Trump, Biden Fight for Primacy on Social Media Platforms

On an average day, President Donald Trump sends about 14 posts to the 28 million Facebook followers of his campaign account. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, delivers about half that many posts to an audience of just 2 million.The numbers are similarly skewed in other spheres of the social media landscape.On Twitter, Trump’s 82.4 million followers dwarf Biden’s 6.4 million. The president has spent years cultivating a ragtag digital “army” of meme makers and political influencers who retweet campaign messages hundreds of times daily. Trump is outspending Biden on Google and YouTube advertising by nearly 3 to 1.  As his reelection bid faces growing obstacles, his primacy in the dizzying digital world is one of his top advantages, giving him a massive platform to connect with supporters and push a message that ignores his vulnerabilities related to the pandemic, unemployment and race relations. Biden and his allies are now working feverishly to establish a social media force of their own.  For the first time, Biden outspent Trump on Facebook advertising in June, pouring twice as much money into the platform as the president. His campaign is recruiting Instagram supporters to hold virtual fundraisers. And it’s plotting ways to mobilize the power of hundreds of teens on TikTok who reserved tickets for Trump’s recent Oklahoma campaign rally and took credit for sinking the event by artificially inflating the crowd count before it began.  But Trump’s head start may be tough to overcome.”Vice President Biden and Trump have very different challenges right now,” said Tara McGowan, the founder of liberal digital firm Acronym and former digital director for the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA during the 2016 campaign. “Trump needs to hold his base … and Vice President Biden needs to define and in a lot of ways introduce himself to you new voters, and potential supporters.”But Trump’s unimpeded access to the digital microphone is facing its limits.Twitter is beginning to fact check Trump’s posts, including one that made unfounded claims that mail-in voting would lead to fraud. The company also alerted users when the president posted a manipulated video, and it hid his Twitter threat about shooting looters in Minneapolis.Under pressure in June as major companies yanked advertising from its site, Facebook promised it would label Trump posts when they break rules around voting or hate speech. Video messaging platform Snapchat last month also said it would keep the president’s account active and searchable but would stop showcasing his profile on the platform. And in a move to clamp down on hate and violent speech, the online comment forum Reddit decided to ban one of the president’s most prolific fan forums, The_Donald.FILE – Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan, March 9, 2020.Trump and Biden have strikingly divergent tactics on social media.A centerpiece of Trump’s digital efforts is the Team Trump Online! nightly live broadcasts streamed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Twitch, an online streaming platform. The broadcasts feature top Trump surrogates including daughter-in-law Lara Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.Trump also tweets with far greater velocity, sending more than 160 Twitter messages during a seven-day period starting June 14, an Associated Press analysis of Trump and Biden’s accounts reveals. More than 50 of Trump’s posts were retweets from an assortment of users that included the U.S. Army, far-right meme makers, conservative news outlets, little-known congressional candidates and anonymous accounts that in some cases promoted conspiracy theories.  The president’s steady retweets of everyday users helps fans feel connected to him, said Logan Cook, a Kansas internet meme maker whose work Trump has regularly promoted on his social media accounts.  “President Trump’s team, they’re blending in with social media culture, which is also why they’re getting into so much trouble,” said Cook, whose Twitter account @CarpeDonktum was permanently suspended last week for copyright violations. His memes are controversial because he alters videos to mock Trump’s political rivals, including Biden.  Twitter users celebrate being retweeted by the president, or his inner circle, like the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who has more than 5 million followers.  Trump’s followers see producing sardonic memes or videos as a game where the ultimate prize is a retweet from the president, said Misha Leybovich, a tech entrepreneur who produces social media engagement products that support Democratic candidates and causes.  “The fan base is having a blast,” Leybovich said. “If they never gave the fans the ability to be amplified by the president, the stakes would be lower.”Biden has stuck to a more conventional approach, tweeting nearly 60 messages during that same time, only a handful of which were retweets from verified accounts, like former President Barack Obama, or established news outlets. Every video Biden tweeted out over that week in June was produced by his own campaign.But the effectiveness of campaign messaging isn’t just about numbers, said Jennifer Mercieca, a political rhetoric professor at Texas A&M University.  “If you want to compare the attention and engagement metrics, it might look like Trump is way ahead, but that attention and outrage isn’t always good,” Mercieca said. “When a child is throwing a tantrum, you’re giving them attention, but it’s not because you approve of their behavior.”Indeed, the Biden campaign argues that despite being outmatched on social media, their engagement is strong.”The way that they treat their supporters, it’s about distraction. It’s about keeping them angry,” said Rob Friedlander, Biden campaign digital director. “For us it’s about, how do we make you feel like you’re brought into the campaign.”The campaign is creating Facebook groups, holding virtual events on Instagram and partnering with social media influencers who create posts in support of the campaign.  One such group is an Instagram account called Bake for Biden, which bakes bread and ships sourdough starters across the country in exchange for donations to Biden. The group was born out of what Brooklyn marketing executive Domenic Venuto first saw as an inadequate response from Biden’s campaign to Trump’s taunts and conspiracy theories.  Venuto said he’s come to understand the campaign’s digital strategy of ignoring Trump’s attacks.  “They’ve been very good at promoting values and shying away from being baited into the same tactics (as the Trump campaign),” Venuto said. 
 

