Iran election interference and the “Proud Boys” emails, explained
- FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced on Wednesday that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration information and would be using it to interfere with the upcoming presidential election.
- For whatever it’s worth, Iran has denied it interfered with or had any plans to interfere with the election, saying that “the highest level” of the country was already doing so with its “desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections” — likely alluding to Trump’s frequent attempts to spread disinformation about mail-in voting.
- While it’s always alarming when a country is accused of voter intimidation and election interference, the little that is known about this attempt — Ratcliffe and Wray offered few details — points to an unsophisticated campaign.
- For the curious in all of us.
- Can you solve it?
- What’s a four-letter word for a berry often found in a bowl?
- Welcome to Vox crosswords.
- New puzzles, designed to test your knowledge and relieve a little stress, come out Monday through Saturday.
- Make sure to bookmark this page to find new ones each day.
- Puzzles are constructed by these great people, and edited by Vox staff.
- This is a new feature for us: Are the puzzles too easy, or too hard?
- Have an idea for a theme?
- Spot a bug?
- Or if you just love our crosswords and want to make sure they stick around, email your feedback to [email protected]
- Get our newsletter in your inbox twice a week.
How the 2020 census struggled to overcome Trump to get an accurate count
- Then, in August, the Trump administration abruptly changed course, and the Bureau announced a new response deadline of September 30 in order to have the apportionment counts by December 31.
- Census takers, or enumerators, will try to visit every household that doesn’t self-respond, a process that was supposed to begin in May. The pandemic pushed things back significantly, so census takers began their work in most places in mid-August.
- After the self-response and door-to-door enumeration deadline passes (whenever that is), the Bureau will switch to other means to complete the count, like using existing administrative records from other agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and state departments of motor vehicles.
- Their undocumented status could also mean they don’t show up in the administrative records the Bureau will use to fill in the numbers of people who weren’t counted by enumerators or self-responses.
What comes after Zoom fatigue
- So you might say that we’ve struggled with Zoom fatigue for quite some time, when you consider that abysmal picture quality, stuttering audio, and the general awkwardness of talking to screens have always been features of the video chat experience.
- While I do remember trying FaceTime when it launched, until the pandemic, I never actually wanted to video chat rather than talk on the phone or over text, especially in my personal life.
- Most of the major tech companies have now built their own video chat platforms, with the most prominent ones, like Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, aimed at business customers.
- During the pandemic, we’ve all started relying on video chat technology for health care, religion, entertainment, and simply keeping up with friends.
- That explains my initial surprise when the folks from Microsoft Teams started telling me how their workplace software had taken on new roles, like social networking, in many users’ lives.
The Big Tech antitrust report has one big conclusion: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are anti-competitive
- A long-awaited report from top Democratic congressional lawmakers about the dominance of the four biggest tech giants had a clear message on Tuesday: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google engage in a range of anti-competitive behavior, and US antitrust laws need an overhaul to allow for more competition in the US internet economy.
- With Amazon accounting for nearly 40 percent of all e-commerce sales in the US — making it more than seven times larger in this arena than No. 2 Walmart — the Democrats’ report argues that the tech giant has used its powerful position in anti-competitive ways.
- The Democrats’ report argues that Google has a monopoly in the online search and marketing industry, creating an “ecosystem of interlocking monopolies” — which it has maintained through anti-competitive practices in two key ways.
Facebook’s independent oversight board is finally up and running
- Facebook’s much-anticipated independent decision-making body, the Facebook oversight board, announced it will start allowing people to submit cases for review beginning today.
- That means that if you post something on Facebook or Instagram and it’s taken down for violating any of Facebook’s ever-changing rules on things like hate speech, nudity, misinformation, or violence — you will soon have the ability to appeal that decision to someone besides Facebook.
- At a time when Facebook is being criticized by US politicians on both sides of the aisle for how it handles contentious speech on its platform, the Board is meant as an outside check on Facebook’s power.
- Some, though, have criticized the Board, saying it was too slow in getting started (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first publicly described the idea two years ago) and too narrow in scope to meaningfully change how Facebook handles hate speech and misinformation.
A crashed voter registration website is Floridians’ latest obstacle to the right to vote
- The state’s voter registration website crashed for several hours just before the deadline to vote in the general election.
- It is, however, all they have, as a federal district court judge on Friday denied their request to extend registration hours even longer — though not without some harsh words for the state and its long-standing issues with running elections.
- Florida’s voter registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, crashed in the hours preceding that deadline, likely preventing tens of thousands of Floridians from being able to register.
- The Florida Democratic Party accused the state’s Republican leaders of “blatant voter suppression” and pointed to website crashes before the 2020 primaries, a routine maintenance downtime the weekend before National Voter Registration Day in 2019, and site glitches a few days before the general election deadline in 2018.
Facebook bans QAnon (again)
- However, in today’s press release, Facebook noted that QAnon frequently changes its messaging strategies in order to evade content moderators and that it will take time for the social network to fully scale up enforcement of this latest policy update.
- As the November 3 election draws ever closer, the social media company has faced growing criticism over its handling of misinformation and potentially violent groups that can organize on its platforms.
- As Recode’s Shirin Ghaffary has reported, before its latest announcement, Facebook seemed unwilling to take simple steps to remove Groups and Pages that promoted QAnon, meaning people could easily find content about the conspiracy theory.
- Other groups that have been critical of Facebook, including Accountable Tech, Media Matters, and the Anti-Defamation League (which helped organized the advertising boycott of Facebook earlier this year), emphasized that the impact of the move will depend on how effective the company is at finding and removing QAnon content.
Mark Zuckerberg is spending millions like never before to overhaul a landmark tax law
- While other tech leaders have conspicuously avoided weighing in until the very last minute, if at all, Zuckerberg stuck his neck out early and has now spent almost $11 million — including $4.5 million more just this month — on the cause, raising the stakes for Election Day. Zuckerberg is backing what is called the “split roll” reform measure through his and his wife’s philanthropy, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
- Split roll, or officially this year’s Proposition 15, is just one of many political projects, including a push for education reform and four other CZI-backed ballot initiatives in California this year, undertaken by the five-year-old philanthropy, which now has 400 employees.
- The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which advises the philanthropic work of many tech billionaires and is backing split roll, has been pitching its clients for more than a year on spending their money on the split-roll fight, including at a town hall held last month.
Facebook deleted a Trump post that falsely claimed the flu can be more deadly than Covid-19
- Facebook deleted one of Trump’s posts today for violating the company’s policies against harmful health misinformation.
- After several hours, Facebook took down the post for violating its health misinformation policies against Covid-19, as CNN first reported.
- Twitter left an identical post by Trump up on its platform but added a warning label on the tweet for spreading misleading information.
- In August, Facebook and Twitter deleted a post by Trump depicting a Fox News interview in which he falsely stated that children are “almost immune” to the coronavirus.
- But it’s notable that Facebook, which has been frequently criticized for not taking action against Trump’s misleading posts about mail-in voting, or for his posts that seem to encourage violence at Black Lives Matter protests is — at least in this instance — holding firm on enforcing its Covid-19 misinformation policies.