Impacting Travel

Travel companies suspend donations to certain legislators after violence on Capitol Hill

Marriott International Inc. and Airbnb are among other major corporations that are withholding political donations to lawmakers who voted against the certification of President-elect Joe Biden.

“We have taken into consideration the destructive events on Capitol Hill to undermine a legitimate and fair election and we will pause political donations from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against the election certification,” said the Marriott spokeswoman. , Connie Kim, in a statement.


The decision comes after Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen condemned the violence on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.

“I recognize that we have associates who have very different views on the outcome of this election and the direction of the United States,” Sorenson wrote in an open letter on the Marriott website. “We serve guests who also have a wide range of opinions and perspectives. In the United States, we can use our voice and our vote to share our opinions. But what we cannot do is trample on the Constitution; we cannot use violence and terror. to force an agenda. It’s not who we are, and I would say it’s not what the vast majority of Americans want. “

Airbnb is also taking action. The company released a statement on the political action committee donations that read as follows:

“We have taken into consideration destructive events on Capitol Hill to undermine a legitimate and fair election and will pause political donations from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against the election certification,” said the spokeswoman for Marriott, Connie Kim.

Other major corporations have taken similar actions, including the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Microsoft, and Facebook.


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These companies and institutions cut ties with Trump

In 2017, Lehigh and Wagner considered revoking Mr. Trump’s degrees, but refused to do so, after Mr. Trump said there were “ very good people on both sides ” standing by. are fiercely clashed in Charlottesville, Va., because of the efforts. to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

In December 2015, while Mr. Trump was campaigning for the presidency, Robert Gordon University in Britain announced it had revoked the honorary degree it had bestowed on Mr. Trump five years earlier. During the campaign, said a spokesperson for the university, Mr. Trump made “a number of statements that are totally inconsistent with the ethics and values ​​of the university.”

Four years after his tenure as mayor of New York in the 2001 terrorist attacks, Middlebury College in Vermont invited Rudolph Giuliani to deliver a keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate of laws.

College president Laurie L. Patton said on Sunday that she had started the process to consider revoking that degree due to Mr. Giuliani’s role in “fomenting the violent uprising against our nation’s Capitol building.” , which Ms Patton called “an insurgency against democracy itself.”

Online payments platform Stripe will no longer process payments for Mr. Trump’s campaign website, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The newspaper, citing people familiar with the matter, said the e-commerce company cited violations of its usage policy, which prevents users from promoting violence on its platform.

Under the terms of this policy, Stripe users must agree not to accept payments for “high risk” activities, including for any business or organization that “engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence or physical harm to people or property ”.

Jenny gross and Lauren Hirsch contribution to reports.

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“ A slap in the face ”: the pandemic disrupts the careers of young oil companies

HOUSTON – Sabrina Burns, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, had thought she would embark on a lucrative career in the oil and gas industry when she graduated in a few months.

But the collapse in demand for oil and gas during the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted her well-established plans and forced her to consider a new path.

“We had a slap in the face, a totally unforeseen situation that shook our whole state of mind,” said Ms. Burns, who studies petroleum engineering. “I applied for every oil and gas job I’ve seen, like all of my classmates, and nothing really happened. I am discouraged.

With fewer people commuting and traveling, the oil and gas industry has taken a hard hit. Oil companies have laid off more than 100,000 workers. Many companies have closed refineries and some have filed for bankruptcy protection.

The industry has attracted thousands of young people in recent years with the promise of secure careers as shale drilling took off and made the United States the world’s largest oil producer. But many students and recent graduates say they are no longer sure there is a place for them in the industry. Even after the pandemic has ended, some of them fear that growing concerns about climate change will lead to the inevitable decline of oil and gas.

These students seek elite positions in an oil and gas industry that employs approximately two million people. Even after recent layoffs, oil companies still employ more people than fast-growing wind and solar companies, which employ at least 370,000 people, according to occupational groups.

Ms Burns, 22, said her choices have narrowed dramatically over the past nine months. With limited opportunities in oil and gas, she recently accepted an internship at a consulting engineering firm specializing in energy conservation, and she could potentially apply for graduate studies in environmental science. She is also considering moving in with her sister after graduation to save money.

“I have the impression that companies are going to be careful enough to get out of this situation, to recruit new employees,” she said.

Ms Burns was drawn to an oil and gas career by the stories her helicopter pilot father told her about the female engineers he had met to maintain offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico . But if her teachers have spoken about the future of oil and gas companies, she is worried.

Even before the pandemic, Ms Burns said, she had doubts about the industry she had chosen. Other students and even an Uber driver carrying her with others to an oil industry banquet in 2018 raised questions about the future of oil and gas and why renewables might be a better bet. .

“Have you ever heard of a solar panel?” she remembers the Uber driver asking her and her friends.

“The silent judgment and passionate comments weighed heavily on me,” she added. Her parents persuaded her to stick to her program, and Ms. Burns said she was committed to the industry and working to improve her environmental performance.

“I hope I can eventually put all my skills and knowledge into practice,” she said.

Stephen Zagurski, a geology graduate student at Rice University, said the timing of his graduation in the coming weeks was “not perfect, far from it”.

“You are short of available positions and you have a huge pool of talent and an abundance of graduates coming out of school,” he added. “This will make the opportunities to enter the industry even more difficult.”

But Mr Zagurski, 23, said the oil and gas industry will rebound as it has repeatedly done over the past century, despite the popular idea that the pandemic will permanently reduce consumption patterns in the world. ‘energy. “The demand will come back,” he said. “Let’s be honest here, how many things in our daily lives contain some kind of petroleum product.”

Mr. Zagurski interned at Roxanna Oil, a small company run by his second cousins, and he was given more and more responsibility.