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Britain Poised to Ban Huawei 

The British government is set to end the participation of Chinese telecom giant Huawei in the building of Britain’s 5G phone network — a policy about-turn that will further deteriorate London’s strained relations with Beijing, but will please Washington, according to British media reports. The major policy change follows a fresh reassessment by Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, or NCSC, on the eavesdropping risks posed by the Chinese company, according to Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper. British officials have confirmed to VOA the newspaper report is accurate. Previously the NCSC, a department within Britain’s intelligence agency GCHQ, said the security risks posed by Huawei could be safely managed and mitigated, a view not shared by U.S. intelligence agencies. But the imposition last month of new U.S. restrictions on Huawei has altered the picture, the NCSC warns. Britain’s cybersecurity chiefs now conclude the sanctions, which block Huawei from using components and semi-conductors based on any American intellectual property, will mean the telecom giant will have to use “untrusted” parts, increasing security risks. British officials are drawing up a timetable for the removal of Huawei equipment already installed in the 5G network. British telecom firms BT and Vodafone have asked the government to give them until 2030 to strip Huawei components from the existing 5G infrastructure, but officials say Downing Street wants much speedier action, even if it means slowing down the roll-out of the new network. Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, welcomed the reports, saying, “The government’s change of heart is very welcome.” The planned policy reversal comes amid a mounting diplomatic dispute between Britain and Beijing over the introduction by the Chinese government of a new draconian security law that allows Chinese security agencies to arrest pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, a former British enclave. To Beijing’s anger, Britain announced Hong Kong residents would be allowed to move to Britain. A sign reading “Boris Stop Huawei” is seen next to the M40 motorway, Tetsworth, Britain, May 1, 2020.In January, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to allow Huawei a limited role in building the less critical parts of the country’s next-generation cellular network, dealing a blow to a U.S. campaign urging allies to boycott the telecom giant. For more than a year, the Trump administration has urged Britain and other allies to ban Huawei from participating in the development of fifth-generation wireless networks. U.S. officials say there’s a significant risk that the company, which has close ties to Chinese intelligence services, will act as a Trojan horse for Beijing’s espionage agencies, allowing them to sweep data up and gather intelligence. FILE – A pedestrian walks past a Huawei product stand at an EE telecommunications shop in central London, Britain, April 29, 2019.Ahead of Johnson’s go-ahead, U.S. officials warned London that giving Huawei the green-light could jeopardize intelligence-sharing between Britain and the United States. The British prime minister sought to mollify Washington — and critics within his own ruling Conservative party — by allowing Huawei to build only 35 percent of Britain’s 5G infrastructure and to exclude it from critical networks and from locations near nuclear plants and military bases. Pressure has been mounting on Johnson to reverse his decision from within his own party, pressure that has been fueled by the coronavirus pandemic and accusations that Beijing downplayed the danger of the novel virus. A newly-formed Conservative group in the House of Commons called the China Research Group has been urging Johnson to take a robust line with China’s communist leaders on a range of issues, from Beijing’s security crackdown in Hong Kong to Huawei. The group has attracted the support of dozens of Conservative lawmakers and around 60 had warned Johnson that they would mount a backbench rebellion, if he did not block Huawei. Johnson recently instructed officials to draft plans to limit Britain’s reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other strategic imports in light of the coronavirus crisis. Britain is strategically dependent on China for 71 critical goods categories, including pharmaceutical ingredients and consumer electronics, according to trade data analyzed by the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank based in London. Last month, Christopher Patten, a former Conservative minister and Britain’s last Hong Kong governor, warned Johnson publicly about Huawei, saying, “If people argue we should deal with Huawei because they’re just like any other multinational company, that is for the birds: if they come under pressure from the Communist government to do things which are thought to be in Beijing’s interest they will do it.” With Britain poised to block Huawei, it would leave Canada as the only member of the so-called ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing partnership, which includes the U.S., Britain Australia and New Zealand, not yet to have excluded Huawei from involvement in 5G development. Huawei issued a statement Sunday saying it remains “open to discussions with the British government” and accused the U.S. of seeking to boost the market position of American companies. Company officials say an any decision to reverse its role in Britain’s 5G network is based is based on “mistaken assumptions.” A Huawei spokesman said: “Huawei is the most scrutinized vendor in the world and we firmly believe our unrivaled transparency in the UK means we can continue to be trusted to play a part in Britain’s gigabit upgrade. It’s important to focus on facts and not to speculate at this time.”  

