Twitter is rebooting its verification system, and it could put Trump’s blue check mark in jeopardy

Donald Trump phone

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Twitter is rebooting its verification system, and the proposed new guidelines could see persistent rule-breakers stripped of their coveted blue check-marks.

Twitter gives “verified” status to selected accounts belonging to public figures and organizations, signified by a blue check mark next to their account name. The system has been on ice for three years, but the company announced Tuesday its application process for verified status would relaunch in early 2021.

The company is asking for user feedback on proposed new rules before it officially relaunches next year. The proposals include clearer rules on exactly who is eligible for a blue check — but they also contain a threat. Verified accounts could lose their blue checks if they repeatedly break Twitter’s rules.

This puts the Twitter account of President Donald Trump in a precarious position.

At the moment, even if Trump posts material that breaks Twitter’s rules, he is protected by his “world leaders” status. Twitter says accounts with this status are newsworthy, and so users should be able to see their tweets even if they break its rules.

Trump has broken Twitter’s rules before. In May, he tweeted about the Minneapolis George Floyd protestsc, saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter placed this behind a click-through block, notifying users the tweet broke its rules on “glorifying violence.”

Since the election, the platform has also placed numerous tweets from Trump behind click-through blocks for breaking its rules on election integrity. For example, it applied a block to a November 5 tweet from Trump claiming “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!” 

Twitter has confirmed that once Trump hands over to Joe Biden at Biden’s inauguration on January 20, he will lose his “world leader” protections.

This means that if Trump continues to tweet with the same abandon he’s employed during his presidency, Twitter could both take away his blue check mark and potentially boot him off the platform altogether.

Twitter said in a blog post that its new policy “will lay the foundation for future improvements by defining what verification means, who is eligible for verification and why some accounts might lose verification to ensure the process is more equitable.”

Twitter’s public verification program was put in hold in 2017 after the platform granted verified status to Jason Kessler, one of the organizers behind the white supremacist Charlottesville rally. The decision sparked outrage, as some users argued …read more

Source:: Business Insider


US stock futures point higher after Dow broke 30,000 as investors cheer vaccines, Biden’s new administration

A man sits on the Wall street bull near the New York Stock Exchange

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US stock futures pointed to a potentially record-breaking start to trade on Wall Street later on Wednesday, buoyed by optimism that a solution for COVID-19 will deliver the global economy from deeper harm.

The Dow Jones closed above 30,000 points for the first time in history on Tuesday, buoyed by a cocktail of optimism over the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine and much more clarity on the political front, after President Donald Trump appeared to clear the way for Joe Biden’s administration to start its transition process. 

President-elect Biden has already started to name members of his cabinet but for markets, the most important was that of Janet Yellen, the former head of the Federal Reserve, to the position of Treasury Secretary. 

“Yellen and US Fed Chair Jerome Powell are the new normal economic power brokers,” Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at broker Axi, said.

“They will aim to get the real economy to full employment. Both have learned from past mistakes. Exceptionally easy financial conditions will prevail for much longer than usual. Markets will be encouraged and incentivized to take more and more risk. Eventually, there will be a price to pay – but worry about that another day,” he said.

Futures on the Dow Jones were trading down 0.1% at 29,968 points, suggesting the index may open at, or close to, Tuesday’s record high above 30,000. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were trading down 0.1% and up 0.1%, respectively. 

Read More: The investment chief at a $20 billion family office explains how he allocates assets for the ultra-wealthy — and shares 3 outperforming mutual fund managers on his buy list 

Yellen, a policymaker that has always tended to err on the side of dovishness, will be the first woman to have headed up the Fed, the Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisors. She has advocated for more spending to protect the economy, and investors have generally taken her appointment as a positive. 

However, the final say in any stimulus bill will come from Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. 

“The impending appointment of ex-Fed Chair Yellen as Treasury Secretary is to be welcomed – a safer pair of hands is hard to imagine,” Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson said in a note on Tuesday.

“As Treasury Secretary, Dr. Yellen will have a powerful bully pulpit, alongside Fed Chair Powell to make the case for more fiscal action. …read more

Source:: Business Insider


As the pandemic shatters Americans’ mental health, the FDA, psychiatrists, and developers are betting on smartphone apps to treat them directly

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: A woman is seen walking past a charity called Ark of Hope Foundation, as Staffordshire prepares to move into Tier 2 COVID-19 on October 28, 2020 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

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The coronavirus pandemic has precipitated a universal mental-health crisis.

