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December 23, 2015
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Manipulating search engine results can sway undecided voters by 20 percent or more, according to a study from Robert Epstein and Ronald E. Roberston at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology.

Their report shares the findings of five double-blind, randomized controlled experiments involving more than 4,500 voters in America and India:

The results of these experiments demonstrate that (i) biased search rankings can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more, (ii) the shift can be much higher in some demographic groups, and (iii) search ranking bias can be masked so that people show no awareness of the manipulation... Given that many elections are won by small margins, our results suggest that a search engine company has the power to influence the results of a substantial number of elections with impunity. [PNAS]

The researchers also found that search engines' influence on voter decisions would be greatest in "countries dominated by a single search engine company" — like, say, the United States, where two out of three searches are performed via Google. Bonnie Kristian

7:37 p.m. ET
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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday that "after much consideration," he believes Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the committee's chairman, should recuse himself from further involvement in the Russia investigation.

Schiff came to this conclusion after Nunes admitted he went to the White House to meet with a source that told him about the incidental collection of communications from members of President Trump's transition team, and he later filled Trump in on what he learned. Nunes was also a member of the transition team, and Schiff, who has worked with Nunes for several years, said this recommendation is not one he makes lightly. "But in the same way that the attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after failing to inform the Senate of his meetings with Russian officials, I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president's campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman," he said in a statement.

None of the committee's members on either side of the aisle have seen the documents Nunes claimed to see, Schiff said. "Whether the documents support the argument that names were improperly unmakes or distributed, it is impossible to judge, but one things is very clear: There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee," he added. "That it was also obtained at the White House makes this departure all the more concerning. In the interests of a fair and impartial investigation whose results will be respected by the public, the chairman's recusal is more than warranted." Catherine Garcia

6:58 p.m. ET
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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is setting his sights on something new: "neural lace" technology, which involves implanting tiny electrodes into the brain that could one day help humans function at a higher level.

His new company, Neuralink, will pursue developing these cranial computers, which at first would most likely be used to treat people with brain disorders like epilepsy and major depression. While Musk would not comment to The Wall Street Journal about Neuralink, several people with information about the company said he is actively setting it up and could have a significant leadership role. Musk has said it's important for humanity to not be left behind as advances are made in artificial intelligence. Catherine Garcia

5:39 p.m. ET
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Two years after HBO series True Detective's widely panned second season came to an end, rumors of a third season are bubbling up. Though HBO has yet to give the season the go-ahead, Entertainment Weekly reported Monday that the show's creator Nic Pizzolatto has written at least two episodes for a possible third season, and Emmy-winning writer and producer David Milch — known for his work on Deadwood and NYPD Blue — has signed on to help.

While HBO head of programming Casey Bloys said in July 2016 that the network was "open to another season," there was not a "take for a third season yet." Pizzolatto was said to be working on other projects at the time. If the revival does get the greenlight from HBO, Matthew McConaughey — half of the dynamic duo from the widely acclaimed first season — has already said he'd be interested in reprising his role. Becca Stanek

4:01 p.m. ET

Early voting has started in Georgia's 6th congressional district in an election to replace former Rep. Tom Price (R), who now serves as President Trump's health secretary. And if you are in need of a ride to the polls, you can hitch one with Who's the Boss? actress Alyssa Milano and actor Christopher Gorham.

Yes, really:

Milano and Gorham have thrown their support behind Jon Ossoff, one of five Democrats in the race. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes Ossoff as a "29-year-old small business owner — he runs a firm specializing in anti-corruption investigations — [and he] once worked as a congressional aide and has the endorsements of Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson as well as some other party leaders."

The qualifying election for the seat runs Monday through Wednesday, with the special election scheduled for April 18 and a runoff election set for June 20. Read more about the candidates at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution here. Jeva Lange

3:16 p.m. ET
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Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning director and writer of the Best Picture-awarded film Moonlight, is teaming up with Amazon for his next project. Amazon announced Monday that Jenkins is set to write and direct a television adaptation of Colson Whitehead's novel The Underground Railroad, a story of slavery and the South intertwined with reinvented details — like a literal railroad system serving as the historic slave escape route. The fictional novel won the 2016 National Book Award.

"It's a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation's history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking," Jenkins said in a statement. "In Amazon we've found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision."

Actor Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment and Jenkins' production company Pastel are on board to executive produce the limited series. The New York Times noted the series has not "officially been given the green light, though the high-profile nature of the title and figures involved make that seem likely."

A potential debut date has yet to be announced. Becca Stanek

3:05 p.m. ET

Thieves have stolen a 221-pound gold coin from the Bode Museum in Berlin, Time reports. The heist (and heft) took place overnight, and police unsurprisingly suspect it was the work of multiple burglars.

The "Big Maple Leaf," as the coin is known, is worth more than $4 million due to the amount of gold in it. The coin was issued by the Royal Canadian Mint ("because we can") and features an image of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and a maple leaf on the reverse. It is more than 20 inches wide.

Investigators found a ladder on nearby train tracks, but it is unclear if it is related to the burglars' getaway. Jeva Lange

2:48 p.m. ET

The Oakland Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas by the 2020 season, after a Monday vote among NFL team owners approved the franchise's relocation request 31-1. Only the Miami Dolphins owner dissented.

The Raiders will remain in Oakland for at least the 2017 season, if not both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and may share Levi's Stadium with the San Francisco 49ers for the 2019 season while they await the construction of a brand-new 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. The team will share the venue with the University of Nevada.

The Raiders are the third NFL franchise to relocate in the last year, after the Rams and the Chargers both moved to Los Angeles from St. Louis and San Diego, respectively. They are also the second new team for Sin City, after the NHL designated an expansion team for the city; the Golden Knights will debut on the ice next season.

"The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA," Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement. For more on how the Raiders franchise ended up in Vegas, head to Sports Illustrated, or read Davis' full statement below. Kimberly Alters

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