April 30, 2015

EU Limits Laws Banning Gays from Giving Blood


Test tubes at a Paris blood-collection center; the European Court of Justice issued a ruling Wednesday on France's ban on blood donations by gay men.ENLARGE  





The case at the European Court of Justice concerned France’s lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have had sex with other men. Similar legislation also exists in other EU countries, albeit many states are moving to loosen their restrictions
The ECJ said that scientific evidence that gay men are at a higher risk of carrying serious infectious diseases, such as HIV, can justify a ban in national legislation. In its assessment of the case, it pointed to data submitted to the court showing that the rate of infection with HIV among gay men in France was 200 times greater than that of the heterosexual population between 2003 and 2008. It also added that France had the highest rate of HIV infections among gay men of any country in Europe and Central Asia.
However, the ECJ said the French court that will ultimately rule on the French legislation had to check whether there were better and “less onerous” ways of protecting the recipients of donated blood from infection “other than permanent deferral from blood donation.”
“The principle of proportionality might not be respected” under the current blanket ban, it said.
The ruling comes as many countries—including France—are loosening restrictions on blood donations from gay or bisexual men. French Health Minister Marisol Touraine on Wednesday reiterated plans to change the questionnaire given to potential blood donors to focus on identifying risky behaviors. 
“Discrimination of donors based on their sexual orientation is unacceptable and only the security of recipient can justify limitations on blood donation,” Ms. Touraine said. She said a meeting with experts to propose a new questionnaire is foreseen for early May.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced in December it would reverse its lifetime ban, saying that modern screening methods made it unnecessary. However, the FDA still plans to reject blood from men who have had sex with another man in the past 12 months. 
The U.K. made similar changes to its assessment of suitable blood donors in 2011.
ILGA-Europe—the Europe chapter of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association—said Wednesday’s judgment doesn’t go far enough. 
“Stigmatization does not equate to proper management of blood donations,” said Sophie Aujean, ILGA-Europe’s senior policy and programs officer. The organization called on the French government to focus exclusively on risky behaviors and not on potential donors’ sexual orientation. 
Write to Gabriele Steinhauser at gabriele.steinhauser@wsj.com

France Admits Investigation on Their Peacekeepers Sexually Abusing Children in Africa





A boy plays among the ruins of a mosque in BanguiPHOTO: The UN report includes interviews with children who claimed they were sexually abused by French troops in return for money and food. (Reuters: Siegfried Modola)
RELATED STORY: UN to send peacekeepers to Africa amid genocide fears
RELATED STORY: President flees as Central African rebels seize capital
The French government says it is investigating claims that its peacekeepers sexually abused children in the Central African Republic.
It said the abuse was alleged by around 10 children and reportedly took place at a centre for internally displaced people near the airport of the capital Bangui between December 2013 and June 2014. 
A report in Britain's The Guardian newspaper said children as young as nine were involved, and that some were abused while searching desperately for food or money.
The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning.
AIDS-Free World co-director Paula Donovan
France's defence ministry said prosecutors had "immediately" opened a case into the abuse after receiving the news last year, and that police investigators had travelled to the Central African Republic on August 1 to look into the case.
"The defence ministry has taken and will take the necessary measures to allow the truth to be found," it said in a statement.
"If the facts are proven, the strongest penalties will be imposed on those responsible for what would be an intolerable attack on soldiers' values."
France sent troops to the Central African Republic in December 2013 as the country became engulfed in violence following a coup in March that toppled longtime leader Francois Bozize.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed that its rights investigators had conducted a probe last year following "serious allegations" of child abuse and sexual exploitation by French troops.

Aid worker suspended for leaking UN report

The internal report was commissioned by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and passed on The Guardian via advocacy group Aids-Free World. 
"The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn't uncommon," Paula Donovan, co-director of Aids-Free World, told The Guardian.
"The UN's instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks — ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble — must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access."
The UN aid worker, Swedish national Anders Kompass, is based in Geneva and leaked the report to French authorities because his bosses had failed to take action, The Guardian reported. 
He has been suspended and faces dismissal for breaching protocol, the paper said.
Mr Kompass is said to have passed on the confidential document before it was presented to senior OHCHR officials.
"This constitutes a serious breach of protocol, which, as is well known to all OHCHR officials, requires redaction of any information that could endanger victims, witnesses and investigators," UN spokesman Farhan Haq.
Since December 2013, violence has displaced nearly 900,000 people in the Central African Republic, including more than 460,000 who have become refugees — 10 per cent of the population.
AFP

