In this week's episode of The News:
- VP of News and Programming Shani Hilton talks to reporter Darren Sands about Stacey Abrams's historic nomination in Georgia.
- Data reporter Lam Thuy Vo explains just how much Facebook knows about you, and what that has to do with the GDPR.
- Jane Lytvynenko quizzes host Julia Furlan on the week's fake headlines.
- Deputy world editor Hayes Brown explains what's actually going on with the North Korea peace talks — and why canceling them isn't the end of the world.
Listen to this week’s episode:
Introduction - 0:00
Julia Furlan: Hi Everybody! I'm Julia Furlan and this is The News from BuzzFeed News. This week: a historical election for Georgia, I let someone see my entire browsing history, we take a fake news quiz, and we de-escalate the situation in North Korea. Here we go!
The Lede - 0:37
JF: This week, Stacey Abrams became Georgia's Democratic candidate for governor with more than 75% of the vote. In winning, she became the first black woman to be nominated by a major political party for governor of any state, ever! Political reporter Darren Sands has been following the Abrams campaign, and he was in Georgia this week. It's time for The Lede, with Shani Hilton.
Shani Hilton: Tell me about 2010. It's really the height of the recession, things are not so great, and Stacy Abrams is the representative there who seems to be headed for leadership.
Darren Sands: So she decides that she was going to run to run the democratic caucus. She was really like the only logical choice at the time to do a job that like not that many people want to do.
TAPE: "But Abrams's new job won't be easy. Just this week house democrats lost three more members; all rural democrats who switched to the empowered republican majority, which now stands at 111 members."
SH: So why did she want to do this?
DS: Stacey Abrams is not shy about her ambition. You know, it's 2010 and she's doing a job that not that many people want to do. And she's got all sorts of things that she wants to do, but she knows that her real job is to take a bad situation and make it less bad.
SH: And what does that mean in practice?
DS: Her own district was changing, her constituents' concerns were changing, she understood the way that Georgia was changing as a state--not just her district--and so she decided, "I'm going to change this. I'm going to turn Georgia blue."
SH: And this was the bginning of what Abrams decided to call the New Georgia Project.
TAPE: "A liberal group called the New Georgia Project made big waves on the left this year when they estimated that there are 800,000 African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans in Georgia who are eligible to vote, but are not yet signed up. New Georgia set a goal of registering 120,000 of those people to vote this year."
DS: It's interesting because all of that informed this decision. She decided that she was going to register enough voters so that when the next election comes around, there's more power. And then when the next election after that comes around, there's even more power. And eventually, you know, she decided at some point that she was going to run for governor.
SH: So let's talk about this week; that brings us to 2018. She won the democratic nomination, and you were at her victory party.
DS: I was. And it was kind of this culmination of things... Beginning in 2014 she started to get a lot of national attention for the things that she was doing. She got the rising star award from Emily's List, she started getting on the radar of like, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, these very powerful organizations that are looking to help women in this time where the Democratic party has this dearth of leadership, and here you have like this dynamic woman in Atlanta, in a state like Georgia, who's doing all these interesting things at a time in the party where we're not really sure what's going to happen.
SH: And so she ended up garnering support from big names, really big names.
DS: Yeah! So in 2016 she really helped Hillary Clinton try and get elected in Georgia, and she's leveraged that into the support of Hillary Clinton. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders even. The entire Democratic ecosystem right now, whether it's the progressives or the moderates or the money people, they really do kind of support her and I saw that on Tuesday night.
TAPE: "And I know for the journey that lies ahead, we need every voice in our party and every independent thinker in the state of Georgia!"
SH: How does her personality and who she is tie into how things are going now for her.
DS: To see the coalition that she had, and the idea that she could take the essence of her experience--a lot of that having to do with Spelman--and this idea that you're supposed to serve others, and you're supposed to bring this kind of spirit of service to share and to inspire people?
DS: And this is like, these are like, kind of all things that she learned at Spelman. I mean I was going to ask you a question.
SH: Yeah sure
DS: Coming from an HBCU, what do they teach you about your role in the real world?
