AP releases a collection of stories to understand the coronavirus outbreak
With misinformation swirling from many sources surrounding the new coronavirus, AP has released a collection of reliable stories that inform readers about the progression of COVID-19 from its origins to today, including the proper reference to the virus’ name. Read the collection here.
Warren drops White House bid
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) ended her presidential campaign this week, leaving two men in their 70s — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and former Vice President Joe Biden — with the best chance of running against President Donald Trump (also in his 70s) in the 2020 general election. Barring any third-party runs and an upset of gigantic proportions in which Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) wins the Democratic nomination, the United States will have a male president through Jan. 20, 2025, a string of 236 years or since the office was first filled by George Washington.
So what does that mean?
Australian AP will join other defunct wire services
On March 2, the Australian Associated Press announced they will be shutting down their operation on June 26, 2020.
AAP was the primary newswire service in Australia and their impending closure is a blow to an already crumbling backbone of newswire services across the world who provide the media with up-to-date information on breaking news, issues and events.
AAP stood tall for 85 years, providing on-the-ground reporting and photography for both international and local news. One hundred eighty journalists will have to find new jobs, but for now they keep their head down and continue working, remaining loyal to both their publication and the public.
The Guardian, however, reports that over 50 reporters will likely be offered jobs at News Corp and Nine amid the AAP closure, both media organizations which pulled out of their subscription to the newswire service.
Virginia bans minor conversion therapy
Photo by Sara Rampazzo on Unsplash
Virginia has become the first Southern state and the 20th nationwide to ban conversion therapy for minors Tuesday. House Bill 386 prohibits state-licensed mental health counselors from offering any services that claim to change the sexual identity of an LGBTQ+ minor. The bill also prohibits state funding to be given toward any person or group that practices this type of conversion therapy.
“Conversion therapy sends the harmful message that there is something wrong with who you are,” said [Governor] Northam. “No one should be made to feel they are not okay the way they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”
The newly passed bill comes just in time to compare to newly released data from the Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health. The study reported the 2 out of 3 LGBTQ youth have had someone try to convince them to change their sexual or gender identity. In banning the practice of conversion therapy in Virginia, state lawmakers are working to fight this statistic.
Opposers of the bill include groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel. The groups claim the bill violates their own practices of freedom of speech and religious freedom; they state that teens should be able to attempt to get rid of “gender confusion” and “same-sex attraction.”
Read more about the new law here.
High school student creates fake political candidate account on Twitter; gets verified
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
A high school student from upstate New York created a fake Twitter profile for a 2020 candidate — that does not exist. The account received a blue check mark — meaning that the account was verified — on Twitter in February, despite the candidate having no identification or documentation to prove that the fake candidate, Andrew Walz, was registered or even a real citizen.
This comes after Twitter announced in December it would verify all credible political candidates in the 2020 race. A Georgia candidate, Jannquell Peters, struggled to become verified on Twitter despite having the proper paperwork and identification. She claimed her lack of verification hurt her campaigning process.
The teenager who created the fake Twitter account was interested in testing Twitter’s verification and misinformation handling processes. He said it took about 20 minutes in total to make the fake candidate and Twitter account. He registered the fake candidate at Ballotpedia, a site that considers itself to be an encyclopedia of political candidates. This is the resource Twitter used to verify candidates. Twitter reaches out to candidates regarding verifying the account and any qualifications that are needed to complete the process.
This simple threat of misinformation created by a high school student opens up a larger discussion regarding the information that circles by expert outside sources. The time and ability it took to verify a fake political candidate was minimal; how can Twitter stop foreign agents if it cannot stop a high school student?
Read more about this story here.