In the final weeks of the US election campaign all manner of false and misleading things are being shared on social media.
Here are some of the most recent – and false – claims.
The Trump campaign has often claimed, without evidence, that increased postal voting (“mail-in” is the American term) due to the pandemic will lead to tremendous fraud.
In fact, electoral fraud is incredibly rare.
Last week, President Trump suggested 50,000 people in Ohio getting erroneous absentee ballots was evidence of a “rigged election”.
He repeated the example at a town-hall event on Thursday, when the moderator put it to him that the director of the FBI says there is no evidence of widespread fraud.
The elections board in Franklin County, Ohio, said the ballot error was a “serious mistake” but in its response to the president’s tweet, it added: “Our board is bipartisan and our elections are fair. And every vote will be counted.”
The error came through a technology malfunction – a high-speed scanner stopped working – that meant a chunk of more than 250,000 absentee ballots, for those not voting in person in their state, sent out were inaccurate.
Everyone affected now has the correct voter slip, the elections boards said, and there are various safeguards in place to make sure no one votes twice.
In September, pictures of ballot envelopes in California were shared thousands of times on Facebook along with further unsubstantiated claims of “vote rigging”.
The official County of Sonoma Facebook page published a statement addressing the claims. “The pictures are of old empty envelopes from the November 2018 election that were disposed of as allowed by law,” they said.
The county’s ballots for this year’s presidential election had not yet been sent out to voters when the pictures were shared.
Numerous national and state-level studies show that voter fraud is incredibly rare in the US.
There have been isolated cases of postal-ballot fraud and the FBI is currently investigating a case of nine military ballots that were discarded in Pennsylvania.
But Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, which oversees campaign spending laws, has said: “There’s simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud.”
Campaign ads and attack videos
Misleading videos and adverts vilifying opponents, spinning facts and exaggerating the truth are of course common during election campaigns – and this one has been no different.
Donald Trump Jr posted a video featuring an interview with Joe Biden replying affirmatively – using the word “bingo” – when asked about gun control.
But the actual question was not about a wholesale ban on guns, but rather on one specific type – assault weapons. Mr Biden does indeed support a ban on the manufacture and sale of those high-powered weapons, and proposes that owners will either be able to sell them back to the government or register them.
The clip and Mr Trump Jr’s tweet dropped any such nuance, however.
A Democratic Party-supporting Twitter account published its own video on the issue. Referring to the president’s supporters, it claimed: “Hey MAGA, Trump is coming for your guns”. Attached was a clip from a press conference in which the president says: “Take the firearms first and then go to court”.
But here the president was referring to a policy of removing weapons from the hands of potentially dangerous people.
Misleadingly edited videos have been a recurring feature of the campaign.
This week, a Trump campaign ad was edited to make it look like Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the leaders of the White House coronavirus task force, was praising the president. In reality, Dr Fauci was talking about his own response to the pandemic.
We’ve also seen campaign adverts on Facebook push inaccurate claims.
A frequent falsehood includes allegations that the president called coronavirus a “hoax”. An ad seen a few hundred thousand times on Facebook this week and promoted by “Color Of Change PAC” – a “political action committee” separate from the political parties – includes the false claim.
While he has at times made wildly unscientific statements, President Trump did not directly call coronavirus a hoax. The rumour seems to stem from a speech he gave earlier in the year, in which he called the Democratic Party’s reaction to his handling of the pandemic “their ne
US slaps sanctions on Iran’s envoy to Iraq, citing links to Quds Force & militia groups
Washington has added the Iranian ambassador to Iraq to its sanctions blacklist, claiming he works for an elite military unit it has deemed a terrorist cell, as well as three groups it accused of “sowing discord” in the 2020 race.
Sanctions were announced for Ambassador Iraj Masjedi on Thursday, with the US Treasury Department deeming him a “long-running threat to Iraqi security” and citing his alleged role in training militia groups in Iraq with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – designated a terrorist organization by the US last year.
“In his decades of service with the group, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq,” the department said in a statement, adding that the envoy “has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit” of the IRGC and its external wing, the Quds Force.
Masjedi was appointed ambassador in 2017, after serving in the IRGC for some 35 years. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, he later worked as a close adviser to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US assassination strike in January. Following Soleimani’s death, Masjedi took on some of his former duties in overseeing Iraq’s Shia militia groups – known as the Popular Mobilization Forces – who have played a salient role in beating back the Islamic State.
Though President Donald Trump has unleashed a barrage of sanctions on the Islamic Republic since taking office, including on Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, penalties for diplomats are somewhat rare, more often targeting military officials.
In Thursday’s sanctions announcement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also accused Tehran of a “destabilizing foreign agenda,” including attempts to “influence US elections,” beating the drum on an increasingly common talking point from the Trump administration.
In the same spirit, on Thursday Washington also imposed penalties on five Iranian entities it said had tried to “influence elections in the United States,” though produced no evidence to support the charge. One day prior, US intelligence officials also claimed Iran was behind a “spoof email” campaign designed to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” adding to a flurry of similar assertions of foreign influence operations by not only Iran, but Russia and China as well.
