December 4, 2022

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: How race affects social media efforts to find missing kids
Senior data reporter Doug Caruso explains the USA TODAY investigation. Plus, how rescue efforts saved lives in Florida after Hurricane Ian, national political correspondent Phillip Bailey looks at candidates running for office who have denied 2020 election results, former President Donald Trump files an emergency Supreme Court appeal dealing with Mar-a-Lago documents and Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is back on.
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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Taylor Wilson:
Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Wednesday, the 5th of October, 2022. Today, social media, race and missing children. Plus the latest from Hurricane Ian recovery efforts and more.
Here are some of the top headlines.

Social media could be an equalizer when it comes to finding missing children. It can highlight posts about kids from all backgrounds without the filters of traditional media and police gatekeepers. But a USA TODAY analysis suggests that social media audiences still pick favorites by giving more likes, shares, and views on posts about missing white children, especially girls, than missing Black children. Producer PJ Elliott spoke with investigative reporter Doug Caruso to find out more.
Doug Caruso:
We looked at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Facebook video posts over about a three-year period, and what we found was, one, that the Center posts more about Black children than it does about other races of children. And part of the reason we believe that happens is because they say they are looking to help people who haven’t been featured in the media or featured in police, and we know from research that Black missing children often are ignored by the police or the media. So that was encouraging to see that they’re trying to kind of overcome that bias. But then when we looked at what audiences do with those posts, we found that the audiences are still much more interested in viewing the videos that are about white missing children, and especially white missing girls, than they are about Black missing children. I think it was roughly 63,000 average views on a video post about a white girl compared to about 38,000 average views on posts about Black girls.
PJ Elliott:
Doug, can you talk a little bit about how this investigation came about?
Doug Caruso:
There’s a researcher in Louisiana named Michelle Jeanis, and she had tested this with a Facebook page for a smaller group, not with just children, but with both missing adults and missing children, and had seen this effect where people of color were getting far fewer clicks, likes, interactions than white people. And so we thought, well, let’s take a look at that nationally. We went to the biggest missing children clearing house in the country, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we pulled down data about their Facebook posts from CrowdTangle, then we went through each of those posts and determined what the race, age, gender of the child was, and then did our analysis from there.
PJ Elliott:
So, how can these posts about the missing people of color reach more people?
Doug Caruso:
One thing that Michelle Jeanis tested was boosting the posts, what she found in a second study that she did this year that she shared with us, she was boosting any missing person post in her test cases. They were boosting it in the state where the person went missing and in every state nearby. And by doing that, she found that people of color’s posts would go up to more or less parity with a white woman’s post. And then she found if she tried to boost a white woman’s post, it almost had no effect because they were already getting sort of a maximum saturation out there. So her suggestion was to boost the post. When we talked with the National Center, they said that they do boost posts frequently, but that they tend to boost their posts within a 25 mile radius of where the missing person is gone. And they may be boosting just about everything that goes out, but we were seeing definite differences in viewership despite that lesser boost that they’re doing.
Taylor Wilson:
You can read the full investigation with a link in today’s episode description.

We’re learning more about the victims of Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the US mainland. The death toll has now passed a hundred, with those killed ranging from age 22 to 96, and Florida medical examiners are revealing grim details of just how some of the victims died. A warning, the following is graphic.
Many of the deaths happened when weather quickly turned in Lee County, Florida, which includes Fort Myers and Cape Coral. At least 45 people were killed in the county. One medical examiner’s report said a man was trapped and killed when trying to get out of a window. Another woman was outside smoking a cigarette when a gust of wind blew her off her porch. And another person shot himself after seeing damage from the storm. But there are more and more stories pouring in of rescues too. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said thousands have been rescued in recent days.
Ron DeSantis:
So we’ve now had more than 2,300 rescues in our urban search and rescue teams with more than a thousand personnel have gone door to door to 79,000 structures to check on occupants. This is something that’s really, really significant. There’s more urban search and rescue capability in Florida since this storm than has ever been in one place in one state since 9/11.
Taylor Wilson:
Naples resident Johnny Louder went himself to save his mom from the home she refused to leave.
Johnny Louder:
We got her out of the house through all the wreckage and we started pushing her out on the street. The water for us was probably thigh, hip deep. But for her in some areas it was already up to her chest so she was still submerged the whole ride.
Taylor Wilson:
And helicopters have saved people across flooded barrier islands like Sanibel.
Aaron:
We’ve been waiting for emergency for rescue.
Rescuer Tyler:
How many of there are you?
Aaron:
Me and my wife.
Rescuer Tyler:
Okay.
Rescuer Tyler:
You have a break board or a bag or something?
Aaron:
We have a break board
Rescuer Tyler:
Okay, what’s your name?
Aaron:
Aaron.
Rescuer Tyler:
Tyler. We’ll get you out of here, all right? Okay. How about your neighbors?
Taylor Wilson:
Long sections of the causeway that connects Sanibel Island to the mainland were destroyed in the storm.
Thousands remain without power from Ian, but Florida Power and Light said yesterday that 90% of customers who lost power in the storm have had it restored. For more on Hurricane Ian and recovery efforts, stay with USATODAY.com. There, you can also see before and after pictures of communities devastated by the hurricane.

