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Vape Influencers Think FDA’s Crackdown On Juul Won’t Matter (HBO)

Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced its long-awaited e-cigarette regulations. The new rules, subject to approval, will require more stringent age verification for people buying flavored nicotine. In a statement announcing the rules, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes but said he was shocked at how widespread teen e-cigarette usage is, which he believes makes kids more likely to try smoking.

On Tuesday vaping giant Juul preemptively announced it would temporarily stop selling flavored nicotine vapor pods to retail stores, until they impose strict age verification mechanisms, like ID scanners. And on Juul’s website, users will have to provide the last four digits of their social security number to buy flavored pods.

But all of the new rules from the FDA probably won’t stop the army of kids on sites like Youtube and Instagram who are essentially evangelists for the coolness of vaping. Juul doesn’t sponsor any of these influencers. They get their money from companies that make third party Juul pods, other vape juices, or bigger vape rigs.

Juul has transformed the e-cigarette landscape in just a couple years. It’s now worth 15 billion dollars and controls 70% of the market. In other words, it has a lot to lose. Juuls have been incredibly easy to get, and incredibly easy to hide. And that’s made them a hit among high schoolers. Kids can hit the Juul in class without their teacher noticing, and school administrators have been begging for a solution.

So ahead of the FDA’s ruling, Juul moved to appease regulators, not just with the pause on flavors, but also by deleting its Facebook and Instagram accounts, so that it wouldn’t be seen as marketing to kids. But Dash Drips and Donny Smokes have no plans to stop posting.

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We Posed As 100 Senators To Run Ads On Facebook. Facebook Approved All Of Them. (HBO)

One of Facebook’s major efforts to add transparency to political advertisements is a required “Paid for by” disclosure at the top of each ad supposedly telling users who is paying for political ads that show up in their news feeds.

But on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, a VICE News investigation found the “Paid for by” feature is easily manipulated and appears to allow anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone paying for the ad.

To test it, VICE News applied to buy fake ads on behalf of all 100 sitting U.S. senators, including ads “Paid for by” by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Facebook’s approvals were bipartisan: All 100 sailed through the system, indicating that just about anyone can buy an ad identified as “Paid for by” by a major U.S. politician.

What’s more, all of these approvals were granted to be shared from pages for fake political groups such as “Cookies for Political Transparency” and “Ninja Turtles PAC.” VICE News did not buy any Facebook ads as part of the test; rather, we received approval to include “Paid for by” disclosures for potential ads.

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Facebook’s Political Ad Tool Lets Us Buy Ads “Paid For” By Mike Pence and ISIS (HBO)

Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said making political advertising more transparent was one of the most important things the company would do after it was revealed Russians used the platform to attempt to manipulate the 2016 presidential election. But according to a small test run by VICE News, one of the new features Facebook rolled out this year is easily subject to manipulation.

In May, Facebook added a mandatory “Paid For” disclosure for every ad that relates to politics or what Facebook calls an “issue of national importance.” The idea is to lift the veil on the kind of inflammatory ads placed by anonymous advertisers that plagued Facebook during the 2016 race.

But when VICE News placed ads on behalf of prominent political figures such as Vice President Mike Pence, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, Facebook quickly approved them. We also tried submitting an ad on behalf of “Islamic State,” which was also approved by Facebook. We were able to get Facebook’s approval for political ads that included these names within the Paid For disclosure.

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AP Top Stories 18 P

(18 Oct 2018) Here are the top stories for Thursday, Oct. 18th: Images may show a connection between Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and the Saudi Crown Prince’s entourage as the investigation continues; Facebook has a new war room; Some zoo lions enjoy a fall romp.

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Facebook to fight fake news in election war room

(18 Oct 2018) Facebook has unveiled its new election war room designed to assist employees with finding and deleting fake news and bogus accounts aimed at interfering with elections. (Oct. 18)

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Facebook launches ‘war room’ to combat manipulation

In Facebook’s “War Room,” a nondescript space adorned with American and Brazilian flags, a team of 20 people monitors computer screens for signs of suspicious activity.

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Deputy stuns man pulled over on stolen tractor

(3 Oct 2018) A Florida sheriff’s deputy used a stun gun on a man who tried to flee after he was pulled over while riding a stolen tractor. The dashcam video was posted on Facebook by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. (Oct. 3)

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