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This Company Wants to Help Your Boss Monitor Your Brainwaves at Work



The MN8 electroencephalography device looks like any set of sleek wireless earphones. Its buds can rest unobtrusively in the ear’s concha for a whole workday and that, its makers at San Francisco-based Emotiv say, is the point. You and everyone around you forgets you’re wearing a device that is monitoring your brainwaves for signs of stress, focus, and attention.

The purpose of the headset, after all, is for companies to collect brain data from their employees.

The MN8 is the centerpiece of an Emotiv program promoted as a way to create safer, more efficient workplaces by monitoring the brain signals of workers and then using that data to retool the workday. The company has promoted it at a forum sponsored by Fortune Magazine and among the well-heeled at the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos.

Neuroscientist and Emotiv president Oliver Oullier said the data has led companies to adjust the scheduling of tasks needing high attention, improve the training process, start work days later (because morning traffic was shown, predictably, shown to heighten stress).

“We provide hardware and algorithmic solutions that have a track record of being used to inform programs that have led to allowing people to work less time, decrease absenteeism, decrease accidents and improve their productivity,” Oullier told Motherboard in an email.

Electroencephalograms (EEG) use electrodes, small metal discs that communicate with brain cells when placed on the scalp, paving a path to several kinds of information. When used in lab environments, the electrodes interact with stress hormones to create a measure of a person’s stress level. The brain also sends out electromagnetic waves of various types that correlate with attention and alertness, picked up by EEG.

Emotiv claims that all its clients sign agreements that they will not promote, demote, sanction, or fire any employees based on brain data. Emotiv would not share the wording of that agreement with Motherboard. The company also refused to name the companies with whom it has partnered, but said that its clients include businesses in the supply chain, healthcare, software, gaming, automotive and transportation industries. Oullier sells it as a more individualized and refined tool in the chase for corporate efficiency, better than “blackbox personality and cognitive tests or wellness questionnaires that organizations generally blindly trust.”

Employee monitoring tools are rarely introduced without criticism—especially when they claim to interface with the human brain. Earlier this month, Elon Musk was met with skepticism and mockery after a live demo introducing Neuralink, the tech billionaire’s foray into brain-enhancing implants. 

Similarly, some neurologists question the claim that EEG technology like the kind used by Emotiv has advanced to the point where meaningful data about workplace performance could come from two sensor electrodes utilized by corporate managers, especially when scientists using more sensitive equipment struggle for clean data.

“I’m skeptical,” said Robert Desimone, director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “[Electrodes] have limits, particularly outside the lab environment, that can contaminate data.”

Nevertheless, Emotiv has a long history of promoting electrode-coated headsets for use beyond scientific settings. Its products range from five-electrode-channel headbands to a 32-channel design resembling a swim cap. Its Epoc device is often used for a computer-brain interface, and Oullier hopes will allow a person to easily control a machine with their mind. Emotiv sells its EEG tech to gamers and executives trying to gain insight from their own brain data for a performance advantage. 

Emotiv claims that data from past users is collected to help train algorithms, which are carefully-protected intellectual property, improving its software’s ability to analyze brainwaves. In 2019, the company released the MN8 as an EEG device that could be worn inauspiciously in a workplace.

Oullier said that, as part of the agreement between employers and Emotiv, employees are not required to participate in this program, though, again, the company would not share the specific language of the agreement with Motherboard. “The data is owned by the employee and they are empowered to share or not share their data,” he stated. “Data shared with HR are anonymized and aggregated to safeguard the employee.”

Besides that agreement, the company ultimately has little control over how the technology is used in the workplace. And given that the stated goal of brainwave-monitoring in the workplace is efficiency, it’s easy to see a future scenario where a warehouse packer is denied morning shifts because a brain-monitoring device shows their attention peaks in the evening, or a manager presents color-coded brain scans to point out an employee’s low focus level at the last all-hands. Paula Brantner, an employment attorney in Silver Springs, Maryland, sees such a device as “part of a continued encroachment in the workplace of workers.’”

She noted that several companies have brought in workplace monitoring systems, all with the promise of safety and efficiency, and gotten pushback. In 2018, Amazon patented a wristband that could track the location of workers’ hands in relation to objects they pack. The company said speculation that this would allow it to monitor workers’ every movement was “misguided,” and claimed the wristbands would scan objects for the worker, saving them that monotonous task. A few companies have allowed employees to be implanted with subdermal microchips, eliminating some irritating identification checks, but stoking fears that microchipping employees like pets would become a new normal.

“In most states, employees don’t have the right to say no to these things,” Branter told Motherboard.

Joyce Smithey, an employment lawyer in Annapolis, Maryland, said that resistance to employee monitoring via new technology withers after its implementation. “In the last 20 years, we have accepted more and more monitoring as employers are given more and more ways of doing it,” she said. “We used to be worried about email monitoring. Now there are phones and cameras. Everyone seems to be accepting of it.”

