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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 27)

Defying Trump, Twitter Doubles Down on Labeling Tweets

OAKLAND, Calif. — Twitter continued to add new fact-checking labels to hundreds of tweets, even as the Trump administration prepared an executive order to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for the content posted on their platforms.

Twitter’s move escalated the confrontation between the company and President Trump, who has fulminated this week over actions taken by his favorite social media service.

Twitter on Tuesday had appended fact-checking labels for the first time to two of Mr. Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots, refuting their accuracy. In response, Mr. Trump accused Twitter of stifling speech and declared that he would put a stop to the interference.

Since then, White House officials have drafted an executive order that would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they suspend users or delete posts. The executive order may come as early as Thursday.

But Twitter has doubled down. Late Wednesday, it added fact-checking labels to messages from Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry who had claimed that the coronavirus outbreak may have begun in the United States and been brought to China by the U.S. military.

Twitter also added notices on hundreds of tweets that falsely claimed a photo of a man in a red baseball cap was Derek Chauvin, an officer involved in the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died this week after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by police. The Twitter label alerted viewers that the image was “manipulated media.”

The drama between Twitter and Mr. Trump shows that a backlash against large tech companies, which had receded in the initial phases of the pandemic, is now back in full force. The Justice Department has also recently signaled that it is preparing to bring an antitrust case against Google, perhaps as soon as this summer.

“This proposed executive order seems designed to punish a handful of companies for perceived slights,” said Jon Berroya, chief executive of the Internet Association, a lobbying group representing many of the major tech companies. “It stands to undermine a variety of government efforts to protect public safety and spread critical information online through social media and threatens the vibrancy of a core segment of our economy.”

A Twitter spokeswoman said that the tweets modified on Wednesday contained “potentially misleading content” and that the fact-checking was consistent with the company’s approach this month.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, also said he would not back down from the fact-checking effort. “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information,” he wrote.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163192350_49b287d3-3a37-4063-a3d7-8f91a3cf1797-articleLarge Defying Trump, Twitter Doubles Down on Labeling Tweets Zuckerberg, Mark E United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Facebook Inc Executive Orders and Memorandums Dorsey, Jack Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet Censorship
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

A draft of the executive order targets protections granted to technology services under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law gives tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter broad immunity from liability for content created by their users.

As Mr. Trump and other conservative figures have claimed that social media companies are biased against them, Republican lawmakers have proposed modifications to the statute. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has argued that to maintain Section 230 protections, social media services should be required to submit to a third-party audit to ensure their content moderation systems are politically neutral.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who wrote the law, said Mr. Trump was threatening Section 230 to “chill speech and bully” the big tech companies into giving the White House more favorable treatment.

“He’s clearly targeting Section 230 because it protects private businesses’ right not to have to play host to his lies,” Mr. Wyden said in a statement. “Efforts to erode Section 230 will only make online content more likely to be false and dangerous.”

The draft of the executive order included new ways that federal agencies could enforce against what it called “selective censoring.” If introduced, it would likely face legal challenges.

Harold Feld, the senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a policy nonprofit, said that the draft executive order appeared designed to limit speech on social media that disagreed with the president. That was “literally the worst case scenario that the authors of the First Amendment were afraid of,” he said.

Twitter’s confrontation with Mr. Trump has also opened new fissures in Silicon Valley. While Mr. Dorsey has doubled down on fact-checking tweets, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has distanced his social network from that effort.

In a taped television interview that ran Thursday morning on Fox News, Mr. Zuckerberg said, “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”

His comments were at odds with some of his own company’s actions. In the past, Facebook, too, introduced fact-checking labels, using third-party services to review potentially false information. The approach has been scattershot and uneven, and critics have argued that third-party fact checkers have been unable to keep up with the billions of pieces of content on the social network.

“We’re talking about this as if it’s about fact-checking, but it’s not,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media watchdog. “It’s about whether platforms will facilitate fraud that undermines civic engagement.”

Facebook declined to comment.

On Twitter, Mr. Dorsey fired back after Mr. Zuckerberg’s comments became public before they were aired.

“This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth,’” he said of his decision to fact-check tweets. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”

Kate Conger reported from Oakland, Calif., and Mike Isaac from San Francisco.

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Trump Prepares Social Media Executive Order to Limit Protections

Westlake Legal Group merlin_172871268_935d1319-1413-4c5a-a888-d16081482813-facebookJumbo Trump Prepares Social Media Executive Order to Limit Protections United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Executive Orders and Memorandums

The Trump administration is preparing an executive order intended to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for what gets posted on their platforms, two senior administration officials said early Thursday.

Such an order, which officials said was still being drafted and was subject to change, would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they move to suspend users or delete posts, among other examples.

The move is almost certain to face a court challenge and is the latest salvo by President Trump in his repeated threats to crack down on online platforms. Twitter this week attached fact-checking notices to two of the president’s tweets after he made false claims about voter fraud, and Mr. Trump and his supporters have long accused social media companies of silencing conservative voices.

White House officials said the president would sign the order later Thursday, but they declined to comment on its content. A spokesman for Twitter declined to comment.

Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, online companies have broad immunity from liability for content created by their users.

But the draft of the executive order, which refers to what it calls “selective censoring,” would allow the Commerce Department to try to refocus how broadly Section 230 is applied, and to let the Federal Trade Commission bulk up a tool for reporting online bias.

It would also provide limitations on how federal dollars can be spent to advertise on social media platforms.

Some of the ideas in the executive order date to a “social media summit” held last July at the White House, officials said.

Although the law does not provide social media companies blanket protection — for instance, the companies must still comply with copyright law and remove pirated materials posted by users — it does shield them from some responsibility for their users’ posts.

Along with the First Amendment, Section 230 has helped social media companies flourish. They can set their own lax or strict rules for content on their platforms, and they can moderate as they see fit. Defenders of the law, including technology companies, have argued that any move to repeal or alter it would cripple online discussion.

But as conservatives have claimed that social media companies are biased against them and overmoderate their political views, Republican lawmakers have increasingly pushed to modify the statute.

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri also chimed in this week after Twitter applied its new fact-checking standard to the president. Both lawmakers have been critics of the protections that technology companies enjoy under Section 230, and they renewed their calls to alter it.

The president has long favored Twitter as a means to reach his supporters, posting personal attacks and previewing policy. This week, Mr. Trump repeatedly spread a debunked conspiracy theory about the MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and the death of a woman who worked for him in his congressional office years ago. The woman’s widower has pleaded with Mr. Trump to stop.

The president ignored the widower’s request and denounced Twitter, claiming in a tweet that the social media company was trying to tamper with the November presidential election.

On Wednesday, he continued to criticize the company, accusing it of stifling conservative views. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

A spokesperson for YouTube declined to comment on the executive order. Representatives for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, appeared to be pre-emptively trying to soften any blowback from the White House. In a taped television interview scheduled for Thursday morning with Fox, he cast aspersions on Twitter’s willingness to fact check Mr. Trump on its platform in real time.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

Courts have often ruled in favor of technology companies, upholding their immunity. It is not clear that the executive order would alter judges’ views on the law.

“It’s unclear what to make of this because to a certain extent, you can’t just issue an executive order and overturn on a whim 25 years of judicial precedent about how a law is interpreted,” said Kate Klonick, an assistant law professor at St. John’s University who studies online speech and content moderation.

Ms. Klonick, who said she had seen a draft version of the order, said that it was “likely not going to be upheld by a court.”

Mike Isaac and Dai Wakabayashi contributed reporting.

