Business Highlights: Social Media Concerns, Deficit Numbers

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Social media platforms brace themselves for midterm election chaos

NEW YORK (AP) – Social media platforms including Facebook, TikTok and Twitter say they are taking steps to prevent the spread of voting and election misinformation ahead of next month’s midterm elections. However, a look at some of the most popular platforms shows that unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud continue to thrive. Misleading claims about the 2020 election, absentee voting, or vote counting have been linked to greater polarization and reduced confidence in American democracy. Misinformation researchers say platforms need to do more to promote trustworthy sources of information while reducing the spread of misleading and unsubstantiated claims about the upcoming election.

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Deficit numbers set up competing visions from Biden and GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) – This fiscal year’s budget deficit has shrunk by half from a year earlier, but the deficit has increased monthly in September. That’s largely due to President Joe Biden’s plans to forgive student debt, as the costs of three decades have been compressed into a single month. Budget figures released by the Treasury Department on Friday reveal dueling visions of what it means to be financially responsible. Biden can rightly claim that the fiscal 2022 budget deficit is down $1.4 trillion from a year earlier. But critics can use the same report to say that the education loan forgiveness has added about $400 billion to the national debt as the government booked all spending.

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IRS Raise Contribution Limits for Retirement Plans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans will be allowed to put more of their money into 401(k) and similar retirement plans next year. The IRS said Friday savers with 401(K) and similar plans could deposit up to $22,500 next year. That’s up from $20,500 this year. Individuals age 50 and older who have the opportunity to make additional “catch-up” contributions to 401(k) and similar plans can contribute up to $30,000 in 2023. The IRS also increased annual contribution limits for individual retirement arrangements, or IRAs, by $500 to $6,500. The changes will make it easier for retired savers to set aside more of their income to build their nest egg.

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Fashion house Balenciaga is parting ways with Ye, according to the report

PARIS (AP) — Fashion house Balenciaga has severed ties with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. Parent company Kering told Women’s Wear Daily on Friday that “Balenciaga is no longer in a relationship and has no plans for future projects involving this artist.” The move came after Ye made controversial comments, including anti-Semitic posts, that earned him suspensions on Twitter and Instagram. The company did not respond to multiple emails and calls from The Associated Press seeking comment. A representative for Ye also did not respond to a request for comment. Ye had collaborated in several areas with Balenciaga and his artistic director Demna Gvasalia.

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Report: TikTok is bad at weeding out ads with US election misinformation

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — TikTok’s algorithms are very good at finding videos that keep people glued to their phone screens for hours. But a new report found what they’re not so good at: detecting ads that contain blatant misinformation about US elections. And that’s despite the fact that TikTok last year banned all political ads from its platform in 2019. The report, released Friday by nonprofit organization Global Witness, raises new concerns about the hugely popular video-sharing app’s ability to detect voter fraud at a time when a growing number of young people are not just using it for entertainment, but also for finding information.

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Stocks finish higher on Wall Street, posting weekly gains

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks closed higher on Wall Street, posting sizeable weekly gains for major indices. The benchmark S&P 500 rose 2.4% on Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq also gained ground. Social media companies were broadly lower after Snapchat’s parent company released a weak outlook and the Washington Post reported that Elon Musk plans to cut about three-quarters of Twitter’s payroll after buying the company. The yield on the two-year Treasury note fell to 4.49% on hopes that the Federal Reserve may consider slowing future rate hikes after making another big hike next month.

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EU leaders avoid deep chasm on gas price cap at energy summit

BRUSSELS (AP) – European Union leaders are struggling to find immediate practical solutions to deal with the energy crisis but avoid an open rift between Germany and France. That would have exposed a split bloc confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his war in Ukraine. The EU’s 27 heads of state and government glossed over disagreements between some of the largest member states and at least agreed to continue working on ways to impose a gas price cap in the event of massive hikes. French President Emmanuel Macron highlighted his work with Chancellor Olaf Scholz to create a veneer of unity following talks that began early Thursday and lasted into early Friday.

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JD Vance’s firm invested in a food company that is now facing lawsuits

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A high-tech, sustainable food company in Appalachia promoted by JD Vance and funded through his venture capital firm is facing five lawsuits alleging it deceived investors. None of the lawsuits against Kentucky-based AppHarvest name Vance, the Republican nominee for the US Senate in Ohio, who resigned from the company’s board last year. However, the lawsuits could raise additional questions about the Hillbilly Elegy author’s efforts to revitalize his native Appalachia after leaving a lucrative career in the tech industry. AppHarvest calls the lawsuits unfounded. The company’s lawyers argue that the lawsuits falsely allege “post-fraud fraud,” prohibited because preparing financial forecasts for early-stage public companies is complex.

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The S&P 500 rose 86.97 points, or 2.4%, to 3,752.75. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 748.97 points, or 2.5%, to 31,082.56. The Nasdaq rose 244.87 points, or 2.3%, to 10,859.72. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 37.85 points, or 2.2%, to 1,742.24.

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