Lee Kun-Hee, Force Behind Samsung’s Rise, Dies at 78

Lee Kun-hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics, has died. He was 78.A Samsung statement said Lee died Sunday with his family members, including his son and de facto company chief Lee Jae-yong, by his side.Lee Kun-hee had been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack, and the younger Lee has run Samsung, the biggest company in South Korea.“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said. “Our deepest sympathies are with his family, relatives and those nearest. His legacy will be everlasting.”Lee Kun-hee inherited control from his father and during his nearly 30 years of leadership, Samsung Electronics Co. became a global brand and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips. Samsung sells Galaxy phones while also making the screens and microchips that power its rivals, Apple’s iPhones and Google Android phones.Samsung helped make the nation’s economy, Asia’s fourth largest. Its businesses encompass shipbuilding, life insurance, construction, hotels, amusement park operation and more. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 20% of the market capital on South Korea’s main stock market.Lee leaves behind immense wealth, with Forbes estimating his fortune at $16 billion as of January 2017.His death comes during a complex time for Samsung.A stern, terse leaderWhen he was hospitalized, Samsung’s once-lucrative mobile business faced threats from upstart makers in China and other emerging markets. Pressure was high to innovate its traditionally strong hardware business, to reform a stifling hierarchical culture and to improve its corporate governance and transparency.Samsung was ensnared in the 2016-17 corruption scandal that led to then-President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and imprisonment. Its executives, including the younger Lee, were investigated by prosecutors who believed Samsung executives bribed Park to secure the government’s backing for a smooth leadership transition from father to son.In a previous scandal, Lee Kun-hee was convicted in 2008 for illegal share dealings, tax evasion and bribery designed to pass his wealth and corporate control to his three children.The late Lee was a stern, terse leader who focused on big-picture strategies, leaving details and daily management to executives.His near-absolute authority allowed the company to make bold decisions in the fast-changing technology industry, such as shelling out billions to build new production lines for memory chips and display panels even as the 2008 global financial crisis unfolded.Those risky moves fueled Samsung’s rise.Lee was born Jan. 9, 1942, in the southeastern city of Daegu during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. His father Lee Byung-chull had founded an export business there in 1938 and following the 1950-53 Korean War, he rebuilt the company into an electronics and home appliance manufacturer and the country’s first major trading company.Lee Byung-chull was often called one of the fathers of modern industrial South Korea. Lee Kun-hee was the third son and his inheritance of his father’s businesses bucked the tradition of family wealth going to the eldest. One of Lee Kun-hee’s brothers sued for a bigger part of Samsung but lost the case.When Lee Kun-hee inherited control from his father in 1987, Samsung was relying on Japanese technology to produce TVs and was making its first steps into exporting microwaves and refrigerators.The company was expanding its semiconductor factories after entering the business in 1974 by acquiring a near-bankrupt firm.‘Let’s change everything’A decisive moment came in 1993. Lee Kun-hee made sweeping changes to Samsung after a two-month trip abroad convinced him the company needed to improve the quality of its products.In a speech to Samsung executives, he famously urged, “Let’s change everything except our wives and children.”Not all his moves succeeded.A notable failure was the group’s expansion into the auto industry in the 1990s, in part driven by Lee Kun-hee’s passion for luxury cars. Samsung later sold near-bankrupt Samsung Motor to Renault. The company also was frequently criticized for disrespecting labor rights. Cancer cases among workers at its semiconductor factories were ignored for years.In 2020, Lee Jae-yong declared heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labor activists questioned his sincerity.South Koreans are both proud of Samsung’s global success and concerned the company and Lee family are above the law and influence over almost every corner of society.Critics particularly note how Lee Kun-hee’s only son gained immense wealth through unlisted shares of Samsung firms that later went public.In 2007, a former company lawyer accused Samsung of wrongdoing in a book that became a best seller in South Korea. Lee Kun-hee was subsequently indicted on tax evasion and other charges.Lee resigned as chairman of Samsung Electronics and was convicted and sentenced to a suspended three-year prison term. He received a presidential pardon in 2009 and returned to Samsung’s management in 2010.