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U.S. to Expel Chinese Graduate Students With Ties to China’s Military Schools

Westlake Legal Group u-s-to-expel-chinese-graduate-students-with-ties-to-chinas-military-schools U.S. to Expel Chinese Graduate Students With Ties to China’s Military Schools visas United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Rubio, Marco People's Liberation Army (China) National Security Council Foreign Students (in US) Federal Bureau of Investigation Communist Party of China Colleges and Universities Burr, Richard M
Westlake Legal Group 28dc-trump-china-facebookJumbo U.S. to Expel Chinese Graduate Students With Ties to China’s Military Schools visas United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Rubio, Marco People's Liberation Army (China) National Security Council Foreign Students (in US) Federal Bureau of Investigation Communist Party of China Colleges and Universities Burr, Richard M

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers in the United States who have direct ties to universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, according to American officials with knowledge of the discussions.

The plan would be the first designed to bar the access of a category of Chinese students, who, over all, form the single largest foreign student population in the United States.

It portends possible further educational restrictions, and the Chinese government could retaliate by imposing its own visa or educational bans on Americans. The two nations have already engaged in rounds of retribution over policies involving trade, technology and media access, and relations are at their worst point in decades.

American officials are discussing ways to punish China for its passage of a new national security law intended to enable crackdowns in Hong Kong, but the plans to cancel student visas were under consideration before the crisis over the law, which was announced last week by Chinese officials. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the visa plans with President Trump on Tuesday in a White House meeting.

American universities are expected to push back against the administration’s move. While international educational exchange is prized for its intellectual value, many schools also rely on full tuition payments from foreign students to help cover costs, especially the large group of students from China.

Administrators and teachers have been briefed in recent years by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department on potential national security threats posed by Chinese students, especially ones working in the sciences. But the university employees are wary of a possible new “red scare” that targets students of a specific national background and that could contribute to anti-Asian racism.

Many of them argue that they have effective security protocols in place, and that having Chinese students be exposed to the liberalizing effects of Western institutions outweighs the risks. Moreover, they say, the Chinese students are experts in their subject fields and bolster American research efforts.

Chinese students and researchers say growing scrutiny from the American government and new official limits on visas would create biases against them, including when they apply for jobs or grants.

The visa cancellation could affect at least 3,000 students, according to some official estimates. That is a tiny percentage of the approximately 360,000 Chinese students in the United States. But some of those affected might be working on important research projects.

The move is certain to ignite public debate. Officials acknowledged there was no direct evidence that pointed to wrongdoing by the students who are about to lose their visas. Instead, suspicions by American officials center on the Chinese universities at which the students trained as undergraduates.

“In China, much more of society is government-controlled or government-affiliated,” said Frank Wu, a law professor who is the incoming president of Queens College. “You can’t function there or have partners from there if you aren’t comfortable with how the system is set up.”

“Targeting only some potential professors, scholars, students and visitors from China is a lower level of stereotyping than banning all,” he added. “But it is still selective, based on national origin.”

The State Department and the National Security Council both declined to comment.

American officials who defend the visa cancellation said the ties to the Chinese military at those schools go far deeper than mere campus recruiting. Instead, in many cases, the Chinese government plays a role in selecting which students from the schools with ties to the military can study abroad, one official said. In some cases, students who are allowed to go overseas are expected to collect information as a condition of having their tuition paid, the official said, declining to reveal specific intelligence on the matter.

Officials did not provide the list of affected schools, but the People’s Liberation Army has ties to military institutions and defense research schools, as well as to seven more traditional universities, many of them prestigious colleges in China with well-funded science and technology programs.

The F.B.I. and the Justice Department have long viewed the military-affiliated schools as a particular problem, believing military officials train some of the graduates in basic espionage techniques and compel them to gather and transmit information to Chinese officers.

While some government officials emphasize the intelligence threat posed by students from military-affiliated universities, others see those Chinese citizens as potential recruits for American spy agencies. Preventing the students from coming to the United States may make it more difficult for the agencies to recruit assets inside the Chinese military.

After completing their graduate work, some students land jobs at prominent technology companies in the United States. That has made some current and former American officials wary that the employees could engage in industrial espionage.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who now leads the committee, has sent letters to universities in his state warning about ties to the Chinese government.

Mr. Rubio has been pushing schools to cut relations with China’s Thousand Talents program, which has provided funding for American researchers — including Charles M. Lieber, the chairman of Harvard University’s chemistry and chemical biology department, who was arrested by the F.B.I. in January on charges of concealing his financial relationship with the Chinese government.

Asked about the Trump administration’s move to cancel the visas of some Chinese students studying in the United States, Mr. Rubio said he supported “a targeted approach” to make it more difficult for the Chinese Communist Party to exploit the openness of American schools to advance their own military and intelligence abilities.

“The Chinese government too often entraps its own people into service” to the Communist Party and its objectives “in exchange for an education in the U.S.,” Mr. Rubio said, adding that “higher education institutions in America need to be fully aware of this counterintelligence threat.”

Other Republican lawmakers proposed legislation on Wednesday to bar any Chinese citizen from getting a visa for graduate or postgraduate study in science or technology.

Trump administration officials have discussed restricting Chinese student visas over the past three years, current and former officials said.

In 2018, the State Department began limiting the length of visas to one year, with an option for renewal, for Chinese graduate students working in fields deemed sensitive. An official said targeting graduates of the military-linked schools gathered steam after the F.B.I. announced in January that it was seeking a Boston University student who had hid her affiliation with the People’s Liberation Army when applying for a visa.

F.B.I. officials said the student, Yanqing Ye, had studied at the National University of Defense Technology in China and was commissioned as a lieutenant before enrolling in Boston University’s department of physics, chemistry and biomedical engineering from October 2017 to April 2019.

While in Boston, Lieutenant Ye continued to get assignments from the Chinese military, including “conducting research, assessing United States military websites and sending United States documents and information to China,” according to the F.B.I. wanted poster.

The Justice Department charged Lieutenant Ye, who is believed to be in China, with acting as a foreign agent, visa fraud and false statements.

The vigorous interagency debate over the move to cancel visas has lasted about six months, with science and technology officials generally opposing the action and national security officials supporting it.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a think tank, has researched the Chinese military-affiliated universities, and that has influenced thinking in the American government. A 2018 report called “Picking Flowers, Making Honey” said China was sending students from those universities to Western universities to try to build up its own military technology.

The study suggested that the graduates were targeting the so-called Five Eyes countries that share intelligence: the United States, Canada, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. In many cases, the report said, students hid their military affiliations while seeking work in fields with defense applications, like hypersonics.

Under the current Chinese government, Beijing has aggressively tried to combine military and civilian work on important technology, said American officials and outside researchers. That often includes tapping the expertise of civilian companies and universities.

“To some degree, U.S. concerns are driven by the assessment that Chinese companies and universities seem unlikely to refuse outright or could be compelled to work with the military, whereas their American counterparts often appear more resistant to working on military research,” Elsa B. Kania, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wrote in a report last August.

“It is also striking at the same time that some of China’s leading technology companies appear to be less directly engaged in supporting defense initiatives than might be expected relative to their American counterparts,” she added.

United States officials said the fusion policy also entailed sending military-trained students to American universities to try to gain access to technological know-how that would be valuable to China and its defense industry.

The Chinese military has strong ties to a number of schools with an overt military bent, according to the Australian think tank.

Less obvious to the casual observer are the more traditional universities with longstanding ties to the military.

