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Facebook takes down accounts and pages of Trump ally Roger Stone |NationalTribune.com

Facebook Inc on Wednesday removed 50 personal and professional pages connected to United States President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, who is due to report to prison next week. The social media platform said Stone and his associates, including a prominent supporter of the right-wing Proud Boys group in Stone’s home state of Florida,…

Facebook takes down accounts and pages of Trump ally Roger Stone |NationalTribune.com

Facebook Inc on Wednesday removed 50 personal and professional pages connected to United States President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, who is due to report to prison next week.
The social media platform said Stone and his associates, including a prominent supporter of the right-wing Proud Boys group in Stone’s home state of Florida, had used fake accounts and followers to promote Stone’s books and posts.
Facebook moved against Stone on the same day it took down accounts tied to employees of the family of Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro and two other networks connected to domestic political operations in Ecuador and Ukraine.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the removals were meant to show that artificially inflating engagement for political impact would be stopped, no matter how well connected the practitioners.

Trump ally Roger Stone charged with lying in Russia investigation

“It doesn’t matter what they’re saying, and it doesn’t matter who they are,” Gleicher told Reuters before the announcement. “We expect we’re going to see more political actors cross this line and use coordinated inauthentic behaviour to try to influence public debate.”
Facebook officials said they took down Stone’s personal Facebook and Instagram pages and his Stone Cold Truth Facebook page, which had 141,000 followers. A total of 54 Facebook accounts and 50 pages were removed for misbehaviour, including the creation of fake accounts. The accounts spent more than $300,000 on advertisements over the past few years, Facebook said.
In Brazil, the allegations by Facebook add to a burgeoning political crisis, where Bolsonaro’s sons and supporters have been accused of running a coordinated online campaign to smear the president’s opponents.
The company said that despite efforts to disguise who was behind the activity, it had found links to the staff of two Brazilian lawmakers, as well as the president and his sons, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro and Senator Flavio Bolsonaro.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo Bolsonaro and Flavio Bolsonaro, are accused by Facebook of running a coordinated campaign to smear political opponents using fake accounts [File: Adriano Machado/Reuters]

The accusations have spurred a congressional inquiry and a separate Supreme Court investigation into so-called “fake news attacks” on the country’s judiciary, which led to police raids in May on the homes and offices of Bolsonaro allies.
Bolsonaro, who is also under mounting criticism over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, has said the court’s investigation is unconstitutional and risks establishing censorship in Brazil by policing what people can say online.
Some of those accounts posed as fake Brazilians and news outlets to spread “hyper-partisan views” supporting Bolsonaro and attacking his critics. Their targets included opposition lawmakers, former ministers and members of Brazil’s Supreme Court.
More recently, the accounts also amplified Bolsonaro’s claims that the risks of the coronavirus pandemic are exaggerated. The disease has killed more than 66,000 people in Brazil and Bolsonaro himself tested positive this week.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was briefed on the actions beforehand, officials said. Facebook has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to better police how political groups use its platform.
Hundreds of advertisers have joined a boycott aimed at forcing the company to block hate speech on its site, and multiple employees walked out last month over Zuckerberg’s decision not to challenge inflammatory posts by Trump.
The removals risk further angering Trump and other conservatives who accuse Facebook of suppressing right-wing voices. Facebook last month took down a Trump re-election ad that included a Nazi symbol, and it pledged to steer users to facts on voting when Trump, or anyone else, touches on the topic.
Facebook is under pressure from civil rights advocates and allied groups as well, and hundreds of advertisers have joined a boycott demanding the company crack down on hateful and divisive messages.
Stone was convicted last year for witness tampering and lying to Congress as it investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. Stone did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
He told the far-right website Gateway Pundit: “We have been exposing the railroad job that was so deep and so obvious during my trial, which is why they must silence me. As they will soon learn, I cannot and will not be silenced.”
In search warrant documents released this April, the FBI said a Stone assistant told interviewers in 2018 “that he purchased a couple hundred fake Facebook accounts as part of this work.”

