May 9, 2016

Former Facebook employees in charge of the site's news curation have revealed that the "trending" news section, claimed to be a reflection of "topics that have recently become popular on Facebook," was routinely manipulated, and that conservative news stories were often suppressed. One ex-worker told Gizmodo that stories about CPAC, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics were kept from appearing in the "trending" section despite the fact that they actually were trending among the site's users. In other instances, stories that weren't actually popular enough to appear in the trending section were added anyway.

"It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is," a former curator said. "Every once in awhile a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn't as biased." The former curator said that even if the site's algorithm picked up a story from a conservative outlet, they would exclude it unless a mainstream site was covering it.

Stories about Syria, on the other hand, were added to the section even if people weren't actually talking about it on Facebook, because "it was deemed important for making the network look like a place where people talked about hard news." The same thing happened with the Black Lives Matter movement, the curator said. "Facebook got a lot of pressure about not having a trending topic for Black Lives Matter," the individual said. "They realized it was a problem, and they boosted it in the ordering. They gave it preference over other topics."

Read the entire scoop on Facebook's inner-workings over at Gizmodo.

Update, 4:48 p.m.: Facebook told BuzzFeed News in a statement Monday they "take allegations of bias very seriously," and that their guidelines "do not permit the suppression of political perspectives." Becca Stanek

11:33 a.m.

It appears college football players and conference commissioners are increasingly growing apart in their desire to play games this fall season.

Several players from all so-called Power 5 conferences — the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and PAC-12 — joined up for a video call Sunday to create a statement expressing their desire to get on the field, albeit with universal health and safety protocols in place, as well as the ability to opt-out and the guarantee of an extra year of eligibility regardless of whether they play. Mainly, the players said, they just want their voices heard.

But the commissioners of those conferences had their own meeting Sunday evening, and reports indicate they aren't so optimistic about a fall season, with the Big Ten seemingly leading the charge. "It doesn't look good," one Power 5 athletic director told ESPN, although it appears the conferences may try to move games to the spring, like the Mid-American Conference is planning to do.

Long-time sports personality Dan Patrick reported Sunday that multiple sources told him the Big Ten and PAC-12 are prepared to postpone their seasons Tuesday, while the Big 12 and ACC remain on the fence. If the reports are accurate, that leaves the SEC as the lone league trying to salvage something. Tim O'Donnell

11:31 a.m.

The U.S., by a wide margin, leads the globe in COVID-19 cases. But its neighbor to the south has its own alarming spike, making it the third worst outbreak in the world.

Mexico has had 52,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, The New York Times reported Monday. A widespread distrust of hospitals has made the pandemic even deadlier, as Mexicans are reportedly frequently refusing to seek treatment until their COVID-19 symptoms have worsened past the point of possible recovery, or not at all. Additionally, the tendency to avoid hospitals has made it difficult to confirm the true number of coronavirus deaths — those who die at home often aren't tested, so their deaths aren't counted as part of the official death toll. Mexico's government says there were 71,000 excess deaths this spring, deaths that aren't officially COVID-19-related but likely point to an even deadlier outbreak.

Last month, nearly 70 percent of Mexicans said they would feel unsafe taking their loved ones to a hospital for coronavirus treatment, writes the Times. The fear, of course, isn't unfounded. Almost 40 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 end up dying, data shows, compared to less than 25 percent in New York City at the peak of the outbreak. Deaths in hospitals also happen quicker in Mexico, though doctors say that's partly because patients wait so long before arriving for treatment.

The vicious cycle has many fearing that medical workers are even deliberately infecting patients or allowing them to die, though no evidence suggests that's the case. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

10:11 a.m.

Infectious disease experts are warning Americans to rethink their priorities with winter approaching more swiftly than people would like to think, bringing with it the possibility of an even worse coronavirus crisis.

The problem is many people aren't taking advantage of the breathing room summer provides to curb the virus' spread, opting instead to return to pre-pandemic routines, Stat News reports. "We just continue to squander every bit of opportunity we get with this epidemic to get it under control," said epidemiologist Michael Mina, an assistant professor in Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health and associate medical director of clinical microbiology at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. "The best time to squash a pandemic is when the environmental characteristics slow transmission. It's your one opportunity in the year, really, to leverage that extra assistance and get transmission under control."