Symptoms of anxiety and depression are rising across age groups, with redundancies, isolation, and health anxiety manifesting despair and hopelessness.

US adults have shown three times as many symptoms of depression during the pandemic than the same period in 2019, researchers at Boston University found in September.

“There’s been an exacerbation of existing symptoms,” Dr. Adam Haim, chief of treatment and preventive intervention at the National Institute of Mental Health, told Business Insider. “Then, you have individuals exhibiting new symptoms.”

Healthcare providers have also struggled to keep pace with the soaring rates of mental illness for years, with therapists oversubscribed and new antidepressants showing little improvement on their predecessors.

Many of the mental-health apps to help people cope, like Calm and Headspace, have seen staggering usage in the pandemic. Mental-health startups are also securing record levels of funding.

Now, a select group of apps are seeking not just to help people get by, but to take the treatments normally confined to psychiatric clinics and put them in a person’s hand.

“There’s a broader acceleration in digital health,” Nate Beyor, a digital-health expert at the Boston Consulting Group, told Business Insider. “The slope has changed, it’s become more aggressive.”

The swift rise of these apps has prompted the question: Can they be as effective as drugs at treating mental illness?

‘Be your own therapist’

These apps vary in price, and can cost as much as a course of in-person therapy or medication. But it is clear that they are more ubiquitous, accessible, and future-proof.

Click Therapeutics, Pear Therapeutics, and Orexo are three companies currently leading the field in the digital-health space. All have developed software to treat mental illness with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Broadly, CBT helps people understand why they think and act the way they do, and helps them manage and change those habits through reflexive tasks.

Pear is behind Somryst, the first app approved by the Food and Drug Administration to use CBT to treat insomnia. A nine-week course of treatment using Somryst costs $899.

Meanwhile, Click is currently developing an app — CT152 — to treat major depressive disorder with cognitive therapy.

“Psychotherapy is expensive and a big time commitment,” Brian Iacoviello, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai — who helped develop CT152 — said in 2017. “It’s good to have another option that is not …read more

Source:: Business Insider


DOJ has agreed to temporarily halt deportations for some migrant detainees and whistleblowers who alleged medical and sexual abuse at a Georgia detention center — until at least a Biden-Harris administration

Irwin Detention Center, ICE, Georgia

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The US Justice Department agreed on Tuesday to temporarily suspend the deportations of detained immigrant women who have alleged abuse at an immigration detention facility in rural Georgia, according to new court filings. The new motion filed by attorneys from the US Attorney’s Office is now sealed by the US District Court Middle District of Georgia but was previously reported on by VICE News. 

The motion of consent, filed today in the Middle District of Georgia and that still needs federal approval, protects at least four women from deportation until January 21, or the start of the Biden-Harris administration. The Biden administration has proposed a selective moratorium on deportations in the first months of his new administration.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday’s decision could dent the Trump administration’s legal pursuits in the case and signal a broader victory for the whistleblowers and detainees at the privately-owned Irwin County Detention Center. The motion concerns four of the women whose testimonies alleging forced hysterectomies or other medical abuse at the hands of Dr. Mahendra Amin have ignited an investigation into the facility.

Prior to Tuesday’s motion of consent, the DHS had initiated deportation proceedings against several of the women, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The women detained at Irwin have organized and exposed medical atrocities and retaliation. ICE tried to silence them by deporting them, thinking that they and their contractors could act with impunity. But now the women at Irwin have some limited protection to speak freely about the abuses they have endured,” Elora Mukherjee, a Columbia University law professor representing several of the women, told Business Insider. 

“We hope our clients and other individuals detained at Irwin have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the federal investigations,” Mukherjee said.

In a whistleblower report filed in September through the organization Project South, former Irwin nurse Dawn Wooten backed up the claims made by 57 current and former female detainees in Irwin. Wooten claimed that the women were subjected to non-consensual hysterectomies and other medical procedures that they did not consent to. 

Although not originally named, lawyers representing the women named in the whistleblower complaint all alleged that Dr. Amin was responsible for the abuse. 

ICE has previously denied attempting to deport the petitioners and told VICE on Tuesday that the agency “complies with all binding court orders. In late September, facing mounting public pressure, …read more

Source:: Business Insider