clock menu more-arrow no yes

Vox Sentences: Don’t get too excited about Facebook’s plan to fight fake news

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Republicans' North Carolina power grab; Facebook tackles fake news; a challenger emerges in the race to lead the Democratic Party.


Petey Pablo would be ashamed

North Carolina state seal CQ - Roll Call / Al Drago via Getty
  • On Wednesday night, in the midst of an "emergency" special session, North Carolina's Republican-majority legislature introduced a series of bills that would systematically block the state's Democratic Party and its officeholders from power. [Washington Post / Amber Phillips]
  • The bills could be signed by outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory — who finally conceded last week after challenging vote totals across the state. [CNN / Dan Merica]
  • If the legislature gets its way, however, McCrory's successor, Democrat Roy Cooper, will inherit a vastly debilitated office. The bills would slash the number of executive appointees in state government by 80 percent, and make the governor unable to appoint members of the state board of education. It would also target the courts, by limiting judicial review and allowing candidates in state Supreme Court elections to run as members of parties. [Mother Jones / Pema Levy]
  • And then there's the bill that would not only prevent Democrats from assuming a majority on the state elections board under Cooper but would also give Democrats control of the board in odd-numbered years and Republicans control in even-numbered years — otherwise known as the only years elections are held. [Daniel Nichanian via Twitter]
  • The bills are another escalation in North Carolina's ongoing partisan warfare, in which both sides (but mostly Republicans) have been engaging in increasingly radical tactics for years. [The Atlantic / David A. Graham]
  • Indeed, the reason the legislature has to work fast in the special session isn't just because McCrory is on his way out; it's because several dozen state legislators could have to face special elections to keep their seats in February, because the state's current electoral map has been struck down by a federal court after information came to light that it was explicitly gerrymandered to dilute minority voting power. [Asheville Citizen-Times / Greg Robertson]
  • The state General Assembly is debating the "emergency" bills Thursday night. Protesters are in the building, but the chamber has been closed to the public. [Dallas Woodhouse via Twitter]
  • Because Republicans have a supermajority, though, legislative passage is a foregone conclusion. The question is whether McCrory — who successfully challenged the state legislature in court earlier this year on the issue of gubernatorial appointees — will be willing to sign them... [Charlotte News-Observer / Jim Morrill]
  • ...and if so, whether Democrats can mount a successful Voting Rights Act challenge, despite the fact that the Department of Justice under Donald Trump will likely be uninterested in helping out. [Election Law Blog / Rick Hasen]

Getting the fake out of (Fa)c(e)boo(k)

Mark Zuckerberg AFP / Pablo Porciuncula via Getty
  • Facebook unveiled a plan Thursday to combat the spread of "fake news" on the site by labeling stories from particular sites that are "contested." [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • The flagging process will rely on the assistance of third-party fact-checkers, including Snopes and PolitiFact, but it will start with users flagging stories for review. [NYT / Mike Isaac]
  • This could create problems. Users have all sorts of opinions about what news counts as "fake," which is, of course, exactly the problem. [NBC News / Alyssa Newcomb and Jo Ling Kent]
  • It's entirely possible that Facebook's efforts are going to end up punishing conservative news stories — or that conservatives will at least perceive as much (a prospect that's stymied Facebook's previous attempts to deal with the problem). [Gizmodo / Michael Nunez]
  • Those criticisms might be justified! "Fact-checking" isn't always as narrow or value-neutral as it sounds; sometimes fact-checking sites make pronouncements based on how far apart two things have to be to count as "not far," for example. [PolitiFact Bias / Jeff D.]
  • When the media outlets performing the work of fact-checking do not themselves have credibility, no one is going to accept their conclusions. And that ship has already sailed. [Current Affairs / Nathan D. Robinson]
  • The media still refuses to understand its own gatekeeper function: It doesn't just exist to evaluate truth claims, but by focusing on particular true things (like, say, Hillary Clinton's emails) it signals which true things deserve public attention. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • People who are reflexively distrustful of expertise and authority, meanwhile, see nothing but gatekeeping from media — and understand "fake news" as just another term to get thrown around in a power struggle. [InfoWars / Kit Daniels]

Rearranging the DNC deck chairs?