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Advertisers Boycott Facebook, Demand Changes

Companies such as Coca-Cola, Adidas, Ford and Lego are boycotting Facebook this month, pulling ads that appear on the social network in the United States. Some advertisers are part of an organized boycott demanding the company do more to crack down on hate speech, conspiracies and misinformation on its site on topics such as voting. Facebook has responded with some changes but will it be enough? Michelle Quinn reports.
Camera: Deana Mitchell

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Twitter Removes Image Tweet by Trump Over Copyright Complaint

Twitter Inc has taken down an image tweet by the U.S. President Donald Trump on June 30, in response to a report from a copyright holder. Twitter now displays the message “This image has been removed in response to a report from the copyright holder,” in place of the tweet. News website Axios reported that the tweet was removed after a copyright complaint from the New York Times, which owns the rights to the photo. 

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Turkish President Calls for Tighter Social Media Controls

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he would tighten controls on social media, days after remarks were made on Twitter about his daughter and son-in-law.“Turkey is not a banana republic,” Erdogan said in a televised address to his party members. “We will snub those who snub this country’s executive and judicial bodies.”Erdogan’s eldest daughter, Esra Erdogan, and his son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak reportedly received what were called insulting tweets after the couple announced the birth of their fourth child on social media.Eleven of 19 Twitter users who allegedly insulted Erdogan’s family were detained, Turkish police said in a statement on Wednesday.“Do you understand now why we are against social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Netflix?” Erdogan ask while addressing his party. “These platforms do not suit this nation. We want to shut down, control [them] by bringing [a bill] to parliament as soon as possible.”Rights groups have accused Erdogan of using the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to tighten controls on the media, with only a few independent publications continuing to report on the Turkish president’s handling of the pandemic.Turkey’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, called Twitter a “propaganda machine” after it recently suspended 7,340 accounts. Twitter said the accounts were “employing coordinated inauthentic activity” promoting favorable narratives to Erdogan and his party. 

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Reliance on Social Media News Amplifies COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, Report Finds

People who get most of their news from social media like Facebook and YouTube are much more likely to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from Kings College London. The report also suggests those reliant on social media for news are much more likely to ignore government messaging on staying safe during the pandemic and more likely to disobey lockdown rules.The research was published earlier this month in the journal A 5G logo is displayed on a screen outside the showroom at Huawei campus in Shenzhen city, China’s Guangdong province.One prominent conspiracy theory is that 5G mobile technology is causing the disease. In recent weeks, dozens of 5G mobile telecom towers have been destroyed across Britain. Police say a belief that the masts are causing the respiratory ailment appears to have motivated many of the attacks. The researchers questioned 2,254 British residents. Overall, 8 percent believed that 5G technology was causing the pandemic. Of those people, 60 percent said they got their information from YouTube. Out of the 92 percent of people who don’t believe the 5G conspiracy theory, only 14 percent said their information came from YouTube.Among people who believe the coronavirus does not exist at all, some 56 percent cited Facebook as their primary source of news. Allington says the most disturbing finding has been the readiness among those who believe in conspiracy theories about the disease to break quarantine and lockdown rules.“We found that people who had gone out, gone outside or gone to work despite having what they knew were possible coronavirus symptoms were much more likely to be getting their information from social media,” Allington told VOA.That presents a health risk that must be addressed, says British lawmaker Damian Collins, co-founder of the group ‘Infotagion’ which aims to fight misinformation about the pandemic.“A lot of this content is still there and a lot of the times when it’s referred to social media companies, they don’t act immediately to take this content down,” Collins told VOA via Skype, adding that he has big concerns over the role social media might play in any vaccination program. “If we get to a position where we’ve got a vaccine and for the vaccine to be effective, we need the vast majority of people to agree to take it. It’s important that people have got confidence in that. And if people are spreading conspiracy theories and lies about the vaccine and trying to persuade people not to take it, then there’s a serious public health risk to that.”FILE – The Twitter and Facebook logos are seen with binary cyber codes in this illustration, Nov. 26, 2019.Facebook, YouTube and Twitter say they have removed hundreds of thousands of videos and posts relating to COVID-19 misinformation that could lead to imminent harm. In written evidence submitted to the British parliament, Facebook said that during the month of April it had “displayed warning labels on around 50 million pieces of content related to COVID-19 on Facebook,” adding, “…When people saw those warning labels, 95% of the time they did not click to view the original content.”Despite such claims, the internal systems in place to deal with misinformation remain opaque, says Allington of Kings College London. “Those systems have got to be opened up for auditing by democratically-accountable bodies,” he told VOA.The social media giants are facing a backlash on multiple fronts. More than 150 companies – including Starbucks and Coca-Cola – have stopped buying advertising on Facebook over concerns around misinformation and hate speech.At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May seeking to strip social media companies of legal immunity for the content posted by users, after Twitter tagged one of his tweets with a fact-check notice. “If Twitter were not honorable and you’re going to have a guy like this being the judge and jury, I think you shut it down, as far as I’m concerned. But I’d have to go through a legal process to do that,” Trump told reporters May 28.

