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Facebook Tackles Fake News, Deletes Almost 800 Accounts

In the past, Facebook has purged dozens of pages spreading fake news originating from Iran and Russia.

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This photo shows the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. VOA
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Facebook announced Thursday that it had deleted over 800 mostly U.S.-based pages and accounts that were posting politically oriented spam and engaging in “inauthentic behavior.”

The social media giant declined a request from VOA News to name the 559 pages and 251 accounts. Nation in Distress, a pro-President Donald Trump page identified by The Washington Post as being among the banned, had over 3 million followers.

Facebook, India, Fake News
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Facebook said that many of the pages and accounts had posted political clickbait across multiple fake accounts to drive users to their websites, where they were often targeted with ads.

“Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was,” Facebook said on its news blog. “Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.”

Facebook, India, Fake News
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

Facebook said “the ‘fake news’ stories or opinions these accounts and pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate,” noting the proximity of the 2018 midterm elections.

Also Read: ‘Fake Clone’ Message Goes Viral on Facebook

In the past, Facebook has purged dozens of pages spreading fake news originating from Iran and Russia, countries that have antagonistic relations with the U.S. The company says most of the pages and accounts banned this time were from the U.S. (VOA)

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Obamacare Unconstitutional: U.S. Federal Judge

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the judge’s decision “vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional

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Obamacare, U.S.
Protesters gather across the Chicago River from Trump Tower to rally against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, March 24, 2017, in Chicago. VOA

A U.S. federal judge has ruled that the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas ruled Friday that a change in the U.S. tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidates the entire ACA.

Last year’s $1.5 trillion tax bill included a provision eliminating the individual mandate.

The decision is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ACA will remain the law during the appeal process.

Health Insurance, U.S.
The HealthCare.gov website on a computer screen in New York, Oct. 23, 2018. A U.S. federal judge Friday ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. VOA

About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, according to the U.S. government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

U.S. President Donald Trump promised during his presidential campaign to dismantle the ACA, a program that made affordable health insurance available to millions of Americans.

The president took to Twitter Friday night:

“The ruling seems to be based on faulty legal reasoning and hopefully it will be overturned,” U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “Americans who care about working families must do all they can to prevent this district court ruling from becoming law.

“If this awful ruling is upheld in the higher courts,” he added, “it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families, especially for people with pre-existing conditions.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey during a bill-signing ceremony at the White House in Washington. VOA

Americans with pre-existing conditions, before ACA, faced either high premiums or an inability to access health insurance at all.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the judge’s decision “vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional. Once again, the president calls on Congress to replace Obamacare and act to protect people with pre-existing conditions and provide Americans with quality affordable health care.”

Also Read: Microsoft Adds ‘Digital Health’ Feature On its Beta Android Launcher

“Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the leader of an alliance of states opposing the lawsuit, said in a statement. “Our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and well-being for all Americans.” (VOA)