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Turning off political ads on Facebook could have unpredictable consequences – The Verge

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Programming note: The Interface is off on Thursday. Back on Monday.

It seems hard to believe now, but there was a time when political advertising was relatively uncontroversial. Sure, individual ads regularly proved to be controversial, from the nuclear provocations of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Daisy” to racist fear-mongering of George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton.” And the economics of political advertising, which depend heavily on moneyed interests pushing their agenda through opaque front groups, have been the subject of sustained and valid criticism since well before the Citizens United decision.

But the basic idea that a politician ought to be able to buy space in a media outlet and show it to a bunch of people — that was something we mostly had learned to live with. And then social networks came along, and the calculus changed.

Buy an ad in a newspaper or on a TV station and your potential reach is relatively limited, at least compared to the internet. But buy an ad on a social network and its reach is potentially infinite — and it can acquire massive scale in an incredibly short period of time.

The old thinking was, a politician ought to be able to address their constituents — and if they say horrible things, that’s something the public ought to know. The new thinking was — well, sure, but what if he says that Election Day is a week later for the other party? What if he says that members of an ethnic minority have come to the village to eat your babies? What if he tells his army to go shoot a bunch of protesters and buys an ad to brag about it?

Suddenly that combination of scale and speed feels dangerous, in a concrete way. The lie gets halfway around the world before the fact-checkers even see it, and that’s if your social network will even let them fact-check the lies to begin with.

All of that is prelude to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg writing this on Tuesday evening in an op-ed in USA Today:

By giving people a voice, registering and turning out voters, and preventing interference, I believe Facebook is supporting and strengthening our democracy in 2020 and beyond. And for those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you — so we’re also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads. We’ll still remind you to vote.

And so starting soon, you’ll be able to remove political ads from your Facebook feed. (Most political ads, anyway: Facebook cannot perfectly identify every remotely “political” ad, and so you may see some anyway.) This approach had been announced in January, but honestly who remembers January, and anyway now it’s here. This optional feature brings Facebook’s approach a step closer to that of Twitter, which banned political ads outright in November. (Google allows political advertising but restricts the ability of advertisers to “microtarget,” or show ads to people based on fine-grained demographic or location information.)

How big a deal is all this? Perhaps not as big as Facebook’s intention, also announced in that op-ed, to register 4 million new voters over the next several months — double what the company estimates it managed to achieve during the last election. And a new voter information hub modeled on a similar module that Facebook created for COVID-19 could also be useful as an island of sanity in a News Feed full of the usual polarized provocations.

But I always think it’s worth noting when, in a democracy, a major media outlet enables the restriction of political speech — even when its intentions are good. Sure, there’s the journalist’s tendency to favor more speech in most contexts. But there’s also an awareness that placing limits on one kind of political speech can often benefit other forms of political speech. Limiting political speech in ads, for example, could favor incumbents, who have less need of advertising.

It could also change the kinds of political speech people see on Facebook. Advertising executives there have told me in the past that political ads tended to be less inflammatory than regular posts on the whole, because fewer people want to see inflammatory messages and thus they can be more expensive to distribute. But unpaid partisan engagement bait circulates widely through Facebook echo chambers. The New York Times’ Kevin Roose does a regular bit on Twitter where he posts the day’s top Facebook posts with links, and the results often skew heavily toward the conservative side. You can imagine a world where partisans disable political ads, see nothing but links to articles that flatter their worldview, and withdraw further into their echo chambers.

You can also imagine a world where politicians take the hint, and stop threatening to send in the military to trample peaceful protesters, or falsely suggest that voting by mail is illegal, or rig up a Facebook ad for a data-collection scheme to look like a link to the official US Census. Maybe, in such a world, people would be less likely to turn off political ads on Facebook. This world is admittedly harder to imagine.

Maybe the political-ad toggle will turn out to be a minor thing. Or maybe researchers will pinpoint it, a few years from now, as a decisive factor in some outcome or another. The interlocking feedback loops of Facebook, its user base, and the wider world are basically impossible to understand in real time.

What you can do, though, is watch the company continuously adjust the trade-offs it is required to make: between speech and safety, between Democrats and Republicans, between the absolutists and the people who think there ought to just be a toggle. Sometimes “giving the user more control” can be the most responsible thing to do. Other times it can represent an abdication of some larger responsibility.