He can probably join Roxanna full time after graduation and is confident that the market for young geoscientists and engineers will eventually pick up. If the oil industry does not rebound, he also plans to work in geothermal or environmental sciences or to do a doctorate. “Everyone is biding their time to see what will happen,” he said.

Myles Hampton Arvie, a senior at the University of Houston studying finance and accounting, wanted to follow his father into the oil and gas industry.

“I am passionate about energy and gas,” he said. “Oil and gas will get nowhere for the next 20 or 30 years, so as we make this transition to cleaner energy, why not be part of it?”

His father was a project manager in the offshore fields of the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Arvie is interested in a clerical job and has completed two internships at EY, also known as Ernst & Young, where he did financial modeling, auditing and balance sheet development. of several American and Canadian oil companies. He became vice president of the Energy Coalition, a student group that provides education and job fair opportunities for students.

Mr Arvie drew enough attention to land talks with several oil and gas companies, but a job offer proved elusive. “It’s very competitive,” he said, and the downturn has only made it more difficult to get a job.

Prepared to graduate in May, Mr. Arvie, 22, has changed careers and accepted a job with JPMorgan Chase, where he hopes to get involved in derivatives and marketing in the tech industry. One day, however, he says, he might find a place in the energy industry.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “But you have to keep moving.”

Clayton Brown, a University of Houston graduate student studying petroleum geology, recalls finding an article online four years ago that claimed the future couldn’t be brighter for geologists investigating reserves. underground oil and gas.

“I saw the salary that petroleum geologists earn and I was immediately interested,” Mr. Brown said.

From Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina, Mr. Brown continued his geology studies at Western Colorado University. He was fascinated by the science behind seismic testing and rock and sand formations.

Confident in his choice of career, he borrowed tens of thousands of dollars to continue his education.

Now 23, Brown has a student debt of $ 55,000. When he graduates next fall, he will owe approximately $ 70,000. To make matters worse, the small oil company where he was interning recently stopped paying him because it was reducing the costs of managing the downturn.

He returned to North Carolina to live with his parents while taking online classes and sending resumes. “Covid was quite the curve ball,” he says. “No one expects a virus to come and destroy the oil industry.”

Yet, he said, he has no regrets and calls the recession “bad timing”.

Tosa Nehikhuere, the son of Nigerian immigrants, was relatively lucky. Shortly after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018, he joined a major European oil company, doing various internships and jobs in the field and in the trading room.

But the race has been so volatile that he already has doubts about the direction he has taken at university.

Mr. Nehikhuere’s parents were poor in Nigeria. They moved to New York City, where Mr. Nehikhuere’s father drove a cab. They ended up traveling to Houston, where life was cheaper and her parents pursued a career in nursing.

They embraced the oil industry, which dominates Texas and their home country, and pushed their son to pursue petroleum engineering. It is a common path for immigrants and first and second generation Americans in Texas.

In the middle of Mr. Nehikhuere’s first year, the Saudi Arabia-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries flooded the global oil market in an attempt to undermine the burgeoning US shale oil drilling industry. , causing prices to fall.

“It was quite scary,” he recalls. “I have seen seniors with three internships in the same company being frozen; juniors, second year students having difficulty obtaining internships. All in all, it was pretty bad in terms of job prospects. “

Mr Nehikhuere thought about changing majors, but he thought oil prices would pick up, as they have done so many times, and they did for most of 2018 and 2019.

But the coronavirus pandemic took hold just as Mr. Nehikhuere’s career was gaining ground, and now he’s worried again.

Mr Nehikhuere, 24, declined to identify his employer, but said he was laying off workers and wondered how far he should switch from oil and gas to renewables.

If the business is moving quickly to cleaner energy, he said, it’s not sure there is a place for it. “To what extent will my skills be transferred?”

“There are going to be a significant number of layoffs, changes and outsourcing,” he added. “To be honest, I don’t know if this is going to affect me or not. It’s really in the air.

Mr. Nehikhuere is already considering a change, perhaps looking for a job with a consulting firm or a company that supplies technology to oil and gas companies.

“As I think about my career more and more, the volatility that comes with working for an oil and gas company can be very unsettling,” he said. “I prefer to have something more stable.”

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Supreme Court appears poised to limit human rights lawsuits against companies

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court, which has placed strict limits on prosecutions in federal court for human rights violations abroad, appeared set on Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit accusing two U.S. companies of complicity in slavery children in cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire.

The case was brought by six Malian citizens who claimed to have been victims of trafficking in children as children. They sued Nestlé USA and Cargill, claiming the companies aided and profited from the practice of forced child labor.

“The plaintiffs are former child slaves seeking compensation from two US companies that maintain a system of child slavery and forced labor in their supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire as a corporate policy to obtain a competitive advantage in the US market, ”said Paul L. Hoffman, counsel for the plaintiffs.

Neal K. Katyal, a lawyer for the companies, said they “abhor child slavery” and are not involved in it.

“The complaint that the plaintiffs allude to is something horrible: tenants in Mali sold them as children to an Ivorian farm where supervisors forced them to work,” Katyal said. But, he added, “the defendants are not the locators, nor the guards, nor the farm”.

The plaintiffs brought an action under the Alien Tort Statute, a cryptic law of 1789 that allows federal district courts to hear “any civil action from an alien for a misdemeanor only, committed in violation of the law of nations or of ‘a treaty of the United States’.

The law was largely ignored until the 1980s, when federal courts began to enforce it in international human rights cases. A 2004 Supreme Court decision, Sosa v. Álvarez-Machain, left the door open to certain claims under the law, as long as they involve violations of international standards with “final content and acceptance among civilized nations”.