According to the policy institute and American officials, those are Northwestern Polytechnical University, Harbin Engineering University, Beijing Institute of Technology, Harbin Institute of Technology, Beihang University, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Nanjing University of Science and Technology.

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Beijing.

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Hong Kong Has Lost Autonomy, Pompeo Says, Opening Door to U.S. Action

Mr. Pompeo’s action came just hours before China was expected to pass a national security law that would allow Chinese security agencies to take broad actions limiting the liberties of Hong Kong residents, many of whom have protested the proposed law and clashed with police officers.

The United States and China appear to be on a collision course over the future of Hong Kong, a center of global capitalism and symbol of resistance to the Chinese Communist Party. Relations between the two nations are at their worst in decades, and disputes have flared over trade, national security and the origins of the coronavirus.

President Trump’s foreign policy aides are discussing actions that would be among the harshest punishments taken against China over the past three years. The actions could have far-reaching consequences for global commerce and transform how Chinese and foreign companies operate, as well as upend the lives of many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents, who have been under enormous pressure from years of political crackdowns.

Hong Kong has been a financial and commercial hub since late last century. China relies on the bustling city of ports and skyscrapers on the edge of the South China Sea for transactions with other countries. Many Chinese and foreign firms use Hong Kong as an international or regional base, and members of elite Communist Party families or executives with ties to them do business and own property there. Many companies also raise capital by listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Mr. Pompeo has said the security law would be a “death knell” for Hong Kong, which has had liberties under a semiautonomous system of governance that do not exist in mainland China, including freedoms of speech, the press and assembly, as well as an independent judiciary.

In recent days, protesters in Hong Kong have taken to the streets to voice outrage at the proposed law, only to be beaten back by police officers clad in riot gear and firing tear gas.

American diplomats said they called on Wednesday for a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss Hong Kong, but China blocked the move.

If it proceeds with punishments, the Trump administration could impose the same tariffs on exports from Hong Kong that it puts on goods from mainland China, said officials with knowledge of the discussions. Other trade restrictions that apply to China, including bans or limits on what American companies can sell to Chinese companies because of national security or human rights concerns, may be imposed on Hong Kong as well.

Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers are discussing visa bans on Chinese officials who enact the law.

“I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” Mr. Pompeo said Wednesday. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”

“Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure,” he added. “But sound policymaking requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”

Mr. Pompeo is the most vocal of a group of national security officials who advocate tough policies on China. Some of Mr. Trump’s top economic advisers prefer a more conciliatory approach to dealing with China, the world’s second-largest economy, and will likely urge caution. American corporate executives have said the administration should act with care.

Mr. Trump has rarely made any strong comments on the situation in Hong Kong, and he has praised Xi Jinping, the president of China, throughout his time in office, even insisting that they have a strong friendship. Mr. Trump has also been eager to promote a trade agreement he signed with China in January as an economic win for the United States. He wants to avoid jeopardizing that deal, even though Beijing is not meeting purchasing quotas mandated by it.

The president is keen to boost the U.S. economy, which has fallen into recession during the pandemic, ahead of the November presidential election.

But on Tuesday, when asked by reporters about China’s proposed national security law, Mr. Trump said he planned to act this week. “I think you’ll find it very interesting,” he said, adding that his response would come “very powerfully.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172871856_1c5f4d61-6dad-417b-859d-87923dc3f8ab-articleLarge Hong Kong Has Lost Autonomy, Pompeo Says, Opening Door to U.S. Action United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Pompeo, Mike Law and Legislation International Trade and World Market Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong China
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

The certification by the State Department is a recommendation on policy and does not itself catalyze actions immediately. American officials, including Mr. Trump, will now weigh what steps to take.

The United States is likely to choose specific areas in which to break off cooperation first with Hong Kong, including trade and law enforcement.

The president would need to issue an executive order to end the special relationship entirely, according to people familiar with the discussions. One possibility is for the United States to take piecemeal action over the next year before ending the special status if China does not change course, they said.

“We’re not hopeful that Beijing will reverse itself, but that is an option,” David R. Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said of the Chinese government’s push on the national security law.

Britain handed Hong Kong to China in 1997, after the two nations reached an agreement on the colony 13 years earlier. In 1992, the United States passed a law that said the American government would treat a Beijing-ruled Hong Kong under the same conditions it had applied to the British colony.

In November, after months of pro-democracy protests and crackdowns by the police in Hong Kong, Mr. Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill requiring the State Department to provide an annual certification to Congress to help determine whether to continue the special relationship with Hong Kong.

That certification depends on a judgment by department officials of whether China was ceding enough autonomy to Hong Kong.

Susan Shirk, a former State Department official now at the University of California, San Diego, said that given the mandate from Congress, Mr. Pompeo had no choice on his assessment “once Beijing blatantly overruled the Hong Kong legislature with a new law that integrates Hong Kong” into the Chinese security state.

“Of course, the big losers will be the people of Hong Kong, not the politicians in Beijing or Washington who produced this predicament,” she added.

Mr. Pompeo’s announcement is certain to draw condemnation from Beijing, where the government is holding its annual legislative session this week. Officials announced details of the proposed law Friday, at the start of the session.

“If anyone insists on harming China’s interests, China is determined to take all necessary countermeasures,” Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a news conference earlier Wednesday in Beijing. “The national security law for Hong Kong is purely China’s internal affair that allows no foreign interference.”

Some American business executives are advising the Trump administration to tread carefully on changing the relationship with Hong Kong.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents American companies in Hong Kong, said in a statement Tuesday that it was “deeply concerned” about the proposed national security law. It asked the Chinese government to “peacefully de-escalate” the situation and preserve the semi-autonomy of the “one country, two systems” framework that, under the 1984 treaty between Beijing and London, is supposed to exist until 2047.

“We likewise urge the Trump administration to continue to prioritize the maintenance of a positive and constructive relationship between the United States and Hong Kong,” the group said.

It added that “far-reaching changes” to Hong Kong’s status “in economic and trade matters would have serious implications for Hong Kong and for U.S. business, particularly those with business operations located there who exercise a positive influence in favor of Hong Kong’s core values.”

Julian Ku, a law professor at Hofstra University, said the Trump administration had flexibility on which options to exercise.

“I would expect the president would act on some agreements, but not on others,” Mr. Ku said. For example, he noted, the administration might terminate the extradition treaty with Hong Kong, since the national security law makes fair adjudication less credible, or it could put Hong Kong under the same controls that limit American technology exports to China.

“But he might leave the visa waiver treatment that Hong Kong residents currently receive when coming to the U.S. alone for now,” he said.

Mark Williams, the chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, said Mr. Trump’s tariffs on imports from mainland China — which are paid by American companies — would not automatically extend to Hong Kong despite the new State Department assessment. But the cumulative effect of various actions would erode Hong Kong’s status as an international business center, Mr. Williams wrote in a note to clients.

“The irony is that in punishing Hong Kong, we wind up martyring it rather than saving it,” said Daniel Russel, an assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific in the Obama administration. As for diplomacy between Washington and Beijing, he said: “The brake pads in the relationship have worn very, very thin. And it’s hard to see this confrontation going anywhere except escalation.”

In Congress, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and a sponsor of the bill on Hong Kong that passed last fall, cheered Mr. Pompeo’s announcement.

“For years, the Chinese government and Communist Party have walked back on its commitment to ensure autonomy and freedom for Hong Kong,” Mr. Rubio said. “We cannot let Beijing profit from breaking the Sino-British Joint Declaration and trying to crush the spirit of Hong Kong’s people.”