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has faced criticism from rights groups, was briefed on plans to remove Roger Stone’s pages [File: Erin Scott/Reuters]

Facebook said its probe was influenced by the April search documents. But the company said that its unit guarding against coordinated inauthentic behaviour had already been looking into Stone’s pages after a referral from a separate Facebook team monitoring dangerous organisations, which was tracking the Proud Boys.
Graphika analyst Ben Nimmo, a disinformation specialist, said the Stone network had been most active in 2016 and 2017, among other things promoting stories about the Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks as part of the Russian interference effort.
Many of the accounts were later deleted, and in recent weeks they have mostly reflected Stone’s quest to receive a pardon from Trump for his crimes, according to Nimmo.
“The inauthentic accounts were amplifying various Stone assets, like his page, or advertising one of his books,” Nimmo said.
Stone has been stepping up his efforts to get a pardon from Trump before he reports to prison, where his family fears the spread of COVID-19. Trump has said that Stone was treated unfairly. US Attorney General William Barr intervened to seek a lesser sentence, prompting four career prosecutors to resign from the case.
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Twitter and Facebook intervene once again after Trump suggests double voting

President Trump on Saturday once again prompted Twitter and Facebook to each intervene after he posted on their platforms that people should vote by mail and then potentially again in person. Twitter and Facebook both acted on identical posts made on their platforms by Mr. Trump that encouraged voters in North Carolina to vote twice…

Twitter and Facebook intervene once again after Trump suggests double voting

President Trump on Saturday once again prompted Twitter and Facebook to each intervene after he posted on their platforms that people should vote by mail and then potentially again in person.

Twitter and Facebook both acted on identical posts made on their platforms by Mr. Trump that encouraged voters in North Carolina to vote twice in the presidential election.

“To make sure your Ballot COUNTS, sign & send it in EARLY. When Polls open, go to your Polling Place to see if it was COUNTED. IF NOT, VOTE!” Mr. Trump posted in part on the platforms.

Twitter added a notice to Mr. Trump’s post, or tweet, saying it violates the company’s rules for civic and election integrity but will remain on the platform with certain restrictions in place.

Users cannot “like” or reply to the tweet, and it can only be shared, or retweeted, if being quoted, according to the restrictions Twitter put in place.

Mr. Trump’s tweet encouraged “people to potentially vote twice,” Twitter explained, adding: “Voting twice is illegal in North Carolina.”

“To protect people on Twitter, we err on the side of limiting the circulation of Tweets which advise people to take actions which could be illegal in the context of voting or result in the invalidation of their votes,” explained Twitter.

Facebook was also letting Mr. Trump’s post remain on its social network, but it placed a notice alongside it telling users that voting by mail “has a long history of trustworthiness.” Users can still comment and share it.

The latest actions Twitter and Facebook each took in response to the president are identical to how they handled a similarly-worded attack on mail-in voting he posted on the platforms Sept. 4.

Millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail in the race between Republican incumbent Mr. Trump and Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden as a result of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The president has repeatedly attacked voting by mail in recent weeks, and he has claimed it will result in widespread fraud contrary to election officials saying those fears are unfounded.

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Facebook to ban new political ads ahead of election, remove ‘misinformation’ about voting

Facebook on Thursday said it won’t accept new political ads the week before the November election and will clearly label content that seeks to “delegitimize” the election’s outcome. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will extend its work with election officials to remove “misinformation about voting.” “We will remove posts with claims that people will…

Facebook to ban new political ads ahead of election, remove ‘misinformation’ about voting

Facebook on Thursday said it won’t accept new political ads the week before the November election and will clearly label content that seeks to “delegitimize” the election’s outcome.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will extend its work with election officials to remove “misinformation about voting.”

“We will remove posts with claims that people will get COVID-19 if they take part in voting,” he said. “Given the unique circumstances of this election, it’s especially important that people have accurate information about the many ways to vote safely, and that COVID-19 isn’t used to scare people into not exercising their right to vote.”

