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The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly working on an antitrust lawsuit that it could potentially bring against Facebook

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The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly working on an antitrust lawsuit that it could potentially bring against Facebook
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019.

Officials at the Federal Trade Commission have started building a potential legal case against Facebook as part of the agency’s year-long antitrust investigation into the company, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The FTC has not yet made a decision on whether it will ultimately sue Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal. Preparing legal arguments for a possible lawsuit is often part of investigations, but also signals that the agency may be nearing the end of its probe.

Facebook declined to comment, and the FTC did not immediately reply to a request for comment on this story.

In July of last year, Facebook disclosed in an earnings report that it was under investigation by the FTC, which came amid existing antitrust probes from the Department of Justice and members of Congress. 

The Wall Street Journal reported later that summer that the FTC was specifically interested in Facebook’s past acquisitions and whether it made those purchases to head off potential competition, and had been speaking to the founders of several companies bought up by Facebook.

During a congressional antitrust hearing this July, those deals became the focus for lawmakers, who grilled CEO Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and published documents revealing how some competitors feared being crushed by Facebook if they didn’t sell.

Politico reported last month that the FTC also took testimony from Zuckerberg for its investigation, something the agency declined to do when it previously investigated the social media giant over allegations of privacy violations, for which ultimately fined Facebook $5 billion.

The FTC could pursue a range of options as part of its current probe, including forcing it to unwind past mergers, placing restrictions on how it does business, or fining it, though the agency would first need to prove its case in court or reach a settlement with Facebook.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Sixty-nine percent of Americans have no confidence in Trump on coronavirus vaccine, poll reveals

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Sixty-nine percent of Americans have no confidence in Trump on coronavirus vaccine, poll reveals
Sixty-nine per cent of Americans do not trust the president to assure them about the efficacy and safety of a coronavirus vaccine (AFP via Getty Images)

Despite president Donald Trump’s claims that a coronavirus vaccine will soon be available, new polling shows that a majority of Americans have no confidence in him to confirm that it is safe.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday shows that 69 per cent of Americans do not have confidence in the president vouching for the effectiveness of a vaccine — 53 per cent saying they have no confidence at all in him doing so.

Conversely, just nine per cent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in the president to confirm the effectiveness of a vaccine, and just 18 per cent have “a good amount” of confidence.

The president has insisted that a vaccine is close to being approved. On Friday he tempered some of his recent comments saying that there will be enough doses for every American by April.

Health experts, including Robert Redfield, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, have spoken of a timeline that makes a vaccine widely available in summer or autumn of 2021.

The president said he thought Mr Redfield had made “a mistake” and was “confused”.

Currently, 72 per cent of Americans are concerned that they, or someone they know, will be infected with Covid-19 — down from 77 per cent in July.

The poll also shows a decrease in the number of Americans that say they are likely to get inoculated by “a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine”. Since May there has been a 10 point fall from 74 per cent to 64 per cent.

This is due almost entirely to more Republicans saying that they are unlikely to get a vaccine. In May 75 per cent said that they would, and that figure has now dropped to 50 per cent. 80 per cent of Democrats say they will get the vaccine.

Neither candidate does especially well in polling as to whether they are trusted to confirm any vaccine’s effectiveness. Democrat Joe Biden performs better than the president with 41 per cent showing confidence in him, but this is against 52 per cent lacking confidence in him.

Respondents were asked which candidate they considered “more honest and trustworthy” no matter who they planned to vote for. Biden led with 58 per cent to Trump’s 39 per cent.

Understandably, Americans are more trusting of public health officials and institutions, but even then, recent accusations of government interference in data and reporting may have hit levels of confidence.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the CDC have the confidence of 62 per cent and 61 per cent of respondents.

The Food and Drug Administration (57 per cent), Department of Health and Human Services (53 per cent), and World Health Organisation (53 per cent) also all fared well in the poll.