There's still time do that, per Stat, but if Americans don't act quickly, they can expect bleaker-than-usual winter months. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, predicted that, without a new lockdown or barring an effective vaccine before the end of the year, winter will force people indoors and exacerbate the pandemic, which he said will see peaks "by far" exceeding the one the U.S. just experienced in recent weeks. Read more at Stat News. Tim O'Donnell

9:25 a.m.

Widespread looting and vandalism were reported in Chicago overnight following an officer-involved shooting in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood on Sunday afternoon. By Monday morning rush hour, city officials had raised the bridges across the Chicago River in an apparent effort to stop people from going downtown, while Illinois state police blocked off ramps and CTA suspended train and bus service.

"The looting began shortly after midnight as people darted through broken store windows and doors along Michigan Avenue carrying shopping bags full of merchandise," the Chicago Tribune reported. "Cars dropped off more people as the crowd grew. At least one U-Haul van was seen pulling up." The looting continued into the daylight hours, prompting the city's blockades.

"Videos that were circulating on social media captured the early morning scenes of hundreds of people in the streets, dozens of police officers, looting, and confrontations with the police," The New York Times reported. Police spokesman Tom Ahren claimed shots were fired at police at one point during the overnight unrest; while a squad car was apparently hit, no officers were injured in the incident.

The unrest was apparently linked to an event that took place on Sunday afternoon, when police responded to reports of a person with a gun. According to the police department, the suspect was confronted and fired at the officers, who responded by "[discharging] their firearms, striking the offender." The suspect was taken to a hospital, and his condition is unknown. Jeva Lange

8:31 a.m.

China imposed retaliatory sanctions against five U.S. senators, a congressman, and five additional Americans on Monday in response to sanctions levied by the White House on Friday over China's crackdown on Hong Kong, Bloomberg reports. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.), as well as Rep. Chis Smith (N.J.), were all slapped with the restrictions. "Last month China banned me. Today they sanctioned me. I don't want to be paranoid but I am starting to think they don't like me," Rubio joked in a tweet Monday morning.

The lawmakers all share "hawkish" attitudes on China and have "urged the U.S. government to adopt harder stances toward Beijing," The Wall Street Journal reports. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a press conference Monday that the measures were "in response to the U.S.'s wrong behaviors" and took aim at "individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues."

The heads of five non-governmental organizations — the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House, and Human Rights Watch — were also among those sanctioned, according to CNBC. Notably, no one in the Trump administration was slapped with restrictions. Jeva Lange

8:03 a.m.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate this week, teasing a reporter on Sunday by asking, "Are you ready?"

Biden has said he will choose a woman as his vice presidential pick, with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice having emerged as frontrunners. Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and California Rep. Karen Bass have also been floated by analysts as potential picks.

"[Biden] has a very difficult decision to make … but it's almost an embarrassment of riches," Howard University political science professor Niambi Carter told USA Today, while others have worried that Biden's delay has made his choice "messier than it should be" and pitted "women, especially Black women, against one another." Check out the seven candidates The Week's Matthew Walther believes have the best chance here. Jeva Lange

1:58 a.m.

When Lauren Cortez found out she was pregnant, there was one person she wanted to deliver her baby: Dr. Bryan Cox, the same OB/GYN who helped welcome her to the world 25 years ago.

Cox has been an OB/GYN at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, for 33 years. Cortez's mother, Isabel Luna, has been one of his patients for decades, and spoke highly of him. When Cortez arrived at her first appointment, she was "excited, because her mom loves me, so it was a great situation," Cox told Good Morning America. "It was fun the whole pregnancy."

Cortez's son, Logan James, was born on July 26, weighing six pounds, one ounce. Cox had a special greeting for Logan — the same one he gave Cortez in 1995. "Dr. Cox, right when the baby is born, he sings 'Happy Birthday,'" Cortez said. "The fact that he takes that little time to personalize the birth experience meant a lot to me." Catherine Garcia

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