Facebook is now locked in a perpetual tug-of-war between the people who think it should allow more speech, and the people who think it should allow less. Allowing everyone to disable political ads feels like Zuckerberg once more attempting to thread that needle — one whose eye is small and shrinking all the time.

Pushback

I made a mistake in yesterday’s piece about Apple and antitrust: the email app Superhuman does, in fact, offer in-app purchases. So sorry about that.

Elsewhere, I’ve been riveted by the coverage of Apple’s inconsistent enforcement. See Dieter Bohn, Ben Thompson, John Gruber, and Savannah Reising for the best commentary on the subject. I expect this story will have more dramatic turns, and soon: WWDC starts Monday.

The Ratio

Today in news that could affect public perception of the big tech platforms.

Trending up: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin are donating $120 million to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). It’s the largest recorded individual gift to support scholarships at the schools. (Jacob Knutson / Axios)

Trending up: Facebook wants to help register 4 million voters this year with its new Voting Information Center. While some studies have shown that Facebook posts don’t boost voter turnout, perhaps this effort will. (Nick Statt / The Verge)

Trending up: Google is committing to spending more than $175 million on racial equity initiatives with a focus on financing black-owned businesses and supporting black entrepreneurs. (Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge)

Governing

An excerpt from a new book by former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton says Trump asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 election. Here’s Bolton in the Wall Street Journal:

Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.

Senate Republicans introduced a new bill that would seek to limit Section 230 protections for big tech companies. In reality, the bill would likely make it even harder to hold companies like Facebook and Twitter accountable for selectively enforcing their own terms of service. Here’s Dell Cameron at Gizmodo:

The bill, dubbed “Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act,” would effectively grant users the right to sue major internet companies that enforce their own terms of service unequally and in bad faith. As it stands, users cannot sue any website for content generated by another user (e.g., tweets, comments, posts, etc.) or for any decision by the website owner to restrict access to content that the owner finds “objectionable.”

However, the changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act proposed by Hawley do not appear to place any new restrictions on how companies define their own moderation policies—only that they stick to, and evenly apply, whatever rules they ultimately decide upon. (Any effort to regulate how internet companies moderate content beyond that which is illegal, such as child sexual abuse material, would more than likely run afoul of the First Amendment.)

The Justice Department is also working on a proposal to pare back Section 230 protections for tech platforms. The proposed changes are a direct shot at companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that have come into the cross hairs of the Trump administration. (Cecilia Kang / The New York Times)

India’s antitrust watchdog is reviewing Facebook purchase of a 10 percent stake in Reliance Jio. The deal is meant to give Facbeook a foothold in one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets. (Shruti Srivastava / Bloomberg)

The claim that half the accounts tweeting about COVID-19 are bots is overblown, according to disinformation experts. They say there’s little research to support the number is actually this high. (Siobhan Roberts / The New York Times)

Police departments are using their official Twitter accounts to tweet misinformation about protestors. At times, these rumors have included unsubstantiated claims about weapons and protestor violence. (Aaron Blake / The Washington Post)

Microsoft has pledged not to sell facial recognition technology to police departments until it’s been federally regulated. But documents show the company tried to sell the controversial technology to the government for years, including to the Drug Enforcement Administration in late 2017. (Ryan Mac / BuzzFeed)

Industry

Twitter started rolling out audio tweets on iOS. The feature lets users record audio snippets and attach them to tweets. Here’s how it works, according to The Verge’s Chris Welch:

If you’ve got access to it, you’ll see a new waveform icon beside the camera icon when composing a tweet. Tap that, and a red record button appears at the bottom of the screen, which you can tap to start recording your message.

“Each voice tweet captures up to 140 seconds of audio. Have more to say? Keep talking. Once you reach the time limit for a tweet, a new voice tweet starts automatically to create a thread,” Twitter said.

Audio can only be added to original tweets, according to this help page, so you can’t include them in replies or retweets with a comment. Another minor thing to note is that whatever your profile picture is when you record an audio clip will always be attached to that audio tweet. “Your current profile photo will be added as a static image on your audio attachment and will not refresh if you update your profile photo,” Twitter says.

