement, a slang term supporters use to refer to a second Civil War or a collapse of civilization. But the platform didn’t try to name the group, underscoring the difficulty of grappling with an amorphous network linked to a string of domestic terror plots that appears to obfuscate its existence. Among other complications, its internet-savvy members tend to keep their distance from one another, frequently change their symbols and catch phrases and mask their intentions with sarcasm. The move by Facebook designates this group as a dangerous organization similar to the Islamic State group and white supremacists, both of which are already banned from its service. The social network is not banning all references to “boogaloo” and said it is only removing groups, accounts and pages when they have a “clear connection to violence or a credible threat to public safety.”  The loose movement is named after “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” a 1984 sequel to a movie about breakdancing. Boogaloo supporters have shown up at protests over COVID-19 lockdown orders, carrying rifles and wearing tactical gear over Hawaiian shirts – a reference to “big luau,” a homophone for “boogaloo” sometimes favored by group members. Facebook said that the movement dates to 2012 and that it has been tracking it closely since last year.  FILE – Steven Carrillo is seen in a booking photo from the Santa Cruz County (California) Sheriff’s Office, June 7, 2020.Earlier in June, Steven Carrillo, an Air Force sergeant with ties to the boogaloo movement, fatally shot a federal security officer and wounded his partner outside a U.S. courthouse, ambushed and killed a California sheriff’s deputy, and injured four other officers in Oakland, California. According to the criminal complaint, Carrillo posted in a Facebook group, “It’s on our coast now, this needs to be nationwide. It’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois. Keep that energy going.”  The statement was followed by two fire emojis and a link to a YouTube video showing a large crowd attacking two California Highway Patrol vehicles. According to the FBI, “soup bois” may be a term that followers of the boogaloo movement used to refer to federal law enforcement agents.  While the term “boogaloo'” has been embraced by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, many supporters insist they aren’t racist or truly advocating for violence. As part of Tuesday’s announcement, Facebook said it has removed 220 Facebook accounts, 95 Instagram accounts, 28 Pages and 106 groups that that comprise the violent Boogaloo-affiliated network. It also took down 400 other groups and 100 pages that hosted similar content as the violent network but were maintained by accounts outside of it. The company said it has so far found no evidence of foreign actors amplifying boogaloo-related material. Social media companies are facing a reckoning over hate speech on their platforms. Reddit, an online comment forum that is one of the world’s most popular websites, on Monday banned a forum that supported President Donald Trump as part of a crackdown on hate speech. Live-streaming site Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, temporarily suspended Trump’s campaign account for violating its hateful conduct rules. YouTube, meanwhile, banned several prominent white nationalist figures from its platform, including Stefan Molyneux, David Duke and Richard Spencer. Civil rights groups have called on large advertisers to stop Facebook ad campaigns during July, saying the social network isn’t doing enough to curtail racist and violent content on its platform, and several major advertisers have signed on to the boycott.  Violent and extremist groups are increasingly turning to encrypted communications networks and fringe social platforms with no content moderation, which makes them more difficult to track.  