Analysts have predicted that President Trump and the Republicans could build a lead immediately after polls close on Election Day but that Democrats could make up ground in the days and weeks after Nov. 3 because of the party’s emphasis on voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There could be a period of intense claims and counter-claims as the final results are counted,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

The company said that if any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are in, they’ll add a label to their posts directing people to official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool.

Mr. Zuckerberg said Facebook will use its Voting Information Center “to prepare people for the possibility that it may take a while to get official results” and said the information will help people understand that “there is nothing illegitimate about not having a result on election night.”

He said Facebook has strengthened its enforcement against “militias, conspiracy networks like QAnon, and other groups that could be used to organize violence or civil unrest in the period after the elections.”

Mr. Zuckerberg said they took down a network of 12 accounts and two pages last week trying to “mislead Americans and amplify divisions.”

“We’ve removed more than 100 networks worldwide engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior over the past couple of years, including ahead of major democratic elections,” he said. “However, we’re increasingly seeing attempts to undermine the legitimacy of our elections from within our own borders.”

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Facebook deletes Trump post over coronavirus misinformation: Live |NationalTribune.com

Facebook and Twitter have pulled posts by US President Donald Trump for violating their COVID-19 misinformation rules. Brazil’s top court has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to draw up a plan within 30 days to reduce COVID-19’s threat to the country’s Indigenous people. India has recorded the biggest single-day coronavirus fatalities of 904 in the past…

Facebook deletes Trump post over coronavirus misinformation: Live |NationalTribune.com

Facebook and Twitter have pulled posts by US President Donald Trump for violating their COVID-19 misinformation rules.

Brazil’s top court has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to draw up a plan within 30 days to reduce COVID-19’s threat to the country’s Indigenous people.

India has recorded the biggest single-day coronavirus fatalities of 904 in the past 24 hours.

More than 18.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, while the global death toll surpassed 704,000 people. More than 11.2 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, August 6
10:00 GMT – Indonesia’s COVID-19 infections rise by 1,882
Indonesia reported 1,882 new coronavirus infections and 69 additional deaths on Thursday, data from government’s COVID-19 task force showed.
Those brought the total number of cases to 118,753 and deaths to 5,521.
Indonesia’s case tally was surpassed by neighbouring Philippines, which with 119,460 coronavirus cases has the most infections in East Asia.
09:40 GMT – Human trials of virus vaccine set to begin in Indonesia
Human trials on a potential coronavirus vaccine are due to start in Indonesia next week as part of a collaboration between state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma and China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd, a senior researcher said.
The launch of the vaccine trial comes as Indonesia has struggled to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, with a consistently escalating number of cases.
The phase 3 clinical trial is set to begin on August 11 and will involve 1,620 volunteers aged between 18 and 59, Professor Kusnandi Rusmil, head researcher at Bandung’s Padjadjaran University, told reporters.
09:00 GMT – Canadian jailed in Myanmar for holding services during virus ban
A Myanmar court sentenced a Canadian preacher who said Christians were immune to the novel coronavirus to jail with hard labour for three months for holding church services in defiance of a ban on gatherings during the outbreak.
David Lah, a Canadian of Burmese origin, and another man, Myanmar national Wai Tun, were detained under a disaster management law over services they held in the city of Yangon in April.
A ban on public gatherings in the commercial capital took effect in mid-March. Judge Moe Swe told reporters both men had been convicted of breaking administrative rules.
08:40 GMT – Hong Kong reports 95 new coronavirus cases 
Hong Kong reported 95 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, of which 91 were locally transmitted, as authorities tried to contain the virus, which has seen a resurgence in the global financial hub over the past month.
Around 3,800 people have been infected in Hong Kong since late January, 44 of whom have died. On Wednesday, 85 new cases were reported.
The government said it was extending the work from home period for civil servants until August 16.