Zoom says free users will get end-to-end encryption after all. The company had originally said the feature would be restricted to paid enterprise users. (Nick Statt / The Verge)

Apple’s head of diversity and inclusion, Christie Smith, is leaving the company. The news comes as Apple steps up its initiatives to promote equality. (Shelly Banjo and Mark Gurman / Bloomberg)

An army of public health volunteers is fighting vaccine disinformation online. Their plan is to conscript the vast but largely silent majority of Americans who support vaccines to block, hide, and report vaccine misinformation on social media. (Megan Molteni / Wired)

The features that make Facebook groups attractive — privacy and community — make them dangerous for the spread of misinformation. Often, they’re exploited by bad actors to share rumors and conspiracies. (Nina Jankowicz and Cindy Otis / Wired)

Employees at the mental health startup Crisis Text Line tried telling the board about the CEO’s racial insensitivities. When that didn’t work, they went to Twitter. (Zoe Schiffer / The Verge)

Police body cam videos can underplay officer brutality by only showing their point of view. “Body cameras show a scene from the perspective of the officer, and the image on the screen is focused on the suspect. That changes the way the incident is interpreted,” this author writes. (Nicole Wetsman / The Verge)

Video game companies have vowed to fight racism in their communities in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and the ensuing mass protests. But they’ve offered few details about how. Their silence has left some in the community wondering why even basic, text-based instances of racism persist. (Noah Smith / The Washington Post)

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, booked around $5.64 billion in revenue for the January-March quarter. The number shows growth of more than 130 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. (Yingzhi Yang and Julie Zhu / Reuters)

People are stealing OnlyFans content and posting it for free on other adult sites. In some cases, they’re scraping subscribe-only content in bulk and then hawking it on Discord servers. (Samantha Cole and Joseph Cox / Vice)

Magic Leap is trying to stay afloat with business-focused applications built in the model of Microsoft’s HoloLens. It’s a far fall for a company that, in 2016, looked like it could change the world. (Adi Robertson / The Verge)

The Trust & Safety Professional Association is born! It will offer training and career development for people who work on content moderation and related subjects around the tech industry, and initial backers include Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and Airbnb. I spoke with Clara Tsao during the association’s development and have high hopes for the good it can do.

Things to do

Stuff to occupy you online during the quarantine.

Install Siri’s “I’m getting pulled over” shortcut. “It will dim your phone, pause any music being played, and start recording video from your front-facing camera. It can also send your current location and a copy of that video to an emergency contact, though you’ll need to confirm a few pop-up messages to complete these steps,” James Vincent writes.

Subscribe to a podcast focused history, literature, and current affairs from a non-white point of view. This viral Twitter thread has lots of good examples.

Try a Pride-themed Snapchat filter. These “portal lenses,” made in partnership with The Advocate, will introduce you to some of “the LGBTQ+ activists, artists, politicians, and more from each state who are changing the world for the better.”

Those good tweets

Talk to us

Send us tips, comments, questions, and your political ad preferences: casey@theverge.com and zoe@theverge.com.

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Virus spread, not politics should guide schools, doctors say – WDIV ClickOnDetroit

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As the Trump administration pushes full steam ahead to force schools to resume in-person education, public health experts warn that a one-size-fits-all reopening could drive infection and death rates even higher.

They’re urging a more cautious approach, which many local governments and school districts are already pursuing.

There are too many uncertainties and variables, they say, for back-to-school to be back-to-normal.

Where is the virus spreading rapidly? Do students live with aged grandparents? Do teachers have high-risk health conditions that would make online teaching safest? Do infected children easily spread COVID-19 to each other and to adults?

Regarding the latter, some evidence suggests they don’t, but a big government study aims to find better proof. Results won’t be available before the fall, and some schools are slated to reopen in just a few weeks.

“These are complicated issues. You can’t just charge straight ahead,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday during an online briefing.

Children infected with coronavirus are more likely than adults to have mild illnesses, but their risk for severe disease and death isn’t zero. While a virus-linked inflammatory condition is uncommon, most children who develop it require intensive care, and a few have died. Doctors don’t know which children are at risk.

“The single most important thing we can do to keep our schools safe has nothing to do with what happens in school. It’s how well we control COVID-19 in the community,” Frieden said. “Right now there are places around the country where the virus is spreading explosively and it would be difficult if not impossible to operate schools safely until the virus is under better control.”