Student Accused of Brklyn Bge Rioting Fell in Maze of a Police” Witch Hunt”




150429GarciaBrooklynBridge.jpgMaria Garcia spent three and a half months facing charges for her supposed involvement in a brawl between police and protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge before prosecutors acknowledged they didn't have enough evidence to proceed. Police probably aren't fans of her hoodie paying homage to Assata Shakur, who busted out of prison and fled to Cuba after being convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper. Shakur maintains her innocence. (Ariela Rothstein)
Maria Garcia was in a cell inside the NYPD's 5th Precinct station house in Chinatown, and the detectives seated just beyond the bars were playing the same video again and again. 
"They would play the video and look at me and say, 'Yeah, you seem calm now, but you seem very agitated in the video,'" she remembers. "And I was just like, 'You're making a mistake. That's not me. I wasn't there.' And then the detective would continue to play it over and over, and they would look at me and just confirm what they were thinking."
It was Dec. 19th, six days after a melee on the Brooklyn Bridge between police and anti-police brutality protesters, which left one lieutenant with a broken nose. What the police with Garcia were thinking was that she was Female Suspect #1, one of six people whose blurry images had been grabbed from a YouTube video of the bridge altercation and plastered on Wanted posters offering a $12,000 reward. That morning, she said she was at home, working on a final paper for her doctoral geography studies at Rutgers University, when an unknown number called her phone, and someone rang her doorbell and knocked, all at once. She went to the door, and about a dozen officers were waiting outside, she said.  
The cops asked if she lived alone, and were confused when she said she did. Their warrant listed her husband Zachary Campbell, though she said they told her it was a special warrant and they couldn't show it to her. She and Campbell are separated and live apart from each other.
"Then they handcuffed me and started telling me that I must have been waiting for this day to come," she said. "And I had no idea what they were talking about."
Garcia works two jobs, as an event planner for the Queens Museum, and as a worker-owner in an interpreter and translator cooperative. She's also a social-justice activist and full-time student. She spent the day of her arrest locked up, first at the 7th Precinct stationhouse on the Lower East Side, then at the 5th, being interrogated on and off. She remembers telling the officers that she wanted a lawyer. She said she didn't answer questions—there were a lot about Campbell—but that she told the detectives what she had done the afternoon and evening of Dec. 13th, and who they could verify it with.
Still, they kept showing the video, saying they knew she was lying, that they knew she was on the bridge.
"I got really scared because I wasn't sure what they were going to make up about me," she said. 
She said she wasn't allowed a phone call until 3 p.m., five and a half hours after her arrest. When her attorney arrived another three hours later, he says police barred him from coming upstairs to meet her, for about 40 minutes. She spent the night in the Tombs, was arraigned on charges of resisting arrest, rioting and obstructing governmental administration, and got out on $7,500 bail.
December 13th had all the makings of an unmemorable day. Garcia went to work at the Queens Museum, as she did two days a week, then met a friend for dinner at a Peruvian restaurant on Northern Boulevard, then caught a ride to a friend's house in Woodside to do homework. She said that she was aware there was a protest happening that afternoon, but that she was so busy she didn't know what time.
She related her whereabouts to the detectives and told them who was there with her, but she said instead of simply checking out the alibi, the investigators set out to prove her guilt. They turned up at her work, at her friends' jobs, and at a co-worker's mother's house in New Jersey, flashing stills from the video everywhere they went. 
"It was like a big witch hunt," Garcia said.
Prosecutors repeatedly asked for more time to investigate, and in the meantime Garcia's life was on hold. Because the police seized her computers, she had to scramble to rewrite her final papers without her notes, and she took incomplete grades for some classes. Stressed out by the weight of the criminal case, she went on unpaid leave from her jobs.
Cardozo Law School's Criminal Defense Clinic took the case pro bono, and law students, led by her lawyer, clinic director Jonathan Oberman, worked long hours to recreate the day she spent far from the Brooklyn Bridge.
"It's always very difficult to prove a negative," Oberman said. "But from the inception of the case we felt that there was conclusive and powerful evidence that demonstrated she was never on the Brooklyn Bridge."
The clinic collected statements from Queens Museum coworkers, retrieved surveillance footage from the Peruvian restaurant, timestamped 6:10 pm, and provided prosecutors with the license plate number of the car she rode in, to be run through the license-plate readers the police has set up at every East River crossing. The scanners showed the car had never entered Manhattan. Another helpful bit of evidence was the outfit she was wearing in the video, which didn't match Female Suspect #1's black peacoat and red scarf. The clothing was listed in the police's search warrant and didn't turn up at her house, either. Timestamps on her computer showed she was writing into the night.
Oberman described, for the sake of prosecutorial argument, a universe in which Garcia could be guilty:
It's always theoretically possible to imagine that at 6:10 pm, like some character out of a Marvel comic book, Ms. Garcia dipped into a phone booth, changed clothes, sprinted to a subway, got on the subway, got into Manhattan, met a group of people, marched onto the Brooklyn Bridge, all in an hour and 10 minutes—and that she cleverly left her laptop with people who knew her passwords, who could therefore log in for the explicit purpose of cleverly, brilliantly creating a faux-alibi. But short of that, there was no plausible or reasonable hypothesis except that she was at an identified apartment, in an identified building in Queens.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office finally agreed to drop the charges on March 31st. Oberman said he thinks that the massive amount of attention given to the case, and to the Black Lives Matter movement, made prosecutors move especially slowly before tossing the case. He faulted NYPD brass and police unions for trying to use the bridge fight to discredit the protests over the handling of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.
"I take the rule of law seriously, and I thought that the post-Ferguson, post-Staten Island demonstrations that were occurring in New York and elsewhere in the country were overwhelmingly peaceful and respectful," Oberman said. "I thought using an unfortunate incident by what appeared to be a splinter group in a blatant way to reshape and redefine the narrative that was otherwise so critically important ... was a troubling aspect of the case."
As for Garcia, she is back at work and school, having sustained herself during her time out of work with the help of favors and money from friends and activists. She said she has not been to a protest since her legal trouble began, and that she is having trouble concentrating as a result of all the stress.
"I'm a very nervous person now." she said. 
She declined to talk about how well she knows the five people still facing charges, or if she has spoken to them lately, but said she hopes they avoid jail time.
Asked what she would say to a detective who interrogated her, given the chance, she was conflicted.
"He should have listened to what I was telling him," she said, then paused. "I don’t know if I want to talk to him actually. I would tell everybody to not talk to the police.”

