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A Digital Tech New Deal to break up Big Tech



In July, the CEOs of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon appeared before Congress in an “historic” antitrust hearing. The event was met with great fanfare from the press. In early October, the United States House Judiciary Committee published a 450-page report criticising the anti-competitive business practices of the four giants and recommending new measures to “restore competition” to the market.

Mainstream “tech critics” across the political spectrum of the so-called “techlash” are celebrating this antitrust agenda led by the US Congress and the intellectuals informing the hearings. They see nothing wrong with the American legal system reshaping corporations that dominate markets outside US borders. After all, they accept the notion that the US “owns” the world and see capitalism as the only system imaginable.

For them, the reformist goal to “restore” a “capitalism for the people” is seen as the proper way to fix Big Tech. The Americans are joined by European power elites, who are seeking to curb the dominance of Big Tech as part of an effort to increase market share for European companies.

Yet the solution to American Big Tech corporations dominating markets across the world cannot come from the American or European pro-capital legal systems. Rather, it has to be a collective effort by the international community, focused on bottom-first redistribution for the Global South, as part of a global transformation towards a sustainable green economy.

The new progressives and neo-Brandeisian antitrust

To understand Big Tech antitrust in the US, we need to understand its origins. The movement was spearheaded by a group of US legal scholars, sometimes called the neo-Brandeisians, named after Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941).

As a young lawyer and legal scholar, Brandeis focused on social justice issues and financial power. As corporations restricted competition through “trusts”, he became concerned with how monopoly power could undermine democracy and harm society. His work inspired “antitrust” legislation banning unfair business practices in the US.

Decades later, in the 1970s, a conservative group of legal scholars sought to restrict the scope of antitrust in the US. These neoliberals of the Chicago School, led by legal scholar Robert Bork, argued that antitrust should be narrowly concerned with economic efficiency, largely measured by lower prices for consumers. Inspired by the likes of Bork, US courts began ruling that “consumer welfare”, rather than broad concerns about democracy and power, should be the focus of antitrust.

Over the past few years, neo-Brandeisian scholars dug into legal history and argued, correctly, that the neoliberal antitrust framework does not work for Big Tech. Its business model cannot always be measured by the price that consumers pay for a firm’s product (eg Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are “free”), and broader concerns around democracy and equality should inform antitrust. In order to fix Big Tech, they insist, we need to think broadly about antitrust and antimonopoly, much like Louis Brandeis did a century ago.

While this all sounds great, a closer look at what neo-Brandesians offer reveals two significant problems with it: one, they want the US to legislate for a problem that concerns the whole world; two, they still insist on a capitalist solution which is incompatible with notions of global social justice and environmental protection.

Big Tech is global

Neo-Brandeisian scholars intend to restructure Big Tech within a framework of US law, spearheaded by US thinkers. However, the firms they want to regulate have a global reach that harms people outside of the US as well.

In fact, the central business model of Big Tech is digital colonialism. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft (GAFAM) are worth more than $5 trillion in total and much of it is profit coming from abroad.

For example, less than half of Facebook’s revenues come from the US and Canada, while nine of its top 10 user bases are from Global South countries, totalling 957 million users. The US, by comparison, has 190 million users.

Most revenue for Apple and Google comes from outside the US as well, and almost half of Microsoft’s revenue comes from abroad. A large majority of Amazon’s total revenue comes from its US operations, but it is expanding globally, and its Amazon Web Services dominate the global cloud market.

If we zoom in on individual countries, the scale of the problem becomes even clearer. A small country may provide a tiny fraction of GAFAM’s revenue, but the giants still capture a large share of various markets in that country. For example, in South Africa, Google controls 70 percent of local online advertising, and social media – led by Facebook – another 12 percent. South Africa’s largest media groups take just 8 percent of the pie.

Some 84 percent of smartphones in South Africa use Google Android operating systems, while 15 percent – Apple; 72 percent of desktop computers have Microsoft Windows, while 17 percent – Apple. Other products and services, such as e-hailing, streaming entertainment, search, cloud and office suites are also dominated by American firms. This dynamic repeats throughout the world.

US tech reformers have little to say about the global nature of US tech transnationals, or about why laws regulated by the US government should reshape the core structure of global behemoths. Most of them also no longer discuss how the partnership between the National Security Agency and Big Tech promotes American military imperial interests outside of the US.

The best neo-Brandeisian scholars can argue is that their proposals would weaken the stranglehold of the Silicon Valley beyond US borders. But this is not enough to resolve the problem and does nothing to address the looming environmental catastrophe we are facing.

‘Kinder capitalism’ does not work

US tech reformers assume that market competition – supplemented by new privacy laws, public utility regulation, and some publicly subsidised, non-profit alternatives – is the solution to the power of monopoly. However, they do not address the problem of how private property in a capitalist marketplace creates inequality in the first place. Would “competitive markets” really benefit the Global South?

