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Election 2020

Facebook Bans New Political Ads in Week Before Election

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Social media giant Facebook, recently announced in a dramatic move Thursday, to ban all new political ads on the platform a week prior to the presidential election on November 3rd. The action will only ban ads submitted within a week of the election, but will still display ads submitted before Oct. 27.

What We Know:

  • This is an effort to cut back on confusion and deliberate misinformation ahead of the November vote, an election which President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated will be “the most rigged election in history,” without evidence.
  • Along with the new submission restriction, Facebook will reportedly link any and all posts from candidates attempting to declare victory before the final vote counts from Reuters and the National Election Pool are official.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has remained firm about allowing political ads on Facebook and Instagram, even if those ads have the potential to spread false information. Twitter and Pinterest are among those that have already decided to ban political ads on their platforms completely.
  • Along with limiting ads closer to election time, the company promises more strict moderating of posts to rid the social media network of false information and scare tactics to discourage voting. One example that has and will be used as a message is that if you go vote, you will catch COVID-19. Facebook said it would also create a link to “authoritative information” on posts about the pandemic.
  • To summarize, the submission limit would help put a stop to any last-minute messages that may compromise voting by spreading false claims, such as instantly contracting COVID-19, by going to polling locations.

  • In the lengthy post Zuckerberg sent out early Thursday, he explained all of the various actions Facebook is taking in order to “protect our democracy”. Many of these include but are not limited to: eliminating posts that attempt to delegitimize election results, false voting methods, misinformation about COVID-19, foreign intervention and expand policies to help prevent violence against election officials.

“I believe our democracy is strong enough to withstand this challenge and deliver a free and fair election, even if it takes time for every vote to be counted,” Zuckerberg wrote in his Facebook post. “We’ve voted during global pandemics before. We can do this. But it’s going to take a concerted effort by all of us.”

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Javier Garay is a Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo. He is enrolled in the University of North Georgia seeking a Bachelors of Science (B.S) in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. He is a contributor and editor for Black News Alerts (BNA), a BNA and BossFM social media contributor, and is lead of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

Coronavirus

Formal Transition Between Trump and Biden Administrations Begin

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The Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

What We Know:

  • Emily Murphy sent a letter to the Biden team informing them that he has been ascertained as the winner of the 2020 presidential election by the General Services Administration. This will give the Biden transition team access to the necessary federal agencies and funding.
  • Although President Trump has not formally conceded the election to President-elect Biden, the GSA ascertainment is the first step in the peaceful transition of power. Trump tweeted some mixed messages over the past couple of days, recommending that the GSA and his team move forward with “initial protocols,” but also not conceding and even saying that the GSA ascertainment does not decide the presidency.

  • Murphy said that she came to her decision independently and was not directed by the president. “I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination,” said Murphy.
  • The Biden team had already begun the preparations for his presidency, well before the GSA ascertainment. Biden had already assembled a team for the pandemic response and announced several Cabinet picks.

  • The delay in ascertainment was detrimental for the Biden transition because it meant that they could not contact federal agencies, use government funding, or get access to Covid-19 data and vaccine distribution plans. They could not even get federal background checks on the White House staff and Cabinet appointments.

The transition process’s formal beginning is a crucial and necessary step for the incoming administration, especially for their coronavirus response. The US is already well past 12 million confirmed cases and nearing 260,000 deaths.

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Election 2020

Georgia’s Secretary of State Goes on Facebook Fact-Checking Spree Over Trump’s Misinformation

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger took to Facebook in a series of posts to fact-check Trump’s misinformation about the election.