Drug companies performed less well, with 52 per cent saying that they do not have confidence in them.

Polling was conducted between 18-19 September from a nationally representative probability sample of 528 adults.

There have been almost 6.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US to date and 200,000 officially recorded deaths.

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Trump’s WeChat Curbs Halted by Judge on Free Speech Concerns

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Trump’s WeChat Curbs Halted by Judge on Free Speech Concerns

(Bloomberg) — The Trump administration’s curbs on WeChat were put on hold by a California judge, upending an effort to halt use of the Chinese-owned app in the U.S.

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction at the request of a group of U.S. WeChat users, who argued that prohibitions would violate the free-speech rights of millions of Chinese-speaking Americans who rely on it for communication. The app, which was supposed to disappear from U.S. app stores on Sunday, has 19 million regular users in the U.S. and 1 billion worldwide.

WeChat “serves as a virtual public square for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community in the United States and is (as a practical matter) their only means of communication,” the judge wrote in the ruling, dated Saturday and released early Sunday. Effectively banning it “forecloses meaningful access to communication in their community and thereby operates as a prior restraint on their right to free speech.”

The U.S. administration had argued that WeChat posed a national security threat, but the judge said there was insufficient evidence of that. “Certainly the government’s overarching national-security interest is significant,” she wrote. “But on this record — while the government has established that China’s activities raise significant national security concerns — it has put in scant little evidence that its effective ban of WeChat for all U.S. users addresses those concerns.”

The Department of Justice and Commerce Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. has claimed that WeChat is a threat because its owner, Tencent Holdings Ltd., is intertwined with the Chinese Communist Party, which can use the app to disseminate propaganda, track users, and steal their private and proprietary data. It’s a similar argument that the administration has used to target the TikTok app, while also forcing a sale of that app’s U.S. operations.

TikTok Delay

The U.S. government on Saturday delayed its plan to prohibit downloads of TikTok, the popular video-sharing app after Trump said he approved Oracle Corp.’s bid for the U.S. operations of TikTok “in concept.” The TikTok ban was also set to go into effect Sunday, but the order has been delayed until Sept. 27. TikTok on Friday filed suit in Washington, D.C.

The WeChat users have said the restrictions on the app are driven by election-year politics.

At a court hearing Saturday, Michael Bien, an attorney for the WeChat users group, said the restrictions on WeChat are a far cry from the “narrowly tailored” measures that the government is required to impose so as not to unnecessarily curtail people’s constitutional rights.

Michael Drezner, a lawyer for the the government, said the anxiety and uncertainly U.S. WeChat users may experience because of the prohibitions doesn’t entitle them to an order halting the implementation of the restrictions. Their reliance on WeChat is the result of China’s ban on other social media, which has made WeChat the exclusive, Chinese government-controlled option for them to communicate with people in China, according to Drezner.

The judge in the case on Friday rejected a request for a preliminary injunction, which users had sought on the grounds that the executive order was too vague. The Commerce Department on Friday detailed which transactions with WeChat and its Chinese parent company won’t be allowed under the Aug. 6 executive order. The judge scheduled the hearing Saturday in response to a revived request from the users group.

The case is U.S. WeChat Users Alliance v. Trump, 3:20-cv-5910, U.S. District Court, District of Northern California (San Francisco).

(Updates with comments from the ruling in third and fourth paragraph.)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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US to hit 200K dead; Trump sees no need for regret

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US to hit 200K dead; Trump sees no need for regret

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the coronavirus pandemic began bearing down on the United States in March, President Donald Trump set out his expectations.

If the U.S. could keep the death toll between 100,000 to 200,000 people, Trump said, it would indicate that his administration had “done a very good job.”

In the coming days, the number of U.S. deaths is set to clear the outer band of the president’s projections: 200,000, according to the official tally, though the real number is certainly higher. The virus continues to spread and there is currently no approved vaccine. Some public health experts fear infections could spike this fall and winter, perhaps even doubling the death count by the end of the year.

