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WhatsApp bans hundreds of thousands of accounts in Brazil

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WhatsApp bans some accounts in Brazil

WhatsApp banned hundreds of thousands of accounts in Brazil as the Facebook messaging service struggles to contain spam, misinformation and other political shenanigans ahead of a presidential runoff election in Latin America’s largest country.

“We have cutting-edge technology to detect spam that identifies accounts with abnormal behavior so that they can’t be used to spread spam or misinformation,” a WhatsApp spokesman said.

Facebook set up a “war room” to spot misinformation, hate speech and other damaging content during Brazil’s general election earlier this month.

The presidential runoff election — in which far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro will face leftist Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad — is set for Oct. 28. On Thursday, Haddad accused Bolsonaro of receiving illegal, undeclared corporate donations after local newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported firms are paying for a social media campaign against Haddad.

WhatsApp said Friday that it is taking the accusation seriously. It also confirmed that it blocked the account of Bolsonaro’s son Flavio for spam. The company said it was unrelated to the accusations on Thursday.

— Bloomberg News

Home sales decline for sixth straight month

U.S. home sales fell for the sixth straight month in September, a sign that housing is a weak spot for the economy.

The National Association of Realtors says sales declined 3.4 percent last month, the biggest drop in 2½ years, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million. That’s the lowest sales pace since November 2015.

Hurricane Florence dragged sales in North Carolina, but even excluding the storm’s effects, sales would have fallen more than 2 percent. Sales of existing homes have declined steadily in the past year amid rapid price increases, higher mortgage rates and a tight supply of available houses.

Sales fell 4.1 percent in September from a year ago.

— Associated Press

Sales of beauty products helped stabilize Procter & Gamble's revenue during the first quarter and boost profit. Profit for the world's largest consumer products maker jumped 12 percent to $3.2 billion, or $1.22 per share. Revenue was flat at $16.69 billion, with a 20 percent surge in beauty product sales offsetting lagging sales in other departments. The stable sales and a gain from the dissolution of a partnership with Teva helped push overall profit higher. Stripping out one-time gains and costs, earnings were $1.12 per share, topping Wall Street expectations by 3 cents per share.

JPMorgan Chase plans to open a campus in Palo Alto, Calif., as part of the bank's efforts to attract more Silicon Valley talent. The campus, scheduled to break ground early next year and open in 2020, will have more than 1,000 employees, JPMorgan said in a statement Friday. The new financial-technology offices will make it easier for workers across business lines to host events and collaborate on new products, the company said. JPMorgan has been moving further into financial tech. Last year, it acquired the start-up WePay to help its 4 million small-business clients accept payments faster.

Toymaker Hasbro, battling through competition and industry disruption, announced Friday that it is reducing its workforce. The cuts will be in the "single digit percentage," the toymaker said in a statement, without disclosing more details. Hasbro has been hit this year by the liquidation of Toys R Us, one of its top customers. Sales declined for the past three quarters and are expected to fall again. Hasbro had 5,400 employees at the end of 2017.

Honeywell International said Friday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had opened an investigation into its accounting for asbestos-related liabilities. The industrial conglomerate's revised estimate for asbestos-related liabilities was $2.61 billion as of the end of 2017, some $1.09 billion higher than a prior estimate, a regulatory filing showed. The liabilities are related to Bendix Friction Materials, a business previously owned by Honeywell and sold in 2014, which made automotive brake linings containing asbestos. Thousands have alleged personal injury from exposure to asbestos from the brakes.

— From news services