Monthly Archives: August 2020

“Twitter changing labeling practices after deceptive videos hit Biden”

Politico:

Twitter said Monday it will begin displaying warning labels on shared posts that contain misleading or doctored videos after facing complaints that it failed to do enough to limit the spread of deceptive clips targeting Joe Biden’s campaign.

Key context: The social network in recent days has slapped labels on tweets by prominent Republican officials that contained deceptively edited or altered videos, including posts by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of LouisianaWhite House social media director Dan Scavino and the reelection campaign for President Donald Trump.

On Monday, the Trump campaign tweeted a truncated clip of Biden saying, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” The clip was in fact from a speech in which Biden said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were making that argument. The full quote from the speech: “Trump and Pence are running on this, and I find it fascinating: Quote, ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ And what’s their proof? The violence we’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.”

Twitter later added a “manipulated media” label to the tweet.

What’s changing: Until now, the labels did not appear when users shared the posts through what the platform calls “quote tweets ”— retweets with added comment from another user. Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of product, said in a tweet that the company started rolling out a fix Monday to address the issue, which he called “a gap in implementation” of its policy against so-called manipulated media.

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Federal District Court Rejects Challenge to Georgia Law on Limits to Third Party Collection of Absentee Ballots, But Extends Deadline for Receipt of Postmarked Absentee Ballots

Here is the opinion. The court rejected other challenges to Georgia law as well, but the extension of the time for receipt of ballots is significant given how late Georgia voters can request and receive absentee ballots and given potential delays in having USPS deliver ballots on time. AJC says “The decision will likely result in tens of thousands of ballots being counted after Nov. 3 that would have otherwise been rejected, enough to swing close elections.”

AJC also says the state will immediately appeal, and I think there is a fairly good chance of a reversal of the extension time granted by the district court.

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Sept. 2 Penn Law Event: “Holding the 2020 Election Under Crisis”

Great lineup:

 The 2020 presidential election faces unprecedented challenges, from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, threats of foreign interference, and social unrest, to questions about the United States Postal Service’s resources and ability to handle unprecedented volume of ballots by mail. These issues interact with and could amplify existing disparities in access to voting related to race and socioeconomic status. With experts widely predicting that full election results may not be available for many weeks after election night, pivotal states like Pennsylvania must think through and put into place measures to ensure the integrity of the election process. 

On Wednesday, September 2, from 12:30-2:00 p.m. EDT, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, in partnership with Keep Our Republic, a non-partisan non-profit composed of citizens, bipartisan former officials and civic leaders who are committed to ensuring the smooth and regular operation of our electoral system, will host a virtual symposium during which a panel of experts from different fields will assess the aforementioned risks to, and potential problems with, the election process, and propose practical responses to mitigate those risks and shortfalls.  

Who:          A diverse panel of experts, moderated by Ted Ruger, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, and including:

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold

Former Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA)

Former United States Senator Gary Hart (D-CO)

Daniel Gillion, Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt Presidential Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania

Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director, National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Josh Geltzer, Visiting Professor of Law, Executive Director, Institute for Constitutional Advocacy at Georgetown University 

Following the panel will be an interactive Q&A discussion, which will feature additional prominent guests. Media questions can be submitted in advance to press@law.upenn.edu

When:        Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Where:       Registration required: https://pennlaw.cvent.com/HoldingElectionUnderCrisis2020

Time:         12:30-2:00 p.m. EDT 

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September Symposium on Excellent New Book, “Social Media and Democracy” (Edited by Persily and Tucker)

As part of my own book project, I read the edited volume “Social Media and Democracy” the day it came out. This is a must-read for researchers who care about the extent to which social media has changed and may further change campaigns and elections. It’s really three books in one: the first six chapters are reviews of the literature on various topics (like misinformation and echo chambers); the next six chapters discuss potential reforms: and the final chapter by Persily and Tucker explains how much more there is to learn about how social media is changing democracy if researchers could get fuller access to social media platforms. Highly recommended.

In conjunction with the book release, Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center is putting together this event on Sept. 8 with a terrific lineup. Registration required.

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I’ll Be Joining CNN as an Election Law Analyst Through the End of the Election Season (Along with Jonathan Diaz, Jessica Huseman, Rick Pildes, and Franita Tolson)

Very much looking forward to being able to speak on issues of election law as the election season kicks into high gear, and excited to work with these terrific colleagues.

This fall, I’ll still be at UCI Law working on a new book, and teaching a mini-course on campaign finance at Georgetown Law.

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Super Election Lawyer Ben Ginsberg Retire from Jones Day

Scoop from Politico Playbook:

NOTE FROM LONGTIME REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER BEN GINSBERG: “I am retiring today from Jones Day, a truly special place I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of for the past six years. It’s been a wonderful 38-year legal career where I’ve been in the arena for some of the greatest political and legal matters of our time. I’ve had more interesting representations and worked with more amazing people than I ever could have dreamed. But my timing is not accidental and I look forward to writing, teaching, consulting, commenting and, most of all, playing with our four wonderful grandchildren.”

Superstar election lawyer Ben, who served as national counsel for the Romney 2012 campaign, has been an important voice in recent years in bipartisan approaches to improving elections. (He and Bob Bauer headed a bipartisan commission that issued a key report on improving American elections.)

I hope that with him no longer working for Jones Day (which has represented President Trump’s campaign—though I don’t think ben had anything to do with that), he will be free to speak his mind on important election integrity issues of the day. In any case I look forward to what he has to say and to in coming years.

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“Twitter flags GOP video after activist’s computerized voice was manipulated”

WaPo:

Twitter flagged a video shared by the second-ranking House Republican on Saturday as “manipulated,” as it spliced quotes together from an activist who speaks through computer voice assistance, making it sound as though he’d convinced Joe Biden to defund police departments.

“I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts,” Ady Barkan wrote to Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House minority whip, in a Sunday tweet. “You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain. Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology.”

The dispute came down to two words from an interview Biden gave Barkan at the start of July. Barkan, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), speaks with the use of a device that reads his eye movements and translates them to an artificial voice. The interview, one of many that Barkan had done with Democratic presidential candidates, turned at one point to whether Biden would shift some funding from armed policing to social welfare.

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“Shift on Election Briefings Could Create an Information Gap for Voters”

NYT:

The decision by the nation’s top intelligence official to halt classified, in-person briefings to Congress about foreign interference in a presidential election that is just nine weeks away exposes the fundamental tension about who needs to know this information: just the president, or the voters whose election infrastructure, and minds, are the target of the hacking?

The intelligence agencies are built to funnel a stream of secret findings to the president, his staff and the military to inform their actions.

President Trump has made it abundantly clear that he does not believe the overwhelming evidence, detailed in thousands of pages of investigative reports by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee and indictments of Russian intelligence officers by his own Justice Department, that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election, and is at it again.

One of the bitter lessons of the last election is that intelligence about hacking into voter registration systems and the spreading of disinformation must be handled in a very different way. Those defending against misinformation include state and city election officials; Facebook, Twitter and Google; and voters themselves, who need to know who is generating or amplifying the messages they see running across their screens.

And if they do not understand the threat assessments, they will enter the most critical phase of the election — those vulnerable weeks when everything counts and adversaries have a brief window to take their best shot — without understanding the battle space.

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