Hard Numbers: Does Social Media Control Your News?

600: Political violence in Burundi in 2015 prompted half a million refugees to flee, mostly to Tanzania. Now, the first 600 are heading back voluntarily as part of a mass repatriation program. But other Burundians fear being sent back against their will after the Tanzanian government said it would start repatriating all Burundians "willing or not."


2 million: School closures in Haiti over the past two weeks have left about 2 million children and adolescents without access to education, according to the United Nations. Anti-government protests and violence engulfing that county have also disrupted hospitals and aid supplies, and could deteriorate into a full-blown humanitarian crisis, the UN warns.

62: Some 62 percent of US adults say that social media platforms have "too much control" over the news that appears on their feeds, according to a recent Pew poll. Just 21 percent believe social media companies have "the right amount of control" over the mix of news they see.

7.5 billion: The World Trade Organization has given the US the go-ahead to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion of European exports, including aircrafts and some agricultural products. This is the latest installment in a protracted US-EU row over European subsidies to the EU's leading aerospace company, Airbus.

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How did an entire country's media spread false news for a night?

Fascinating case study in France over the weekend. For less than a day, we thought that the most wanted men in the country had been caught in Scotland. Turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. The so-called news was actually reported quite carefully at first, on Friday night with careful words. But the language quickly moved from conditional to categorical and therefore, to misinformation through human error. What you have here is the tension between being first and being right, which has always been present in journalism but is more and more as you have these 24 hour news channels, social media, and the incredible economic pressure on news sites that are advertising based and therefore click based.

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Donald Trump announced a fresh "phase 1" trade deal with China last week, part of his ongoing bid to reduce the United States' huge trade deficit with China. The US has been buying more from China than China buys from the US for decades, but since coming into office Trump has made reducing that deficit central to his "America First" agenda. It's not easy to do. Consider that in 2018, after two full years of the Trump administration, the trade deficit with China actually swelled to its highest level since the Clinton years. That's because many perfectly healthy economic factors contribute to a trade deficit: stronger economic growth under Trump has meant more demand for foreign goods, so as long as the economy keeps humming along, it will be hard for Trump to reduce the deficit. Likewise, the strong US dollar makes foreign goods cheaper for US consumers to import, while China's own economic slowdown in 2018 decreased Chinese demand for American goods. For a historical perspective on all of this, here's a look at how the US-China trade balance has developed under each US president going back to 1993.

On Friday, we detailed the main arguments for and against President Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from a pocket of northern Syria where their presence had protected Washington's Kurdish allies against an attack from Turkey. We then asked Signal readers to let us know what they thought.

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Dangerous Chaos in Syria – Turkey's military move into northern Syria had two stated goals: to push Kurdish fighters inside Syria further from Turkey's border and to create a "safe zone" inside Syria in which Turkey could place up to two million Syrian refugees currently living in camps inside Turkey. But the Kurds have now allied with Syria's army, which is backed by Russia, and these forces are now moving north into that same territory toward Turkish troops and Arab militias backed by Ankara. Meanwhile, large numbers of ISIS fighters and their families have escaped prisons where Kurds had held them captive. Turkey's President Erdogan vows to press ahead with his operation until "ultimate victory is achieved." Pandora's Box is now wide open.

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