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GOP accuses Facebook of censorship but conservative media flourishes online

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Facebook originally earned the ire of Republicans after Gizmodo reported in May 2016 that some employees at the social media giant edited out conservative news stories from their powerful “trending” section.

The uproar after the Gizmodo report caused Facebook to scramble and roll out a number of updates to the way the News Feed and Trending sections operate.

After the Gizmodo article came out, Facebook fired the entire team that oversaw the trending module and created an algorithm to curate the section, according to an August 2016 announcement.

The section is now managed by a team at Facebook “to ensure that they reflect real world events,” and articles are placed there depending on the number of posts relating to the article and the “engagement level of those articles,” the Facebook Help Center says. But it is still dependent on an algorithm.

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., mentioned the Gizmodo report on Tuesday when speaking to Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill.

The senator then listed a handful of instances in which Facebook had blocked conservative media, including the Diamond and Silk incident as well as a “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” page and allegedly “over two dozen Catholic pages.”

“To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias,” Cruz said.

But according to Michael Nunez, the reporter who wrote the Gizmodo article, Cruz doesn’t seem to understand that the trouble with Facebook is transparency not oversight.

“At this point, Cruz should forget about human bias and worry more about the automated forces controlling the information we see through our News Feeds,” Nunez wrote in a column for Mashable. “Most of the things we see on Facebook are controlled by algorithms, and those algorithms are inherently infused with bias. In fact, it’s the whole reason they exist in modern technology: to discriminate against certain things and give preference to others.”

Nevertheless, that isn’t the question that was asked of Zuckerberg, so he only claimed that his company actively worked to “root out” human bias in the workplace.

“We’re proud of the discourse and the different ideas that people can share on the service,” Zuckerberg told Cruz at the end of their testy exchange, “and that is something that, as long as I’m running the company, I’m going to be committed to making sure is the case.”

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Trump lashes out at New York Times report alleging years of tax avoidance

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The New York Times obtained two decades of President Donald Trump’s tax information, reporting Sunday that the president paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and again during his first year in office.

The Times, which said it plans to publish additional stories based on the documents, reported that Trump has not paid any income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, mostly because he reported significant losses. It reported that Trump is facing a decadelong Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he received that could end up costing him more than $100 million.

The Times also reported that Trump has more than $300 million in loans coming due within the next few years that he is personally responsible for repaying.

The tax documents cover more than two decades, including some of his time as president, but they do not include his returns from 2018 and 2019. NBC News has not seen or verified any of the documents reported by The Times.

Trump said Sunday that the story was “totally fake news” and “made up,” although he acknowledged that he “didn’t know anything about the story” ahead of its publication, which came moments before his news conference began.

Asked about the report that he paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and again in 2017, Trump said he has “paid a lot of money in state” taxes, although he was not specific about how much.

In response to the report, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted asking people to raise their hands “if you paid more in federal income tax than President Trump.”

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement that Trump “has gamed the tax code to his advantage and used legal fights to delay or avoid paying what he owes.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement, “It is a sign of President Trump’s disdain for America’s working families that he has spent years abusing the tax code while passing a GOP Tax Scam for the rich that gives 83 percent of the benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent.”

Trump again pledged to make his taxes public after the completion of an IRS audit, which he has said for years is why he is not making the documents public.

The Times reported that, boosted by a substantial increase in income tied to his celebrity in the 11 years after “The Apprentice” premiered, the president went on a spending spree unseen since the days before the demise of his finances of the early 1990s. But The Times said the documents revealed that the new ventures and acquisitions contributed to a drag on his bottom line rather than increased it.

In a statement to NBC News, a Trump Organization lawyer, Alan Garten, claimed that the story was “riddled with gross inaccuracies.”

“Over the past decade the President has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government,” Garten said.

While The Times reported that Trump did not pay income taxes for several years, he did pay other forms of federal taxes, including Medicare, Social Security and the alternative minimum tax.

The Times has previously reported about Trump’s tax information, having obtained such documents — although far fewer — earlier in Trump’s presidency.

Trump has waged a coast-to-coast legal battle throughout his presidency in hope of keeping the tax information hidden from the public. Trump is the only president in the past 40 years to have withheld his taxes from the public. No law requires presidents to make their taxes public.

Although he said he would release the information ahead of the 2016 election, he has since repeatedly cited IRS audits as a rationale for continuing to withhold his records.

This summer, Trump assailed a pair of Supreme Court rulings pertaining to his personal financial records, calling them “not fair,” although they were not clear-cut losses for the president.

Kelly O’Donnell contributed.



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They still don't get it! Deluded Lib Dem Remainers vow to re-join EU 'at future date'

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THE Liberal Democrats will continue their anti-Brexit rhetoric and continue campaigning for Britain to re-join the European Union, the party has agreed.

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Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized after self-harm threats

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The former top manager of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, Brad Parscale, was taken to a hospital Sunday after his wife reported that he was armed and threatening to harm himself, authorities said.

Parscale, 44, had multiple guns when police officers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, arrived at his home, Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw, a police spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Greenlaw said Parscale was the only person home at the time. Police took him to a hospital under the Baker Act, Greenlaw said. The mental health law allows for involuntary and voluntary admittance.

Additional details were not immediately available.

In a statement, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said Parscale “is a member of our family and we all love him.”

“We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible,” Murtaugh said.

Trump announced in July that he was replacing Parscale, who had been running his re-election campaign for more than two years, with deputy campaign manager Bill Stepien.

The move came after Parscale said millions of tickets had been sold for a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June. But the event drew a far smaller crowd than anticipated.

Parscale remained on the campaign as a senior adviser for digital and data.

CORRECTION (Sept. 27, 2020, 8:45 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated when President Donald Trump held a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The rally was on June 20, not earlier this month.

Monica Alba, Tom Winter and Jason Abbruzzese contributed.

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