Tehran has rejected the allegations, lodging a formal complaint on Thursday with the Swiss ambassador in Iran – who has acted as a mediator for US-Iranian diplomacy – to protest charges it called “baseless.” A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, Alireza Miryousefi, has also dismissed the claims as “absurd” and “dangerous,” scorching Washington for “desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections.”
Assertions of foreign election-meddling have come to dominate the US political scene since the 2016 presidential race, originating with an elaborate conspiracy theory that then-candidate Trump worked with Moscow to tip the scales in his favor through a combination of hacking and social media trolls. Though the Trump-Russia narrative has been largely discredited after a sweeping special counsel probe failed to substantia
11 arrested at anti-Covid lockdown protest in Dublin, police violently clash with demonstrators (VIDEOS)
More than 100 demonstrators protesting ramped-up Covid-19 lockdown restrictions clashed with police in Dublin, with 11 being arrested and an investigation launched into the organizers of the event.
Nine of the people arrested have been charged with public order offenses, as the protest breaks lockdown restrictions, which only allow citizens to leave their homes for essential trips.
Law enforcement attempted to block a crowd at Grafton Street and ordered the demonstrators to disperse as they were “in breach to public health regulations.”
A small group managed to break through a wall of officers deployed to the area and video shows batons being used to stop the protesters and force them to the ground where they were handcuffed.
Protesters were pushed and told to leave the street as they cursed at officers wrestling with demonstrators who refused to disperse.
Vans were also parked on the street to help block the marching crowd and prevent a sit-down protest.
Tanzania’s Tundu Lissu: Surviving an assassination attempt to run for president
To his supporters, Tundu Lissu is brave and fearless. The fact that he is running for president of Tanzania three years after surviving an attempt on his life is testimony to his determination.
He was shot several times by gunmen, who have yet to be identified, near his home in the capital, Dodoma, and underwent more than 20 operations in Kenya and Belgium in order to recover.
Flying back into the country in July, after treatment abroad, he was greeted at the airport by his backers as a returning hero.
At a time when some in Tanzania feel that their freedom to speak out is being curtailed, Mr Lissu’s frank style has been very appealing and in August he comfortably beat off two challengers to secure the presidential nomination for the opposition Chadema party.
More on Tanzania:
The 52-year-old lawyer first became an MP for Chadema in 2010 for a constituency near his birth place in Singida, 320km (200 miles) north-west of Dodoma.
He quickly established himself as an outspoken voice and a fierce critic of the government and later President John Magufuli after he was elected in 2015.
Arrested for sedition
In March 2017, he was detained for “uttering words intended to wound religious feelings, raise discontent and ill-will for unlawful purposes”.
Then in July of that year he was arrested on charges of sedition after claiming that a government-owned plane had been seized in Canada over an unpaid debt of $38m (£29m).
His boldness has endeared him to neutrals as well as supporters of some other opposition parties.
But he will also need to restore faith in his own party. In the wake of Chadema’s 2015 defeat, many of its MPs and leaders, including losing presidential candidate Edward Lowassa, joined the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.
Mr Lissu needs to convince Chadema’s members that he is a different type of politician and will not be using the election as a bargaining chip with the CCM leadership.
On the campaign trail, he has been true to his reputation of being outspoken. Though one of the main criticisms levelled against all opposition politicians has been that they focus on attacking Mr Magufuli and his government rather than selling their policies.
At the end of September, Mr Lissu was summoned to the electoral commission’s ethics committee after reportedly saying that President Magufuli was colluding with election officials to rig the vote. The opposition candidate was accused of fomenting chaos.
Then a week later he was suspended from campaigning for seven days after the electoral commission said that he had uttered seditious statements during one of his rallies.
The regime is getting scared and therefore they are pulling out all the stops… in their capacity to fight my campaign”
Chadema has also said its party offices in the north of the country were attacked.
“The regime is getting scared and therefore they are pulling out all the stops, using all instruments of power in their capacity to fight my campaign,” Mr Lissu told the Reuters news agency.
His stance has certainly caught the attention of the young urban population, and he has told BBC News Swahili that if he were to win, in his first 100 days he would:
- Raise salaries in the public sector
- Free those he considered political prisoners
- Compensate those who have been “hurt” by the government
- And re-start the constitution review process.
But it is not clear whether he will be able to make any serious inroads into the rural strongholds of CCM, which has been in power since its formation in 1977.
CCM was a successor to the Tanganyika African National Union, which governed Tanzania from 1961 to 1977.
There are 13 other candidates challenging the incumbent, with former Foreign Minister Bernard Membe one of the most high-profile of the others.
Expelled from the ruling party
The 66-year-old is contesting the presidential election for the ACT Wazalendo party, but his candidacy has been hampered by the fact that his party leader, Zitto Kabwe, and chairman, Seif Sharif Hamad, have endorsed Mr Lissu.
They believe that he has a b