SH: You know, the way that HBCUs in particular prepares its graduates for the world... It's very much about preparation and seriousness and service, and I attended an HBCU, Howard, and it was similar in that way where you know you're--ultimately success is not just for you, it's you know, success for everybody else.
DS: Yeah. Stacey Abrams is very much a product of that spirit of, like not just determination, but recognizing like your sense of purpose, and where it's going, and like her friends really shared with me I think that sentiment on Tuesday night. But it was just interesting to hear that in real time after this, you know enormous accomplishment.
SH: So Abrams won one of several many primaries that are going on right now through the fall, and everybody is using the results of primaries as a bellwether for which way the wind is blowing for the Democratic party in particular. So the future of the Democratic party is really up in the air right now.
DS: One of the fascinating things that I saw in this election is, almost immediately after she won, you know her opponent got up and said, "hey look-- this is her thing to win! We have to get behind her." And that hasn't happened in every state.
SH: But it was instant with Stacey Evans, kind of right behind her.
DS: It was absolutely instant. And if she is successful in November, she'll have been successful by talking to people who the Democratic party thinks don't vote. Or don't care enough to vote. The reason why they care is because of her and her vision for Georgia, and the reason why her vision for Georgia is having an impact, is... not only is it inspiring people, but... she can win! The sheer number that she won by gives her the mandate in that state and in that state's party to win the way she wants to win.
JF: That was The Lede, with Shani Hilton.
Oh hey JoJo! Whenever you hear that cute little beep beep boop, it means that JoJo is here to help you find a story that we're talking about.
So here’s how it works.
Step one: open your messaging app on your cell phone.
Step two: Type in Jojo’s number, it’s 929-236-9577.
Step three: Text JoJo the word we give you.
If you want to read Darren’s profile of Stacey Abrams, text JoJo the word “Georgia” right now and you’ll get it right on your phone.
Data with a Heartbeat - 8:14
JF: Do you ever wonder what is done with all of the data that creepy websites like you know Facebook and Gmail--that we use everyday--are collecting about us? Up next we have Data with a Heartbeat, where data reporter Lam Thuy Vo brings a little bit of human intelligence to the data that describes us.
So Lam I did a pretty weird this week, which is that I gave you access to my entire browsing history. What did you learn about me Lam?
Lam Thuy Vo: Well first of all, you are a very experimental fashionista. You love jumpsuits it seems like, in all shapes and forms. There was a quilted jumpsuit that I found, a desert tie jumpsuit, there was a sweatshirt dress that I found. But basically you are a very adventurous dresser and um, you moved! Right? Recently?
JF: Yeah I did move...
LTV: You looked up some like pantone color palettes for your walls, you looked up a bunch of furniture. A lot of it. Used ones, new ones, mhm. And then,I think I also know what you want from the universe.
JF: Uhhhh what I'm sorry; you think that you know--you know, from looking at my browser history, what I want from this world?
LTV: Yeah you looked up an interesting tarot card, King of Wands, or something along those lines?
JF: Yeah it's a good card! I wanted to know more about what it meant!
LTV: Well and you think that I was the only person who saw this, right? But all the things I listed also had Facebook trackers on this. That means that while you were browsing online, Facebook was watching you.
JF: No I don't like that. I would like to opt out, please.
LTV: Well thank god there's the GDPR! This European thing; you've heard about it, right?
JF: Yes I had to take a quiz about it actually. But tell me a little bit more about it. What is GDPR?
LTV: GDPR! We Europeans we love our acronyms (I'm German, I get to say this). It stands for General Data Protection Regulation. And this is from the European Union, they want to protect people's data a little bit more. This means that users who are based in the EU will be able to see what kind of data all of these companies have on them, right? So people like the Julia who lives in Europe...
JF: The alternate version of me, the alternate version of me that lives in Europe yes of course.
LTV: They won't be surprised when they see, "oh why does Facebook know that I've been shopping for jumpsuits" or "looking for color palettes for my house," right? They will be able to then also control better what they allow Facebook to use across different platforms to advertise stuff at you, right?
JF: I see I see.
LTV: Yeah. And so this is an interesting thing because it's the first major update to data protection laws that all of these American companies--it does not matter where they're based right--also have to comply with, as long as they have European customers.