April 29, 2015

Throw that Soda Can on the Street and See Your Picture Plastered on the Subway





                                                             




Last fall, a video of a Russian vigilante who followed people who threw trash on the ground, picked up their refuse, and chucked it back at them, went viral across the web. But what happens when no one’s around to see—and shame—folks who toss their plastic soda bottles, discarded paper coffee cups, and take-out containers on the ground? 
A new science-based anti-littering campaign is taking away the anonymity Hong Kong residents who fling garbage on sidewalks and streets currently enjoy. The aptly named project, The Face of Litter, is using DNA found on discarded items—the saliva on a cigarette butt or the semen in a condom—to reconstruct the face of the user. As you can see in the video above, the effort relies on Snapshot DNA phenotyping, which crosses a person’s genetic code with the demographic data of a particular neighborhood in order to generate a 3-D facial model.
Last year, a group of Penn State researchers revealed that they’d created a similar kind of DNA-based technology which could generate mug shots. Sure, it’s a little creepy and dystopian-seeming, which is why here in the United States, some privacy advocates are challenging this kind of use of DNA. Those activists would probably have a field day with this Hong Kong campaign because the faces of folks who litter aren’t being sent to the police. Instead, they’re currently being displayed on advertising billboards in busy transportation hubs where everyone around can see them. 
Indeed, the campaign, which is a collaboration between Hong Kong Cleanup, Ecozine, and The Nature Conservancy, smartly takes advantage of Chinese cultural ideas around shame. Given the cultural pressure not to “lose face,” the last thing anybody wants is to be embarrassed by seeing their visage on one of these billboards.  
There’s a real need to get folks to stop throwing refuse on the streets of the Chinese territory. According to Hong Kong Cleanup, people living there toss more than 16,000 tons of trash—including an estimated 1,368,000 disposable plastic bottles and 1,000 tons of plastic bags—on the ground every day. That garbage ends up being swept into sewage systems where it pollutes the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea. Given that, let’s hope that the fear of being identified as a litter bug will spur residents to look for a recycling bin or garbage can. 