Around 3,800 people have been infected in Hong Kong since late January [Tyrone Siu/Reuters] 

08:20 GMT – UK to slap quarantine on travellers from Belgium: report
The British government will slap a quarantine on arrivals from Belgium after a rise in coronavirus cases, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.
The Mail said ministers are expected to approve the quarantine at a meeting shortly. The transport ministry declined to comment on the report.
The United Kingdom has already imposed a 14-day quarantine on travellers from Spain and Luxembourg.
08:00 GMT – Russia reports more than 5,200 new coronavirus cases
Russian authorities reported 5,267 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its national tally to 871,894, the fourth largest in the world.
The official death toll rose to 14,606, after officials said 116 people had died across the country in the last 24 hours.

The official death toll has risen to 14,606 across the country in the last 24 hours [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu]

07:30 GMT – Poland faces rising trend of COVID-19 cases: minister
Poland may see a further increase in coronavirus infections, which could reach up to 700 per day during and after this weekend, the health minister said.
On Tuesday, Poland registered its highest daily tally of reported cases at 680.
07:00 GMT – Toyota’s Q1 profit nearly wiped out as coronavirus erodes sales
Toyota Motor Corp posted a 98 percent plunge in its first-quarter operating profit as the coronavirus pandemic halved it global sales.
Japan’s top automaker reported a profit of 13.9 billion yen ($131.73m) for the three months ended June, its worst since the June 2011 quarter. Still, it was better than an average estimate for a loss of 179 billion yen based on a Refinitiv poll of seven analysts.
The bleak results underline the challenges being faced by the global auto industry due to the health crisis that has shuttered factories this year and kept customers out of dealerships, hitting production and sales.
06:25 GMT – Ukraine reports record daily new coronavirus cases
Ukraine reported a record daily high of 1,271 new coronavirus cases on August 4, the country’s council of security and defense said.
The number of new infections has increased sharply in the past two months following the gradual lifting of restrictions that began in late-May.
The total number of cases rose to 75,490, including 1,788 deaths and 41,527 recovered as of August 5.

The total number of cases are 75,490, including 1,788 deaths and 41,527 recovered as of August 5 [Reuters] 

06:00 GMT – India reports biggest number of deaths with 904
India has recorded the biggest single-day fatalities of 904 in the past 24 hours as fresh coronavirus infections surged by another 56,282 cases to reach nearly two million.
The Health Ministry said the total fatalities touched 40,699. India has recorded 20,000 deaths in the past 30 days.
The ministry also said the recovery rate has improved to 67 percent from 63 percent over the last 14 days. Nearly 600,000 patients are still undergoing treatment. The case fatality rate stands at 2.09 percent.
05:45 GMT – Melbourne enters strict new coronavirus lockdown
Australia’s second-biggest city of Melbourne began the first day of a six-week total lockdown with the closure of most shops and businesses raising new fears of food shortages, as authorities battle a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Shops were boarded shut and streets were deserted in the city of about five million people, the capital of Victoria state, which reported 471 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths in the past 24 hours.
Australia has now recorded about 20,000 COVID-19 cases and 255 fatalities, still far fewer than many other developed nations, but the Victorian outbreak threatens to ruin that record and spill into other states.

Australia has recorded about 20,000 COVID-19 cases and 255 fatalities [AFP] 

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.
05:16 GMT – Outbreak shutters huge Papua New Guinea mine
A coronavirus outbreak has forced the closure of a major copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea.
Ok Tedi Mining said it had decided “to immediately suspend operations for at least 14 days” after seven cases were detected at the facility near the Indonesian border.
The mine, which sits in the remote Papua New Guinea highlands, employs thousands of people and accounts for around seven percent of the country’s GDP, according to company figures.
04:58 GMT – Eight patients die in India hospital fire
Eight coronavirus patients died in a fire that broke out in the intensive care ward of a private hospital in India’s western city of Ahmedabad, officials said.
Police stopped angry relatives from entering the Shrey Hospital in the Gujarat state capital after the tragedy which, according to emergency services, was caused by a medical staff member’s personal protective equipment (PPE) catching fire.