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China’s Long-Term Plan to Shape the Future of Technology

In a rare twist to Washington’s long-standing restrictions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Commerce Department recently reversed its ban preventing U.S. firms from working with Huawei on developing new technical standards.The move was seen by many in China as an admission by President Donald Trump’s administration that it cannot ignore Huawei’s influential role in developing the technical standards critical for future technologies. “America finally bowed its head” read a headline by Chinese network Phoenix TV.The new rule, announced by the Commerce Department on June 15, amends the Huawei “entity listing” to allow American companies to collaborate with Huawei on setting standards that will determine the technical rules of the road for 5G and other emerging technologies.  “This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the entity list in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities despite Huawei’s pervasive participation in standards-development organizations,” the department said. FILE – Pedestrians use their mobile phones near a Huawei advertisement at a bus stop in central London, April 29, 2019.The Commerce Department said the move “promotes U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by facilitating U.S. leadership in standards-development bodies.”The situation with Huawei is no accident. For years, Beijing has focused on joining international standard-setting bodies, such as 3GPP and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which are little-known among the public, but make some of the most consequential decisions in modern telecommunications.3GPP and the future of your smartphoneNestled in a quiet industrial park in southern France, a technology consortium with esoteric name, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP, sets the technical standards behind the world’s communication platforms, the fundamental building blocks for product development. As the primary global standard setting organization for the last 20 years, 3GPP helped create technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as today’s 5G high-speed networks.“Standards are not very sexy but extremely important,” Andrew Polk, partner at Beijing-based research and consultancy firm Trivium China, told VOA. “And it takes sustained long-term effort and attention. While Western companies try to set standards, China has a long-term coordinated game plan to influence standards,” he said.A 5G logo is displayed on a screen outside the showroom at Huawei campus in Shenzhen city, China’s Guangdong province.China’s leaders have long seen technology as a key to the country’s economic and military might, and the country has financially backed companies such as Huawei to become powerful global competitors that will help the country’s political and military goals. Critics say Beijing takes the same approach to setting technical standards.”Beijing views standards as foundational to its goals to reshaping global governance and expand geostrategic power,” said Dr. J. Ray Bowen, analyst of Pointe Bello, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic intelligence firm.Even though U.S. companies remain world leaders in most areas of technology, observers such as Dustin Daugherty, head of North America Business Development at Dezan Shira & Associates, a pan-Asia business consulting firm, say China’s strategy means “in the future the U.S. could fall behind a coordinated government effort in standard setting (such as from China).”China’s long-term planAs of May, Chinese firms and government research institutes have accounted for the largest number of chairs or vice chairs in 3GPP, holding 16 of the 45 available leadership positions, according to VOA’s count based on data release by 3GPP. By comparison, U.S. companies hold nine such leadership positions.A year ago, representatives from Chinese and U.S. companies each held 12 chair and vice chair positions, according to data 3GPP sent to VOA.While the 3GPP is the primary global group setting 5G standards, another major global organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is now led by a former Chinese government official, Zhao Houlin.Zhao, who began his career in China’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, was first elected as the secretary-general of ITU in 2014. He was reinstated in November 2018 for second four-year term.Established in 1865, ITU is one of the oldest international organizations in the world and has historically avoided politics. However, Zhao publicly criticized Washington in its dispute with Huawei, the Chinese communications giant that U.S. officials say has deep links to the military.“I would encourage Huawei to be given equal opportunities to bid for business,” Zhao told reporters in Geneva earlier this year. “But if we don’t have anything then to put them on the blacklist – I think this is not fair.”FILE – People gather at a Huawei stand during the Consumer Electronics Show, Ces Asia 2019 in Shanghai, June 11, 2019.Under Zhao’s leadership, another Chinese national, Richard Li, serves as the chairman of a critical group with the ITU called Focus Group Technologies for Network 2030. Li, according to his LinkedIn Page, is employed by Huawei as Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Network Technologies and is in charge of examining the world’s emerging technologies and 5G.Doug Barry, the spokesperson for The US-China Business Council (USCBC), a private organization with the mission of promoting trade between the two countries, said there are companies that are concerned about the abuse of leadership positions by China, but so far he has not heard any examples of this happening.”Most international standards-setting bodies have strong due process, which makes it difficult for stakeholders to abuse leadership positions to force proposals through or block proposals,” Barry said.Daugherty said that because Chinese companies are among the most important international players in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, their presence in industry groups and standard-setting bodies is logical. But he said there is an important difference between them and their counterparts from democratic countries. “Chinese companies (and by extension possibly their individual representatives on such bodies) may ultimately need to answer to Beijing’s priorities for strategically important issues,” Daugherty said.In an interview with VOA, he said the politicization of such international bodies could conceivably lead to a decrease in legitimacy in international standard setting. “The damage could be immense,” he said.Flooded with proposalsHolding leadership positions is one part of Beijing’s strategy. Another part involves massive investments in submitting technical proposals to the international groups.In a rare disclosure last September, Huawei said for one particular technical area alone, the company submitted 18,000 5G New Radio proposals. “If printed on A4 paper and piled up high, would stand a staggering 10 meters tall,” it said proudly on its official twitter account.The U.S.-China Business Council said last February this is an issue of concern.”Some companies and experts complained that Chinese stakeholders submit large numbers of proposals that are low-quality or irrelevant to market needs in some industries, including for products that China does not actually produce.”The report titled “China in International Standards Setting” said this takes valuable time and resources away from considering serious proposals.China also sends more people to attend international meetings that discuss, vote and make decisions on standards.According to a report release last November by German intellectual property research firm Iplytics, Huawei dispatched more than 3,000 engineers to participate in the 5G standard-setting process. American chipmaker Qualcomm sent 1,701 engineers to attend 3GPP meetings.Dr. Melanie Hart, director for China Policy Center for American Progress, said the Chinese government is channeling state financial support to help Huawei and other Chinese firms send personnel to attend 3GPP meetings and flood the process with Chinese technical contributions.”It is difficult for private companies from other nations to match that level of activity because sending engineers overseas to participate in 3GPP meetings and devoting R&D resources to develop 3GPP technical contributions are costly activities,” she testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission last March.