Last fall, a video of a Russian vigilante who followed people who threw trash on the ground, picked up their refuse, and chucked it back at them, went viral across the web. But what happens when no one’s around to see—and shame—folks who toss their plastic soda bottles, discarded paper coffee cups, and take-out containers on the ground? 
A new science-based anti-littering campaign is taking away the anonymity Hong Kong residents who fling garbage on sidewalks and streets currently enjoy. The aptly named project, The Face of Litter, is using DNA found on discarded items—the saliva on a cigarette butt or the semen in a condom—to reconstruct the face of the user. As you can see in the video above, the effort relies on Snapshot DNA phenotyping, which crosses a person’s genetic code with the demographic data of a particular neighborhood in order to generate a 3-D facial model.
Last year, a group of Penn State researchers revealed that they’d created a similar kind of DNA-based technology which could generate mug shots. Sure, it’s a little creepy and dystopian-seeming, which is why here in the United States, some privacy advocates are challenging this kind of use of DNA. Those activists would probably have a field day with this Hong Kong campaign because the faces of folks who litter aren’t being sent to the police. Instead, they’re currently being displayed on advertising billboards in busy transportation hubs where everyone around can see them. 
Indeed, the campaign, which is a collaboration between Hong Kong Cleanup, Ecozine, and The Nature Conservancy, smartly takes advantage of Chinese cultural ideas around shame. Given the cultural pressure not to “lose face,” the last thing anybody wants is to be embarrassed by seeing their visage on one of these billboards.  
There’s a real need to get folks to stop throwing refuse on the streets of the Chinese territory. According to Hong Kong Cleanup, people living there toss more than 16,000 tons of trash—including an estimated 1,368,000 disposable plastic bottles and 1,000 tons of plastic bags—on the ground every day. That garbage ends up being swept into sewage systems where it pollutes the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea. Given that, let’s hope that the fear of being identified as a litter bug will spur residents to look for a recycling bin or garbage can. 


Staff Writer Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good

What to look for in The Supreme Court Arguments




                                                                                