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US Judge Denies New Government Bid to Remove China’s WeChat From App Stores

A U.S. judge in San Francisco on Friday rejected a Justice Department request to reverse a decision that allowed Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to continue to offer Chinese-owned WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said the government’s new evidence did not change her opinion about the Tencent app. As it has with Chinese video app TikTok, the Justice Department has argued WeChat threatens national security.WeChat has an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.The Justice Department has appealed Beeler’s decision permitting the continued use of the Chinese mobile app to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but no ruling is likely before December.In a suit brought by WeChat users, Beeler last month blocked a U.S. Commerce Department order set to take effect September 20 that would have required the app to be removed from U.S. app stores.The Commerce Department order would also bar other U.S. transactions with WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.”The record does not support the conclusion that the government has ‘narrowly tailored’ the prohibited transactions to protect its national-security interests,” Beeler wrote on Friday.She said the evidence “supports the conclusion that the restrictions ‘burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.'”WeChat users argued the government sought “an unprecedented ban of an entire medium of communication” and offered only “speculation” of harm from Americans’ use of WeChat.In a similar case, a U.S. appeals court agreed to fast-track a government appeal of a ruling blocking the government from banning new downloads from U.S. app stores of Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok.

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New Huawei Phone Comes at Crucial Time for Chinese Company

Huawei’s new smartphone has an upgraded camera, its latest advanced chipset and a better battery. What it may not have outside the Chinese tech giant’s home market is very many buyers.
Huawei, which recently became the world’s No. 1 smartphone maker, on Thursday unveiled its Mate 40 line of premium phones, a product release that comes at a crucial moment for the company as it runs out of room to maneuver around U.S. sanctions squeezing its ability to source components and software.
The Mate 40 could be the last one powered by the company’s homegrown Kirin chipsets because of U.S. restrictions in May barring non-American companies from using U.S. technology in manufacturing without a license.
Analysts say the company had been stockpiling chips before the ban but its supply won’t last forever.
“This is a major challenge to Huawei and it’s really losing its market outside of China,” said Mo Jia, an analyst at independent research firm Canalys. The latest U.S. restrictions mean it “100% has closed doors for Huawei to secure its future components.”
Executives said this summer that production of Kirin chips would end in mid-September because they’re made by contractors that need U.S. manufacturing technology. In a press preview this week ahead of the Mate 40’s launch, staff declined to answer questions on Huawei’s ability to source chips. The head of Huawei’s consumer business, Richard Yu, referred only briefly to the issue at the end of  a virtual launch event Thursday.
“For Huawei, nowadays we are in a very difficult time. We are suffering from the U.S.
government’s third round ban. It’s an unfair ban. It makes (the situation) extremely difficult,” Yu said.
Huawei, which is also a major supplier of wireless network gear, is facing pressure in a wider global battle waged between the U.S. and China over trade and technological supremacy. The U.S. government’s efforts to lobby allies in Europe to not give it a role in new high-speed 5G wireless networks over cybersecurity concerns has been paying off, with countries including Sweden and Britain blocking its gear.
Huawei phones are not widely available in the U.S., but they’re sold in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The company climbed to the top of the global smartphone rankings this summer, knocking Samsung off top spot by shipping 55.8 million devices in the second quarter to gain a 20% share of the market, according to research firms Canalys and International Data Corp. But the performance was driven by strong growth in China while smartphone sales in the rest of the world tumbled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Analysts say it will be hard for Huawei to remain No. 1.
“Huawei’s in a tight spot,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. Along with the U.S. sanctions, it’s also hurt by slumping confidence in the brand that makes retailers less keen to stock its phones. “And sadly, I don’t think you’re going to see the Mate 40 performing particularly well outside of China.”
Huawei has a small but enthusiastic fan base in Europe, its biggest market outside China. But some users are turned off by the idea of sticking with the brand because of a related problem: recent models like the Mate 40, priced at 899 euros ($1,070) and up, can’t run Google’s full Android operating system because of an earlier round of U.S. sanctions.
Instead, they come with a stripped down open source version of Android, which doesn’t have Google’s Play Store and can’t run popular apps like Chrome, YouTube and Search.
Mark Osten, a 29-year-old architect in Preston, England, bought a Huawei P30 last year when the contract on his previous Samsung phone ended.
He says the camera is great but hesitates to recommend the brand to others because of the uncertainty.
“I just can’t imagine life without YouTube or Google,” said Osten.
To make up for losing Google services, Huawei has built its own app store and has been paying developers to create apps for it. Users can request apps that aren’t yet available, but it’s not something that appeals to Chloe Hetelle, a 35-year-old events organizer in Toulouse, France, who bought a Huawei P20 model two years ago after switching from an iPhone.
“I don’t want to request apps, I just want to have YouTube,” said Hetelle. “I’m not really keen on struggling to get something that I would have easily with another phone.”