On another front, the State Department plans to expand the list of Chinese state-run news organizations operating in the United States on which it has imposed new restrictions, including foreign employee quotas, American officials said. And the agency is watching to see if China will retaliate against American journalists in Hong Kong for the administration’s most recent round of visa restrictions against Chinese journalists. In March, China expelled American journalists from three news organizations, including The New York Times.

Michael Crowley and Ana Swanson contributed reporting from Washington, and Keith Bradsher from Beijing.

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Twitter Comes Under Attack From Trump’s Supporters

Westlake Legal Group 26twitter1-facebookJumbo Twitter Comes Under Attack From Trump’s Supporters United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Fringe Groups and Movements Cyberharassment Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet Censorship

OAKLAND, Calif. — Not long after Twitter added a warning label to two of President Trump’s tweets on Tuesday, his supporters swung into action.

On Twitter, Mr. Trump’s adherents targeted one of the company’s executives for old tweets in which he had criticized the president and other Republicans. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers including Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, said they would move to regulate Twitter.

In right-wing media, pundits such as Trish Regan and websites like the Gateway Pundit decried the decision and accused Twitter of bias. The furor quickly spread through dozens of Facebook groups, Reddit forums and YouTube videos.

The activity was payback for Twitter, Mr. Trump’s favorite social media platform, after the company took action on the president’s tweets for the first time. While for years Twitter had been hands-off on Mr. Trump’s posts, which have often included falsehoods and threats, it added fact-checking labels to two of the president’s messages related to mail-in ballots on Tuesday to signal that they were inaccurate.

That sparked a vitriolic reaction from Mr. Trump, who said on Twitter that the company was interfering with the presidential election and stifling free speech. His supporters — a mixture of mainstream Republicans, far-right personalities and online acolytes — then quickly turned to a well-worn playbook of vilifying those whom they saw as slighting him.

But this time, the right-wing machinery training its sights on a publicly traded company — Twitter — and its roughly 5,000 employees, took on an added menace, disinformation researchers said.

The tactics are something that Mr. Trump’s supporters “return to again and again,” said Melissa Ryan, chief executive of Card Strategies, a consulting firm that researches disinformation. “Where it gets worrisome for the tech companies is, of course, the Trump administration has the power to make their life very difficult.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump continued his tirade. In two tweets, he accused social media companies of working to “totally silence conservatives voices.” He added, “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

The right-wing backlash against Twitter built even as some researchers questioned how effective the labels on Mr. Trump’s tweets would be. Some said they were unlikely to sway public opinion about the reliability of Mr. Trump’s statements; others criticized the “get the facts” language that Twitter had added to the posts as vague. Several pointed out that Twitter had not gone as far as removing the posts.

Even labeling a claim “false” on social media reduced its perceived accuracy by only about 13 percentage points, said Katie Clayton, a researcher who worked on a 2019 study at Dartmouth College that examined fact-check labels on news headlines on Facebook.

Still, she said, Twitter’s actions were “a step in the right direction.”

A Twitter spokesman said the online harassment that one of its executives was experiencing was “disappointing.” The San Francisco company, whose employees curated its fact-checks, added that it would continue labeling tweets that contained misinformation about elections or coronavirus. It said it might expand those policies to include labels for misinformation about additional topics.

In total, the backlash against Twitter has spread to more than 100 Facebook group and pages, thousands of tweets and several Reddit forums in which Mr. Trump’s followers have claimed that Twitter suppresses conservative speech, according to a New York Times analysis. In those online threads, Trump supporters said Twitter employees were biased liberals and urged Mr. Trump to fast-track regulations to limit the company.

“I wonder if Jack Dorsey grew up dreaming: ‘one day I will connect the world with an easy to use app, giving every individual a voice, then I will censor, throttle, and ban the people with whom I disagree,’” wrote one Twitter user, referring to the social network’s chief executive.

Fans of Mr. Trump also rapidly turned on Yoel Roth, a Twitter executive who combats bots, election interference and fake accounts. The campaign against Mr. Roth started late Tuesday when Liz Wheeler, a TV host on One America News Network, a cable network that has championed the Trump administration’s agenda, unearthed and reposted tweets in which Mr. Roth had referred to Mr. Trump as a “racist tangerine.” Others added a tweet from Mr. Roth that called Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, a “bag of farts.”

Far-right media outlets like Breitbart and The Gateway Pundit immediately seized on the messages as proof that Twitter was biased against conservatives. By Wednesday morning, Mr. Roth’s old tweets had reached the White House. On Fox News, Kellyanne Conway referenced him by name and called on supporters to “wake him up.”

“I think I want to raise the name of somebody at Twitter,” Ms. Conway said in the interview, spelling out Mr. Roth’s Twitter handle so that viewers could find his social media profile. “Somebody in San Francisco, go wake him up and tell him he’s about to get a lot more followers.”

Mentions of Mr. Roth on Twitter spiked to 180 mentions in a five-minute span on Tuesday evening, and to 478 mentions on Wednesday morning, according to The Times analysis. Mr. Roth declined to comment.

The decision to fact-check Mr. Trump was not Mr. Roth’s, a Twitter spokesman said. It was instead made by executives focused on legal and policy issues after Mr. Trump’s tweets were reported to the company through a portal used by election-related nonprofits and those who administer elections in states.

In Washington, the confrontation between Mr. Trump and Twitter reinvigorated calls among Republican lawmakers to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects technology companies from most liability for content posted by their users.

“The law still protects social media companies like Twitter because they are considered forums not publishers,” Mr. Rubio tweeted on Tuesday. “But if they have now decided to exercise an editorial role like a publisher then they should no longer be shielded from liability & treated as publishers under the law.”

In a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Dorsey, Mr. Hawley said Twitter enjoyed a “special immunity worth billions” and called on lawmakers to put an end to the “sweetheart deal.”

Ms. Ryan, the disinformation researcher, said Twitter is in “uncharted territory.”

“You can predict pretty easily how Trump is going to respond,” she said. But with Twitter, “once the company enforces a policy, is it going to succumb to the blowback? Or is it going to stay the course? I think that’s the important thing to watch moving forward.”

Kate Conger reported from Oakland, Calif., and Davey Alba from New York. Ben Decker contributed reporting.

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‘Ugly Even for Him’: Trump’s Media Allies Recoil at His Smear of MSNBC Host

Westlake Legal Group 27trump-media2-facebookJumbo ‘Ugly Even for Him’: Trump’s Media Allies Recoil at His Smear of MSNBC Host Washington Examiner, The Wall Street Journal Trump, Donald J Scarborough, Joe News and News Media New York Post Klausutis, Lori (1972-2001) Fox News Channel

Even President Trump’s most stalwart media defenders have recoiled at his baseless smears against the MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, whom Mr. Trump has all but accused of killing a former staff member two decades ago despite a total lack of evidence.

The president is accustomed to — and often relishes — blowback from critics in the press. But he is now facing an unusual chorus of reproach from the media platforms he relies on for comfort.

The New York Post, Mr. Trump’s first read in the mornings, lamented in an editorial on Tuesday that the president “decided to suggest that a TV morning-show host committed murder. That is a depressing sentence to type.” The Post’s editorial board went on to scold its most powerful reader: “Trust us, you did not look like the bigger man.”

Vile,” declared the editorial board of The Washington Examiner, the popular conservative news site, in a scathing article on Wednesday that called Mr. Trump’s attacks “incompatible with leadership.” Mr. Trump is so enamored of The Examiner that he often grants interviews to its journalists, including one earlier this month.