When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the landmark same-sex marriage case Tuesday, there shouldn’t be much suspense about the outcome. To the extent that one can ever feel confident about predicting the actions of nine very independent-minded justices, we are as certain as can be that same-sex marriage, in one way or another, will get the five votes it needs.
However, just because we think we can guess the outcome, doesn’t mean that Tuesday morning’s session isn’t going to be interesting. Here’s a guide to what to pay attention to in the oral argument.
No. 1: Whether the justices focus more on liberty or equality. There are two basic arguments for marriage equality. The first is that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional because it treats same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples; in other words, that the denial violates principles of equality. The second argument is that denying same-sex couples the right to marry infringes on their ability to make personal decisions about important parts of their lives; in other words, that the denial violates principles of liberty.
Throughout the history of same-sex marriage litigation, both arguments have consistently been raised by proponents of same-sex marriage, but the courts have been erratic in choosing between them. Some lower courts have favored the equality framework and others have preferred the liberty analysis.
Supreme Court rulings based on these arguments would have different implications. For instance, a strongly-worded opinion based on equality would affect other aspects of anti-discrimination law, making it harder for the government to justify treating LGBT people differently in public housing, schools, and government services.
A liberty-based opinion, however, would have other effects. If the court decides based on liberty, every state must issue marriage licenses—doing otherwise would violate a fundamental right. An equality ruling would likely also have the same result, but it’s possible a state that wants to prove to the world just how much it really hates gay marriage could get rid of marriage altogether, for everyone, in response to an equality ruling. After all, if no one can get married, then everyone is being treated equally, even if equally terribly. A liberty ruling would prevent this possibility, no matter how far-flung.
A liberty ruling could also have effects that might not have anything to do with the LGBT community at all. For example, if the Supreme Court finds that the right to marry is broad enough to encompass same-sex marriage, other people whose relationships fall outside the typical two-spouse dyad might be able to use the reasoning of this decision in their own quest for government recognition of their relationships. Big Love fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much, however, because if the court embraces the liberty analysis, it will almost certainly go to great lengths to limit its effects.
When the justices ask questions Tuesday, pay attention to which of these lines predominates. If there’s more intense questioning about one than the other, it may indicate the court is more likely to rule in that direction.
No. 2: Signs that the Supreme Court is going to split the baby. There are two questions before the court. The first is whether all states must allow same-sex couples to marry within their borders, while the second is whether all states must recognize valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. If the first question is answered “yes,” then there’s no need for the court to really deal with the second question, because there’s zero likelihood that a state would issue its own licenses but refuse to recognize marriages from other states.
But what if the Supreme Court is just not ready to tell Alabama that it really does have to issue those gay, gay marriage licenses? In that case, the second question becomes critical. Listen to the questions the court asks Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who is addressing the first question. Specifically, listen for questions about why states should have to issue same-sex marriage licenses themselves if the court just makes them recognize marriages that some other state decided to allow. The court may ask her what the real harm would be in that instance—couldn’t you just go to the state next door, get married, and come back? Bonauto has to have a great answer to that question.
If the court seems skeptical of whatever she says, we may be looking at a situation in which some states will issue licenses and others will refuse to issue but must recognize. That’s going to mean a lot of destination weddings.
No. 3: Whether the chief justice keeps asking about the “political power” of same-sex couples. Two years ago, when the Supreme Court heard arguments about same-sex marriage but ultimately decided that state bans were not properly before it, Chief Justice John Roberts spent a lot of time at oral argument grilling the lawyer advocating for same-sex marriage about whether gay individuals and couples were politically powerless or not.
This may seem like a weird, maybe even irrelevant line of questioning—but it’s part of an important inquiry in constitutional law. At times in Supreme Court history, part of the analysis of whether a particular group should be protected from bias by the courts has been whether that group is powerless in normal electoral politics. If they are, then it makes sense that the courts need to be more muscular in their protection of that group, and more skeptical of laws that put the group at a disadvantage. That increased level of skepticism is called “heightened scrutiny,” and, so far under Supreme Court rulings, sexual orientation discrimination has not been subjected to heightened scrutiny the way, say, sex discrimination is. But it could be, if the court agrees with some of the lower court decisions on same-sex marriage.
Roberts focused intense attention on this issue in 2013. He seemed pretty convinced that sexual orientation discrimination doesn’t deserve heightened scrutiny because in his view, the gays are doing quite well for themselves politically. He pointed to the changes that have happened in American society with respect to gay rights over the past two decades and speculated that gay people are not a politically powerless group.
Roberts is seen as a possible swing vote in this new case before the court. If he is as committed to this line of inquiry at oral argument this time around as he was last time, it may be a strong signal that he is going to reject the use of heightened scrutiny, and then vote against marriage equality because he believes that gay people should use the political process rather than the courts to accomplish their goals.
No. 4: Whether any justice talks about sex discrimination. As we mentioned, when the government discriminates on the basis of sex, the courts use heightened scrutiny to treat those laws with a bit of skepticism. So far, sexual orientation discrimination doesn’t get that treatment. But what if a same-sex marriage bans actually is sex discrimination? It makes sense when you think about it. When Jim Obergefell sought to marry a man, he received discriminatory treatment—just because he didn’t marry a woman, and because he himself wasn’t a woman.
This argument makes a lot of intuitive sense to a lot of people, but so far, other than a smattering of lower court judges, usually in nonbinding opinions, courts have been reluctant to embrace it. Two years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked a question about it, but he quickly turned to other things.
If you hear a justice start asking about whether the whole thing isn’t just sex discrimination, this may turn into a really interesting opinion indeed. Especially because a decision based on sex discrimination could open up a whole host of anti-discrimination laws originally written to protect against sex discrimination and make these laws protect LGBT people as well.
No. 5: Whether Justice Antonin Scalia cuts off his nose to spite his face. Our favorite arch-nemesis Justice Scalia is in a real bind here. He has spent the better part of the last two decades writing angry, blistering dissents every time the Supreme Court made a ruling that benefits gay people. Usually, the dissent contains dark warnings that the court’s ruling will cause all sorts of horrible things to happen. For instance, masturbation will become legal (it wasn’t?), and of course, that the inescapable outcome will be that same-sex marriage will eventually be legalized.
We know that Scalia will be a vigorous questioner at oral argument, and that he’ll chuck some rhetorical fireballs from the bench that will be quoted in every news report about the case. And we know that it’s a virtual lock that Scalia would rather do pretty much anything other than vote to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
But isn’t there a tiny chance that Scalia so badly wants his previous writings to be proven correct that he’s willing to vote in favor of same-sex marriage just to prove that all his predictions of doom and gloom were right all along? We’ll be listening for this, but we won’t be holding our breath.

