Politico: ‘Keep back!’: How the Biden campaign obsesses over Covid. “With more than 6 million people infected and nearly 200,000 dead from the coronavirus, the former vice president is taking no chances with his safety. He operates in a sanitizer-saturated bubble within the traditional presidential campaign bubble, an environment designed and obsessively cultivated by staff in an attempt to protect him from a possible encounter with the virus.”
Tech Transparency Project: Instagram’s Hashtag Blocking Favors Trump, Hurts Biden. “When a person searches Instagram for a hashtag and clicks on it, the platform has automatically generated “related hashtags” pointing users to other relevant content. TTP examined related hashtags for 20 popular terms associated with the Trump and Biden campaigns and found starkly different treatment of the two candidates. Instagram blocked the display of related hashtags on all 10 of the Trump hashtags reviewed, including #donaldtrump, #trump and #trump2020. That means users were not directed to other content, including anything negative or critical about the president. But for all 10 similar Biden hashtags, Instagram did display related hashtags, which at times steered users to insults and disinformation about the former vice president, with phrases like #creepyjoebiden, #joebidenpedophile and #joebidenisaracist.”
CNN: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC. “Facebook announced Thursday it was banning ads from The Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump super PAC. Facebook did not say how long the ban would last.”
CBS News: Virus outbreak reshapes presidential race in Sun Belt — CBS News Battleground Tracker poll. “The coronavirus outbreak is reshaping the presidential race in three key Sun Belt states. Joe Biden is now leading President Trump by six points in Florida, and the two are tied in Arizona and competitive in Texas, where Biden is down by just a point to Mr. Trump. Biden has made gains in part because most say their state’s efforts to contain the virus are going badly — and the more concerned voters are about risks from the outbreak, the more likely they are to support Biden.”
Montana Public Radio: Montana GOP Files Complaint Over Bullock’s Social Media Use. “The Montana GOP has lodged an ethics complaint against Gov. Steve Bullock alleging he used state resources during his run for president last year. The Montana Republican Party alleges Bullock used a Twitter and Facebook account for both official and campaign purposes in violation of state law.”
This is wrong and it needs to stop now. Techdirt: Bogus Automated Copyright Claims By CBS Blocked Super Tuesday Speeches By Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg, And Joe Biden. “Another day, another example of copyright out of control. The latest, as highlighted by Matthew Keys, is that bogus (almost certainly automated) copyright claims by CBS ended up blocking a live stream of a Bernie Sanders speech, but similar notices also interrupted speeches by Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden.”
Politico: Federal court rejects Gabbard’s bias suit against Google. “A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit in which Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard accused Google of temporarily suspending her presidential campaign ads due to political bias — noting that the online search giant is not a government entity bound by the First Amendment.”
The Markup: Swinging the Vote?. “Pete Buttigieg is leading at 63 percent. Andrew Yang came in second at 46 percent. And Elizabeth Warren looks like she’s in trouble with 0 percent. These aren’t poll numbers for the U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential contest. Instead, they reflect which candidates were able to consistently land in Gmail’s primary inbox in a simple test.” Techdirt has a thoughtful response to this story.
New York Times: It’s Facebook vs. the Bloomberg Campaign vs. the Internet. “When sponsored content for political candidates appears on private accounts [on Instagram], it allows those running the ads to escape the direct scrutiny that comes with a public-facing account. It also keeps non-followers in the dark about ads being run on the page and prevents users from easily searching for specific content.”
Los Angeles Times: Twitter is suspending 70 pro-Bloomberg accounts, citing ‘platform manipulation’. “Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has been experimenting with novel tactics to cultivate an online following, or at least the appearance of one. But one of the strategies — deploying a large number of Twitter accounts to push out identical messages — has backfired. On Friday, Twitter began suspending 70 accounts posting pro-Bloomberg content in a pattern that violates company rules.”
Reuters: Where U.S. presidential candidates stand on breaking up Big Tech. “Social media platforms are under particular scrutiny over their efforts to curb dissemination of misinformation and false claims, years after U.S. intelligence agencies said Russia used them to wage an influence operation aimed at interfering with the 2016 election. Moscow has denied the claim. Here are the leading presidential candidates’ positions on Big Tech.”
The Verge: Mike Bloomberg has spent nearly $15 million to be in your Google search results. “According to Google, Bloomberg’s campaign has spent a staggering $14,849,500 on political ads since the candidate announced his run at the end of November; overall, Bloomberg has spent nearly $200 million on his run for president of the United States.”
Slate: Pete Buttigieg’s Campaign Says This Wikipedia User Is Not Pete. So Who Is It?. “Pete Buttigieg, the young, telegenic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, prides himself on being the only millennial currently vying for the presidency, and his path up to this point has been a fairly deliberate one. He was even named ‘Most Likely to be U.S. President’ his senior year of high school. As any young aspiring politician knows, carefully maintaining your image online is key. And no tool in your early-career arsenal is quite as effective as Wikipedia.” I don’t really give a damn if Pete Buttigieg created a Wikipedia page for himself, but there’s some interesting detective work laid out here.
CNET: Twitter flags Trump, Biden, Warren campaigns, citing ad-policy violations. “Twitter flagged the campaign accounts of presidential candidates, including incumbent Donald Trump and rival Joe Biden, as ‘suspended” in the ads database, saying they’d violated the company’s policies. The accounts remain active on the social network, and it’s unclear whether any violations actually occurred. Twitter, which bans political advertising, changed the wording in the database to “ineligible for Twitter Ads” after CNET inquired about the labels on Thursday.”
Poynter: U.S. fact-checkers gear up for 2020 campaign with 50 active platforms. “With the U.S. election now less than a year away, at least four dozen American fact-checking projects plan to keep tabs on claims by candidates and their supporters – and a majority of those fact-checkers won’t be focused on the presidential campaign. The 50 active U.S. fact-checking projects are included in the latest Duke Reporters’ Lab tally of global fact-checking, which found 226 sites in 73 countries as of Nov. 25.”