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US importing large amount of Russian oil, but Facebook post misstates Keystone XL role – WRAL-TV

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Tampa, Fla. — On social media, Americans are frustrated with rising gasoline prices. Online critics of President Joe Biden have blamed him personally for the price spike, though experts have said that the price increase has more to do with higher demand during the economic recovery following the business shutdowns of the coronavirus pandemic.

One recent Facebook post merged this line of argument with another criticism: Biden was coddling Russia with his energy policies.

The post said, “The imbecile in chief is now importing 800,000 barrels of oil from Russia. Guess how much oil the (Keystone XL pipeline) would have carried from Canada? I will give you a hint. It rhymes with 800,000 barrels.”

After years of acrimony, Biden used the power of the executive branch to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported crude oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with another leg stretching to Gulf Coast refineries. From there, refined petroleum products could be sold either in the U.S. or to foreign buyers.

Oil experts say the post draws a misleading relationship between Russian imports and the Keystone pipeline project.

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The facts behind 800,000 barrels

The most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that in May, the U.S. imported 844,000 barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia. That’s almost 10% of all the U.S. imports for that month.

Historically speaking, this is a large amount, setting a new monthly record for Russian oil imports.

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A large reason for the spike in Russian imports is believed to be sanctions the U.S. placed on Venezuela in 2019. Much of what the United States has been importing from Russia is a gooey, semi-refined fuel that the Russians call “mazut” that is similar to the Venezuelan product. Some U.S. plants have specialized systems to refine these fuels, and some oil companies have turned to Russia to keep those factories going in the absence of Venezuelan imports.

As for the canceled Keystone XL pipeline, it would have been able to carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil every day.

Could Keystone XL have saved the U.S. from importing from Russia?

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Experts said that any impact from the Keystone XL pipeline would have been years down the road. Even if all legal obstacles were to disappear, the project would have involved the construction of 1,204 miles of new pipeline in Canada and the United States.

This means the pipeline wouldn’t have solved the immediate problem referred to in the Facebook post.

“There is no justification for comparing oil import levels from Russia to the transportation capacity of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, or to suggest that these imports from Russia would have been entirely displaced by crude transported through Keystone XL,” said Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

In addition, “the Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t have produced oil — it would have transported oil,” said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

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In other words, just because Keystone XL might have been able to carry 800,000-plus barrels a day “does not mean that production in Canada would have been 800,000 barrels a day higher than today,” Bordoff said. The pipeline might have simply displaced other types of transportation, such as tanker trucks, that are currently used to carry oil away from Alberta.

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There’s no guarantee that oil producers in Alberta would have sold that theoretical excess production to the U.S.

Finally, the United States produces much of its own oil and could produce more if needed.

In 2020, the most recent full year, the U.S. exported 8.51 million barrels a day of petroleum and imported about 7.86 million, marking the first year since at least 1949 that the U.S. was a net annual petroleum exporter, according to the Energy Information Administration. That same year, the United States produced about 18.4 million barrels of petroleum per day, which is more than its daily consumption of 18.1 million barrels a day.

PolitiFact: Half-true

Our ruling

A Facebook post said the U.S. is “now importing 800,000 barrels of oil from Russia,” but that this could have been prevented if the Keystone XL pipeline hadn’t been canceled.

The amount of oil being imported today from Russia has reached a record level of more than 800,000 barrels a day. That does roughly equal the transport capacity of the Keystone XL pipeline — but it’s not as simple as substituting one source for the other.

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The pipeline would have required years of construction and likely more legal challenges, so it couldn’t have solved today’s demand needs. Even in the future, there would be no certainty that the pipeline could produce a net increase of 800,000 barrels a day, rather than just transporting oil from Canada that is currently being transported some other way. Nor would producers be obligated to sell that entire amount to the U.S.

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We rate the statement Half True.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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