Since then, the Supreme Court has narrowed the law in two ways, saying it does not apply when the behavior in question was almost entirely abroad or when the defendant was a foreign company.

In 2013, in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, the court stated that there was a general presumption against the extraterritorial application of US law. He dismissed a lawsuit against a foreign company accused of aiding and abetting atrocities committed by Nigerian military and police forces against Ogoni villagers.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said even minimal contact with the United States would not be enough to overcome the presumption.

“Even when the claims touch and concern the territory of the United States,” he wrote, “they must do so with sufficient force to dispel the presumption against extraterritorial application.”

In 2018, in Jesner v. Arab Bank, the court ruled in favor of a Jordan-based bank that had been accused of processing financial transactions through a branch in New York for groups linked to terrorism. The court said that foreign companies could not be prosecuted under the 1789 law, but that it left open the question of the status of domestic companies.

In Tuesday’s case, Nestlé USA v. Doe, n ° 19-416, the societies sought to extend both types of limitations. They said the 1789 law did not allow prosecution even when the conduct of some of the defendants took place in the United States, and they urged the court to ban prosecutions under the law against all companies, whether foreign or national.

They seemed likely to succeed, but on a more limited basis. Judges of all ideological backgrounds questioned whether the plaintiffs’ trial had sufficiently linked the defendants to the abuse they said they had suffered.

“When I read your complaint,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer told Mr. Hoffman, “it seemed to me that all or almost all of your complaint was about dealing with these people. They help pay for the farm. And that’s about it. And they do it knowingly.

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. even said the questions were exaggerated because the lawsuit, first filed in 2005, only said that companies knew or should have been aware of the practices.

“After 15 years, is it too much to ask that you specifically allege that the defendants involved, the defendants who are before us here, knew precisely that forced child labor was used on the farms or agricultural cooperatives with which they did business? ? ” he asked Mr. Hoffman. “Is that too much to ask?”

These questions suggested that the court could rule for corporations without making a general declaration on corporate immunity. Indeed, Judge Alito said that some of the broader business arguments “lead to results that are quite difficult to accept.”

Suppose, he said, that a company “surreptitiously hires agents in Africa to kidnap children and keep them in bondage on a plantation so that the company can buy cocoa or coffee or some other agricultural product from the farm. unbeatable prices ”.

“You would say,” Judge Alito asked Mr. Katyal, “that the victims, who could not obtain redress in the courts of the country where they had been detained, should be deported from court in the United States, where this company is headquartered and does business? “

Mr. Katyal said there were ways to hold such a company accountable. But he said the 1789 law was not one of them.

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McKinsey has offered to pay drug companies rebates for OxyContin overdoses

When Purdue Pharma agreed last month to plead guilty to criminal charges involving OxyContin, the Justice Department noted the role an unidentified consulting firm had played in boosting sales of the addictive pain reliever even as public outrage was increasing because of the widespread overdoses.

Documents released last week in federal bankruptcy court in New York City show the adviser was McKinsey & Company, the world’s most prestigious consultancy. 160 pages include emails and slides revealing new details about McKinsey’s advice to the Sackler family, billionaire Purdue owners, and the company’s now notorious plan to ‘boost’ OxyContin sales at some point. where opioid abuse had already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

In a 2017 presentation, according to the records, which were filed in court on behalf of several state attorneys general, McKinsey presented several options to boost sales. One was to give Purdue distributors a discount for each overdose of OxyContin attributable to the pills they sold.

The presentation estimated how many corporate customers, including CVS and Anthem, could overdose. He predicted that in 2019, for example, 2,484 CVS clients would either have an overdose or an opioid use disorder. A rebate of $ 14,810 per “event” meant that Purdue would pay CVS $ 36.8 million that year.

CVS and Anthem were recently some of McKinsey’s biggest clients. Press officers for both companies said they never received a rebate from Purdue for customers who overdosed on OxyContin.

Although McKinsey was neither charged by the federal government nor prosecuted, he began to worry about the legal repercussions in 2018, according to the documents. After Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against Purdue, Martin Elling, an executive at McKinsey’s North American pharmaceutical practice, wrote to another senior partner, Arnab Ghatak: “It probably makes sense to have a quick conversation. with the risk committee to see if we should do anything “other than” eliminate all of our documents and emails. No suspicion, but as the going gets tough someone might turn to us.

Mr Ghatak, who also advised Purdue, responded, “Thanks for the warning. It will be fine. “

It is not known whether the company’s consultants destroyed any documents.

The two men were among McKinsey’s top consultants. Five years earlier, the documents show, they emailed colleagues about a meeting where McKinsey persuaded the Sacklers to aggressively market OxyContin.

The meeting “went very well – the room was only filled with family members, including senior statesman Dr Raymond,” Ghatak wrote, referring to Purdue co-founder, the doctor Raymond Sackler, who would die in 2017.

Mr. Elling agreed. “At the end of the meeting,” he wrote, “the results were perfectly clear to everyone and they gave resounding approval to move quickly.”

McKinsey’s plan was accepted, although Russell Gasdia, then Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Purdue, questioned the company’s approach, writing to Mr. Ghatak the day before the meeting to say that ‘he had real concerns “about the need to boost sales” of OxyContin.

Another Purdue executive, David Lundie, agreed with the strategy, however. Mr Lundie said the proposal would attract the attention of the Sackler family, according to the documents. It made.

In 2017, Purdue CEO Craig Landau wrote that the crisis was caused by “too many Rx written” at “too high a dose” and “for too long”. The drugs, he said, were prescribed “for conditions which often do not require them” by doctors who lacked “the required training in how to use them appropriately.”

When McKinsey was next called upon to “take down” the aggressive sales campaign, according to court documents, Mr Landau allegedly said it was something “we should have done five years ago.”