Presidential Campaigns Embrace Tech to Reach Voters During Pandemic

With social distancing as the new pandemic normal, U.S. presidential campaigns were faced with an unprecedented situation. They no longer were able to send out organizers and volunteers to connect with potential voters face-to-face. Intimate, high-dollar fundraising events were also out of the question. “The coronavirus pandemic shifted things overnight. It was a sudden and instant transformation to 100% virtual campaigning, just like the pandemic disrupted everyone else’s daily life. The same is true of our campaigns,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist and director of the Center for Campaign Innovation. “You’re just seeing a lot more creativity in terms of how and where the campaigns are finding the voters they need to get their message across to,” said Tara McGowan, CEO and founder of Acronym, a progressive nonprofit organization and head of the political action committee Pacronym.  Lally Doerrer, right, and Katharine Hildebrand watch Joe Biden during his Illinois virtual town hall, in Doerrer’s living room March 13, 2020, in Chicago.Politics as entertainment Most voters are consuming politics as entertainment, Wilson said. Since the start of social distancing orders in March, the Trump campaign launched, on social media such as Facebook and YouTube, a daily talk show-style broadcast with a host and guests. “That’s one of the biggest kind of innovations we’ve done, are these original seven-nights-a-week online broadcast. We really touch on loads of different dynamics and different messaging opportunities,” Erin Perrine, director of press communications for the Trump campaign, said.  Prominent Republicans and President Donald Trump’s children have been either guests or hosts on these shows. In one program, hosted by Donald Trump Jr., the guest being interviewed was his father, who is running for a second term against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.  The Biden campaign is also tapping into social media. Biden is using Instagram for live conversations with social media influencers, celebrities and past Democratic presidential candidates such as entrepreneur Andrew Yang.  Last week, Biden raised more than $11 million during a joint virtual fundraising event with former President Barack Obama.President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.Digital advertising, apps and engagement Digital ads have become another way for campaigns to reach potential voters and build a database of information.  “What the campaign is trying to do is if somebody engages the ad, clicks on the link, goes then to the website, then the first thing the campaign says is, ‘Hey, give me your email address,’ and if you do give your email address, they also then typically ask you for your name and maybe your address or your zip code,” Stromer-Galley said.  “Now they can start to get a profile of who you actually are and then maybe potentially marry that to other data that they have about that email address, whether they’ve purchased that list or are building it organically.”  With a potential supporter’s profile, campaigns can create ads on Facebook that target a specific demographic of users. “We run a lot of ads on Facebook continuously,” Perrine, of the Trump campaign, said. “Our digital team says it’s like high, high-volume trading on the stock market. We do a bunch of them and those that are doing well, we’ll put more money behind and continue to push those, then others that aren’t, you can pull them off the platform.”  Stromer-Galley said Facebook is a useful tool for campaigns because “Facebook has built an algorithm that predicts if you’re politically interested. They have an algorithm that predicts if you’re likely a Democratic supporter or a Republican supporter.” Both campaigns also have apps as ways of engaging supporters, fundraising and encouraging users to conduct peer-to-peer organizing. “If you’re one of my friends, and I know that you’ve not decided on who you’re going to vote for, I can reach out directly to you and say, ‘Hey, here’s who I’m supporting, here’s what I think matters to you, and I would send you a text message or a Facebook message, however we normally communicate,” said Wilson, the Republican strategist.   To encourage supporters, Trump’s app is gamified, where users can earn points by sharing a post or liking something on social media and making phone calls for the campaign. The points get aggregated, and they can be used to gain early entry into rallies, a discount code for buying campaign merchandise, and with enough points, a supporter can meet Trump.  The reason why campaigns want people to engage digitally is to “glean data, is to get more information on voters, how we can stay in contact with them, because you want these people to become volunteers, you want them to stay engaged and become part of the movement. But, ultimately, we want them to show up on election day,” Perrine said. “When I downloaded them to my phone, the first thing it asks — after some personal information about me, like my address, some demographic information, my name, my email address — it then asks if the app, the mobile app can access my contacts, my photographs,” said Stromer-Galley, who downloaded the Trump and Biden apps for her research. McGowan, of Pacronym, and her staff are separate from the Biden campaign. They  have been running their own digital advertising to support Biden on nontraditional platforms, such as streaming apps like Hulu and Roku, on gaming devices such as Xbox, and on streaming radio, including Pandora and Spotify.  McGowan said ads are no longer one-size-fits-all and have to be tailored for the various unique platforms available to consumers today. “It’s become such, just a diverse media landscape today. So you really have to sort of stay ahead of the curve. You really can’t rest on your laurels, and it’s a real challenge for campaigns,” she said.  Digital campaign contest With a bigger war chest, analysts of digital campaigns say Trump started the 2020 digital campaign with a huge advantage, both as the incumbent and with a database of supporters from his last presidential race.  “Trump has been very effective at blurring his presidential messaging and his campaign messaging on Twitter, and so as a journalist or as a member of the public, you can’t help but sort of get both at the same time when you’re watching him,” Stromer-Galley said. “Biden doesn’t have that advantage because he’s not the incumbent. He doesn’t have the presidency. He’s issuing formal statements. He’s doing YouTube videos. He is holding online events, but they don’t get the same traction,” she added. By numbers alone, Trump has more than 82 million followers on Twitter and Biden has just over 6 million. There are close to 30 million followers on Trump’s campaign Facebook page compared to just over 2 million followers on Biden’s Facebook page.  Trump’s campaign has outspent Biden on Facebook ads. “With online marketing, it’s a lot like compound interest. It pays more dividends the sooner you get it into the bank, and so the fact that the Trump campaign was able to get started building their digital infrastructure so early, it gives them a huge head start,” Wilson said.  As an example, he pointed to Trump’s decision to name Brad Pascale, his 2016 digital strategist, as his 2020 campaign manager as a sign that Trump understands the importance of having a strong digital presence in a campaign. Although Biden has been in politics much longer, “all of the campaign experiences can be a curse because you think you know how things should be done,” Wilson said. He further described the Biden campaign as “a traditional legacy style of campaign first, with digital operations as an add-on, and that’s not the way campaigns should be run in 2020.” The Biden campaign did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. However, McGowan countered, saying Biden has experience with digital campaigning while running as Obama’s running mate. “The Obama campaigns really drove a lot of the innovation in campaigning and bringing campaigning online. Online fundraising, advertising, and so Vice President Biden is no stranger to digital campaigning or strategy,” McGowan said. Earlier in June, the Biden campaign spent $15 million on advertising across media platforms.  “The Biden campaign has very quickly adapted to this moment. They’re continuing to grow and pivot, and I really believe that they are closing the gap,” McGowan said.  Since the pandemic, the Democratic National Committee has sent more than 4 million text messages to get people to sign up to vote by mail and held 82 training sessions on digital organizing since March, compared to 14 training sessions in 2019.  “The way that people have shown up in droves for them has been a really important thing,” Meg DiMartino, Democratic National Committee digital organizing director, said with more than 11,500 people signing up across all of the trainings. The key to a successful digital campaign is to reach “the right voters with the right message at the right moment on the right platform from the right messenger,” strategist Wilson said. That largely means meeting potential voters in the digital world during the 2020 pandemic. 