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In Rare Move, US Clears Limited Cooperation Between US Firms, Huawei

In a rare twist to Washington’s long-standing restrictions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Commerce Department recently reversed its ban preventing U.S. firms from working with Huawei on developing new technical standards.The move was seen by many in China as an admission by President Donald Trump’s administration that it cannot ignore Huawei’s influential role in developing the technical standards critical for future technologies.  “America finally bowed its head” read a headline by Chinese network Phoenix TV.The new rule, announced by the Commerce Department on June 15, amends the Huawei “entity listing,” to allow American companies to collaborate with Huawei on setting standards that will determine the technical rules of the road for 5G and other emerging technologies.   “This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the entity list in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities despite Huawei’s pervasive participation in standards-development organizations,” the department said.  The situation with Huawei is no accident. For years, Beijing has focused on joining international standard-setting bodies, such as 3GPP and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which are little-known among the public, but make some of the most consequential decisions in modern telecommunications.
 3GPP and the future of your smartphone
 
Nestled in a quiet industrial park in southern France, a technology consortium with esoteric name, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP, sets the technical standards behind the world’s communication platforms, the fundamental building blocks for product development. As the primary global standard setting organization for the last 20 years, 3GPP helped create technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth as well as today’s 5G high-speed networks.
“Standards are not very sexy but extremely important,” Andrew Polk, partner at Beijing-based research and consultancy firm Trivium China, told VOA. “And it takes sustained long-term effort and attention. While western companies try to set standards, China has a long-term coordinated game plan to influence standards,” he said.FILE – A staff member holds a Huawei ‘Mate20 X 5G’ smartphone at the IFA 2019 tech fair in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 5, 2019.China’s leaders have long seen technology as a key to the country’s economic and military might, and have financially backed companies such as Huawei to become powerful global competitors that will help the country’s political and military goals. Critics say Beijing takes the same approach to setting technical standards.
 
“Beijing views standards as foundational to its goals to reshaping global governance and expand geostrategic power,” said Dr. J. Ray Bowen, analyst of Pointe Bello, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic intelligence firm.
 
Even though U.S. companies remain world leaders in most areas of technology, observers such as Dustin Daugherty, head of North America Business Development at Dezan Shira & Associates, a pan-Asia business consulting firm, say China’s strategy means “in the future the U.S. could fall behind a coordinated government effort in standard setting (such as from China).”
 China’s long-term plan
 
As of May, Chinese firms and government research institutes have accounted for the largest number of chairs or vice chairs in 3GPP, holding 16 of the 45 available leadership positions, according to VOA’s count based on the data release by 3GPP. By comparison, U.S. companies hold nine such leadership positions.
 