Brainwave data presents a unique complication, she said, in that it could be considered medical information, protected by the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) acts. “It’s from electrodes. It’s biometric. It could reveal a disability,” said Smithey.

EEG is a diagnostic tool for epilepsy, tumors, brain damage, sleep disorders and more. Even if a device could not diagnose a disorder, “the ADA protects the appearance of disability,” said Smithey. A manager, perhaps overestimating their aptitude as an amateur neuroscientist, could assume an employer had a condition based on brainwave data and give them less work and responsibility. This would violate the ADA, said Smithey.

Oullier has tried to reassure that outside organizations are helping to guide Emotiv’s efforts on workplace improvement. In a November 2019 Fortune Magazine forum, he said, “We’ve worked with the World Economic Forum, the OECD and the National Academy of Medicine to make sure that what we do is legal, ethical and to improve people’s life [sic].”

Some of the organizations dispute the claim they have “worked” with EMOTIV.

A spokesperson for the National Academy of Medicine told Motherboard, “I checked with my colleagues about this, and we couldn’t confirm a formal relationship between NAM and Emotiv.”

A representative for the intergovernmental Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was unsure what Oullier is referring to. 

David Winickoff, OECD’s secretary for the Working Party on Bio-, Nano- and Converging Technologies (BNCT) said that Emotiv CEO Tan Le was the keynote at a 2018 workshop it hosted. “I also had a one-on-one meeting with the president, Olivier Oullier to discuss possible collaborations in a general way,” Winickoff added. “He also provided comments on one of our reports. I wouldn’t say that we have ‘worked together’ in any significant way.”

The World Economic Forum, which hosted Oullier as a speaker, did not respond to an email inquiry.

When asked about the discrepancy between his public statement and the responses from OECD and NAM, Oullier wrote, “[W]e have actively participated in and made significant contributions to this conversation at a global level with many organizations over the past decade.” He did not go into specifics. 

Neurology experts consulted by Motherboard questioned how much useful information two sensor electrodes, administered outside a lab by corporate managers, could reliably pick up.

Gathering data this way is not as simple as slipping an electrode-embedded device on a person’s head. Muscles in the head send out electric signals that obscure signals. “If you move your jaw, that’s a big signal,” said Desimone, the MIT neurologist. “Those muscles are all controlled by electricity. You just have to constantly separate them out” from the final results of the test. There is even a term for interfering instances of eyes blinking: ocular artifacts.

Also, subjects’ physical characteristics, like thick skulls or bountiful hair, create challenges and require adjustments, said Desimone.

And these are hindrances in a controlled lab environment, where trained neurologists and lab technicians usually use EEG caps of a dozen or more electrodes.

Desimone said he doubts a device like the MN8 would get usable information on something like attention and stress because scientists and developers are still struggling to create take-home EEG equipment for simpler purposes. Despite the obvious value, there are no widely used snap-on consumer products to monitor the tiredness of long-haul drivers or measure sleep quality.

“We still need people to come into the lab for sleep studies,” he said, “and that’s an easy one, stages of sleep are well-defined and people are asleep so they are not trying to deceive the device or twitching or moving their face too much.”

Lesley Fellows, a professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, said EEG scans generally don’t give deep insights to a person’s level of concentration. “I imagine that kind of simple electroencephalogram could give you the same information about drowsiness, arousal and sleepiness as you would get if you were looking at the person. That would be my guess.”

“Are their eyes droopy? Do they seem bored?” she added.

Fellows said face-monitoring cameras would be better at recording signs of stress and inattention as EEG hardware.

Oulliller said his company’s products are not meant to replicate the kind of data gathered in a lab. “The modernization of EEG systems to provide mobile and wireless data collection capabilities within a contextualized environment is not (and never meant to be) a replacement for clinical systems and in-lab data collection,” he wrote. 

When asked how a user knows his system works, Ouillier said that consumers could trust the EMOTIV brand.

“[F]or a lot of services and tech, users have to trust blindly what the seller claims,” he wrote. “With us it’s different, there are scientific databases… Feel free to have a look at EMOTIV in academic databases such as google scholar.”

An independent review released this year found that Emotiv’s Epoc devices, which have 14 electrodes, were used in 382 academic studies since 210. A vast majority, 277, were for brain-computer interface. There is no publicly viewable study showing how well the miniature MN8 measures for stress and tiredness. 

Desimone advised not to trust any device that hadn’t been tested with controlled research by a neutral outside researcher.The makers of commercial brainwave technology sometimes hook consumers with flashy or futuristic-seeming elements before being tested through scientific rigor, he said.  

“They just want something that looks good,” said Desimone. “That’s been my impression of the consumer market for these things.” 


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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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