Zahrah Wattier teaches high school in Galveston, Texas, where cases and deaths have been spiking. Until the state recently said schools must reopen to in-person classes, her district had been weighing options many others are considering, including full-time online teaching or a hybrid mix.

Wattier’s school has mostly Hispanic and Black students, many from low-income families; almost 70% qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches and many have parents who work in “essential” jobs that increase potential exposure to the virus. Online education was hard for many with limited internet access, and Wattier knows in-person classes can help even the playing field.

But she’s worried.

“My school has over 2,000 students. That’s over 2,000 exposures in a day,” she said. “It’s a lot to think about. It’s my job. It’s something I choose to do, it’s something I love. Now it comes at a really high risk.’’

She also worries about her 2-year-old twins in day care and a 4-year-old who has asthma and is starting preschool. Her parents live with the family and they’re both high-risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, whose guidance the Trump administration has cited to support its demands, says the goal is for all students to be physically present in school. But it says school districts need to be flexible, consult with public health authorities and be ready to pivot as virus activity waxes and wanes.

“It is not that the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks this is a done deal because we have put out guidance,” said Dr. Nicholas Beers, a member of the academy’s school health council. “But what we do know is that we need to have a more realistic dialogue about the implications of virtual learning on the future of children. We have left whole swaths of society behind, whether it’s because they have limited access to a computer, or broadband internet,” or because of other challenges that online education can’t address.

Following academy guidelines would mean big changes for most schools. Mask-wearing would be strongly encouraged for adult staff and students except the youngest. Desks would be distanced at least 3 feet apart; the CDC recommends 6 feet. Both the academy and the CDC suggest limiting adults allowed in schools, including parents, and canceling group activities like choir and assemblies. Staggered arrival and dismissal times, outdoor classes, and keeping kids in the same classroom all day are other options.

President Donald Trump has threatened federal funding cuts for districts that don’t fully reopen. While most funding typically comes from state and local sources, experts say schools will need more federal funding, not less, to reopen safely. Masks, extra cleaning supplies or janitors, additional classroom space, mental health support for students and staff traumatized by the pandemic are among potential costs. And with more parents out of work, more children will qualify for federally funded school lunches.

Lynn Morales, 49, teaches 8th grade English at a high-poverty public school in Bloomington, Minnesota. Her district is considering several options including in-person classes; a final decision is expected Aug. 1.

Some colleagues are considering not returning to the classroom because their children’s day care centers aren’t reopening. Some say they won’t come back until there’s a vaccine.

“I am concerned and it’s because of the age group,” Morales said. ‘’Middle school students … are lovely and I love them, but they touch, they get close, they roughhouse. It is their nature. They’re 13 years old. They are defiant.”

“If masks are required and a kid isn’t wearing a mask, is my job description going to be to chase down this kid and insist they wear a mask? And what if they don’t?’’

She’s heard outrage from parents angry at the prospect of some schools not reopening or incredulous about sending kids back into classrooms.

‘’There is no win-win,’’ she said. ‘’Teachers are used to being scapegoats. This is just a whole new level of anger.’’

Dr. Emily Landon, a University of Chicago infectious disease specialist, is helping the university and a campus preK-12 school decide how to reopen safely.

“Things are evolving from, ‘We can’t do it unless it’s perfectly safe’ to more of a harm reduction model, with the caveat that you can always step back” if virus activity flares, Landon said.

Single-occupancy dorms, outdoor classes, socially distanced classrooms and mask-wearing by students and faculty are on tap for the university. Face coverings will be required at the school too. Policies may change depending on virus activity.

She dismisses complaints from some parents who say masks are a loss of personal freedom.

“It’s not harmful for your child,” she said. “If you see wearing masks as a loss of personal freedom, then you have to think the same of pants.”

Dr. Tina Hartert of Vanderbilt University is leading a National Institutes of Health-funded study aiming to determine what role children play in transmitting COVID-19. Almost 2,000 families are enrolled and self-test every two weeks. The idea is to find infected children without symptoms and see how easily disease spreads within families. Results may come by year’s end.

“If we don’t see significant transmission within households, that would be very reassuring,” Hartert said.