That’s up from a year ago, when 3GPP sent VOA a file showing that representatives from Chinese and U.S. companies each held 12 chair and vice chair positions.
While the 3GPP is the primary global group setting 5G standards, another major global organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is now led by a formal Chinese government official Zhao Houlin.
 
Zhao, who began his career in China’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, was first elected as the secretary-general of ITU in 2014. He was reinstated in November 2018 for another four-year term.
 
Established in 1865, ITU is one of the oldest international organizations in the world and has historically avoided politics. However, Zhao publicly criticized Washington in its dispute with Huawei, the Chinese communications giant that U.S. officials say has deep links to the military. “I would encourage Huawei to be given equal opportunities to bid for business,” Zhao told reporters in Geneva earlier this year. “But if we don’t have anything then to put them on the blacklist – I think this is not fair.”FILE – Zhao Houlin, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, May 28, 2018.Under Zhao’s leadership, another Chinese national, Richard Li, serves as the chairman of a critical group with the ITU called Focus Group Technologies for Network 2030. Li, according to his LinkedIn Page, is still currently employed by Huawei as Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Network Technologies, is in charge of examining the world’s emerging technologies and 5G.
 
Doug Barry, the spokesperson for The US-China Business Council (USCBC), a private organization with the mission of promoting trade between the two countries, said there are companies that are concerned about the abuse of leadership positions by China, but so far he has not heard any examples of this happening in practice.
 
“Most international standards setting bodies have strong due process which makes it difficult for stakeholders to abuse leadership positions to force proposals through or block proposals,” said Barry.
 
Daugherty said because Chinese companies are among the most important international players in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, their presence in industry groups and standard setting bodies is logical. But he said there is an important difference between them and their counterparts from democratic countries.  
 
“Chinese companies (and by extension possibly their individual representatives on such bodies) may ultimately need to answer to Beijing’s priorities for strategically important issues,” said Daugherty.
 
In an interview with VOA, he said the politicization of such international bodies could conceivably lead to a decrease in legitimacy in international standard setting. “The damage could be immense,” he said.
 Flooded with proposals
 
Holding leadership positions is one part of Beijing’s strategy. Another part involves massive investments in submitting technical proposals to the international groups.
 
In a rare disclosure last September, Huawei said for one particular technical area alone, the company submitted 18,000 5G New Radio proposals. “If printed on A4 paper and piled up high, would stand a staggering 10 meters tall,” it said proudly on its official twitter account.FILE – A 5G logo is displayed on a screen outside the showroom at Huawei campus in Shenzhen city, in China’s Guangdong province, March 6, 2019.The U.S.-China Business Council said last February this is an issue of concern.  “Some companies and experts complained that Chinese stakeholders submit large numbers of proposals that are low-quality or irrelevant to market needs in some industries, including for products that China does not actually produce.”
 
The report titled “China in International Standards Setting” said this takes valuable time and resources away from considering serious proposals.
 
China also sends more people to attend international meetings that discuss, vote and make decisions on standards.
 
According to a report release last November by German intellectual property research firm Iplytics, Huawei dispatched over 3,000 engineers to participate in the 5G standard-setting process. American chipmaker Qualcomm sent 1,701 engineers to attend 3GPP meetings.
 
Dr. Melanie Hart, director for China Policy Center for American Progress, said the Chinese government is channeling state financial support to help Huawei and other Chinese firms send personnel to attend 3GPP meetings and flood the process with Chinese technical contributions.
 
“It is difficult for private companies from other nations to match that level of activity because sending engineers overseas to participate in 3GPP meetings and devoting R&D resources to develop 3GPP technical contributions are costly activities,” she testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission last March.   

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Facebook Bans Violent ‘Boogaloo’ Groups, Not the Term Itself