Social Media Platforms Face Reckoning Over Hate Speech 

For years, social media platforms have fueled political polarization and hosted an explosion of hate speech. Now, with four months until the U.S. presidential election and the country’s divisions reaching a boiling point, these companies are upping their game against bigotry and threats of violence. What’s not yet clear is whether this action is too little, too late — nor whether the pressure on these companies, including a growing advertiser boycott, will be enough to produce lasting change. FILE – Reddit employees work at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California, April 15, 2014.Reddit, an online comment forum that is one of the world’s most popular websites, on Monday banned a forum that supported President Donald Trump as part of a crackdown on hate speech. Also on Monday, live-streaming site Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, temporarily suspended Trump’s campaign account for violating its hateful conduct rules. YouTube, meanwhile, banned several prominent white nationalist figures from its platform, including Stefan Molyneux, David Duke and Richard Spencer.  Social media companies, led by Facebook, now face a reckoning over what critics call indefensible excuses for amplifying divisions, hate and misinformation on their platforms. Civil rights groups have called on large advertisers to stop Facebook ad campaigns during July, saying the social network isn’t doing enough to curtail racist and violent content on its platform.  Companies such as the consumer goods giant Unilever — one of the world’s largest advertisers — as well as Verizon, Ford and many smaller brands have joined the boycott, some for the month of July and others for the rest of the year. New companies have been signing on to the boycott almost every day. While some are pausing ads only on Facebook, others have also stepped back from advertising on Twitter and other platforms. On Monday, Ford Motor Co. put the brakes on all national social media advertising for the next 30 days. The company says hate speech, as well as posts advocating violence and racial injustice, need to be eradicated from the sites. FILE – The Twitter and Facebook logos are seen with binary cyber codes in this illustration, Nov. 26, 2019.While the ad boycott has dinged Facebook’s and Twitter’s shares, analysts who follow the social media business don’t see it as having a lasting effect.  Raymond James analyst Aaron Kessler noted that YouTube has faced several ad boycotts in the past over hate speech and other objectionable material. Each time, it adjusted its policies and the advertisers returned. In addition, July is generally a slow month for advertising. Companies have also been cutting their ad budgets due to COVID-19, so the spending declines are not a surprise for investors. Kessler called Facebook’s stock pullback — its shares fell more than 8% on Friday, then rallied a bit Monday — a “buying opportunity.” Reddit’s action was part of a larger purge at the San Francisco-based site. The company said it took down a total of 2,000 forums, known as the site as “subreddits,” most of which it said were inactive or had few users.  The Trump Reddit forum, called The_Donald, was banned because it encouraged violence, regularly broke other Reddit rules, and defiantly “antagonized” both Reddit and other forums, the company said in a statement. Reddit had previously tried to discipline the forum. “We are cautiously optimistic that Reddit is finally working with groups like ours to dismantle the systems that enable hateful rhetoric on their platform,” Bridget Todd, a spokeswoman for the women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet, said in an emailed statement.  The group said its members met with Reddit CEO Steve Huffman via Zoom last week, encouraging him to address racism and hate speech on the platform. Despite optimism from some critics, others said it is not clear if such measures will be enough. For years, racist groups “have successfully used social media to amplify their message and gain new recruits,” said Sophie Bjork-James an anthropology professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in white nationalism, racism and hate crimes.  “However, limiting access to a broader public will have unintended negative consequences. Far-right and white nationalist groups are increasingly gathering on encrypted apps and social media sites that do not monitor for offensive speech or violent content,” she added. “This shift allows for coordinating more violent and radical actions.” The algorithms tech companies developed to keep users glued to their services “have provided perhaps the biggest boon to organized racism in decades, as they help racist ideas find a much larger and potentially receptive audience,” Bjork-James said, adding that she is hopeful that the same companies that “helped this anti-democratic movement expand” can now help limit its impact. For its part, Twitch pointed to comments the president made at two rallies, videos of which were posted on the site.  Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives on stage to speak to a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.In one, a live stream of a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump talked about a “very tough hombre” breaking into someone’s home. The other was from a 2015 campaign rally that was recently posted on Twitch, in which Trump said Mexico sends rapists and criminals to the U.S. Twitch declined to say how long the suspension will last. The White House referred a request for comment to Trump’s reelection campaign. Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s director of communications, said that people who want to hear directly from the president should download the campaign’s app. Reddit has  tweaked its rules and banned forums  for white nationalists  over the years in an attempt to rid its platform of vitriol, sometimes producing significant user backlash as a result. CEO Steve Huffman said earlier this month that Reddit was working with moderators to explicitly address hate speech. 