And the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, a bellwether of establishment conservative thought, called Mr. Trump’s unfounded accusation against Mr. Scarborough “ugly even for him.”

“We don’t write this with any expectation that Mr. Trump will stop,” The Journal wrote in its editorial. “Perhaps he even thinks this helps him politically, though we can’t imagine how. But Mr. Trump is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.”

This is not the first time that otherwise pro-Trump media outlets have balked at the president’s more outlandish behavior.

When The Journal criticized Mr. Trump in April for his freewheeling coronavirus briefings, the president spat back on Twitter, writing, “WSJ is Fake News!”

If this week’s blowback affected Mr. Trump, the president has not shown it: He taunted Mr. Scarborough again on Wednesday in a tweet that referred to a “Cold Case.”

The president’s attacks have caused anguish to the family of Lori Klausutis, the staff member in Mr. Scarborough’s former Congressional office who died in 2001 when a heart condition caused her to fall and hit her head on a desk. Mr. Scarborough was not present and the police ruled her death an accident. Ms. Klausutis’s relatives have said that the president’s evocation of her death, and his unfounded insinuation that she had an affair with Mr. Scarborough, has caused them deep distress.

On Fox News, where pro-Trump cheerleading is a staple of morning and evening programming, the subject did not surface during Tuesday’s prime-time: Mr. Scarborough went unmentioned by Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. (Fox News, The Post and The Journal are all controlled by the family of Rupert Murdoch.)

Bret Baier reported on the controversy on his Tuesday newscast with the Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz, who offered sympathy to the Klausutis family. “The president and the cable host are accustomed to public combat,” Mr. Kurtz said. “But a man who lost his wife years ago never wanted the spotlight.”

Over the weekend, Mr. Kurtz had offered a more tempered view. “Now, I can’t defend the president, suggesting without a shred of evidence that a cable news guy, however rough his criticism, might be linked to murder,” he said on his Sunday Fox News program. “But I also don’t think the president of the United States should be barred from communicating with his 80 million Twitter followers. People are smart enough to make up their own minds about his controversial tweets.”

Howard Polskin, who compiles a daily newsletter, TheRighting, that tracks conservative news outlets, said he found The Examiner’s anti-Trump editorial noteworthy. “When I saw The Examiner one, my head snapped back,” he said in an interview.

But Mr. Polskin wondered if the negative focus on Mr. Trump’s comments could ultimately redound to the president’s benefit.

“Trump opening up this front with Joe Scarborough is another thing in the news cycle, another thing for people to talk about,” Mr. Polskin said. “It occupies time on the talk shows. It gets people away from that 100,000 figure,” referring to the estimated number of Americans who have died from coronavirus.

“Trump’s a master at that,” Mr. Polskin added. “Throwing out these bright, shiny diversions.”

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Stocks Mixed as Politics Outweigh Recovery Hopes: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172869531_d20f2160-71ed-41f6-9f17-e10e1087141f-articleLarge Stocks Mixed as Politics Outweigh Recovery Hopes: Live Updates United States Economy Trump, Donald J Hong Kong Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China
Credit…Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Global stocks are mixed as political tensions outweigh recovery hopes.

Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday as heightened rhetoric between China and the United States dimmed investor hopes.

Tokyo and South Korean markets were mildly higher at midday, but Hong Kong shares ticked lower and mainland China stocks were flat, despite a big rally on Wall Street on Tuesday.

Other markets reflected the indecision. Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds were mixed, while oil traded in a narrow range on futures markets.

The drop came after President Trump said on Tuesday that the United States could offer a strong response as soon as this week to China’s effort to strengthen its hold over Hong Kong, a semiautonomous former British colony that offers economic and civil liberties that the mainland lacks. The market uncertainty also came as police flooded Hong Kong streets in anticipation of public protests against Beijing’s plans to enact a national security law that will cover the city of about seven million people.

The worries offset growing optimism about the coronavirus recovery, as officials in the United States, Europe and Japan have in recent days taken steps to reopen their economies. On Wall Street on Tuesday, the S&P 500 index ended 1.2 percent higher.

Outbreak is easing, but China’s smartphone tracking apps may be here to stay.

Credit…China Daily, via Reuters

That raises questions about how they might be used. Companies and government agencies in China have a mixed record on keeping personal information safe from hacks and leaks. The authorities have also taken an expansive view of using high-tech surveillance tools in the name of public security. For now, Chinese authorities have set few limits on how the apps can be used.

Some people in China think the city of Hangzhou has gone too far. Officials in the technology hub are exploring expanding the health code to rank citizens with a “personal health index” that could include data like how much they sleep they get, how many steps they take, how much they smoke and drink and other unspecified metrics.

The proposal has met with swift criticism online in China. While the public can do little about surveillance by the central government, it has become increasingly aware of the potential for misuse by data thieves and nosy local officials.

“I know that in this age of big data, it’s so easy for those who control data to check and use personal information in a matter of minutes,” another author, Shen Jiake, wrote. But Hangzhou’s plan “crosses a line,” he said.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Wall Street shifts focus to reopening, and stocks rally.

Wall Street’s focus was on economic recovery Tuesday, and stocks rallied along with crude oil prices.

The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent, with shares of companies most likely to benefit from the lifting of restrictions on travel and commerce faring well. Shares of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and other big carriers rose, as did Marriott International.

Oil prices have been climbing all month as the restarting of factories and resumption of travel raised expectations that demand would rise. On Tuesday, West Texas intermediate crude rose another 3 percent, and shares of companies in the energy industry, like Chevron and Halliburton, were also higher.

It’s been a turbulent period for stocks, with the S&P 500 alternating between gains to losses on a daily basis last week, as expectations for an eventual recovery from the coronavirus pandemic have squared off against the reality that the damage is still severe and likely to continue for some time.

News of progress on vaccine development — even if small scale and early stage — has been one factor fueling the gains.

Tuesday was no exception, after the biotech company Novavax said on Monday that it was starting trials of its vaccine on humans, with preliminary results expected in July. On Tuesday, the pharmaceutical giant Merck said it bought the rights to develop a potential drug that had “potent antiviral properties against multiple coronavirus strains,” and was also beginning work on vaccine candidates.

The reopening of businesses has been another. One largely symbolic opening on Tuesday was that of the New York Stock Exchange’s trading floor. A small number of traders returned to the floor, wearing masks and following social-distancing rules, the exchange said.

Shares in Europe and Asia were also higher as investors shrugged off negative news like rising tensions between the United States and China and the combustible political situation in Hong Kong. Instead, they focused on Japanese leaders gradually lifting emergency measures there, while European leaders have also moved to ease travel restrictions.

But any gains are susceptible to a sudden change in sentiment if the reopening plans result in new outbreaks or fresh concerns about the longevity of economic slowdown emerge.

China’s young workers struggle to find jobs, challenging Beijing.

Credit…Getty Images

Chinese leaders meeting since last week in Beijing have stressed their efforts to create jobs and get the country back to work. But surveys and interviews show many young workers are entering into the work force in the worst market in decades.

“When it was April and I still couldn’t start my job, I started to feel worried,” said Huang Bing, 24, who graduated last year from a prestigious Chinese drama school. Her new job, set to begin this past January, ended before it began.

“I began worrying that I may not be able to work this year at all,” Ms. Huang said. “I can’t just keep waiting.”

Online, young people despair over finding a good job, with many settling for something that pays less. Many others are reluctant to relent. “The graduates do not fully understand the market,” said Martin Ma, a human resources officer for a Chinese software company. “Their expectations are quite high.”

