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Google Diversity, Gina Miller, and Angela Merkel’s War on Propaganda

August 10, 2017, 6:30 AM UTC

Valentina Zarya here, filling in for Claire this week.

Angela Merkel is determined to fight fake news. As the most powerful leader in Europe and one of Russian President Putin’s most vocal critics, the German Chancellor has long been a target of Russian influence campaigns. Time‘s Simon Shuster points out that, “troves of emails were stolen from her political allies in 2015 by the same Russian hackers who later targeted the U.S. presidential race.”

With German elections coming up next month, the stakes are even higher. Merkel knows that her bid for a fourth term in office may be subject to the same kind of voter manipulation that Hillary Clinton faced in the U.S. presidential race. And it’s not just that Russian media outlets spread disinformation; they also use bots that help false reports go viral much faster than fact-checkers can debunk them.

The German leader is taking action. Her coalition in parliament proposed a law at the end of June that will impose fines worth upwards of $50 million on Facebook and other social media sites that do not promptly remove “illegal content” (a term that encompasses everything from hate speech and pornography to malicious propaganda). Whether that law passes will tell us a lot about what to expect about the upcoming German election. As Shuster writes:

Either the campaign will unfold in the same atmosphere of hacks, leaks and disinformation that marred the U.S. elections last fall, or they will progress in typically German fashion, orderly and somewhat boring, under the rules that Merkel’s government is trying to rewrite on the fly.


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Miller fears for her life
Gina Miller, the businesswoman who challenged the British government over its authority to implement Brexit without approval from Parliament, has revealed that she has been receiving threats of acid attacks for months and is afraid to leave her home. Miller is no stranger to physical threats; four days after the Brexit vote, a viscount offered “£5,000 for the first person to ‘accidentally’ run over this bloody troublesome first generation immigrant.”


Dianne takes the pen
Dianne Feinstein, the senior U.S. senator from California, has written an editorial about Donald Trump's proposed immigration policy, pointing out that under it, the U.S. would have turned away her family—and his.

Wojcicki writes back
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has responded to the controversial Google anti-diversity memo that's been dominating U.S. news headlines over the past week. In an extremely personal Fortune editorial, she shared her (many) experiences with sexism.


No diet tips here
The Pakistani Taliban has launched a magazine that, according to its opening editorial, aims to persuade the “women of Islam to come forward and join the ranks of mujahideen [holy warriors].” The 45-page inaugural issue of Sunnat-i-Khaula suggests that prospective recruits organize secret gatherings with "like-minded jihadi sisters" and learn how to use "simple weapons" and grenades.

An Indian politician's response to a Facebook post by a woman who said she was "chased and almost kidnapped" has women in the country up in arms. "The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night," BJP state VP Ramveer Bhatti told the CNN-News18 television channel Monday. In response, women across the country—some of whom who see the comments as victim shaming—are posting photos of themselves up after midnight, with the hashtag #AintNoCinderella.


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"We set better cultural norms, better processes, better policies, better organizational structures when women are in the room."
—Joelle Emerson, founder of Paradigm, which works with Silicon Valley companies to recognize and eliminate unconscious bias