Business leaders call for ‘patience and civility’ ahead of US election, tying economic health to democracy
Business leaders are calling on Americans to be patient and civil ahead of the 2020 presidential election, citing the importance of maintaining confidence in democracy during the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 50 executives across the fields of tech, finance, retail, and real estate signed onto a statement released Wednesday by the Leadership Now Project, a group founded by Harvard Business School alumni focused on protecting democracy.
“America has successfully held elections through previous challenges, like the Civil War, World Wars l and ll, and the 1918 flu pandemic… we can and must do so again,” the group said in the statement. “As business leaders, we know firsthand that the health of America’s economy and markets rests on the founding principle of our democracy: elections where everyone’s vote is counted.”
The statement was backed by big names in business, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, former Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, and General Assembly chief executive Lisa Lewin. Massachusetts executives on the list include Seth Klarman of Baupost Group, Tricia Glynn of Advent International, Trinidad Grange-Kyner from Tufts Health Plan, and Eric Spindt from Commonwealth Financial Group.
The group emphasized that it could take weeks or more until election results are confirmed because of the number of citizens voting by mail this year. They asked Americans to stay calm, “making it clear that they will refuse to accept any results called too early or based on insufficient data.”
The statement also called on journalists to “avoid calling the election before sufficient data are available,” and asked business leaders to “promote patience and civility among employees, communities, and the American people.”
LinkedIn’s Hoffman wrote that “election results inaccurately or prematurely reported by journalists, elected officials
Virginia’s voter registration website went down on Tuesday, the final day for people in the state to register ahead of Election Day. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the website was still not working.
“Due to a network outage, the Citizen Portal is temporarily unavailable,” the Virginia Department of Elections wrote on its site Tuesday morning.
Officials said on Twitter that a “fiber cut” in Chester, near the Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center, impacted connectivity for multiple state agencies. The cut cable, which appeared to be an accident, affected both the voting portal and the registrar’s offices.
“We are working with our network providers to restore service as quickly as possible,” the department said. “Please check back later for your online voter registration or absentee needs.”
The department said it would provide updates via Twitter.
The website currently directs voters to fill out and print a paper application for voter registration and a paper application for voting by mail.
When asked for comment by CBS News, the Virginia Department of Elections said the department is still working to fix the outage. No further updates were provided.
Angry voters are taking to social media to demand a deadline extension, calling the outage “voter suppression.” Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax called on the state to extend the voter registration deadline due to the outage.
“I am officially calling for Virginia’s Registration Deadline to be extended beyond today due to the service outages impacting voters’ ability to register statewide,” Fairfax tweeted. “We will work with the Administration to resolve this issue and ensure all voters have access to #Vote.”
Facebook has banned the U.S. marketing firm that was behind a campaign to disseminate deceptive political content on behalf of Turning Point USA, a political advocacy group for young conservatives with ties to President Donald Trump.
Rally Forge employed people who used use fake names and profile pictures while commenting on content posted by other users or mainstream media outlets, Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said Thursday. The firm did that work on behalf of Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group, an environmental advocacy organization.
“They did that seemingly to create the perception of widespread support of their narratives by leaving comments on posts by media entities and public figures,” Gleicher said. He noted that the accounts used “thinly veiled personas,” such as tweaking real people’s names, to bypass Facebook’s filters.
Gleicher said Facebook is not penalizing Turning Point or Inclusive Conservation Group, though it’s still investigating whether other deceptive tactics were deployed.
“We have to take action based on evidence that we see on our platform and that we can clearly articulate and can describe and provide if needed,” Gleicher said.
He also repeated Facebook’s call for legislation and regulation to provide greater clarity on allowed online advocacy — and the company outlined broad suggestions for rules to mitigate influence operations, including greater transparency from platforms and sanctions on bad actors.
“There are broader questions about what constitutes acceptable political advocacy versus deception and where those lines should be drawn,” Gleicher said. “Those sorts of questions are exactly the reason why tackling influence operations is a whole of society challenge.”
More on the campaign: Facebook said it removed 200 Facebook accounts, 55 pages and 76 Instagram accounts tied to Rally Forge. Those accounts also spent just shy of $1 million on advertising, a figure that Gleicher
Oct. 8 (UPI) — An accommodation-booking website is offering weary voters an escape from “election stress disorder” with the opportunity to “live under a rock” for the week of the election.
Hotels.com said the Nov. 2-7 stay in a man-made cave 50 feet below ground in New Mexico will be available to book on its website on a first-come, first-served basis at 9 a.m. Friday.
The website said the opportunity is perfect for “those who are experiencing election stress disorder (this is a real thing!).”
The five-night stay costs an “Abraham Lincoln-inspired” $5 per night.
“After you’ve cast your ballot, you can check out of the newsfeed negativity and check in to a man-made cave built 50 feet below ground,” the website said.
Hotels.com said it will also be offering a 20 percent discount on selected properties with “rock” in the name using the coupon code “UnderARock” starting Friday morning.
“Political fatigue is real regardless of the year or election,” said Josh Belkin, vice president of Hotels.com.
“We’re transforming an age-old idiom into a bookable experience, so individuals can relax, recharge, and recover… because who knows what else 2020 has in store for us.”
The Technology 202: Facebook’s new ad limits highlight pressure to prepare for chaotic election aftermath
The social network says the move is intended to limit misinformation and abuse of its service, following broad criticism that it has not done enough to stamp out falsehoods on its platform. Facebook hasn’t said how long the ad suspension will last, but in an internal memo to its sales staff that was obtained by the Washington Post, executives told staff to tell advertisers the ban would last a week.
The changes less than a month before Election Day underscore how tech companies are scrambling to address a fast-changing political environment.
Tech companies have been making key changes to rein in disinformation since Russia used their platforms in 2016 to divide and sow discord among Americans. But critics say many of those steps to limit foreign influence haven’t gone far enough to address disinformation emanating from within the United States – often from the megaphone of the president.
Social media companies have been trying to game out possible election outcomes to prepare.
Facebook has also been considering more than 70 different election scenarios, such as what it will do if Trump or other politicians use social media to contest the election results, Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, told Elizabeth. The company plans to partner with Reuters to send out notifications on election night on Facebook and Instagram with the latest results. Facebook has previously said it would apply labels to posts where a presidential candidate or other party declares victory prematurely, saying the count is ongoing.
Twitter has also been planning, gaming out nearly a dozen scenarios involving both foreign and domestic disinformation starting on election night and afterwards. The company’s scenarios included situations where people try to deter voting by saying the lines at the polls are too long, or a foreign power hacks documents and leaks