For the world, global growth will be hard to rekindle until China gets fully back to work. But the damage to the Communist Party could be long-lasting. It derives its political power from the promise of delivering a better life for the Chinese people, a promise that has become increasingly difficult to fulfill.

A distressed commercial real estate market beckons opportunistic buyers.

Credit…Elizabeth Weinberg for The New York Times

Hoping to take advantage of wreckage in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, investors are preparing to snap up commercial real estate at rock-bottom prices.

Long before states and cities closed businesses and issued stay-at-home orders, many real estate funds were stockpiling cash and waiting for a buyer’s market. Some have raised billions of dollars in the last several weeks.

As a result, investment firms are sitting on roughly $300 billion of equity ready for deployment, said Douglas M. Weill, a founder of Hodes Weill & Associates, a global real estate capital advisory firm in New York. “It’s a staggering amount of dry powder,” he said.

Every commercial property owner has its specific problems, but mom-and-pop landlords that own a handful of apartment buildings, retail centers or other assets are in a much more compromised position, said Sanford D. Sigal, president and chief executive of NewMark Merrill, a shopping center owner and manager in Woodland Hills, Calif.

“Very few small owners are equipped for this type of market,” said Mr. Sigal, who expected to collect about 57 percent of his May rent from tenants across some 70 properties in California, Colorado and Illinois. “I’ve seen more deals in the past week that were worth looking at than I did in the entire prior year.”

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • The stock trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange reopened on Tuesday, though at a reduced head count to allow space for social distancing measures to remain in force. Floor brokers and trading floor officials will be allowed back, while designated market makers — the specialist traders who buy and sell in order to “make markets” in certain securities — will continue to operate remotely.

  • Latam, the largest airline in Latin America, said on Tuesday it had filed for bankruptcy protection, the latest carrier to fall victim to the pandemic. The company, based in Santiago, Chile, said it had secured $900 million in financing from major shareholders, including the Cueto and Amaro families and Qatar Airlines, and that it would work with creditors to reduce its debt while it continues operating. Avianca, Colombia’s flagship airline and one of the world’s oldest carriers, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month.

Reporting was contributed by Carlos Tejada Mohammed Hadi, Joe Gose and Mary Williams Walsh.

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House to Vote on Limiting F.B.I. Power to Collect Americans’ Internet Data

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-surveillance-facebookJumbo House to Vote on Limiting F.B.I. Power to Collect Americans’ Internet Data USA PATRIOT Act United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Schiff, Adam B Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Lofgren, Zoe Law and Legislation House Committee on Intelligence Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation

WASHINGTON — House leaders have agreed to permit a vote on tightening limits on when the F.B.I. may collect Americans’ internet browsing and search records during national security investigations, after negotiations over Memorial Day weekend between two California Democrats, Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Adam B. Schiff.

A vote on the proposal — an amendment to a peripatetic bill related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that both the House and Senate have passed in different forms — is likely to come this week. If it passes, the bill would return to the Senate, extending its long-running consideration.

But by Tuesday night, there were multiple signs of political turbulence that raised new doubts about the bill’s future.

The text of the compromise amendment was not yet public, but congressional aides said that the proposal essentially limits to Americans the protections of a Senate proposal that would categorically ban the F.B.I. from using a court order for business records to collect internet browsing and search records.

The House is preparing to vote this week on the overall bill, which centers on extending three partly expired tools the F.B.I. uses to hunt for spies and terrorists.

It has also become a vehicle for broader changes to surveillance matters, with lawmakers who have long championed civil liberties teaming up with allies of President Trump after an inspector general report uncovered myriad problems in FISA surveillance used in the Trump-Russia investigation. The result is a mix of overhauls and new restrictions — some related to the Russia case and some not.

Complicating matters, however, Mr. Trump abruptly urged Republicans late Tuesday on Twitter to vote against the FISA bill even though it contains changes in response to his complaints, including generally requiring the appointment of an outsider in the FISA court to argue against the government’s position if the surveillance would affect a political campaign.

“I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president has a history of erratic intervention in FISA legislation politics. In January 2018, when Congress was about to extend a different part of that law that permits warrantless surveillance of noncitizens abroad, he abruptly urged lawmakers to vote it down after watching a segment on Fox News — only to walk back his remarks hours later. It passed.

The House passed a version of the current bill in March. But this month, when the Senate took up the bill, senators approved a different amendment to it while narrowly rejecting another one about internet records, sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and Steve Daines, Republican of Montana.

A majority — 59 of the 100 senators — voted for the Wyden-Daines amendment, which would have banned the F.B.I. from gathering internet records using a type of FISA court order that permits collection of business records deemed relevant to a case. But it fell one short needed under Senate rules to attach it to the bill at that stage.

Because the Senate modified the bill, it returned to the House for another vote. Galvanized by the close vote, privacy advocates like Ms. Lofgren used the opportunity to push House leaders for permission for an up-or-down vote on the same idea.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed Ms. Lofgren to negotiate with Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to see whether they could arrive at compromise language that would narrow the Senate version. Over the holiday weekend, they agreed to limit the protection to Americans.

It was not clear, however, how far the new rule would go, were it to be enacted into law.

For one thing, the restriction would apply only to business records orders collected under a provision of law known as Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to collect such records deemed relevant to a terrorist investigation. (It is also one of the three provisions that have now partly lapsed, but would be revived and extended.)

But the government has sometimes used a different provision of FISA, the “pen register/trap and trace” section, to gather internet metadata. Orders to install a pen register device have the same low standard as orders requiring the production of business records.

Moreover, aides said the amendment would not explicitly lay out whether the proposed limit on using Section 215 business records orders would apply to situations where the F.B.I. does not know ahead of time whose data will be collected — like when it may want to gather the addresses of all visitors to a website or viewers of a video.

Ms. Lofgren declared that the language, should it become law, should be interpreted strictly as an “outright prohibition” on collecting Americans’ data — even if it was incidental.

For example, she said, the F.B.I. could not use a Section 215 order to get “a list of everyone who has visited a particular website, watched a particular video or made a particular search query” unless it could somehow guarantee that no Americans would be caught in the net.

But in his own statement, Mr. Schiff put forward a narrower emphasis. Stressing the continued need to investigate foreign threats, he described the compromise as banning the use of such orders “to seek to obtain” an American’s internet information.

That formulation left open the possibility of interpreting the potential new law as banning only deliberate attempts to collect an American’s data, leaving the F.B.I. free to ask for lists of all visitors to websites despite the risk that the list may turn out to incidentally include some Americans.

One traditional means by which courts interpret ambiguously written statutes is by looking at evidence of legislative intent — like statements by lawmakers explaining what they believed a bill would do before a vote — so such statements may in part be an attempt to create fodder to argue about what the compromise language means in future litigation.

Mr. Wyden, who initially issued a statement on Tuesday endorsing the compromise House language and echoing Ms. Lofgren’s claims about what he believed it would mean, said later Tuesday that in light of Mr. Schiff’s suggestion of a narrower understanding, he would no longer support the measure and wanted his original version.

“It is now clear that there is no agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to enact true protections for Americans’ rights against dragnet collection of online activity, which is why I must oppose this amendment, along with the underlying bill, and urge the House to vote on the original Wyden-Daines amendment,” Mr. Wyden said.