The fire broke out at the Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad early on Thursday morning [Reuters]

“A staffer whose PPE caught fire ran out of the ward to douse it but the fire spread rapidly to the whole ward,” said Rajesh Bhatt, additional chief fire officer of the Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services.
“Five men and three women, who were undergoing treatment for the novel coronavirus were not in a position to escape… they died due to smoke and heat caused by the fire,” he said.
Read more here.
04:22 GMT – Philippine economy plunges into recession
The Philippines plunged into recession after its biggest quarterly contraction on record, according to data from the country’s Statistics Authority.
Gross domestic product shrank 16.5 percent on-year in the second quarter, data showed, as the Philippine economy reels from one of the world’s longest stay-at-home orders that has wrecked businesses and thrown millions out of work.
It followed a revised 0.7 percent contraction in the first three months of the year and marked the biggest reduction in economic activity since records began in 1981 during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.
It is the country’s first recession in three decades.

Duterte reimposes coronavirus lockdown as he criticises doctors (2:35)

03:24 GMT – Japan region declares emergency
Hideaki Ohmura, the governor of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, announced a regional “state of emergency”, urging people to stay home at night and businesses to close altogether or close early to curb the coronavirus.
The measures will continue through August 24, a period that coincides with the Obon holidays, when schools and many companies close, he said.
Ohmura said coronavirus cases have been rising in Aichi since mid-July at 100 or more a day. Before that, daily cases had been zero for extended periods.

WHO COVID Debrief on global coronavirus vaccine efforts (4:08)

02:33 GMT – Kim directs aid to North Korean town under lockdown
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un directed his government agencies to act immediately to stabilise the livelihoods of residents in a city locked down over coronavirus concerns, state media reported.
North Korea declared an emergency and locked down Kaesong near the inter-Korean border in late July after finding a suspected virus case there. It has not confirmed yet if the person tested positive.
The Korean Central News Agency said Kim presided over a meeting on Wednesday of the ruling Workers’ Party’s executive policy council where they discussed a special supply of food and funds to Kaesong.
The report did not specify the measures that were to be taken.
01:47 GMT – US adds 1,242 COVID-19 deaths
The US reported 1,262 more COVID-19 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to data by the Johns Hopkins University, figures that take its total death toll to 157,930.
It also added 53,158 new infections and remained the worst-hit country in the world, with a total caseload of 4,818,328.
President Trump nonetheless remained optimistic, saying “This thing’s going away. It will go away, like things go away, and my view is that schools should be open.”

01:06 GMT – Twitter hides Trump post over misinformation
Twitter hid a video posted by Trump campaign’s @TeamTrump account and shared by the US president for breaking the company’s COVID-19 misinformation rules.
The post contained a video clip, from an interview with Fox & Friends in which Trump claimed that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that while adults make up most of the known COVID-19 cases to date, some children and infants have been sick with the disease and they can also transmit it to others.
A Twitter spokesman told Reuters that the @TeamTrump account owner would be required to remove the tweet before they could tweet again.
Read more here.
00:13 GMT – Facebook removes Trump post
Facebook deleted a post by Trump for the first time, saying it violated its policy against spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
Facebook said the “video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation”.
00:01 GMT – Brazil court rules government must protect tribes
Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that President Jair Bolsonaro’s government must adopt measures to stop the spread of novel coronavirus to the country’s vulnerable Indigenous communities.
A majority of the justices voted to give the government 30 days to draw up a plan to reduce the threat to Indigenous people from COVID-19, which could wipe out some tribes.
Measures should include sanitary barriers to stop outsiders entering protected tribal lands and the isolation of invaders, but the court stopped short of ordering the immediate expulsion of illegal loggers and miners that Indigenous leaders say are spreading the virus.

The action was sought by Brazil’s main Indigenous umbrella organisation APIB, which says Indigenous people have died from COVID-19. Some 22,325 cases have been confirmed among Brazil’s 850,000 Indigenous people, while half of Brazil’s 300 Indigenous tribes have confirmed infections.
The pandemic endangers Indigenous communities with no access to healthcare in remote parts of the Amazon and whose communal living under large dwellings make social distancing impossible.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 
For all the key developments from yesterday, August 5, go here. 
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