She noted that in other countries where schools have reopened, evidence suggests no widespread transmission from children.

In France, public schools reopened briefly before a summer break, with no sign of widespread virus transmission. Masks were only required for upper grades, but students stayed in the same classroom all day. Frequent hand-washing was mandatory. A better test will be when the new school year starts Sept. 1.

In Norway, schools closed in March for several weeks. Nursery schools reopened first, then other grades. Children were put in smaller groups that stay together all day. Masks aren’t required. There have been only a few virus cases, said Dr. Margrethe Greve-Isdahl of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, but she noted virus activity is much lower than in the U.S.

Kati Spaniak, a realtor in Northbrook, Illinois, says her five teenage daughters have struggled to cope with pandemic fears, school closures and deficits of online learning. She strongly supports getting kids back in the classroom, and all her girls will return to some form of that in the fall.

It’s been hard for her high school senior, Kylie Ciesla. Prom, graduation and other senior rituals were canceled, and there were no good-byes. “Just to get ripped away from everything I’ve worked for 12 years, it’s really hard,” Kylie said.

At college, classes will be in person, masks mandated and a COVID-19 test required before she can move into her dorm. Kylie isn’t sure all that is needed.

“I hate that this thing has become so political. I just want the science. I want to know what we need to do to fix it,” she said.

___

AP reporters John Leicester and Arno Pedram in Paris contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Coronavirus: 'Risk, not politics' will decide border restrictions – BBC News

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said any move to place restrictions on visitors from England to Scotland would be based on risk, not politics.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, she said quarantine for visitors from elsewhere in the UK could not be ruled out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously called the idea “astonishing and shameful”.

Scotland has been recording a lower rate of Covid infections than England.

The first minister said the UK nations need to work together on outbreak management in a way that “mitigates against having to put any border restrictions in place”.

Ms Sturgeon told Andrew Marr: “One of our biggest risks over the next few weeks, as we have driven levels of the virus to very low levels in Scotland, is the risk of importation into the country.

“That’s why we’ve taken a very cautious decision about international quarantine.

“And – this is not a position I relish being in – it also means that we have to take a very close look at making sure that we are not seeing the virus come in from other parts of the UK.”

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The first minister pointed out that in countries such as Australia and the United States, controls have been put in place to limit movement across state or regional boundaries.

The Scottish government would look at similar measures on a public health basis.

Ms Sturgeon said: “That’s not political. It’s not constitutional. It’s just taking a similar view to countries across the world in terms of protecting the population from the risk of the virus.”

“This is not about saying to people in England you are not welcome in Scotland – of course people in England are welcome in Scotland,” she added.

‘No border’

The topic of quarantine for visitors from England entering Scotland was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions, with Mr Johnson describing the idea as “astonishing and shameful”.

He added: “There have been no such discussions with the Scottish administration about that, but I would point out that there is no such thing as a border between England and Scotland.”

The number of new coronavirus cases in Scotland fell back to single figures on Saturday after a rise on Friday led Ms Sturgeon to warn against complacency.

No Covid-19 deaths were reported on Saturday, making it the third day in a row without any new deaths.

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Lucius Barker, Expert on Race in American Politics, Dies at 92 – The New York Times

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Lucius J. Barker, a revered political scientist and professor whose professional expertise in race in American politics informed his personal role as a delegate for Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, died on June 21 at his home in Menlo Park, Calif. He was 92.

His daughters, Heidi Barker and Tracey Barker-Stevens, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Barker was teaching at Washington University in St. Louis when he joined Mr. Jackson’s presidential campaign. He was known as a popular, if tough, political science professor with scholarly interests in constitutional law, civil liberties and the political impact of race.

To Professor Barker, Mr. Jackson’s campaign represented an extraordinary chance for African-Americans to participate in the political process and “another opportunity to work for the objectives for which Martin Luther King and others fought and died,” he wrote in “Our Time Has Come: A Delegate’s Diary of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Presidential Campaign” (1988).

As Professor Barker contemplated entering the local caucus in Missouri that led to his selection as a delegate, he thought that being part of Mr. Jackson’s campaign would be an objective academic pursuit that would help his continuing research into race and politics.