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Facebook Launches Dating Service in Europe

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it is launching its dating service in 32 European countries after the rollout was delayed earlier this year due to regulatory concerns.The social media company had postponed the rollout of Facebook Dating in Europe in February after concerns were raised by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), the main regulator in the European Union for a number of the world’s biggest technology firms, including Facebook.The DPC had said it was told about the Feb. 13 launch date on Feb. 3 and was very concerned about being given such short notice.It also said it was not given documentation regarding data protection impact assessments or decision-making processes that had been undertaken by Facebook.Facebook Dating, a dedicated, opt-in space within the Facebook app, was launched in the United States in September last year. It is currently available in 20 other countries.In a blog post on Wednesday, Kate Orseth, Facebook Dating’s product manager, said users can choose to create a dating profile, and can delete it at any time without deleting their Facebook accounts.The first names and ages of users in their dating profiles will be taken from their Facebook profiles and cannot be edited in the dating service, Orseth said, adding that users’ last names will not be displayed and that they can choose whether to share other personal information on their profiles.

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Microsoft Disables Most of Cybercriminals’ Control Over Massive Computer Network

Microsoft Corp said Tuesday it had disabled more than 90% of the machines used by a gang of Russian-speaking cyber criminals to control a massive network of computers with a potential to disrupt the U.S. election. Aided by a series of U.S. court orders and relationships with technology providers in other countries, Microsoft said its weeklong campaign against the gang running the Trickbot network was heading off a possible source of disruption to the November 3 U.S. vote. “We’ve taken down most of their infrastructure,” corporate Vice President Tom Burt said in an interview. “Their ability to go and infect targets has been significantly reduced.” The criminals in charge of Trickbot have infected more than 1 million personal computers, including many inside local governments, according to cybersecurity professionals. They then make deals with other gangs to install ransomware and other malicious programs on the infected machines, security professionals say. Although there is no evidence that the gang has worked with foreign governments, Burt said he wanted to disrupt Trickbot before the election in case Russian agencies attempted to use it to interfere with voting or cast doubt on the results by manipulating data. Some security experts who had seen little impact from Microsoft’s initial efforts to combat Trickbot said this week that new control servers being brought online by the gang were getting cut off, making it harder for the group to install new programs on infected computers. “Disruption operations against Trickbot are currently global in nature and have had success against Trickbot infrastructure,” said Intel 471 Chief Executive Mark Arena. “Regardless, there still is a small number of working controllers based in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan that still are able to respond.” The Trickbot gang is now asking other malware groups to install its software, Arena and others said, and it is expected to rebuild its infrastructure in other ways. Burt said such efforts to adapt would at least distract the gang from bringing chaos to voting or other local government activity if it had been so inclined. 
 

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US 2020 Election Carries High Stakes for Twitter, Facebook

Facebook, Twitter and other internet companies are rolling out new policies on controversial content during the U.S. presidential campaign. Michelle Quinn reports.
Camera: Deana Mitchell

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US Justice Department, 11 States Sue Google