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Trump Pushes a Conspiracy Theory That Falsely Accuses a TV Host of Murder

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-trump-scarborough-facebookJumbo Trump Pushes a Conspiracy Theory That Falsely Accuses a TV Host of Murder twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Scarborough, Joe Rumors and Misinformation Dorsey, Jack

WASHINGTON — President Trump smeared a prominent television host on Tuesday from the lectern in the Rose Garden with an unfounded allegation of murder, taking the politics of rage and conspiracy theory to a new level even as much of the political world barely took notice.

In an attack that once would have been unthinkable for a sitting president, Mr. Trump all but accused Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman who now hosts the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” of killing a staff member in 2001 even though he was 800 miles away at the time and the police ruled her death an accident.

The president’s charge amplified a series of Twitter messages in recent days that have drawn almost no rebukes from fellow Republicans eager to look the other way but have anguished the family of Lori Klausutis, who died when she suffered a heart condition that caused her to fall and hit her head on a desk. Mr. Trump doubled down on the false accusation even after Timothy Klausutis pleaded unsuccessfully with Twitter to take down the posts about his late wife because they were causing her family such deep pain.

“A lot of people suggest that and hopefully someday people are going to find out,” the president said when asked by reporters about his tweets suggesting that Mr. Scarborough had committed murder perhaps because of an affair with Ms. Klausutis. “It’s certainly a very suspicious situation. Very sad, very sad and very suspicious.”

Mr. Scarborough said the president was being “cruel and callous” by making an innocent family the collateral damage of his war against critics. “The widower of a woman who died 19 years ago begged the president of the United States to stop torturing him and his family,” Mr. Scarborough said in an interview. “And yet he continues to torment this family and even went to Twitter accusing Lori of having an affair that resulted in her death.”

Mr. Scarborough was in Washington when Ms. Klausutis, who was 28, died at a district office in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The police found no sign of foul play, and the coroner concluded she had an undiagnosed heart condition that caused her fall.

The latest burst of wild allegations and fact-free innuendo came at a time when Mr. Trump has appeared eager to redirect attention away from the continuing coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 100,000 people in the United States and cratered the American economy. Among other things on Tuesday, he boasted about the rising stock market and tried to sow doubt about the results of the coming fall election that polls currently show he would lose, saying, “This will be a Rigged Election.”

In a first, Twitter late Tuesday attached “get the facts” warnings to two tweets in which Mr. Trump made false claims about voter fraud in California, and directed readers to fact-checking notes, a remarkable declaration by one of the nation’s leading technology companies that the president cannot be trusted. But Twitter did not take down the tweets about Mr. Scarborough despite the request from Mr. Klausutis.

“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the president of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain,” Mr. Klausutis, 52, wrote in a letter to Jack Dorsey, the company’s chief executive. “My wife deserves better.”

In the letter, Mr. Klausutis said Mr. Trump had violated Twitter’s terms of service by falsely suggesting that Mr. Scarborough killed Ms. Klausutis in 2001 when he was a Florida congressman and she was a constituent services staff member in one of his district offices.

“An ordinary user like me would be banished from the platform for such a tweet,” Mr. Klausutis wrote in the letter, which was written last week and published on Tuesday by Kara Swisher, a New York Times opinion writer, “but I am only asking that these tweets be removed.”

Twitter said Mr. Trump’s tweets did not violate the company’s terms of service, even though its policies say users “may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.” Instead, it offered words of sympathy for Mr. Klausutis.

“We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family,” Nick Pacilio, a Twitter spokesman, said in a statement. “We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly.”

But raising murder allegations against a television host who has angered him once again gave the impression of a president willing to say almost anything no matter how inflammatory or untrue, even at the cost of reopening old wounds of a family uninterested in being used as a weapon in his political battles.

While once friendly with Mr. Scarborough and his fellow host and wife, Mika Brzezinski, Mr. Trump has long been exercised by their on-air criticisms and regularly attacked them. He raised Ms. Klausutis’s death as far back as 2017 but in recent days has repeatedly and relentlessly hammered at it even as Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski have been criticizing his handling of the pandemic.

“So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die?” he wrote on Sunday. “I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator?”

Mr. Trump persisted on Tuesday. “In 2016 when Joe & his wacky future ex-wife, Mika, would endlessly interview me, I would always be thinking about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing?” he wrote. “Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?”

Other Republicans have largely kept quiet about the matter. Spokespeople for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leaders in Congress, did not respond to requests for comments. Neither did spokespeople for Florida’s Republican leaders, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio and Representative Matt Gaetz.

One of the only Republicans to object has been Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who responded to one of the president’s tweets over the weekend. “Completely unfounded conspiracy,” Mr. Kinzinger wrote. “Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.”

In the interview, Mr. Scarborough compared the attacks on him to how authoritarian leaders like President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary try to silence dissenting journalists through made-up criminal investigations.

“It’s remarkable that we have a president who is trying to have someone prosecute the person he considers to be his chief critic in the media,” Mr. Scarborough said. “That’s what Putin does. That’s what Orban does. That’s what autocrats have been doing for centuries.”

At a briefing, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, pressed by reporters, offered no evidence to back up the president’s insinuations. Instead, she essentially justified them by saying that Mr. Scarborough had been critical of Mr. Trump.

“If we want to start talking about false accusations, we have quite a few we can go through,” she said. “Mika accused the president of being responsible for 100,000 deaths in this country. That’s incredibly irresponsible. They’ve dragged his family through the mud. They’ve made false accusations that I won’t go through that I would not say from this podium against the president of the United States and they should be held to account for their falsehoods.”

Among the other “falsehoods” she mentioned was Mr. Scarborough saying that people could die by taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug Mr. Trump has promoted as a remedy for the coronavirus that in fact doctors say could kill patients with heart conditions.

Ms. McEnany also accused Mr. Scarborough of having “joked about killing an intern” during an appearance years ago on Don Imus’s radio show in 2003. (Ms. Klausutis was not an intern, nor was she a marathon runner.) In fact, it was Mr. Imus who made a joke about having sex with an intern and killing her. Mr. Scarborough did not engage on the subject, but laughed and said, “Exactly. What are you going to do?”

Ms. Brzezinski, responding on Twitter, said that Ms. McEnany was “lying” about the nature of the 2003 clip, and that Mr. Scarborough “was embarrassed” by Mr. Imus’s “callous joke” and was trying to move the conversation along.

Like Mr. Klausutis, Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski have been in touch with Twitter officials about the president’s tweets.

Mr. Dorsey did not personally respond to Mr. Klausutis’s letter on Tuesday. But Twitter has long been hesitant to remove posts from world leaders, even when they contain disinformation, on the grounds that posts from leaders are newsworthy.

There have been exceptions, especially during the coronavirus pandemic: In March, Twitter deleted posts by Presidents Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil in which they promoted unproven cures for the coronavirus. But it has not deleted any of Mr. Trump’s posts.

Mr. Dorsey has faced multiple calls over the years to remove Mr. Trump’s misleading or false statements from the platform, including the president’s suggestion during a White House briefing last month that injecting disinfectant or using ultraviolet light could combat the coronavirus. Although Mr. Trump did not write about those subjects on Twitter himself, his statements led to a flood of other posts, videos and comments about false virus cures, which Twitter and other social media companies largely left standing.

Twitter clarified its policy this month, stating that it would label tweets containing misinformation about the virus, including those posted by world leaders, with three broad categories: “misleading information,” “disputed claim” and “unverified claim.”

In his letter, Mr. Klausutis said that nearly two decades after his wife’s death, his family had been deeply hurt by the persistence of the conspiracy theory, which originated on the political left when Mr. Scarborough was a Republican and then migrated to the political right when he began to shift politically.