A McKinsey press secretary said on Wednesday the company “is cooperating fully with opioid investigations” and announced in 2019 that it “will not advise any clients in the world on specific opioid cases.”

In a statement last month, the Sacklers said family members “who have served on the Purdue board of directors have acted ethically and legally.”

McKinsey’s involvement in the opioid crisis came to light early last year, with the release of documents from Massachusetts, which is among states suing Purdue. These recordings show McKinsey was helping Purdue find a way to “counter the emotional messages of mothers of overdosed teens” of OxyContin.

On Tuesday, Purdue pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including fraud against federal health agencies and paying illegal bribes to doctors. The company also faces penalties of approximately $ 8.3 billion. As part of the settlement, members of the Sackler family will pay $ 225 million in civil penalties.

In a statement released after the settlement was announced in October, Purdue said it “deeply regrets and accepts responsibility” for misconduct involving its marketing of OxyContin.

The federal settlement with Purdue comes as states and municipalities demand compensation from opioid makers for helping fuel a health crisis that has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1999. Purdue is now seeking bankruptcy protection , just like other manufacturers.

“It’s the banality of evil, MBA edition,” said Anand Giridharadas, a former McKinsey consultant who reviewed the documents, of the company’s work with Purdue. “They knew what was going on. And they found a way to look beyond, through him, around him, in order to answer the only questions that were close to their hearts: how to make the customer money and, when the walls close, how. protect.

Mr Giridharadas is a New York Times contributor who wrote a 2018 book that examined the power of elites, including those at McKinsey, to find out how they escape responsibility for social harm.

In recent years, McKinsey has drawn criticism and unwanted attention for its dealings around the world, including in authoritarian countries such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Its business in South Africa was decimated after McKinsey worked with companies linked to a corruption scandal that led to the country’s president being ousted. In the United States, McKinsey has worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Trump’s leadership, suggesting ways to reduce spending on food and accommodation for detainees.

Documents released last week detail McKinsey’s work with Purdue dating back to 2008, the year after the drugmaker pleaded guilty to deceptive regulators. The Food and Drug Administration previously told Purdue that OxyContin would face sales restrictions and that doctors who prescribe it would require specialized training.

The Sackler family saw the rules as a threat and, joining McKinsey, hatched a plan to “band together” with other opioid makers to push back on them, according to an email. McKinsey prepared Purdue executives for a vital meeting ahead of an FDA advisory panel reviewing its proposed reformulation of OxyContin to make it less prone to abuse. The reformulation was put on the market in 2010.

McKinsey put together backgrounders that anticipated the questions Purdue would receive. A possible question: “Who at Purdue is personally responsible for these deaths?”

The proposed response: “We all feel responsible.”

Dr Richard Sackler, now patriarch of the family, was pleased with the preparations, writing to his daughter in an email from January 2009: “Marianna, I am writing to tell you how impressed I was with the preparation for the meeting. from the FDA. The method and process as well as the content were excellent and represented a major change from efforts like this in the past. “

Purdue’s FDA meeting appeared at least partially successful. Even to this day, the FDA has never required specialized training for prescribers of OxyContin, wrote state attorneys who filed the documents last week.

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Could limiting applicants to companies make it harder to promote Biden’s diversity?

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has made building a diverse team a priority. He is also facing pressure from the progressive wing of his party to limit corporate influence over hires for his administration, avoiding candidates on Wall Street or company boards. But some business leaders suggested to the DealBook newsletter that narrowing the pool of candidates in this way would not help create a more representative administration.

“Big companies are here to help,” said Ronald C. Parker, CEO of the National Association of Securities Professionals. Women and people of color in business are having “a unique experience that lends itself to be listened to,” he said. This week, the NASP and seven other trade groups sent a letter to Mr Biden urging him to prioritize diversity in key economic policy positions and to “reject blanket exclusion requests from potential candidates with a experience in the corporate sector or in the field of financial services in particular. . “

Roger W. Ferguson Jr., one of the most prominent black executives in the financial industry, recently announced his retirement as CEO of TIAA. He is said to be on the Treasury Secretary’s shortlist and is getting Mr. Parker’s backing.

According to a report by Chris Brummer of the Georgetown Institute for International Economic Law, only 10 of 327 federal financial agency appointments requiring confirmation from Congress over the years have been black. Earlier this month, Mr. Brummer was named a member of Mr. Biden’s Treasury Department advisory review team.

The barrier to more diverse hiring “isn’t the skill set, it’s the relationships,” said Petal P. Walker of law firm WilmerHale, former chief advisor to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. People tend to hire whoever they golf or drink with, she says, so it takes “intentional action” to break down established cliques.

Calls to reject corporate nominations ignore U.S. history, said Paul Thornell, former Senate and White House staff member of lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti. The generational wealth gap created by a long history of discrimination leaves fewer people of color able to afford to take government or nonprofit jobs. “Far-left groups are issuing executive orders,” he said, “but these do not reflect the realities of the American experience or of inequality, the racial wealth gap, and may s ‘prove counterproductive in diversifying the administration and implementing policies that work for all Americans. “

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Accountability companies caught in Facebook ad ban

What a small business that sells wrapped socks by homeless youth and a start-up that makes bracelets from life vests once worn by refugees have to do with the spread of disinformation during the presidential election season?

Nothing, the entrepreneurs who started them thought, until Facebook informed them that their ads had been taken down because they fell into a category of “social, electoral or political issues” blocked by the site.

The social media giant announced last week that it was extending a ban on certain advertisements during the election to prevent the spread of false information. The ban has trapped a number of social enterprises not directly linked to partisan politics.

Businesses related to issues such as hunger, the environment and immigration, many of which rely heavily on social media to drive customers to their websites, have seen their access abruptly cut off.