Facebook has banned an extremist anti-government network loosely associated with the broader “boogaloo” movement, a slang term supporters use to refer to a second Civil War or a collapse of civilization. But the platform didn’t try to name the group, underscoring the difficulty of grappling with an amorphous network linked to a string of domestic terror plots that appears to obfuscate its existence. Among other complications, its internet-savvy members tend to keep their distance from one another, frequently change their symbols and catch phrases and mask their intentions with sarcasm. The move by Facebook designates this group as a dangerous organization similar to the Islamic State group and white supremacists, both of which are already banned from its service. The social network is not banning all references to “boogaloo” and said it is only removing groups, accounts and pages when they have a “clear connection to violence or a credible threat to public safety.”  The loose movement is named after “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” a 1984 sequel to a movie about breakdancing. Boogaloo supporters have shown up at protests over COVID-19 lockdown orders, carrying rifles and wearing tactical gear over Hawaiian shirts – a reference to “big luau,” a homophone for “boogaloo” sometimes favored by group members. Facebook said that the movement dates to 2012 and that it has been tracking it closely since last year.  FILE – Steven Carrillo is seen in a booking photo from the Santa Cruz County (California) Sheriff’s Office, June 7, 2020.Earlier in June, Steven Carrillo, an Air Force sergeant with ties to the boogaloo movement, fatally shot a federal security officer and wounded his partner outside a U.S. courthouse, ambushed and killed a California sheriff’s deputy, and injured four other officers in Oakland, California. According to the criminal complaint, Carrillo posted in a Facebook group, “It’s on our coast now, this needs to be nationwide. It’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois. Keep that energy going.”  The statement was followed by two fire emojis and a link to a YouTube video showing a large crowd attacking two California Highway Patrol vehicles. According to the FBI, “soup bois” may be a term that followers of the boogaloo movement used to refer to federal law enforcement agents.  While the term “boogaloo'” has been embraced by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, many supporters insist they aren’t racist or truly advocating for violence. As part of Tuesday’s announcement, Facebook said it has removed 220 Facebook accounts, 95 Instagram accounts, 28 Pages and 106 groups that that comprise the violent Boogaloo-affiliated network. It also took down 400 other groups and 100 pages that hosted similar content as the violent network but were maintained by accounts outside of it. The company said it has so far found no evidence of foreign actors amplifying boogaloo-related material. Social media companies are facing a reckoning over hate speech on their platforms. Reddit, an online comment forum that is one of the world’s most popular websites, on Monday banned a forum that supported President Donald Trump as part of a crackdown on hate speech. Live-streaming site Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, temporarily suspended Trump’s campaign account for violating its hateful conduct rules. YouTube, meanwhile, banned several prominent white nationalist figures from its platform, including Stefan Molyneux, David Duke and Richard Spencer. Civil rights groups have called on large advertisers to stop Facebook ad campaigns during July, saying the social network isn’t doing enough to curtail racist and violent content on its platform, and several major advertisers have signed on to the boycott.  Violent and extremist groups are increasingly turning to encrypted communications networks and fringe social platforms with no content moderation, which makes them more difficult to track.  

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Presidential Campaigns Embrace Tech to Reach Voters During Pandemic