“As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life,” he wrote. “There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life.”

Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Maggie Astor from New York. Davey Alba contributed reporting from New York.

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Twitter Refutes Inaccuracies in Trump’s Tweets for First Time

Westlake Legal Group twitter-refutes-inaccuracies-in-trumps-tweets-for-first-time Twitter Refutes Inaccuracies in Trump’s Tweets for First Time twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Labeling and Labels (Product) Computers and the Internet absentee voting
Westlake Legal Group merlin_169906386_2aa95958-984d-4c2e-9f3e-4b9d1539fc24-facebookJumbo Twitter Refutes Inaccuracies in Trump’s Tweets for First Time twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Labeling and Labels (Product) Computers and the Internet absentee voting

OAKLAND, Calif. — Twitter added information to refute the inaccuracies in President Trump’s tweets for the first time on Tuesday, after years of pressure over its inaction on his false and threatening posts.

The social media company added links late Tuesday to two of Mr. Trump’s tweets in which he had posted about mail-in ballots and falsely claimed that they would cause the November presidential election to be “rigged.”

The links — which were in blue lettering at the bottom of the posts and punctuated by an exclamation mark — urged people to “get the facts” about voting by mail. Clicking on the links led to a CNN story that said Mr. Trump’s claims were unsubstantiated and to a list of bullet points that Twitter had compiled rebutting the inaccuracies.

The warning labels were a minor addition to Mr. Trump’s tweets, but they represented a big shift in how Twitter deals with the president.

For years, the San Francisco company has faced criticism over Mr. Trump’s posts on his most favored social media platform, which he has used to bully, cajole and spread falsehoods. But Twitter has repeatedly said that the president’s messages did not violate its terms of service and that while Mr. Trump may have skirted the line of what was accepted under its rules, he never crossed it.

That changed Tuesday after a fierce backlash over tweets that Mr. Trump had posted about Lori Klausutis, a young woman who died in 2001 from complications of an undiagnosed heart condition while working for Joe Scarborough, a Florida congressman at the time. As part of his long-running feud with Mr. Scarborough, a host for MSNBC, Mr. Trump had posted false conspiracy theories about Ms. Klausutis’s death in recent days suggesting that Mr. Scarborough was involved.

Early Tuesday, a letter from the widower of Ms. Klausutis addressed to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, became public. In it, Timothy Klausutis asked Twitter to delete Mr. Trump’s tweets about his late wife, calling them “horrifying lies.”

Mr. Scarborough also called the tweets “unspeakably cruel.” Others, including Katie Couric and the CNN anchor Jake Tapper, expressed sympathy for the Klausutis family, with Mr. Tapper calling Mr. Trump’s tweets “malicious lies.”

Twitter said it was “deeply sorry about the pain these statements” were causing the Klausutis family, but said that it would not remove Mr. Trump’s tweets because they did not violate its policies. Instead, the company added warning labels to other messages posted by the president on Tuesday, where he claimed the mail-in ballots themselves would be illegally printed. Twitter determined that those unsubstantiated assertions could lead to voter confusion and that they merited a correction, said a person with knowledge of the deliberations who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The changes immediately set off accusations by Mr. Trump, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter, and his 2020 re-election campaign that the company was biased against him. In a tweet, Mr. Trump said the company was “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and added, in another post, that it was “completely stifling FREE SPEECH.”

Brad Parscale, a manager of the Trump 2020 campaign, said, “We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters.”

A Twitter spokesman said Mr. Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context.”

Disinformation experts said Twitter’s move indicated how social media platforms that had once declared themselves neutral were increasingly having to abandon that stance.

“This is the first time that Twitter has done something that has in some small way attempted to rein in the president,” said Tiffany C. Li, a visiting professor at Boston University School of Law. “There’s been a gradual shift in the way that Twitter has treated content moderation. You see them taking on more of their duty and responsibility to create a healthy online speech environment.”

Twitter faces singular pressure because it is Mr. Trump’s most frequently used method of communicating with the public. Early in his presidency, he tweeted about nine times a day. He has since accelerated his pace, averaging 29 tweets a day last year and posting up to 108 times on May 10, according to a tally by The New York Times.

Mr. Trump’s high level of activity has brought attention and growth to Twitter. If the company deleted his tweets or altered them, it would escalate accusations from conservative politicians that it censors their political views or was biased against them.

But by doing nothing, Twitter was also being “misguided,” said Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, who studies disinformation. “If world leaders are not kept to the same standard as everyone else, they wield more power to harass, defame and silence others.”

The dilemma with Mr. Trump has put Mr. Dorsey under scrutiny. In a series of tweets last October, Mr. Dorsey said the company would ban all political ads from the service because they presented challenges to civic discourse, “all at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.” He worried such ads had “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle.”

Yet Mr. Dorsey had appeared unwilling to tackle Mr. Trump’s tweets even though disinformation experts said political tweets from world leaders often reach a wider audience than political ads and have a greater power to misinform.

Still, election misinformation is a sore spot for Twitter and Mr. Dorsey. The company faced heavy criticism, along with Facebook, for allowing Russian disinformation to run rampant on the platform during the 2016 presidential election.

In 2018, Mr. Dorsey testified before Congress that he would put a stop to social media campaigns that sought to dissuade voters from participating in democracy.

“We have learned from situations where people have taken advantage of our service and our past inability to address it fast enough,” he said.

Twitter is not the only tech company struggling with moderating Mr. Trump’s threats and falsehoods online. Over the past few days, Mr. Trump posted identical comments about Ms. Klausutis’s death on Facebook. One of his posts there gained about 4,000 comments and 2,000 shares and was not mentioned by Mr. Klausutis. On Twitter, that same post, which questioned whether Mr. Scarborough had gotten away with murder, was shared 31,000 times and received 23,000 replies.

For years, Twitter took a hands-off approach to moderating the posts on its platform. That brought it acclaim when it enabled dissidents to tweet about political protests, like the Egyptian revolution in 2011. But it also allowed trolls, bots and malicious operatives onto the site, making Twitter an epicenter for harassment, misinformation and abuse.

In 2018, after all the criticism about the platform following the 2016 election, Mr. Dorsey said he would focus on molding Twitter to support “healthy” conversations.

But Mr. Trump himself largely escaped enforcement. Although he sometimes deleted his own tweets when they contained misspellings, Twitter mostly left his posts alone.

That hands-off treatment was controversial inside Twitter. In 2017, a rogue Twitter worker deactivated Mr. Trump’s account. The account was reinstated in about 10 minutes.

Critics have piled on over time. Last year, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, asked Mr. Dorsey to suspend Mr. Trump’s Twitter account. In a letter to Ms. Harris, Twitter reiterated its public stance on tweets by world leaders and said it would err on the side of leaving the posts up if there was a public interest in doing so.

Other world leaders have not enjoyed similar freedom on Twitter. Tweets from the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, and the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, that promoted unproven cures for the coronavirus were recently removed.

Until this week, Twitter had maintained that Mr. Trump did not violate its policies and that the company would take action if he crossed the line.

“We believe it’s important that the world sees how global leaders think and how they act. And we think the conversation that ensues around that is critical,” Mr. Dorsey said in an interview with HuffPost last year. If Mr. Trump posted something that violated Twitter’s policies, Mr. Dorsey added, “we’d certainly talk about it.”

On Tuesday, the company turned that talk into action.

Kate Conger reported from Oakland, Calif., and Davey Alba from New York. Ben Decker contributed reporting.

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