The U.S. Justice Department along with the attorneys general of 11 states on Tuesday brought a massive anti-trust lawsuit against Google, accusing the tech giant of maintaining illegal monopolies over search and search advertising on the internet.The widely expected lawsuit, the most significant anti-trust case since the Justice Department sued Microsoft for its monopoly of the software market in 1998, stemmed from a yearlong investigation into Google and three other tech giants — Apple, Amazon and Facebook.Attorney General William Barr called the lawsuit a monumental case “both for the Department of Justice and for the American people.”“This lawsuit strikes at the heart of Google’s grip over the internet for millions of American consumers, advertisers, small businesses and entrepreneurs beholden to an unlawful monopolist,” Barr said.Barr said the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., is not tied to conservative concern over content moderation and censorship by online platforms.In recent years, President Donald Trump and Republicans have accused Google and other online platforms of silencing conservative viewpoints. In May, Trump signed an executive order targeting a law that shields social media companies from liability lawsuits. Last month, the Justice Department proposed legislation to reform the law.In a statement, Google chief legal officer Kent Walker called the lawsuit “deeply flawed.”“People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives,” Walker wrote in a blog post. “This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.”Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, is a trillion-dollar company based in California, with revenues of $162 billion last year. Google accounts for nearly 90 percent of all search queries in the United States, making it by far the largest internet search engine.For years, the 64-page lawsuit alleges, Google “has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising—the cornerstones of its empire.”Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Google pays manufacturers like Apple and U.S. wireless carriers, such as AT&T, billions of dollars each year to secure default status for its search engine on billions of devices and computers around the world. Users rarely change the default, effectively blocking rival search engines, the lawsuit alleges.“Google has foreclosed any meaningful search competitor from gaining vital distribution and scale, eliminating competition for a majority of search queries in the United States,” the complaint says.U.S. lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google of exploiting its market clout to suppress competition, increase profits and hurt consumers. A recent House Judiciary subcommittee report concluded after a yearlong investigation into Silicon Valley’s market dominance that Google has monopolized the search market. The report said Google established its dominant position through acquisition in several markets, buying about 260 companies that other businesses had developed over a 20-year span.The state attorneys general participating in the lawsuit represent Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas. All are Republican. A separate group of states is expected to file a lawsuit against Google later this year.In recent years, Google has faced hefty fines over its business practices in Europe. The European Union fined Google $1.7 billion in 2019 for stopping websites from using Google’s rivals to find advertisers, $2.6 billion in 2017 for favoring its own shopping business in search, and $4.9 billion in 2018 for blocking rivals on its wireless Android operating system, the Reuters news agency reported. 

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US Charges Six Russian Military Officers in Global Cyberattacks

U.S. prosecutors on Monday announced charges against six Russian military intelligence officers in connection with a global computer hacking campaign that targeted the 2017 French presidential election and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, and carried out other high-profile cyberattacks.   The campaign, spanning from 2015 to 2020, was the “most disruptive and destructive” carried out by a single group of cyber intruders, law enforcement officials said.  The six hackers, all officers of the Russian military intelligence service known as GRU, “engaged in computer intrusions and attacks intended to support Russian government efforts to undermine, retaliate against, or otherwise destabilize” entities and institutions seen as anti-Russia, the Justice Department said.  The same unit, known to cybersecurity researchers as the “Sandworm” team, was allegedly behind the hacking of Democratic computer networks as part of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, visits the new GRU military intelligence headquarters building in Moscow, Nov. 8, 2006.One of the six hackers charged in a new 50-page indictment, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, had been indicted along with 11 other GRU officers in 2018 in connection with the 2016 election interference.  Russian President Vladimir Putin recently called for a cyber reset between Russia and the United States.  John Demers, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said the indictment underscores why Russia’s proposed reset “is nothing more than dishonest rhetoric and cynical and cheap propaganda.”  The indictment “lays bare Russia’s use of its cyber capabilities to destabilize and interfere with the domestic political and economic systems of other countries,” Demers said at a virtual press conference at the Justice Department.  The five others were identified as Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin. They face charges of conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and false registration of a domain name. All six remain at large. The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. The charges, which come two weeks before another contentious U.S. presidential election, do not allege election interference, Demers said. “Rather, today’s charges illustrate how Unit 74455’s election activities were but one part of the work of a persistent, sophisticated hacking group busy sabotaging perceived enemies or detractors of the Russian Federation, regardless of the consequences to innocent bystanders or their destabilizing effect,” Demers said.  In recent months, the Justice Department has announced a series of indictments charging hackers working for China, Iran and North Korea.     Asked if the indictment was meant to be a warning to U.S. adversaries seeking to disrupt the U.S. elections, a Justice Department official said, “I would say that generally, it is a warning, a warning to these countries and the actors that are working for them, these activities are not quite as deniable as they might have hoped they were originally.” The official spoke during a press call and asked not to be identified. Cyberattack targetsThe GRU hackers’ targets included Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure; Georgian companies and government entities; the elections in France; an investigation into Russia’s poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Britain; the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang; and several U.S. corporations. FILE – Flag bearers from various nations attend the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 25, 2018.During their yearslong campaign, the hackers used “some of the world’s most destructive malware” to strike targets on three continents, according to the Justice Department.   In Ukraine, using malware known as BlackEnergy, Industroyer, and KillDisk, the hackers attacked the country’s electric power grid, Ministry of Finance, and State Treasury Service from December 2015 through December 2016.Ahead of the 2017 presidential election in France, the GRU officers allegedly carried out spear-phishing and hack-and-leak operations targeting President Emmanuel Macron’s party, French politicians and local French governments.In June 2017, the hackers deployed malware known as NotPetya to infect computers around the world, targeting the networks of hospitals and medical facilities in the Heritage Valley Health System in Pennsylvania; a FedEx subsidiary; and an unidentified U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturer. Masquerading as ransomware, NotPetya was capable of bringing down entire computer networks within seconds, officials said. At Heritage, patient lists, patient history, physical examination files, and laboratory records were wiped out. In all, the attacks resulted in losses of nearly $1 billion to the companies.    During the Winter Olympic Games, the hackers used malware known as Olympic Destroyer to knock the games’ official website offline and prevented attendees from gaining their tickets. The attack came within hours of the Olympic Committee’s decision to disqualify Russian athletes over doping.In Georgia, with which Russia has tense relations, the hackers targeted a major media company in 2018 and defaced about 15,000 websites in 2019. “They replaced the homepages of those websites with an image of a former Georgian president known for his efforts to counter Russian influence in Georgia with the caption, ‘I’ll be back,'” said a Justice Department official. John Hultquist, senior director of analysis for cybersecurity firm FireEye, said the indictment “reads like a laundry list of many of the most important cyberattack incidents we have ever witnessed.” “Sandworm has been involved in many of the most aggressive cyberattacks and information operations ever seen,” Hultquist said in a statement. Smuggling ring Separately, the Justice Department unsealed charges against 10 alleged members of an international smuggling ring for trafficking more than $50 million worth of electronic devices, from the United States to Russia. The defendants, eight of whom have been arrested, allegedly used employees of Russia’s Aeroflot Airlines as couriers to smuggle Apple products and other electronics to Russia.   
  