But he did not stay a neutral observer for long. He wrote that he was disappointed that February when Mr. Jackson used the term “Hymie” to refer to Jews, but accepted his apology. And, he later wrote, as the convention in San Francisco opened he morphed from a “cloistered scholar to an open activist delegate.”

In his book, Professor Barker described being upset that some Black leaders supported the party’s eventual nominee, former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, and tearful as he listened to Mr. Jackson’s stirring convention speech.

“What makes ‘Our Time Has Come’ stand out are Mr. Barker’s personal observations,” in particular “the pride he personally and Blacks generally felt in having a Black man run a serious race for his party’s presidential nomination,” David E. Rosenbaum wrote in his review in The New York Times.

Professor Barker would later work as a volunteer for Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns and attend President Obama’s first inauguration, in 2009.

Lucius Jefferson Barker was born on June 11, 1928, in Franklinton, La., about 60 miles north of New Orleans. His father, Twiley Barker Sr., was a teacher and principal at a Black high school in Franklinton. His mother, Marie (Hudson) Barker, taught elementary school there.

“There was a Black and white side of town; white schools, Black schools — everything was separate,” Heidi Barker said in an interview.

At the historically Black Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Professor Barker, inspired by a young professor, switched his major from pre-med (his family had hoped he would be a physician like the uncle he was named for) to politics.

After graduating, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in political science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where his brother Twiley Jr. had preceded him.

During one summer while he was in graduate school, Professor Barker went to register to vote in Franklinton and was forced by the registrar to answer questions about the Constitution, including one about the 14th Amendment. Such questions were typical of the obstacles placed in front of Black people in the South to prevent them from registering. But they were easy for him to answer.

According to an account of his career he gave in 1992 to PS: Political Science & Politics, a publication of the American Political Science Association, Professor Barker was confident enough to poke intellectual fun at the white registrar.

When he was asked to explain the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, he said he could not. The registrar was apparently gleeful that he might be able to deny Professor Barker the right to vote. “You don’t know!” the registrar said.

“No, I don’t, and neither does the Supreme Court,” Professor Barker said, citing several cases in which the court had been unable to explain what the clause meant.

Professor Barker was successfully registered. He would later administer the test to his students.

He would endure other racist incidents in graduate school and beyond, like being denied the right to eat at a lunch counter and, when he was a professor, being told by security that he couldn’t park in a faculty parking lot.

Credit…University of Illinois Press

Professor Barker began his teaching career as a fellow at the University of Illinois. He then went back to Southern University; moved to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and returned to the University of Illinois in 1967 as a professor and assistant chancellor. In 1969 he joined Washington University, where he served for a time as chairman of the political science department.

In 1990 he left for Stanford University, where he was also chairman of the political science department. Michael McFaul, who was hired by Professor Barker and would be appointed United States ambassador to Russia in 2012, called him a “giant in political science” in a post on Twitter after his death, adding, “We could use his wisdom and insights right now.”

Judith Goldstein, chair of Stanford’s political science department, described Professor Barker in an interview as “an Old World gentleman” who “cared about the law and about minority interest in the law way before Black Lives Matter,” adding, “In that way he was pathbreaking.”

Among Professor Barker’s published works are two textbooks: “Civil Liberties and the Constitution” (1970), which he edited with his brother and closest friend, Twiley Jr., and “Black Americans and the Political System” (1976), written with Jesse J. McCorry. That book was later revised and republished as “African Americans and the American Political System.”

He also served as president of the American Political Science Association in the early 1990s. He was the second Black person to hold that position, nearly 40 years after the first, Ralph Bunche, the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

In addition to his daughters, Professor Barker is survived by two grandsons. His wife, Maude (Beavers) Barker, died in May.

At Stanford, Professor Barker’s students included future politicians like Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and the twin brothers Julián Castro, a secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Mr. Obama, and Joaquin Castro, a congressman from Texas.

Senator Booker recalled Professor Barker as an uncompromising and rigorous mentor.

“He showed me that there could be a convergence of activism, politics, social and racial justice and academia into a life of profound purpose and impact,” Senator Booker said in an interview. “He stoked my imagination about what I could be, and it wasn’t toward electoral politics; he wasn’t trying to get me to be a mayor or a senator but to be the best sort of an influencer, to bring my best to the world.”

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