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Claudia Conway’s TikToks, explained



Claudia Conway, much to her displeasure, is trending on Twitter again.

This is not speculation about her feelings: The 15-year-old daughter of former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and “Never Trump” Republican attorney George Conway openly dislikes being in the news. “Currently trending on twitter for no apparent reason,” she writes in her TikTok bio. “The media is obsessed.”

And yet Claudia has created a spectacle that is impossible to look away from: Here is a teenager, openly undermining her mother who is already somewhat of a media villain, espousing leftist ideas her parents despise. On her TikTok are jokes about Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy, reminders to vote blue in the upcoming election, and conservatives’ most feared slogan: ACAB.

Since this summer, when her anti-Trump, Black Lives Matter, and “Save Barron” TikTok videos went viral, Claudia has been an unexpected and unusually candid political voice. But it is also a voice that is mired in misdirected hero worship among the Twitter #Resistance and complicated by the ethical complexities that come with adults dissecting the messages of a 15-year-old. As Claudia Conway’s TikToks have drawn national attention once again, after she exposed her mother’s coronavirus diagnosis and livestreamed an argument between the two of them, it’s worth asking whether adults should even be talking about Claudia Conway in the first place, and what the media owes her as both a private citizen and a teenage girl seemingly in crisis.

How Claudia Conway revealed her mother’s Covid-19 diagnosis and lit up Twitter

This week, as President Trump and many of the attendees of the White House’s reception for Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination have tested positive for the coronavirus, Claudia’s TikToks contained breaking news. On October 2, she posted a video alleging her mother was “coughing all over the house” after attending the event, and said that Claudia herself was struggling to breathe.

Shortly thereafter, she announced that her mother tested positive before the press did and was cited in major news outlets. She also alluded in a comment that Trump’s condition was worse than he claimed, and in the comments section of one video wrote that Kellyanne had lied to her about the results. “[She] said her test was negative when it literally wasn’t and I spent all day around her,” Claudia wrote. A few days later, she posted a video of herself in the bathtub captioned with “hey guys currently dying of covid!”

Then, on the evening of October 5, she posted another video, in which her mother’s voice can be heard. “Little clarification from my previous posts,” she wrote. “My mother claims that she did not lie to me. She had three tests done. First negative, second two positive. We were not in communication. I misinterpreted it.” In the background of the video, Kellyanne says, “Do it now,” to which Claudia says, “I am, I’m doing it right now,” referring to filming the video. “Say, ‘Correction, my mom had three tests,’” Kellyanne coaches her.

This most intimate look at the Conway family dynamics would ultimately be deleted, however. In a TikTok that viewers shared to Twitter before it was removed, Kellyanne can be heard saying, “You’ve caused so much disruption. You lied about your fucking mother about Covid? About Covid?”

Unsurprisingly, the rather salacious glimpse of a high-profile mother-daughter relationship set Twitter aflame, with left-leaning adults praising Claudia as an American hero and a better journalist than Bob Woodward. “HELP I can’t stop watching Claudia Conway argue with her mom,” wrote Twitter employee Sam Stryker.

Our hero worship of Claudia Conway is misguided and harmful

The resounding response to Claudia Conway’s public image is that she’s a spunky teenage maverick perfectly suited to destroy the Republican party from within. But to lift her up as a hero or as some kind of entity fated to save us from the collapse of American politics is to ignore what she and every other Gen Z supposed savior are asking for. As Miles Klee writes in Mel magazine, “If you actually listen to [Greta] Thunberg and the Parkland group, you won’t necessarily hear how they plan to enact systemic change. Instead, they are telling the adults to get their act together, and wondering why it has fallen to the youth to voice any call to virtuous action.”

Claudia’s videos, ultimately, are a cry for help, from both the larger American electorate and the people in her life. Claudia has repeatedly spoken about her desire to emancipate from her parents and has alleged verbal and physical abuse from both her mother and father. “My dad doesn’t care about me,” she said in the same video. “He probably doesn’t even know my middle name.” In one particularly heartbreaking TikTok, Claudia asks for tips on how to stop dissociating because “nothing feels real” while tears stream down her face. And in a recent livestream, she told her followers in code that “I’m on live right now because I’m scared of my mom.”

Teenagers denouncing their parents on the internet is not a new phenomenon; it’s just that most of the time, they do it in spaces separate from the adult internet, the public one where every tweet is grounds for debate. Many kids keep their Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok accounts private; others have secret finstas where they allow only a small portion of their regular followers access to more private or experimental thoughts.

That’s how one might expect the leftist daughter of two conservative political figures to express her angst and frustration about being born into such a family. We tend to assume that most internal familial controversy exists in the shadows, out of public view (or if they are high-profile enough, to be dissected decades later in overdramatized six-part Netflix documentaries).

Claudia Conway, however, has made all of this public. Though she often deletes past posts, many of her most inflammatory TikToks and tweets have remained out in the open. It’s as jarring of a phenomenon to witness as it was when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle surrendered their “royal highness” titles — for once, the disputes are laid bare.

The question is: What are adults on the internet who watch these videos supposed to do about it? Many have stressed that, because Claudia is just 15 and clearly dealing with unimaginable pressure and attention, she deserves privacy, and she does. Claudia herself, while acknowledging her appreciation of her more than 1 million followers, would likely agree. “Why is the media so obsessed with everything a 15-year-old girl has to say?” she asks in one TikTok.

