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Recode Daily: Inside Facebook’s plan to protect the 2018 elections

Plus, Walmart puts Amazon on notice with a big Q2 beat; Tencent sees its first profit drop in decades; is Elon Musk crazy?; a deep dive into ... burritos.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg onstage in front of a backdrop that reads “F8 2018” Facebook

Facebook has a plan to protect the 2018 U.S. midterm elections from an election disaster like the one that hit it in 2016. The social network says it’s moving quickly on its plan — which includes a physical war room to monitor the elections from its corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. — and has promised to double the number of safety and security employees on staff to 20,000 people. But with the midterms less than three months away, it’s almost go time — will its efforts be enough? [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

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Walmart just put Amazon on notice: The big-box giant reported impressive second-quarter results with a big beat, showing a rise of 4.5 percent in U.S. comparable over a year earlier. Traffic in its U.S. business was up 2.2 percent, meaning Walmart is doing a better job of luring shoppers to its brick-and-mortar stores. And its e-commerce business delivered a 40 percent gain in sales, making its full-year guidance for digital growth look attainable. [Sarah Halzack / Bloomberg]

Tencent shares tumbled after the Chinese social media giant reported its first profit drop in decades. The Chinese government has long has favored Tencent as a technology champion, but is now directly hurting the company’s results with a regulatory shakeup blocking its path to making money from games — Tencent relies on new content to draw and keep users on its WeChat messaging service. Once the most valuable company in Asia, Tencent has seen its market cap fall by more than $170 billion since January. [Lulu Yilun Chen / Bloomberg]

Following reports that Google is secretly developing a censored search engine for China, about 1,000 Google employees have signed a letter demanding more transparency from the company to understand the ethical consequences of their work. In April, Google’s outspoken workforce spoke out against its involvement in a Pentagon program that uses artificial intelligence to improve weaponry. By June, Google had said it would not renew a contract with the Pentagon for A.I. work. [Kate Congre and Daisuke Wakabayashi / The New York Times]

Two years after Russian hackers breached voter databases in Illinois and Arizona, 36 out of 50 U.S. states have adopted government-approved equipment that allows the federal government to see inside state computer systems that manage voter data or voting devices. The $5,000 Albert sensors were developed by the nonprofit Center for Internet Security, which helps governments, businesses and organizations fight computer intrusions. [Christopher Bing / Reuters]

Tomorrow — 8/18/18 — is the most popular wedding day of the year. Nearly 30,000 couples — including Recode’s own Kurt Wagner — are set to marry on Saturday, and guests will spend an estimated $1 billion on gifts and attire for the happy events. According to the multiplatform wedding-planning site The Knot, an average of 136 guests per wedding will attend this weekend’s celebrations, and each of those estimated 3.9 million guests will, on average, spend $261 on the event, including the gift, attire and accessories, adding up to a $1 billion weekend — and that’s without travel costs. [Colin Bertram / Bloomberg]

In her latest op-ed column for The New York Times, Kara Swisher answers the question many of you are thinking: Is Elon Musk crazy? [Kara Swisher / The New York Times]

Recode Presents ...

Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya and Square CFO Sarah Friar have joined the lineup of speakers at Code Commerce, our second annual two-day forum focused on the most compelling innovations in e-commerce and retail. On September 17 and 18 in New York City, Jason Del Rey and Kara Swisher will sit down with leaders who are reimagining the retail sector to discuss business model disruptions spanning categories from grocery and CPG to luxury goods and high fashion, the growing influence of social platforms like Instagram on the customer journey, and the role of AR, AI and voice technologies in shaping future shopping experiences. Last year’s event sold out, so register today.

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A deep dive into ... burritos.

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