JF: But all of this is happening in Europe. What does it have to do with me, here in the Untied States. Living here with all my data rudely exposed to anyone who wants to download it.
LTV: Well, GDPR went into effect yesterday right. That means that all of these companies in the lead up to that had to prepare and look at the plumbing of how they collect data about people. That is a good thing. And on top of that they also had to implement tools that gave users more control, and that can have a spillover effect. So for example, Facebook has expanded the archive that you can download about yourself, they are giving people more control over what advertisers are targeting them, and they are also providing better tools to allow people to delete the data. And this is something that they said that they are not only offering to people in the EU, but also people elsewhere. And that's good, right? Because why not make one big change to how you do something with data, and then apply it to everyone. Maybe that's just an easier thing for them to do as well.
JF: Is there anything I can do to stop these companies from following me around the internet and knowing my deepest darkest secrets?
LTV: One of the things that you can do is A) become more aware of what trackers actually track you, right? There's a wonderful little Chrome extension called Ghostery that looks into every website and then can give you, while you're browsing, a tally of how many trackers are on any given website.
JF: Okay everybody, if you want to know how creepy the internet is to you, text JoJo the word "ghost" and we will send you a link to Ghostery, the helpful Chrome extension that Lam just told us about. Thank you Lam!
LTV: You're welcome.
JF: Just in case you forgot, JoJo's number is 929-236-9577.
Fake News You Can Use - 12:57
JF: It's hard not to get sucked into the wild crap that pops up on our timelines. That's why we like to play Fake News You Can Use, where our Fake News Debunker Jane Lytvynenko quizzes me on what's real, what's too good to be true, and what you can do about it.
Jane Lytvynenko, you are on the line today to make sure that all of us have less fake news in our lives. Whatcha got?
Jane Lytvynenko: Alright so here's the first one. Octopuses [sic] came to Earth from space as frozen eggs millions of years ago. Is that real or fake?
JF: So.... Okay, first of all, Carl Sagan told me that we are all made of stardust so technically we're all from space. I think that octopuses [sic] are not secret aliens. I'm going to say this is a fake story, that octopuses [sic] are space people.
JL: So, congratulations you're correct!
JF: Thank you thank you. I feel like that was an easy one.
JL: You know, you'd think that it's an easy one but this headline actually came from a tabloid in the UK, Express, and it stemmed from this study that was published essentially saying it's possible that octopuses [sic] are these space creatures. Uhm, there's absolutely zero evidence of this, but a bunch of legitimate newspapers have reprinted the story as if it's real.
JF: No! That's terrible. Like honestly, maybe they are like next level aliens, but I think that they are not from a million years ago, they're aliens from the future. That's the real, that's the real news.
JL: Okay, okay let's hold off on spreading more fake news than we debunk. This next question also has to do with food and animals.
JL: A bear smashed a car window and ate two dozen assorted cupcakes inside. Real or fake?
JF: A bear smashed a car window. I... this seems true! I'm going to say it's true.
JL: Yeah, it is true.
JL: You're right, it happened in Jersey and it ate chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cupcakes.
JF: Wow. Is it okay? Is that stuff bad for bears?
JL: You know, I don't know... it's probably fine.
JF: You don't seem concerned.
JL: Humans shouldn't eat a dozen cupcakes either but like that's my Friday night, so...
JF: Same, same.
JL: So here's number three. A lottery winner was arrested for dumping $200,000 worth of manure on an ex-boss's lawn. Real or fake?
JF: Oh my gosh. I feel like this is the dream of every single human who's ever had a bad boss... Fun story: when I was in high school my friends and I found a toilet on the side of the road and left it on an ex-boyfriend's lawn. So I'm just saying...
JL: Oh wow, hero.
JF: But is it real or fake? I'm gonna say... You know what, I'm gonna take a chance here. I'm gonna say it's real.
JL: I'm sorry, but you are incorrect.
JF: Okay I took a risk and I knew it, I knew it.
JL: Yeah you took a risk and you just fell off a cliff there I'm so sorry. So this is a fake story. It originated on this website called the World News Daily Report. So if you're on the website you're going to be able to scroll down and see in the footer that it calls itself a satire site. But a lot of people don't pay attention to that disclaimer, of course.