Tom Perez and Keith Ellison Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty; Bill Clark / AFP / Getty
  • The Democratic Party could have an ugly internal war at the time it needs it least. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has announced that he's running for chair of the Democratic National Committee, mounting the strongest challenge yet to frontrunner and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison. [Politico / Daniel Strauss]
  • Democrats had been hoping to avoid a repeat of the Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders bloodbath from the primary. They may not be able to — Ellison has the endorsements of Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Ellison has allies in Clintonworld and the Obama White House. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • What's less clear is if there will be much of substantive or ideological divide to the race. Perez backed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, riling some in the party's Warren wing — but he's also a longtime progressive who made his name fighting for civil rights. The actual policy divisions in the primary were sharper. [The Huffington Post / Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel]
  • Take their plans for organizing across the country. Ellison's website calls for a strategy that targets every county in the country. Perez, meanwhile, wants to make sure that they hit every zip code. [Mic / Tom Perez]
  • It's unlikely that broad agreement will stop the intraparty bickering. As forces aligned with Sanders attacked Perez's record, some veterans of Clinton's campaign are already stepping up to his defense. [Twitter / Rob Flaherty]
  • Lost in a lot of the commentary over a Sanders-Clinton redux is just what Perez and Ellison would be tasked with doing as party chair. If history is any guide, the focus for chairs when their party is out of power is on building organizational strength and heft — not resolving ideological disputes. [The Washington Post / Paul Waldman]

Miscellaneous

  • The New York Times has turned the penchant some of its readers have for kvetching about grammatical errors in its stories into an interactive quiz. Well played. [NYT / Philip B. Corbett]
  • Myanmar is rapidly gaining access to Facebook. Myanmar is in the middle of a resurgence of violence against Muslims. This can't go badly or anything. [BoingBoing / Cory Doctorow]
  • The surprising thing isn't that the "Christmas tree lobby" exists — it's that it took so long. [BuzzFeed News / Venessa Wong]
  • It turns out that the "Paleo diet," based on a just-so story about the original human diet, is contradicted by actual archaeological findings about what early humans ate. [Smithsonian / Jason Daley]
  • The federal government launched an investigation into the Orange County Prosecutor's Office Thursday, in the middle of an ongoing scandal about prosecutors' use of a secret jailhouse informant program that neither judges nor defense attorneys were ever told about. [Reason / C.J. Ciaramella]

Verbatim

  • "The myth is that 12-step programs and their associated treatment industry thrive simply because Americans love them. In fact, both are substantially built on and maintained by force." [The Influence / Stanton Peele]
  • "Our waiter, coiffed and charming, was determined to gaslight us into thinking we were having a good time. “Trump gets the taco bowl and the lasagna and baked ziti,” he said, before subsequently informing the table that we could not order the lasagna or baked ziti." [Vanity Fair / Tina Nguyen]
  • "The timing of the tweets coincides with the publication of a series of satirical stories speculating on things found in Trump’s hair, including a battlefield map, the lyrics to Dark Side of the Moon, and cicadas." [Eater / Helen Rosner]
  • "Education officials have an agreement to share the personal details of up to 1,500 schoolchildren a month with the Home Office to 'create a hostile environment' in schools for illegal migrants, a newly released document has revealed." [The Guardian (UK) / Damien Gayle]
  • "The core point of universalist programs is to turn legitimate self-interest into a common interest, and, through the expansion of social rights (housing, education, health care), to relax the paranoiac worry that someone else, probably less deserving, is sneaking off with your share." [Jacobin / Jedediah Purdy]

Watch this: Kanye deconstructed

The artist, not the occasional political commentator who meets with Donald Trump. [YouTube / Estelle Caswell]

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.