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Facebook says it suspended Bernie Sanders groups because of a ‘glitch’

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A bug in Facebook’s anti-spam algorithm has been accidentally suspending groups on the social network, sparking anger from the groups’ founders and conspiracy theories from some of their followers.

On Monday night, six pro-Bernie Sanders groups were temporarily suspended by Facebook. A day later, five Facebook groups supporting Filipino presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, with a total membership of more than 3 million people, were also taken down for a short period.

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In both cases, supporters and administrators of the groups initially blamed the outages on political opponents. On social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, false reports for spam or abusive behaviour can sometimes be enough to trigger automatic bans, if submitted in large enough quantities. One filipino supporter of Duterte suggested that “It takes over 1,000 reports under 30 minutes for a Facebook page takedown to be triggered,” and called on his opponents to “act like decent people!”

Similar reactions were evident amongst Sanders supporters, who blamed astroturfing by pro-Clinton political action committees.

But Facebook told technology site Recode that the outages were actually due to a glitch in its systems. “A number of groups were inaccessible for a brief period after one of our automated policies was applied incorrectly. We corrected the problem within hours and are working to improve our tools.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2016


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Elections 2016

Olympic athletes in ‘impossible position’ – Canada

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Canadian Olympic chiefs said Monday the health and safety of athletes had prompted the country's decision to withdraw its team from the Tokyo Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after Canada became the first team to announce its withdrawal from the July 24-August 9 Games, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) chief David Shoemaker said athletes had been left in an "impossible position."

With public health authorities urging individuals to stay inside to curb the spread of COVID-19, athletes had been caught between a desire to heed health and safety advice while trying to minimize disruption to training programs.

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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