“We’re just selling socks and trying to do a good thing,” said Sam Harper, 27, co-founder of Hippy Feet, a Minneapolis-based company that employs homeless youth. “We are not trying to advance a particular agenda on homelessness and unemployment.”

“Facebook is thinking about political campaigns, and we are collateral damage in the process,” Harper said.

Entrepreneurs say they don’t blame Facebook for banning lies and deceptive content. But they argue that it is unfair that their welfare businesses are lumped together with politically motivated advertisers. As the crucial holiday season quickly approaches, some fear the ban, extended on November 11 for another month, could lead to their demise.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, misleading and distorted information disseminated by automated Russian accounts and others on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube was designed to influence voters. Some of the reviews generated articles on social issues, such as civil rights and women’s rights, which were found to be divisive.

This election cycle, amid growing pressure to improve ad monitoring, Facebook and several other platforms blocked new political ads ahead of election day and extended the suspension during the contested vote count afterwards.

“The temporary hiatus for ads on politics and social issues in the United States continues to be in place as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the election,” the company said last week when announcing the extension. “Advertisers can expect this to last another month, although it is possible to resume these ads sooner.”

Sarah Schiff, Facebook product manager, said the company had made “tough decisions” to temporarily suspend advertising not only on politics and elections, but also on many social issues, “to protect the integrity of elections”.

“We know it can be disappointing, but we encourage businesses to run ads on other topics and reach people during this time with their organic posts and tools like fundraisers on Facebook and Instagram. Ms. Schiff said in a statement.

The company said business owners who believed their ads had been incorrectly flagged could request a review, either through an automated process or through a personal review.

“The app is not perfect but we are improving over time,” the statement said.

Advertising policy so far has cast a wide net.

“Because you have to implement this on a huge scale, you can’t make exceptions on a regular basis,” said Jessica Alter, co-founder of Tech for Campaigns, a nonprofit that advises Democratic campaigns on their strategy. advertising on social networks. “Organizations and businesses that try to do good are unfairly disadvantaged.”

“If you have a total ban, that’s the unintended consequence,” added Ms Alter, who said she didn’t blame Facebook. “Is advertising meditation political? Yoga?”

The Facebook ad is a lifeline for Epimonia, a Minneapolis-based company that makes and sells bracelets and other items made from the discarded life jackets worn by refugees fleeing on fragile boats to Europe.

The company spends several thousand dollars a year advertising on Facebook, which targets users who have a favorable view of refugees based on the interests listed on their profiles. When an Epimonia ad appears, those who click on it are taken to the company’s website.

“I have been advertising on Facebook for years. It’s very frustrating for me now to be categorized with groups using fake ads for political reasons, ”said Mohamed Malim, 24, a Somali American who started the business three years ago with 2,000. $ remaining on his university scholarship.

Epimonia’s ads were put on hold at the end of October, when Facebook first announced a week-long freeze on certain ads. They have not recovered since, said Mr Malim, who has repeatedly appealed the decision to no avail.

“Not being able to run ads before the holidays could bankrupt us,” said Malim, who employs a handful of refugees to make bracelets, hats and t-shirts.

Three of Epimonia’s banned ads say buying a bracelet would help refugees build new lives in the United States. The ads also indicate that a portion of the proceeds will go to charitable causes.

“The ads were approved but were suspended due to a blackout period,” Facebook told the company. “All broadcast, electoral and political advertising in the United States has been temporarily halted.”

Facebook did not specify what was wrong with the ads, but Mr Malim said he assumed that “since we are talking about refugees in our brand communications, Facebook considers us a political advertiser.”

Given the uncertainty, he decided to postpone the launch of a new clothing line scheduled for next week. “It will be difficult for us to sell and donate to nonprofits if we continue to have this problem,” Mr. Malim said.

Even before the election, Facebook was requiring companies with a social agenda to include a disclaimer in their ads. But businesses and advertising agencies, which place ads for some of them, have reported that Facebook has become more aggressive in disabling ads in recent weeks.

One of the companies targeted was Bridgewater Candle Company, which donates the money from each scented candle it sells to orphans in Haiti, India, and other countries through a Christian organization for purpose. non-profit. Its slogan is “Light a candle, feed a child”.

On November 4, the company was informed by Facebook that an advertisement promoting its mission had been suspended. “The simplest line, ‘With every potted candle, we provide three meals,’ triggered its withdrawal,” said Kelly Barter, marketing manager for Spartanburg, SC. “Facebook sees our restitution mission as a social issue.”

It was the first time since the candle company started advertising on the platform three years ago that an approved ad has been withdrawn. It took a week of back and forth communication with Facebook to resuscitate him.

“This is problematic for an e-commerce business trying to drive sales and educate the public to shut down,” Ms. Barter said. “Fortunately, we were able to cross the roadblock.”

Blueland, which sells refillable and reusable cleaning products, does not ask its customers to donate to environmental causes. But the e-commerce site markets its soap, detergent and dishwater tablets as “a gift to you and the planet” because the products help eliminate polluting plastic containers.

It is on this basis that Facebook recently banned an ad from Blueland that explained how its reusable hand soap prevents single-use plastic bottles from washing in the oceans and going to landfills. Facebook then reviewed the ad at Blueland’s request and allowed it to run without any changes.

“This is something we were able to fix, but it wasn’t the best time when we were about to enter the holiday season,” said Gina Pak, director of marketing for the company.

Ms Pak said she agreed with Facebook’s efforts to address the “big, big issues” during the election, but suggested it was “disruptive” to see the ads removed.

Hippy Feet, which sells wacky and colorful socks with music-oriented names like Sunset Lovers, Fleetwoods and Joplins, is committed to helping homeless teens and young adults by employing them part-time to fill and wrap the orders, screen printing and embroidery.