Competition means beating other people out, and poorer people and nations are naturally disadvantaged in such a competition.

After “restoring competition” to the tech economy, those who will dominate as “new market entrants” on the “open” internet will still be companies from richer countries: the US, European powers, China, etc, not low-income countries like Zimbabwe, Bolivia or Cambodia. And within low-income countries, the well-resourced classes will capture any new market opportunities that an antitrust push in the US may open.

Indeed, reformers assume we can restore “competitive capitalism” while we are staring at the abyss of permanent environmental destruction. Proponents of capitalism maintain that we can grow our way to poverty alleviation and innovate to stop climate change and environmental degradation. But estimates show that under the growth model of the past few decades, the global economy would require a 175-fold increase in global consumption and production just to bring billions of poor people up to a meagre $5 per day. And in the process, we would most definitely destroy the environment.

Degrowth researchers have demonstrated that capitalism is fatally flawed. A capitalist economy focuses on profit and growth, which increases greenhouse gas emissions overheating the planet and leads to over-extraction of material resources, which results in ecological collapses.

The richest nations are dependent on material extraction from the poorest. High-income countries have the worst material footprint, with a consumption level of about 26 tonnes per person per year, when the sustainable level is about eight tonnes per person globally. Low-income countries consume about two tonnes per person per year.

The Big Tech industry contributes to environmental destruction in several ways. E-waste now accounts for five percent of all global waste, and it is growing, in large part because gadgets are built with short lifespans. Instead of designing products that can last a long time, Big Tech has lobbied to kill “right to repair” laws, which would allow consumers to get their devices repaired or buy spare parts from third parties.

What is more, Big Tech directly contributes to inequality by extracting wealth from the poor and concentrating in the hands of a few US-based executives, shareholders and highly paid professionals. At the same time, it exploits workers and often denies them safe and dignified working conditions.

Digital capitalists also encourage consumerism through ads and monetise surveillance, which is destroying privacy, with grave consequences for civil rights and liberties.

Private ownership of the means of computation – software code, infrastructure and the internet – is required to extract money for content, force ads on audiences and spy on users. If the people own and control the digital environment, they would opt to share knowledge freely, reject ads and protect their privacy.

Solutions: Tech for Extinction Rebellion

It goes without saying that any solution for the digital economy must be part and parcel of a sustainable green economy. This, in turn, requires rapid wealth and income redistribution and degrowth. It is a monumental task.

Fortunately, there are some reasonable ways forward.

First, we can phase out copyright paywalls and patents. Such a move would enjoy the support of activists in the Global South and Global North, and would make the world’s scientific and cultural knowledge available to all people, irrespective of their ability to pay. Of course, equitable information sharing and generation also requires resources to bridge the digital divide and make use of scientific knowledge.

Second, software can be placed under strong free and open-source licences, online services can be decentralised, interoperable and owned by communities, while internet infrastructure can be fully socialised as communal property. The global Free Software Movement and activist scholars have already built a preliminary foundation and framework for moving in this direction.

Third, an eco-socialist Digital Tech New Deal has to be implemented to reorient the tech economy away from profit and towards satisfying the needs of the people. This requires socialising financial, intellectual and physical property. As first steps, we could impose heavy taxes on the rich to fund a global digital commons, produce plans to phase out private ownership of information and the means of computation, support workers and mandate economic redistribution to the global poor, and build a privacy-by-design tech ecosystem. All of this must be done within the confines of a sustainable economy.

These solutions need to be part of the global movement for wealth redistribution, reparations, and democratisation. In South Africa, we are building a People’s Tech for People’s Power movement to drive this agenda forward, through popular education and the formation of solidarity networks to launch actions against Big Tech and digital capitalism.

There already is a good historical precedent for global action against Big Tech. During South Africa’s apartheid era, people around the world initiated boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against corporations like IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which aided and abetted the apartheid state and businesses.

US corporations, in response, pushed a reformist agenda called the Sullivan Principles said to improve racial equality for workers. But anti-apartheid activists rejected the move as corporate propaganda designed to manufacture consent while US corporations continued to profit from apartheid misery.

Today, the US resembles the South African apartheid state, but on a global scale. Its high-tech military projects power across the world, its diplomats impose strong intellectual property protections at the World Trade Organization, its imperialist anti-immigrant policies control the movement of people and capital, and its tech corporations dominate nearly every industry vertical outside of mainland China, all while creating a global police state.

We do not need 21st century Sullivan Principles to save digital capitalism. We need digital socialism, reparations and democratisation of tech for a global green economy. This is a matter of survival for the whole human race.

If the Americans cannot get on board with this, the rest of the world may have to unite behind targeted BDS actions centred on Silicon Valley and its supporters in the US.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year



(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.


Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.


Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.


Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.


Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.


Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.


Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.


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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained



Open Sourced logo

Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.

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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year



From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.


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