India Bans 59 Chinese Apps Amid Border Tensions

India has banned the use of 59 Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, citing security concerns Monday, as relations between the two neighbors worsen. In a statement, India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT said it “has decided to block 59 apps since in view of information available, they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.” TikTok, a popular video application owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, counts India as its biggest market. It was not immediately clear how the “ban” would be enforced and whether mobile companies were expected to comply. As of Monday evening, the banned apps were still available on Google’s Play store and the Apple App store in India, according to Tech Crunch.The announcement from Delhi comes amid rising tension between the two countries, weeks after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in clashes with Chinese forces along the border in the region of Ladakh. The Chinese government did not release figures on how many of its own soldiers were injured or killed. 
 

Facebook to Label All Rule-breaking Posts — Even Trump’s

Facebook says it will flag all “newsworthy” posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from President Donald Trump.  CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously refused to take action against Trump posts that suggested mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud. Twitter, by contrast, slapped a “get the facts” label on them.Facebook is also banning false claims intended to discourage voting, such as stories about federal agents checking legal status at polling places. The company also said it is increasing its enforcement capacity to remove false claims about local polling conditions in the 72 hours before the U.S. election.Earlier Friday, shares of Facebook and Twitter dropped sharply after the giant company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Dove soap said it will halt U.S. advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through at least the end of the year.That European consumer-product maker, Unilever, said it took the move to protest the amount of hate speech online. Unilever said the polarized atmosphere in the United States ahead of November’s presidential election placed responsibility on brands to act.Shares of both Facebook and Twitter fell roughly 7% following Unilever’s announcement.FILE – The Unilever headquarters is seen in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Aug. 21, 2018.The company, which is based in the Netherlands and Britain, joins a raft of other advertisers pulling back from online platforms. Facebook in particular has been the target of an escalating movement to withhold advertising dollars to pressure it to do more to prevent racist and violent content from being shared on its platform.”We have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” Unilever said. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society.”On Thursday, Verizon joined others in the Facebook boycott.Sarah Personette, vice president of global client solutions at Twitter, said the company’s “mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure Twitter is a place where people can make human connections, seek and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and safely.”She added that Twitter is “respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”