On the eve of the election, Facebook repeatedly informed Hippy Feet that its ads violated advertising policy, according to a communication provided by the company.

“Their algorithms see words like homelessness and decide we’re political,” said Mr. Harper, who founded Hippy Feet four years ago with a friend.

The company is more reliant on Facebook ads than ever to help increase its online sales as the coronavirus pandemic has kept it from selling as it normally would in holiday markets and bazaars. The company traditionally generates around 40% of its sales during the holidays, when it also employs the most homeless youth in its establishment.

“We’re a little nervous and unsure of where things are going,” said Harper. “It makes us question the safety and sustainability of what we do, if we are affected by something like an election.”

After discussions between Hippy Feet and Facebook, some of the ads were resurrected on the platform at the end of last week; others remain disabled.

“We cannot be mad at the intention of the policy. It’s supposed to make Facebook and the world a safer place, ”Harper said. “We just found ourselves on the wrong side of the stick.”

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Social media companies have survived Election Day. Other tests are looming.

OAKLAND, Calif .– For months, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have braced themselves to crack down on disinformation on election day.

On Tuesday, most of their projects went off without a hitch. Social platforms added labels to President Trump’s misleading messages and informed their users that there was no immediate outcome to the presidential race. On television, news anchors even cited fact-checks similar to those performed by Twitter and Facebook.

Then came Wednesday. With the ballots still being counted and the lack of a clear result, the tide of disinformation has shifted from sowing doubts about the vote to false declarations of victory. Twitter was quick to label several of Mr. Trump’s tweets throughout the day as misleading about the outcome of his race, and also did the same with tweets from other members of his circle, such as Eric Trump and White House press secretary Kayleigh. McEnany. And Facebook and YouTube used their home pages to show people specific information about the election.

The shares reinforced that even a smooth performance on Election Day didn’t mean social media companies could relax, fighting off an endless stream of toxic content. In fact, the biggest tests for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are still looming, disinformation researchers said, as false narratives can crop up until a final presidential race result is certified.

“What we found on polling day from companies was that they were extremely responsive and faster than ever,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council. But now, he said, the misinformation focused only on the results and undermined them.

“You have a hyper-focused audience and a point in time where there’s a huge amount of uncertainty, and bad actors can use that opportunistically,” he said.

Twitter said it continues to monitor disinformation. Facebook said: “Our job is not done – we will remain vigilant and promote reliable information on Facebook as the votes continue to be counted.” YouTube said it was also on alert for “election-related content” in the coming days.

The companies had all braced for a chaotic election day, trying to avoid a repeat of 2016, when their platforms were misused by the Russians to spread divisive disinformation. In recent months, companies have deployed a number of anti-disinformation measures, including suspending or banning political advertising, slowing the flow of information, and highlighting specific information and context.

As Americans voted across the country on Tuesday, lies about broken voting machines and biased election officials repeatedly surfaced. But the companies weren’t tested until Mr. Trump – with early results showing how tight the race was – posted to Twitter and Facebook just before 1 a.m. EST to baselessly attack the electoral process.

“They are trying to STEAL the election,” Mr. Trump posted on the sites, without specifying who he was talking about.

Twitter acted swiftly, hiding Mr. Trump’s inaccurate tweet behind a tag that warned people that the allegation was “disputed” and “could be misleading about an election or other civic process.” Twitter, which first started tagging Mr. Trump’s tweets in May, was also limiting users’ ability to like and share the post.

On Wednesday morning, Twitter added more tags to Mr. Trump’s posts. In one, he tweeted that his first tracks in democratic states “had started to magically disappear.” In another post, Mr Trump said unnamed people were working to erase his lead in the battlefield state of Pennsylvania.

Twitter also applied other labels to posts that falsely claimed victory. One was added to a post from Ben Wikler, leader of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, in which he prematurely claimed that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won the state. The Associated Press and other media then called Wisconsin for Mr. Biden, although Mr. Trump called for a recount.

On Wednesday afternoon, Twitter also put into context the tweets of Eric Trump, one of Mr. Trump’s sons, and Ms. McEnany when they preemptively claimed that Mr. Trump won in Pennsylvania, even if the race had not been organized there. The company has also verified other claims by Mr. Trump claiming his victory in several battlefield states such as North Carolina and Georgia, where the race has not been started, and has restricted the sharing of his misrepresentation about electoral fraud.

“While votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take coercive action on tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election in general,” Twitter said.

Facebook has taken a more cautious approach. Mark Zuckerberg, its chief executive, said he was unwilling to verify the facts of the president or other political figures because he believed in free speech. Still, to avoid being misused in the election, Facebook said it would present premature victory claims by notifying that the election has yet to be called for a candidate, if necessary.

On Tuesday night, Facebook had to do just that. Shortly after Mr. Trump announced that the election had been stolen from him, Facebook officials added tags to his posts. The labels noted that “no winner of the presidential election had been projected.”

After the polls closed, Facebook also sent users a notification that if they were waiting to vote at a polling station, they could still vote if they were already in line.

Facebook added more tags to Mr. Trump’s new posts on Wednesday, verifying his claims by noting that “as expected, election results will take longer this year.”

Unlike Twitter, Facebook has not blocked users from sharing or commenting on Mr. Trump’s posts. But this was the first time Facebook had used such labels, as part of the company’s plan to add context to the election posts. A spokesperson said the company “had planned and prepared these scenarios and built the essential systems and tools.”

YouTube, which is not used regularly by Mr. Trump, has faced fewer high profile issues than Twitter and Facebook. All YouTube videos on the election results included a tag saying the election may not have ended and linked to a Google page with the Associated Press results.