Yet the grim milestone and the prospect of more American deaths to come have prompted no rethinking from the president about his handling of the pandemic and no outward expressions of regrets. Instead, Trump has sought to reshape the significance of the death tally, trying to turn the loss of 200,000 Americans into a success story by contending the numbers could have been even higher without the actions of his administration.

“If we didn’t do our job, it would be three and a half, two and a half, maybe 3 million people,” Trump said Friday, leaning on extreme projections of what could have happened if nothing at all were done to fight the pandemic. “We have done a phenomenal job with respect to COVID-19.”

Trump’s reelection prospects will hinge in part on whether enough voters agree with that assessment. The challenge he faces in making his case, with just over six weeks before the Nov. 3 election and voting already underway in some states, is clear.

J ust 39% of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the pandemic, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Roughly one-quarter of Republicans say they don’t approve of Trump’s stewardship of the public health crisis, though his overall backing among GOP voters sits at a comfortable 84%.

There’s also little doubt that the death toll in the U.S. has soared past where Trump repeatedly assured the public it would be. In February, when the first coronavirus cases were detected in the U.S., the president said the numbers would be “down to close to zero” within day s. In early April, when U.S. officials estimated at least 100,000 people would die from the pandemic even if all conceivable steps were taken against it, Trump suggested the numbers would be lower, saying: “I think we’re doing better than that.”

He’s shifted again in recent days, saying that the U.S. remains a success story because some models showed the nation could have 240,000 deaths — a threshold that appears likely to be eclipsed by the end of the year.

Well aware of his sluggish standing with voters on the pandemic, Trump has spent recent weeks trying to refocus his race against Democrat Joe Biden on other issues, including promising white suburban voters that he would keep crime in liberal cities from encroaching on their neighborhoods.

Trump will now campaign in particular on the courts, given Friday’s death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seeking to lure back Republican voters who may have turned on him during the pandemic, with the promise of more conservatives on the high court.

Though the Supreme Court vacancy does significantly jolt the White House race, Biden still wants to keep much of the focus on the coronavirus. He strengthened his standing through the summer by hammering what he calls the Trump administration’s failures to take the virus threat seriously and to provide consistent guidance to the public, including around the effectiveness of wearing face masks.

After revelations in a new book from journalist Bob Woodward that Trump intentionally played down the seriousness of the virus earlier this year, Biden said of a president’s responsibilities: “You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder,” adding, “There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up.”

Trump has insisted he wasn’t downplaying the severity of virus when he compared it with the seasonal flu and undercut public health officials who pushed for more stringent mitigation efforts. Yet he’s repeatedly flouted his own administration’s safety guidelines, rarely wearing a mask himself and holding large campaign events with little evidence of social distancing among his crowds.

With the death toll continuing to climb, Trump has also repeatedly passed up opportunities to serve as a unifying force for communities and families grieving the loss of loved ones. Instead, he’s effectively discounted the deaths of Americans who live in Democratic-leaning states, suggesting he has little responsibility for the well-being of those who don’t support him politically.

“If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at,” Trump said this past week about the death toll. “Some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed.”

It was a jarring statement from an American president, yet one in keeping with Trump’s handling of the pandemic and his presidency. He’s long taken a transactional approach to his office, and he spent the opening weeks of the pandemic feuding with Democratic governors in hard-hit states, challenging them to lift restrictions that he deemed harmful to the strong economy he’d hoped to ride to a second term.

“He sees everything, including the implications of this terrible virus, in terms of his own political and personal success — ‘How does it affect me and my electability and my popularity,’” said Margaret Susan Thompson, a professor of history and political science at Syracuse University.

The question looming over his presidency now, as Americans mourn 200,000 lives lost, is what the effects of his handling of the pandemic will be on his political future. The answer will come soon enough from his fellow Americans.

____

EDITOR’S NOTE — AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for the AP since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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