What We Know:

  • Over the weekend, Trump falsely tweeted, “The Consent Decree signed by the Georgia Secretary of State, with the approval of Governor @BrianKempGA, at the urging of @staceyabrams, makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes, etc. They knew they were going to cheat. Must expose real signatures!”
  • Raffensberg promptly shared a link on his Facebook page from the Associated Press fact-checking Trump’s tweet. AP News informed readers that there is nothing within the legal settlement that keeps Georgia election officials from checking signatures. Their website explains the signed consent decree focuses on the lack of standards statewide for assessing signatures on absentee ballot envelopes.
  • Absentee ballots requested on a paper application must be signed. The signature is compared by election officials to the signature in the voter’s registration system before the ballot is sent to the voter. Once the ballot returns, the obligatory signature on the outside of the envelope is compared to the signature in the voter registration file. The entire process is detailed in the consent decree, which was signed in March.
  • Accompanying the link, the GOP Secretary of State added to the opposition of Trump’s tweet stating, “The State of Georgia strengthened signature match this year.” He also advised that election officials were provided with signature match training from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They were also required to confirm the signature match twice before casting the ballot. Finally, they generated an online portal for absentee ballots that checked and confirmed the voter’s driver’s licenses. He proceeded to say Georgia voters cast their ballots in secret to avoid intimidation from political parties and candidates to change their votes. The post ended with him “upholding their duty to protect the integrity of the vote.”
  • In another post, Raffensperger wrote, “The state of Georgia has had no excuse absentee ballots since 2005—”. No excuse absentee voting means any voter is permitted to request a mail ballot without supplying an excuse. “Only those who request a ballot can vote absentee”, he continued. He attached a screenshot below of a tweet from Trump in July saying that absentee ballots are fine because there is a precise process one must go through to get voting privilege, but mail-in ballots were not. He insinuated 20% fraudulent ballots due to mail-ins and a rigged election.
  • Collectively, Georgia’s Secretary of State made about seven posts on his Facebook page in rebuttal to Trump’s misinforming tweet. He disclosed that his office received multiple requests to match ballots to voters and expose how Georgians voted. “Georgia voters deserve to vote without intimidation,” he wrote, emphasizing his stance in valuing truth and integrity. He also noted that the first thing he did as Secretary of State was push legislation that banned absentee ballot harvesting. Raffensperger included that for the first time since 2005, he and his team secured and strengthened absentee voting. He shared more screenshots of Trump advocating for absentee ballots while shutting down mail-in votes as well.

In the final post of his debunking series, Raffernsperger called out U.S. Representative Doug Collins as a “failed candidate” and liar. This comes days after Collins said the Secretary of State’s team was responsible for the necessary recount in Georgia.

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Education

Virginia Professor Resigns After Facebook Post Calls Biden Supporters Anti-Christian

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Courtesy Progressive Party

Virginia college educator quit, officials said Monday, after he wrote on social media that President-elect Joe Biden supporters are “ignorant, anti-American and anti-Christian.”

What We Know:

  • Virginia Wesleyan University Campus, a private liberal arts school in Virginia Beach, stated that Paul Ewell, management, business, and economics professor, had quit. He had earlier stepped down as dean of Virginia Wesleyan’s Global Campus.
  • In the now-deleted FB post, Ewell wrote, “If you were ignorant anti-American and anti-Christian enough to vote for Biden, I really don’t want to be your social friend on social media. I wouldn’t hang out with you in real life, I don’t want to hang out with you virtually either. You have corrupted the election. You have corrupted our youth. You have corrupted our country. I have standards, and you don’t meet them. Please remove yourself.”
  • President Donald Trump increased Ewell’s remarks when he retweeted a story about the professor where the “ignorant, anti-American, and anti-Christian” comments were in the original post. The president called the description “Progress!”

  • Ewell stated earlier to Wavy, “I have many Democrat friends, and I want to apologize for saying that I didn’t want to be friends with them and for calling them names,” he told the station. “I am genuinely sorry for letting my anger get the best of me.”
  • Regarding the post, the University issued a statement just days afterward, saying, “These views and opinions are expressly the individual’s own. Civic engagement and religious freedom are at the core of the University’s values, and we remain an inclusive and caring community that empowers meaningful relationships through listening, understanding, and communication.”

Ewell stated to Wavy, he wrote the post in anger and that he regrets that he had set a poor example in that post of what a Christian should be.

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