But the site ran into a problem early Tuesday night when several YouTube channels, one with more than a million subscribers, said they were streaming election results live. What the live streams actually showed was a graph of a projection of an election result with Mr. Biden in the lead. They were also among the first results that appeared when users searched for election results.

After media reported the issue, YouTube removed the video feeds, citing its policy of banning spam, deceptive practices and scams.

One America News Network, a conservative cable news network with nearly one million YouTube subscribers, also posted a video comment to the site on Wednesday claiming that Mr. Trump had already won the election and that Democrats were “kicking off. Republican ballots, collecting fake ballots and delaying results “to cause confusion. The video has been viewed over 280,000 times.

Farshad Shadloo, a spokesperson for YouTube, said the video did not violate company policy on misleading voting allegations. He said the video was tagged with the election results not being final. YouTube added that it removed the ads from the video because it did not allow creators to make money with content that undermined “election confidence with blatantly false information.”

Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, said tech companies still have a fight against election misinformation, but they are prepared for it.

“There will always be a long trail of disinformation, but it will have less impact,” he said. “They’re still working, that’s for sure, and will try to maintain that level of staffing and focus until the outcome is generally accepted.”

But Fadi Quran, campaign manager at Avaaz, a progressive nonprofit that tracks disinformation, said Facebook, Twitter and YouTube need to do more.

“The platforms must quickly expand their efforts before the country plunges into further chaos and confusion,” he said. “It’s a democratic emergency.”

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Pentagon offers little reason to rescue trucking companies

WASHINGTON – The Department of Defense provided few details to a congressional oversight committee on why a struggling trucking company YRC Worldwide was deemed essential to national security, a designation that earned it a $ 700 million stimulus loan.

The loan, which was approved in July by the Treasury Department, has been the subject of a Congressional inquiry into whether the money was properly allocated and why YRC, which ships military supplies, was named as essential to national security. The Congressional Oversight Commission, which was set up to monitor stimulus funds, also examined whether YRC’s ties to the White House were a factor in a loan.

In a letter to members of the commission, the Defense Department provided limited explanation as to why YRC deserved such government assistance.

The letter, which was reviewed by the New York Times, stated that YRC was eligible for the loan because it was the Department of Defense’s largest domestic transportation provider, carrying food, electronics and d ‘other supplies to military bases across the country. The explanation echoed the rationale shared by the Treasury Department when approving the loan in July, but provided no additional reason why the company, which was on a shaky financial footing and had been sued by the government, should receive a bailout when other transportation providers did. available.

YRC lost over $ 100 million in 2019 and was being sued by the Justice Department for defrauding the federal government for a period of seven years. The case is not resolved.

The Defense Department said in the letter that it had access to other shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS. YRC is the fourth largest small freight carrier in the United States.

Asked why the company was deemed essential to national security, Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Procurement and Sustainment, wrote: “It is important that our troops have the supplies they need to be able to perform their duties and defend the country. “

The Defense Department confirmed that it sent the letter to members of the commission last week. Amber Venzon, the chief clerk of the Congressional Oversight Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a Congressional Oversight Committee report earlier this month, the Treasury Department said that YRC provides 68 percent of the Department of Defense’s small transportation and provides services to the Department of Homeland Security and the US Customs and Border Protection Agency. As to why this made it critical to national security, the Treasury turned over to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who is responsible for this certification.

A new commission report released on Friday did not include the Pentagon letter but noted that it had been received and expressed frustration with the Pentagon.

“The committee finds the Defense Ministry’s delay inexcusable and its responses incomplete,” the report said. “The committee looks forward to further consideration of this issue in its November report.”

In the letter, Ms Lord said the Defense Department had not contacted other trucking companies to see if they could meet its needs if YRC scaled back or ceased operations and said the agency no had not developed contingency plans in the event of YRC shutting down.

Members of the Commission had expressed concerns that the company could have received a loan because of its ties to the White House. YRC is financially supported by Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm with close ties to Trump administration officials.

Lawmakers on both sides wrote letters to the Treasury Department earlier this year urging the Trump administration to support YRC, which employs 30,000 workers.

The $ 17 billion fund to help businesses deemed essential to national security was created from the $ 2.2 trillion economic relief bill passed by Congress in March. Businesses can apply for the loans to the Treasury Department, which must require the Department of Defense to affirm that they meet national security requirements.

The Pentagon said in the letter that 19 other companies had been certified as essential to national security through the program. YRC is the only company to have received a loan to date.

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It’s an election battle for survival for gig companies like Uber

OAKLAND, Calif .– At the end of August, the urgency was becoming evident. Top executives from Uber, Lyft and delivery service DoorDash met to discuss a California voting measure that would exempt them from a new state labor law and save their businesses money. hundreds of millions of dollars.

The survival of their businesses was on the ballot.

Days later, political strategists responded to executives’ concerns by telling companies, which had previously pledged $ 90 million to support the measure, that they had to spend significantly more if they wanted to win, said three people close to the discussions, who were not allowed to speak publicly.

The ballot measure fight, Proposition 22, has become the costliest in the state’s history since then, with its backers contributing nearly $ 200 million and 10 days remaining until the November 3 election. Along the way, companies have been repeatedly accused of tough tactics; a lawsuit filed on Thursday claims Uber is forcing support from its drivers.

Despite the heavy spending and a barrage of TV advertising, only 39% of likely voters said they supported Uber and Lyft in a poll conducted last month by the University of California at Berkeley, while 36% opposed their proposal and that others were undecided. People close to the campaign have said they would like to see nearly 60% approval in the polls before they can breathe a sigh of relief.

The voting measure, which is also backed by Instacart and a delivery company Uber is acquiring, Postmates, could be a harbinger for concert businesses in the rest of the country.