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US Charges Six Russian Agents in Global Cyber Attack

U.S. prosecutors have charged six Russian military intelligence officers in connection with a global computer malware campaign that struck the 2017 French presidential election and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea among other targets.  The cyber campaign represented “the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group,” said John C. Demers, head of the Justice Department’s national security division. “No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” Demers said Monday at a news conference. The six hackers, all officers of the Russian military intelligence service known as GRU, “engaged in computer intrusions and attacks intended to support Russian government efforts to undermine, retaliate against, or otherwise destabilize” targets around the world, the Justice Department said.    TargetsThese included Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure; Georgian companies and government entities; the elections in France; an investigation into Russia’s poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Britain; and the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the Justice Department said.In addition, the hackers, using the NotPetya malware, struck hospitals and medical facilities in the Heritage Valley Health System in Pennsylvania, a FedEx Corporation subsidiary and an unidentified U.S pharmaceutical manufacturer.   The Justice Department had previously indicted GRU officers with hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential election.  The latest charges do not allege election interference on the part of the GRU.The six defendants were identified as Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko, and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin They face charges of conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false registration of a domain name. 

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Got Any Signal Up Here? Nokia to Build Mobile Network on Moon

Finland’s Nokia has been selected by NASA to build the first cellular network on the moon, the company said on Monday.
 
The lunar network will be part of the U.S. space agency’s efforts to return humans to the moon by 2024 and build long-term settlements there under its Artemis program.
 
Nokia said the first wireless broadband communications system in space would be built on the lunar surface in late 2022, before humans make it back there.
 
The Finnish company will partner with Texas-based private space craft design firm Intuitive Machines to deliver the network equipment to the moon on their lunar lander.
 
After delivery, the network will configure itself and establish the first LTE (Long-Term Evolution) communications system on the moon, Nokia said. “The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data-transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video,” Nokia said.

