Calls for Fairness and Racial Justice Reach Social Platforms
Angela Seits has written this article. More details coming soon.
Summer is officially here. We hope you had a restful and meaningful weekend. In today’s briefing, let’s get you caught up on the news you might have missed.
The country was hyper-focused on Tulsa, OK, where President Trump held a campaign rally amidst concerns over public health. Up to 100,000 Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters were expected to be in the area around the BOK center, the site of the rally, but according to the Tulsa Fire Marshal’s Office, fewer than 6,200 people actually showed up. The New York Times and CNN both ran stories largely crediting TikTokers and K-pop fans for the disparity in expectations, however, President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has rejected these claims, stating that it weeded out “phony ticket requests.”
Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp said Sunday that protestors created a hostile environment, blocking supporters from attending the evening rally, though reporters on the ground did not see any such altercations. Those attending the rally had to sign a waiver protecting the Trump campaign from responsibility for any illness. Hours before the event began, officials said six staff members involved in organising the rally had tested positive.
In other political news, Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement Saturday that he would resign from his post after Attorney General William Barr sent him a letter saying that President Donald Trump had removed him.
All 50 states have started reopening, yet the US Sunday infection toll jumped to its highest since April. The US reported more than 30,000 coronavirus cases two days straight, the highest number since May 1st, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The resurgence of the virus across the US comes as states move to re-open businesses after months of lockdowns and people return to normal activities, yet health experts warn that COVID-19 is still here. After seeing its highest daily spike in coronavirus cases, California made face masks mandatory in public to help curb the spread of the virus, and other states may soon follow. New York City is set to advance to Phase 3 of its reopening from coronavirus lockdown measures today.
Globally, the WHO reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 183,020 in a 24-hour period to reach 8.9M worldwide. The biggest increase was from North and South America with over 116,000 new cases, according to its daily report.
There are still no FDA-approved drugs to treat the coronavirus. The National Institutes of Health has halted its clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine after finding that the treatment provides no benefit to COVID-19 patients. The decision to end the trial comes after the FDA revoked emergency use of the drug on Monday and the WHO dropped the drug from its global study on Wednesday.
A negative test for COVID-19 may not be the “get out of jail free” card that people had hoped for. Experts say that we know very little about how well tests work in people who feel healthy, and someone who receives a negative test result could still spread COVID-19 unknowingly.
The weekend kicked off with celebrations of Juneteenth with thousands attending events across multiple cities, including Galveston, Texas. Attendees commemorated the 155th anniversary of the day the last enslaved Black people in the United States learned they were free. The celebration came four weeks after the death of George Floyd, which set off weeks of Black Lives Matter protests across the nation calling for justice, reform, and change.
In recent weeks, the push to remove symbols of the Confederacy has gathered more support. Some protestors have torn statues down in cities across the US or pushed for the removal of flags or names of military bases tied to elements of the Confederacy. Local officials have also removed some statues. A prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt will be removed from the entrance of The American Museum of Natural History in New York City after years of objections that it symbolizes colonial expansion and racial discrimination, officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
In the workplace, businesses face increased scrutiny for their diversity and inclusion efforts while racist practices have come to light in some companies. As organizations speak out publicly against racial injustice, many have been accused of “virtual signaling” and Black employees say “performative allyship” is an unchecked problem in the office.
Outdoor retailers Patagonia and REI are the latest brands to announce they will suspend advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July to protest Facebook’s “weak stance” on hate. The brands join a movement alongside organizations such as the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League which took out a full-page ad in The Los Angeles Times last week calling upon advertisers to use their power to force the platform to make changes to how it handles disinformation and hate speech.
Four black content creators have sued YouTube for allegedly engaging in race-based discrimination by restricting and de-monetizing videos that carry titles or tags like “black lives matter,” “racism,” and “white supremacy.” The class-action complaint filed last week in federal court in San Jose alleges that the company uses artificial intelligence, algorithms, and other filtering tools “to limit or prevent revenue generation from videos” based on racial identity or viewpoint. YouTube spokesman Farshad Shadloo said the company is reviewing the complaint and said the company’s automated systems do not discriminate based on race.
Racial injustice has become a predominant conversation among tech platforms. Since late May, more than 340 million tweets have been posted about Black Lives Matter. To commemorate Juneteeth, Twitter launched a wide range of initiatives in support of Black creators and turned several real tweets about racial inequality into billboards. The ads were placed in cities that have received widespread attention for their highly attended protests from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
The Apple Worldwide Developer Conference starts today, this year as a virtual conference.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average erased a 200-point loss on coronavirus fears, as the stock market rally continues.
The US savings rate is the highest on record, climbing to 33% but that could be a concern for the economy.
American Airlines seeks $3.5B in new financing, to improve the airline’s liquidity as it grapples with travel restrictions.
Complaints of fireworks increase exponentially in major cities ahead of the 4th of July.
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We hope you have a purposeful and productive week. We’ll see you back here on Thursday.