Across the country, hundreds of candidates who have either questioned or renounced the 2020 election will be on the ballot for next month’s midterms. National political correspondent Philip Bailey spoke with PJ Elliott about many of those races taking place in battlegrounds that previously helped send Joe Biden into the White House.
Philip Bailey:
Well, the sheer volume of the number of candidates on the ballot in this year’s midterms who have either cast doubt or completely renounced the outcome of the 2020 presidential election is quite daunting when you think about it. Across the country, more than 300 candidates who’ve either questioned or renounced the 2020 outcome without providing a shred of evidence will be on the ballot in 2022. Some are running for state auditor, commissioner, but the vast majority are vying for Congress, governor, attorney general and secretary of state, crucial seats. And a significant number are running in vital battleground states that propelled Joe Biden to victory in 2020. What we did was basically look at the national picture of the volume of these candidates, 308 who are running, but also examined seven of the swing states where fake electors have been sort of… Well, there was an attempt to put fake electors in to circumvent and to undermine the 2020 election. That’s in Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Nevada. Very crucial battleground states that represent about 84 electoral votes in total.
PJ Elliott:
Philip, have these deniers that are running for office answered the obvious question that if they were to win in November, how can they be sure that their win would be legit, since they don’t believe 2020 was fair?
Philip Bailey:
This is a great question. Mark Finchem was actually asked a version of this question at the one debate that he had with his opponent, Adrian Fontes. He was asked, if the 2020 election was stained by all this fraud what happened in the 2022 midterm primaries in August in Arizona? Were they also fair? And he was asked point blank by the moderators. And in response, Mr. Finchem said, “What changed? The candidates.” Kari Lake, running for Arizona governor as the Republican, leading up to that primary, she was already indicating that, “Oh, this election’s being meddled with, it’s being stolen. We’re already hearing about examples of fraud and election interference.” But when she won by 40,000 votes, when she was asked about this, she said her supporters “outvoted the fraud.”
So more and more, election experts tell us is that this is what you’re going to see here. When candidates lose elections, fraud, it was cheating, it was wasn’t a real legitimate election. There was some meddling going on. It wasn’t on the up and up. But then when they win, those very same machines, those very same individuals who were counting votes, “Oh, it was completely fair.” It’s going to be used more and more, I think, as a political tactic. And what worries experts that we’ve talked to is that we could have a repeat of January 6th, where candidates or officials make these claims and basically telling their supporters that your vote was stolen, you were robbed of your decision making. And that will engender in some people’s minds, folks to be violent. And that’s the concern that a lot of experts have is that when these lies continue to foment, continue to spread, it gives an incentive and sends a signal to certain people’s supporters that the only reasonable response is to overthrow the government, whether at the local, state or federal level.

Taylor Wilson:
Former President Donald Trump filed an emergency appeal at the Supreme Court yesterday. He asked justices to reveal part of an appeals court order dealing with the classified documents seized at his Florida estate in August. The appeal came days after a three judge panel of the US Court of Appeals said investigators could retain the classified documents and review them as part of a criminal investigation. The appeals court reasoned that the documents belong to the government, not the former president. Trump’s attorneys focused on whether an independent special master, appointed to review some of the seized material, could also review classified documents. It was not immediately clear how the broader review of the documents would be affected if Trump won his appeal, and the Justice Department declined a comment. An August 8th search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property came as part of a federal investigation into allegations that Trump took classified documents from the White House when he left office. A district court prohibited authorities from reviewing some 11,000 documents and appointed a special master to decide whether Trump could keep some of the papers out of the government’s hands.

Elon Musk’s $44 billion move to buy Twitter is back on. The company has accepted the billionaire’s offer to buy the social media platform for $54.20 a share. Musk made the proposal in a letter to Twitter two weeks before its lawsuit pushing to force Musk to proceed with the deal was scheduled to go on trial in Delaware. He was scheduled to be deposed in the case on Thursday. Twitter filed the suit after Musk tried calling off his purchase of the company in July. Analysts said this week’s offer was an acknowledgement that Musk faced long odds in court. He’s already lost several legal challenges over how much information Twitter had to release. Tulane business law professor Ann M. Lipton gave more context to the AP.
Ann M. Lipton:
What’s surprising is how unsurprising it all is. We all expected fireworks, given the color of this particular dispute. But the fact is, cases settle on the eve of trial. They settle just before you have to depose the big people, the CEO, whatever. Musk’s deposition is scheduled to begin October 6th. In some ways, the fact that they would settle just before then is the most natural and obvious thing in the world. All we saw were some fairly anodyne text messages that Musk’s co-investor sent him, and the press had an absolute field day with that. Now, Twitter’s been getting all kinds of discovery on all of Musk’s communications with everybody about this deal. I have absolutely no doubt it would’ve been also embarrassing, if only because he didn’t expect that he was talking to a courtroom or the world at large. And from Twitter’s perspective, I think it’s interesting because I think it’s very possible that Musk could have uncovered damaging things, not necessarily damaging enough to get him out of this deal. I mean, I think Twitter’s case was always stronger, but that doesn’t mean Musk couldn’t have aired embarrassing facts about Twitter’s business.
But from Twitter’s perspective, there’s also the aspect that what do they care? If they win and they get bought by Musk, then as a company, it doesn’t matter what got aired that was bad news for Twitter. At that point the shareholders are out, it’s Musk’s problem. So in that sense, Twitter could kind of be like, just fine, reveal it all, it doesn’t matter. As long as we win the case, in the end it doesn’t actually matter because now it’s Musk’s problem as a company.
Taylor Wilson:
Twitter shares surged 22% on the news after trading briefly stopped.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us every morning of the week on whatever your favorite podcast app is. And if you have a chance, please drop us a five-star rating and review. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

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