Prop 22 would exempt businesses from complying with a law that came into effect earlier this year. The law aims to force them to treat construction workers like employees, but Uber and its peers have resisted, fearing the cost of benefits like unemployment insurance and health care could send them into a downward financial spiral. .

Although Uber and Lyft, for example, are publicly traded companies with a combined value of $ 70.5 billion, they have never been profitable. They lose billions of dollars every year and the pandemic has made it even harder to make a profit. DoorDash, which filed for release, also struggled. Analysts estimate that complying with California’s Small Worker Law could cost Uber, which lost $ 1.8 billion in its most recent quarter, up to $ 500 million a year.

Uber said it plans to cut work for the roughly 158,000 California drivers active on the platform each quarter if its voting measure fails. He would use roughly 51,000 drivers remaining, he said, and increasing tariffs to meet higher commercial costs.

The election fight gained momentum Thursday night when the California First District Court of Appeals ruled that Uber and Lyft must treat their California drivers like employees under the new labor law. The state attorney general and city attorneys in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego sued the companies in May to enforce the law.

“If the Prop 22 doesn’t win, we’ll do our best to adjust,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, general manager of Uber, in a statement. Interview with the Wall Street Journal this week. “Where in California we can operate is a question mark, and the size and scale of the company will be significantly reduced.”

In the past with local regulators, Uber has mobilized its passengers to support it. The pandemic has made this difficult, so he urged his technical staff to get involved and used his app to contact drivers for help.

The Yes in 22 campaign also launched an effort to organize drivers, an initiative copied from task forces that have long tried to organize drivers to fight for better working conditions. And he’s forged relationships with high profile advocacy groups, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the California chapter of the NAACP.

“Drivers want independence plus four-to-one advantages, and we’re going to fight for them,” said Julie Wood, spokesperson for Lyft. “We think California voters are on the drivers side as well.”

DoorDash spokesperson Taylor Bennett said, “Our support for Prop 22 is part of our commitment to protect the economic opportunity that tens of thousands of Californians enjoy and the access to delivery that so many. restaurants matter, especially at such a critical time. time.”

A spokesperson for Instacart declined to comment. Postmates did not respond to a request for comment.

In an effort to gain support, companies have bombarded drivers and drivers with push notifications, campaign ads that appear in their apps, and emails promoting Prop 22. Before logging in to start work, Uber drivers have received a slide show of warnings about how their lives could change if the proposal fails.

“A vote no would mean a lot less jobs,” warned one of the Uber app slides. “This is why we are fighting so hard to win.”

In Thursday’s lawsuit against Uber, drivers say the posts violate a state law that prohibits employers from coercing their employees into political activity.

“I can’t rule out that employers have engaged in coercive tactics like this in the past, but I have never heard of an employer engaging in this kind of barrage of coercive communications at such a level. wide, never, “said one of the pilots’ lawyers, David Lowe, partner at Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe. “It’s such an extraordinary thing, from my perspective, for Uber to exploit this captive audience of workers.” Mr. Lowe said he was opposed to proposal 22.

Matt Kallman, a spokesperson for Uber, said: “This is an absurd, baseless lawsuit filed only for the attention of the press and without regard to the facts.” He added: “This cannot distract from the truth: the vast majority of drivers support prop 22.”

In early October, the Prop 22 campaign was denounced by Senator Bernie Sanders after a bogus progressive group calling itself Feel the Bern endorsed the proposal in a campaign flyer that implied Uber had the support of progressive leaders. The mailers were, in fact, sent by a company that creates political mailers representing different points of view.

“The Prop 22 campaign is working hard to reach voters across the state and across the political spectrum to make sure they know that drivers are overwhelmingly supporting Prop 22,” said Geoff Vetter, spokesperson. the Yes in 22 campaign, which is funded by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and other giant economy companies.

Questions were also raised about the approval of the NAACP. A political consulting firm headed by Alice Huffman, the leader of the California NAACP, received $ 85,000 from the concert societies campaign, according to public records. The payment was reported earlier by the CalMatters news site.

Mr Vetter said the payments were for “awareness.” The NAACP did not respond to a request for comment.

Uber held a general meeting this month to allow employees to meet with drivers who support the proposal and sent out several emails encouraging staff to lobby friends and family.

Although internal messages have been upbeat, policy staff voiced concerns to campaign consultants at meetings in late August and early September, people familiar with the meetings said. Among their concerns: that the language of the ballot was against business, and that people were voting earlier than usual due to the pandemic, which means advertising should be swift and aggressive.

“We look at the data every day and our metrics show a tight race,” Justin Kintz, Uber’s public policy manager, said in an email to Uber employees in early October obtained by The New York Times. “At the same time, with continued strong execution against our plan, we are confident that we can win.”

While the email said the campaign was optional, Kintz encouraged employees to participate in text banks to contact voters and promote the campaign in conversations with friends.

“The main reason you see so much spending is because of the high stakes in this election,” said Vetter, the campaign spokesperson. “Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake. These are services that millions of Californians rely on. “

The union-sponsored opposition campaign raised around $ 15 million. Supporters of the No in 22 campaign argued that voters should reject the push by tech companies and that the measure would hurt workers already disadvantaged during the pandemic.

“Proposition 22 will worsen racial inequalities in California at the worst possible time,” said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California. “You’ve very clearly crossed the line when trying to claim the fairness mantle for a campaign that has always been about allowing multi-billion dollar app companies to write their own law so they can carry on. to exploit the work of the drivers, eight out of 10 of whom are people of color.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote, concert companies and their opponents are likely to campaign in Washington. Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit similar to the one the California court ruled on Thursday night, and Uber hopes to avoid further state-by-state battles by pushing for federal legislation.

Erin Griffith and Noam Scheiber contributed reporting.