HC Wake-Up Call: Al Franken Might Run For Public Office Again, Facebook Purges Fake Political Accounts, & 3D Guns Stalled

Good morning Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Al Franken Hasn't "Ruled Out" Running For Public Office Again

Minnesota Democrat Al Franken resigned from the Senate back in January after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. Now, he might be considering running for public office again. When asked about the possibility, Franken told Minnesota CBS affiliate WCCO, "I don't know. I haven't ruled it out, and I haven't ruled it in."

The interview was his first since the scandal, which prompted Sen. Tina Smith to take his office; though she's up for a special election this fall. Franken admitted that he misses his former job. "I loved that job, I loved the job as Senator," he said. "It was very meaningful for me and bittersweet, I would like to still be there." 

Franken was elected in 2008 after a 20-year stint as a writer and cast member for Saturday Night Live. Beginning in December 2017, eight women came forward with allegations that Franken made unwanted sexual advances or inappropriately touched them. According to CNN, numerous members of his own party urged him to resign. He did so before a Senate ethics committee could complete its investigation. In Franken's final Senate floor speech, he condemned the Senate's hypocrisy considering President Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct. "I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office," Franken said. 

Dozens Of Facebook Pages With Potential To Influence Midterms Removed

Facebook issued a statement on Tuesday about the removal of 32 accounts and pages due to their involvement in "coordinated inauthentic behavior." According to The New York Times, the accounts were part of a "political influence campaign that was potentially built to disrupt the midterm elections." Facebook is still investigating what they discovered; however, the company said it wanted to share what they currently know due to the connection between the accounts and protests that were planned in Washington next week.

"At this point in our investigation, we do not have enough technical evidence to state definitively who is behind it," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy. "But we can say that these accounts engaged in some similar activity and have connected with known I.R.A accounts."

The I.R.A., or Internet Research Agency, is a Russian-linked group that was accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Facebook didn't say the I.R.A. or Russia are necessarily behind the accounts removed on Tuesday; however, "some of the tools and techniques used by the accounts were similar to those used by the Internet Research Agency," the NYT reported. The pages were also coordinating activity around a number of divisive issues, like a follow-up to last year's "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended in the death of Heather Heyer

Facebook said it will update Tuesday's announcement when more information is available. 

A Court Ruling Stalled The Downloading Of Plans For 3D Guns

On Tuesday, a federal judge sided with the attorney generals in eight states and the District of Columbia who argued that posting plans for 3D guns online could help criminals and terrorists manufacture these weapons. Judge Robert Lasnik's ruling was the result of a lawsuit from the states, which sought to force the Trump administration to prevent a Texas nonprofit company from publishing instructions for making downloadable guns with 3D printers. According to CNN, Tueday's ruling temporarily blocked a settlement that the company, Defense Distributed, and the federal government reached in June, which legalized posting 3D printable gun plans online.

Defense Distributed wasn't legally required to take down the postings after the decision; however, CNN reported that the group is currently blocking downloads from its website. Those in support of the organization and its founder, Cody Wilson, believe this is a First Amendment issue. Despite his ruling, Judge Lasnik seemed to agree, and said the problems in regards to the First Amendment need to be worked out later in court. There's a follow-up hearing scheduled for August 10. 

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he's "looking into" 3D guns, and that after speaking to the NRA, they "don't seem to make much sense." Under federal law, it's already illegal to own or make a gun entirely out of plastic. 

What to look for...

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