JF: Of course.
JL: And so this manure story got a bit about a million and a half shares and comments on Facebook, and it's still going. It's like bad. People really want to believe it.
JF: I wanted to believe it, too!
JL: Yeah so I think that your fantasy of just like being real nasty and flippant with your money is one a lot of people share.
JF: I gotta say that the toilet that my friends and I found in high school to put on my ex's lawn? We found that for free. It was free pranking, just fyi. So Jane, what is the tip that you brought us, so that our listeners can avoid fake news in their, in their environment?
JL: So if you noticed the theme with the two fakes that we have is that real publications have actually shared them, or real personalities, social media pages that you should be able to trust in theory. So my tip this week is to just google something before you share it. Google has this really neat thing where if you just type in some key words into a search that have to do with a fake story, it'll right away pop up a couple of debunks for you. From Snopes, or Business to Community, or other partners that they have, so you don't even have, actually have to read the debunk to see if it's true or false. It's a really great thing Google is doing, and if it's something that's going like mega viral, just type it into Google before you share it.
JF: Okay Jane, I feel safer in this world.
JL: I am happy to be your fake news life jacket in this ocean of misinformation.
JF: Manure, as it were.
JF: If you want to try out Jane's fake news quiz for yourself, just text JoJo the word "quiz." Again, their number is 929-236-9577.
Calm Down with Hayes Brown - 18:36
JF: I know I'm personally never sure how afraid I need to be every time some news breaks about North Korea. So that's why Deputy World Editor Hayes Brown is here to talk us down.
Hayes Brown: Hey everyone. It's time for another edition of Calm Down, with Hayes Brown. So pull on your favorite socks, get that pot of tea brewing, and let's all just calm down.
So the big news this week is clearly the cancelation of the summit between Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, and Donald Trump, U.S. President. They were scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12th to discuss North Korea's nuclear program... Not anymore, it would seem. Now at this point the two of them are basically on the verge of becoming the Ross and Rachel of international politics. Will they? Won't they? Were they on a break?
The summit's cancelation has raised a lot of fears out there, because if not a peace summit, what does that mean? Are we getting closer to war? But, my friends oyt there in Podcast Land, I'm here to tell you that we can all calm down about this. Let's be real, the lost of this summit is not the end of the world--literally or metaphorically. Reportedly, the summit was a spur of the moment decision from Trump anyway. Like when you're waiting in line at McDonalds, you're at the register and you decide "yes, I do want that McFlurry."
Since then, a lot of the planning has been style over substance. Figuring out where the meeting was going to happen, when it was going to be, how they were going to present the two people, whether Trump and Kim were going to have a handshake, whether there was going to be a commemorative coin issued. The coin was not even the apex of the hype for this. That title goes to supporters of Donald Trump who wanted to put his name up for the Nobel Peace Prize for this summit, which may never occur now. Honestly, nobody on the U.S. side even could really articulate what is it that they wanted from North Korea. Is it, no nuclear weapons in North Korea? Is it, "please don't use your nuclear weapons, North Korea." Is it, well we'll follow the Libya model, which is to say, "give up your nukes, you get economic aide, and by the way we might overthrow you later." Honestly, this is kind of an opportunity I'd say. Because North Korea has vexed White Houses for decades now. It's a really hard topic. And honestly, this summit was not going to solve all of it. This gives diplomates an actual chance to meet up, U.S., North Korea, Japan, Republic of Korea, to actually sit and say, "what is it that we want? What are we giving up? What do we get? Can we all feel safe?" Trump says that there still can be a meeting between him and Kim in the near future, maybe even on June 12th. After all, they've printed out all these coins with their faces on them... but here's my two cents: we can all just take a deep breathe... and calm down.
This episode was produced by the PodSquad! That's Megan Detrie, Alex Laughlin, Camila Salazar, and me, Julia Furlan. Our boss is Cindy Vanegas-Gesuale, and our music is by Chad Crouch. And special thank you to Jojo, who fun fact: used to date the Iron Giant. But don't worry they're still friends; there's no robot drama.