This is the uneasy paradox of Claudia Conway: How could the media not be interested in what she has to say? Claudia is just one of a new generation of leftist daughters of more conservative politicians, a cohort that includes 23-year-old Stephanie Regan, who tweeted “Do not vote for my dad” ahead of Robert Regan’s Michigan campaign for State Legislature, and 25-year-old Chiara DeBlasio, who was arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in New York City, where her father is its mayor, Bill DeBlasio. Of the three, Claudia is by far the most outspoken online, and has made use of the platform closely associated with teenage rebellion. She responds often to comments, and much like within the #FreeBritney movement, viewers theorize about her well-being using context clues.

At times, the Conways seem like any other family where parents and children disagree on political views. In an interview with Business Insider (during which her parents were also in the room), Claudia explained that “My mom is my best friend but we do fight all the time over politics, and I’m always shut down by my entire family.” While her mother had asked her to take down some of the videos, she’d “respectfully declined” to do so. What teenager hasn’t argued with their family over politics, or had a parent monitor their social media accounts? And by all measures, Claudia’s social media presence is barely different from other girls’ her age — there are politics, sure, but there are also regular photos of a normal high schooler living her life.

Perhaps this is what we should glean from Claudia: Her cries for help, her worrisome and sometimes contradictory statements about her family, and her frustration at American politics are not interesting because they are abnormal, they’re interesting because they’re relatable. Young people should be allowed to be outspoken, rebellious, emotional, and even inconsistent on the internet without the social media machine elevating it to something more than it is.

While we, the audience, have no ability — nor do we have any right — to “save” or “free” Claudia from her family situation, we do have a duty to take her and every other young person’s plea for a better country and a better system seriously. Of course teenagers are getting loud online. After all, the internet is the only place where they have a real say.

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



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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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Classic toy tie-up: Etch A Sketch maker to acquire Rubik’s Cube



Spin Master Corp., the company behind the Etch A Sketch and Paw Patrol brands, has agreed to acquire Rubik’s Brand Ltd. for about $50 million, tying together two of the world’s most iconic toy brands.

The merger comes at a boom time for classic toymakers, as parents turn to familiar products to entertain kids stuck in lockdown. Like sales of Uno, Monopoly and Barbie dolls, Rubik’s Cube purchases have spiked during the pandemic, according to the puzzle maker’s chief executive officer, Christoph Bettin. He expects sales to jump 15% to 20% in 2020, compared with a normal year, when people purchase between 5 million and 10 million cubes.

By acquiring Rubik’s, Toronto-based Spin Master can better compete with its larger rivals, Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc. All three companies have pivoted to become less reliant on actual product sales, diversifying into television shows, films and broader entertainment properties based on their toys. Spin Master CEO Anton Rabie said he wouldn’t rule out films or TV shows based on Rubik’s Cubes, but he was focused for now on creating more cube-solving competitions and crossmarketing it with the company’s other products, like the Perplexus.

“Whoever you are, it really has a broad appeal from a consumer standpoint,” Rabie said in an interview. “It’s actually going to become the crown jewel; it will be the most important part of our portfolio worldwide.”

Hungarian inventor Erno Rubik created the Rubik’s Cube in 1974, a solid block featuring squares with colored stickers that users could twist and turn without it falling apart. It gained popularity in the 1980s and has remained one of the best-selling toys of all time, spawning spinoff versions, international competitions of puzzle solvers, books and documentaries.

The toy has been particularly well-suited to pandemic conditions. During lockdowns, parents have sought to give kids puzzles that boost problem-solving skills useful in math and science careers. Normally, toys tied to major film franchises are among the most popular products headed into the holidays, but studios have delayed the release of major new movies because of coronavirus. So classic products are experiencing a mini-renaissance.

“The whole pandemic has really increased games and puzzles,” Rabie said. “But whether the pandemic existed or didn’t exist, we’d still buy Rubik’s. It’s had such steady sales for decades.”

Rubik’s CEO Bettin said it was the right time to sell the company, with the founding families behind it ready to move on. London-based Rubik’s Brand was formed out of a partnership between Erno Rubik and the late entrepreneur Tom Kremer, while private equity firm Bancroft Investment holds a minority stake in the company.

Early on, Bettin felt Spin Master was the right home for the puzzle toy, he said. Spin Master, which was started by a group of three friends in 1994, has expanded through the purchase of well-known brands, including Erector sets and Etch A Sketch. Rabie says he works to honor the “legacy” of those products, which Bettin cited as a key reason to sell the brand to Spin Master over larger companies that were interested.

“It was important for us to not be lost in the crowd, and to be sufficiently important and cared for,” Bettin said. “And there’s a balance between being with someone large enough to invest, and agile enough to ensure you are key part of their plans.”

Spin Master won’t own Rubik’s Cubes in time for the holiday season – the transaction is expected to close on Jan. 4. At that time, the company will move Rubik’s operations from a small office in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood to Spin Master’s new games operations center in Long Island.

Some of Rubik’s Brand’s 10 employees will be part of the transition, but they won’t stay permanently, Bettin said.


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