Muting Friend’s political Views on Face Book is as simple as hitting a key




The arguments on Facebook regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s announcement that she was running for president began politely at first but slowly grew more vitriolic with each back and forth.
Eventually, Madison Payne, a 27-year-old from Tyler, Tex., had had enough. So she took revenge against the Clinton opponents, simply clicking “unfollow.”
“If I see somebody that is just so hateful, then of course I’m going to unfollow them,” said Ms. Payne, whose “friend” count on Facebook has dwindled since Mrs. Clinton’s announcement. “I’ve lost touch with many great childhood friends of mine due to social media providing a platform for political discussion.”
With the presidential race heating up, a torrent of politically charged commentary has flooded Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, with some users deploying their “unfollow” buttons like a television remote to silence distasteful political views. Coupled with the algorithm now powering Facebook’s news feed, the unfollowing is creating a more homogenized political experience of like-minded users, resulting in the kind of polarization more often associated with MSNBC or Fox News. And it may ultimately deflate a central promise of the Internet: Instead of offering people a diverse marketplace of challenging ideas, the web is becoming just another self-perpetuating echo chamber.

 

As users slowly whittle angry and adverse viewpoints, Facebook’s news feed algorithm, designed to highlight content similar to what users engage with most, kicks in. Those who like puppies see more posts from their puppy-loving friends; those who like to debate climate change see more climate-change chatter.
Facebook does not track the reasons one user unfollows another. But in thousands of comments and emails that were shared with The New York Times, users admitted to muting acquaintances, friends and even family members as political postings grew too repugnant for their tastes.
Unfollowing is a polite way to shut out unappealing political opinions — under Facebook’s user interface, people technically remain friends with those they unfollow but are simply not subject to seeing their posts again.

Ashlyn Knaur of Huntsville, Ala., recently unfollowed some friends after Mrs. Clinton’s announcement. She also removed the actress Anne Hathaway from her Instagram feed after Ms. Hathaway shared a posting supportive of Mrs. Clinton. Julie Ruby of Normal, Ill., is on the brink of unfollowing her daughter’s mother-in-law for negative comments regarding Mrs. Clinton. And John Thrasher of Cumberland, Md., lost touch with his father over his politics postings on Facebook.
“The regular contact between us has been cut because of politics and social media,” Mr. Thrasher said.
Mike Massaroli, from Staten Island, says that his postings are often ignored and that he is occasionally unfollower even by his fraternity brothers, who playfully cast him off as “the dude who is voting for Bernie Sanders” for his frequent praise of the Vermont senator. 
In theory, Facebook’s algorithm provides for an overall better experience on the site, ranking the number of posts likely to be ignored by the user lower in the news feed. But in the realm of politics, that sometimes has the unintended consequence of engineering the political discourse on Facebook toward the user’s political leanings.
Yesterdays posting on the same subject by different witnesses.  Click here please

  

Who Is Running for President (and Who’s Not)? 


“The fundamental principle underpinning news feed is the more you interact with specific types of content and content from specific places, the more likely you are to continue to see” that kind of content, said Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook.
For example, users who “like” Mrs. Clinton’s page will be presented with more posts about the candidate, probably generating more “likes” on posts and photographs and the chance to comment on new campaign memes. Conversely, these users would probably not also “like,” say, a Senator Ted Cruz page. Facebook’s algorithm would recognize that, and rank content regarding Mrs. Clinton higher on those users’ sites than content about Mr. Cruz.
“Everybody’s behavior is different, so that the content that they are eligible to see is rank-ordered differently for each of them,” Mr. Stone said.
Zac Moffatt, a founder of Targeted Victory, a digital strategy firm, said that Facebook’s organic reach, like candidate pages, was starting to be limited for campaigns, in part as more users self-selected an experience, and that could affect their news feed and the ads they saw during primary season.
“If you’re a known Democrat, if you publicly post that you’re a Democrat, you probably aren’t going to see” Republican ads as well, Mr. Moffatt said. “You could conceivably, in the primary, have that process where you’re completely bifurcated where liberals see things that are liberal and Republicans see things that are Republican.”
But an exception, he said, are the campaigns that target voters based more on issues than on party; their message will cut across the divide.
Facebook announced April 21 that it would be introducing changes to its news feed, including reducing the prevalence of content “liked” by others directly in a user’s feed. 


But at the same time, more partisan political videos may trickle into news feeds as campaigns deploy Facebook’s new video advertising platform to reach specific groups. A video by the Clinton campaign, for instance, would probably not be targeted toward those using Mr. Cruz’s campaign logo as their avatar. And Facebook is ready to tap these intensifying political passions as a revenue stream.
Some campaigns are proving particularly nimble at steering the conversation on Facebook. Vincent Harris, the chief digital strategist for Senator Rand Paul’s campaign, equipped the candidate’s many followers with avatars, photographs, videos, memes and links to post on their Facebook walls on the day Mr. Paul announced that he was running for president. Tagged correctly, the posts were intended to bombard others’ news feeds as well. 
By 
New York Times

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