With social distancing as the new pandemic normal, U.S. presidential campaigns were faced with an unprecedented situation. They no longer were able to send out organizers and volunteers to connect with potential voters face-to-face. Intimate, high-dollar fundraising events were also out of the question. “The coronavirus pandemic shifted things overnight. It was a sudden and instant transformation to 100% virtual campaigning, just like the pandemic disrupted everyone else’s daily life. The same is true of our campaigns,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist and director of the Center for Campaign Innovation. “You’re just seeing a lot more creativity in terms of how and where the campaigns are finding the voters they need to get their message across to,” said Tara McGowan, CEO and founder of Acronym, a progressive nonprofit organization and head of the political action committee Pacronym.  Lally Doerrer, right, and Katharine Hildebrand watch Joe Biden during his Illinois virtual town hall, in Doerrer’s living room March 13, 2020, in Chicago.Politics as entertainment Most voters are consuming politics as entertainment, Wilson said. Since the start of social distancing orders in March, the Trump campaign launched, on social media such as Facebook and YouTube, a daily talk show-style broadcast with a host and guests. “That’s one of the biggest kind of innovations we’ve done, are these original seven-nights-a-week online broadcast. We really touch on loads of different dynamics and different messaging opportunities,” Erin Perrine, director of press communications for the Trump campaign, said.  Prominent Republicans and President Donald Trump’s children have been either guests or hosts on these shows. In one program, hosted by Donald Trump Jr., the guest being interviewed was his father, who is running for a second term against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.  The Biden campaign is also tapping into social media. Biden is using Instagram for live conversations with social media influencers, celebrities and past Democratic presidential candidates such as entrepreneur Andrew Yang.  Last week, Biden raised more than $11 million during a joint virtual fundraising event with former President Barack Obama.President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.Digital advertising, apps and engagement Digital ads have become another way for campaigns to reach potential voters and build a database of information.  “What the campaign is trying to do is if somebody engages the ad, clicks on the link, goes then to the website, then the first thing the campaign says is, ‘Hey, give me your email address,’ and if you do give your email address, they also then typically ask you for your name and maybe your address or your zip code,” Stromer-Galley said.  “Now they can start to get a profile of who you actually are and then maybe potentially marry that to other data that they have about that email address, whether they’ve purchased that list or are building it organically.”  With a potential supporter’s profile, campaigns can create ads on Facebook that target a specific demographic of users. “We run a lot of ads on Facebook continuously,” Perrine, of the Trump campaign, said. “Our digital team says it’s like high, high-volume trading on the stock market. We do a bunch of them and those that are doing well, we’ll put more money behind and continue to push those, then others that aren’t, you can pull them off the platform.”  Stromer-Galley said Facebook is a useful tool for campaigns because “Facebook has built an algorithm that predicts if you’re politically interested. They have an algorithm that predicts if you’re likely a Democratic supporter or a Republican supporter.” Both campaigns also have apps as ways of engaging supporters, fundraising and encouraging users to conduct peer-to-peer organizing. “If you’re one of my friends, and I know that you’ve not decided on who you’re going to vote for, I can reach out directly to you and say, ‘Hey, here’s who I’m supporting, here’s what I think matters to you, and I would send you a text message or a Facebook message, however we normally communicate,” said Wilson, the Republican strategist.   To encourage supporters, Trump’s app is gamified, where users can earn points by sharing a post or liking something on social media and making phone calls for the campaign. The points get aggregated, and they can be used to gain early entry into rallies, a discount code for buying campaign merchandise, and with enough points, a supporter can meet Trump.  The reason why campaigns want people to engage digitally is to “glean data, is to get more information on voters, how we can stay in contact with them, because you want these people to become volunteers, you want them to stay engaged and become part of the movement. But, ultimately, we want them to show up on election day,” Perrine said. “When I downloaded them to my phone, the first thing it asks — after some personal information about me, like my address, some demographic information, my name, my email address — it then asks if the app, the mobile app can access my contacts, my photographs,” said Stromer-Galley, who downloaded the Trump and Biden apps for her research. McGowan, of Pacronym, and her staff are separate from the Biden campaign. They  have been running their own digital advertising to support Biden on nontraditional platforms, such as streaming apps like Hulu and Roku, on gaming devices such as Xbox, and on streaming radio, including Pandora and Spotify.  McGowan said ads are no longer one-size-fits-all and have to be tailored for the various unique platforms available to consumers today. “It’s become such, just a diverse media landscape today. So you really have to sort of stay ahead of the curve. You really can’t rest on your laurels, and it’s a real challenge for campaigns,” she said.  Digital campaign contest With a bigger war chest, analysts of digital campaigns say Trump started the 2020 digital campaign with a huge advantage, both as the incumbent and with a database of supporters from his last presidential race.  “Trump has been very effective at blurring his presidential messaging and his campaign messaging on Twitter, and so as a journalist or as a member of the public, you can’t help but sort of get both at the same time when you’re watching him,” Stromer-Galley said. “Biden doesn’t have that advantage because he’s not the incumbent. He doesn’t have the presidency. He’s issuing formal statements. He’s doing YouTube videos. He is holding online events, but they don’t get the same traction,” she added. By numbers alone, Trump has more than 82 million followers on Twitter and Biden has just over 6 million. There are close to 30 million followers on Trump’s campaign Facebook page compared to just over 2 million followers on Biden’s Facebook page.  Trump’s campaign has outspent Biden on Facebook ads. “With online marketing, it’s a lot like compound interest. It pays more dividends the sooner you get it into the bank, and so the fact that the Trump campaign was able to get started building their digital infrastructure so early, it gives them a huge head start,” Wilson said.  As an example, he pointed to Trump’s decision to name Brad Pascale, his 2016 digital strategist, as his 2020 campaign manager as a sign that Trump understands the importance of having a strong digital presence in a campaign. Although Biden has been in politics much longer, “all of the campaign experiences can be a curse because you think you know how things should be done,” Wilson said. He further described the Biden campaign as “a traditional legacy style of campaign first, with digital operations as an add-on, and that’s not the way campaigns should be run in 2020.” The Biden campaign did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. However, McGowan countered, saying Biden has experience with digital campaigning while running as Obama’s running mate. “The Obama campaigns really drove a lot of the innovation in campaigning and bringing campaigning online. Online fundraising, advertising, and so Vice President Biden is no stranger to digital campaigning or strategy,” McGowan said. Earlier in June, the Biden campaign spent $15 million on advertising across media platforms.  “The Biden campaign has very quickly adapted to this moment. They’re continuing to grow and pivot, and I really believe that they are closing the gap,” McGowan said.  Since the pandemic, the Democratic National Committee has sent more than 4 million text messages to get people to sign up to vote by mail and held 82 training sessions on digital organizing since March, compared to 14 training sessions in 2019.  “The way that people have shown up in droves for them has been a really important thing,” Meg DiMartino, Democratic National Committee digital organizing director, said with more than 11,500 people signing up across all of the trainings. The key to a successful digital campaign is to reach “the right voters with the right message at the right moment on the right platform from the right messenger,” strategist Wilson said. That largely means meeting potential voters in the digital world during the 2020 pandemic. 

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