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Twitter Blocks Tweet About Masks From White House Coronavirus Team Adviser

Dr. Scott Atlas is a neuroradiologist, a fellow at a conservative-leaning think tank, a science adviser to President Donald Trump and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He is also the latest person in Trump’s world to have a tweet blocked by Twitter. Facebook to Ban Anti-Vaccine AdsThe social media giant says the efforts are part of an attempt to support vaccinesOver the weekend, Atlas tweeted “Masks work? NO,” and said widespread use of masks is not supported, according to the Associated Press. Twitter told the AP that the tweet violated its policy that prohibits false and misleading information about COVID-19 that could lead to harm. The “This Tweet is unavailable” label was put on Atlas’ Twitter feed where his tweet once was.Atlas followed up with another tweet, which remained on the site as of Sunday night. He praised what he called Trump’s “guideline,” which is to “use masks for their intended purpose – when close to others, especially hi risk. Otherwise, social distance. No widespread mandates.” That means the right policy is @realDonaldTrump guideline: use masks for their intended purpose – when close to others, especially hi risk. Otherwise, social distance. No widespread mandates. #CommonSensehttps://t.co/GZpBZxfNYa— Scott W. Atlas (@SWAtlasHoover) October 17, 2020The deletion of Atlas’ tweet is the latest in what has become an ongoing battle between Trump and internet companies. Twitter has blocked or put warnings on Trump’s tweets regarding COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as well as vote-by-mail. Last week, Twitter temporarily blocked the Trump campaign’s ability to share a story about his presidential challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. Some congressional leaders accuse Twitter, Facebook and other internet companies of bias and say they are unfairly limiting speech close to the U.S. election. Some have called for the leaders of Twitter and Facebook, which has also taken action on some of Trump’s posts, to testify in front of Congress as soon as the coming week. Twitter told the AP it relies on public health authorities to determine whether a statement is false or misleading.In September, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified at a congressional hearing that masks are “the most powerful public health tool” against the coronavirus.Atlas, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, joined the White House task force in August. A medical doctor, Atlas does not have a background in infectious diseases or public health. He is reportedly helping to shape the White House policies about how to handle the virus, including policies about masks and other issues. Atlas told the AP that Twitter’s actions were censorship. “General population masks and mask mandates do not work,” he said.

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YouTube Follows Twitter And Facebook With QAnon Crackdown

YouTube is following the lead of Twitter and Facebook, saying that it is taking more steps to limit QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories that can lead to real-world violence.
The Google-owned video platform said Thursday it will now prohibit material targeting a person or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify violence.  
One example would be videos that threaten or harass someone by suggesting they are complicit in a conspiracy such as QAnon, which paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.
Pizzagate is another internet conspiracy theory — essentially a predecessor to QAnon — that would fall in the banned category. Its promoters claimed children were being harmed at a pizza restaurant in Washington. D.C. A man who believed in the conspiracy entered the restaurant in December 2016 and fired an assault rifle. He was sentenced to prison in 2017.
YouTube is the third of the major social platforms to announce policies intended rein in QAnon, a conspiracy theory they all helped spread.  
Twitter announced in July a crackdown on QAnon, though it did not ban its supporters from its platform. It did ban thousands of accounts associated with QAnon content and blocked URLs associated with it from being shared. Twitter also said that it would stop highlighting and recommending tweets associated with QAnon.  
Facebook, meanwhile, announced last week that it was banning groups that openly support QAnon. It said it would remove pages, groups and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon — even if they don’t promote violence.  
The social network said it will consider a variety of factors in deciding whether a group meets its criteria for a ban. Those include the group’s name, its biography or “about” section, and discussions within the page or group on Facebook, or account on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
Facebook’s move came two months after it announced softer crackdown, saying said it would stop promoting the group and its adherents. But that effort faltered due to spotty enforcement.  
YouTube said it had already removed tens of thousands of QAnon-videos and eliminated hundreds of channels under its existing policies — especially those that explicitly threaten violence or deny the existence of major violent events.  
“All of this work has been pivotal in curbing the reach of harmful conspiracies, but there’s even more we can do to address certain conspiracy theories that are used to justify real-world violence, like QAnon,” the company said in Thursday’s  blog post.  
Experts said the move shows that YouTube is taking threats around violent conspiracy theories seriously and recognizes the importance of limiting the spread of such conspiracies. But, with QAnon increasingly creeping into mainstream politics and U.S. life, they wonder if it is too late.  
“While this is an important change, for almost three years YouTube was a primary site for the spread of QAnon,” said Sophie Bjork-James, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University who studies QAnon. “Without the platform Q would likely remain an obscure conspiracy. For years YouTube provided this radical group an international audience.”

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