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Three Saudi women’s rights activists have been released, including 2019/PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award honoree Eman Al-Nafjan (see PEN America’s reaction here, and find out more about Al-Nafjan, as well as Nouf Abdulaziz and Loujain Al-Hathloul, here.) As Facebook announces it will broaden its existing ban on white supremacism to incorporate white nationalist and white separatist content on its platform after the mass shooting targeting a mosque in New Zealand, the company faces scrutiny for the way in which its engagement-driving algorithms promote extremist content, as well as questions about how the ban will work. Twitter says it won’t remove President Trump’s tweets that violate its standards, but is exploring ways to label them as such. NPR looks at the media coverage of the Jussie Smollett investigation. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today

U.S.

How the Algorithm Rewards Extremism
“There’s a fundamentally adversarial relationship between the goals of the coders and designers and those of their users. The former are constantly trying to trick and nudge users into compulsive behavior. It works because the nudges are subconscious, or algorithmically invisible. [Otherwise], we might reject them.”
LIT HUB

Twitter Still Won’t Remove Trump’s Tweets That Violate Its Rules. but It Will Label Them.
Twitter is exploring how it can annotate offensive tweets that break its rules but remain in the public interest. It’s an effort to stem offensive content and hate speech and follows comments last year by chief executive Jack Dorsey, who said he is rethinking core parts of the platform to stem harassment and other abuses.
WASHINGTON POST

How the Media Covered Jussie Smollett
“I think that in the coverage of this story, some of the basic tenets of journalism … were just abandoned. A lot of newsrooms failed to use words like alleged when talking about this story. … Also, a lot of newsrooms took what Jussie’s lawyers were saying or what Chicago PD was saying at total face value, and they just weren’t skeptical enough.”
NPR

The Problem That Arises When You Tell People Facts Don’t Matter
“This is how the obliteration of objective reality, a tool of Trump and authoritarian bullies the world over, comes back to haunt him. Partisans now reject any new information that doesn’t comport with their preferences. Since most Americans don’t like Trump, most prefer to believe he is guilty of something or another.”
WASHINGTON POST

 
Global

3 Saudi rights activists temporarily released *PEN Case List: Learn More
Eman Al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, and a third woman who has not been named were releaed a day after nearly a dozen women’s rights activists appeared before a three-judge panel in a Riyadh courtroom and laid out their defense.They also spoke of physical and sexual abuse they say they were subjected to by masked interrogators.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Egypt: Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah ‘to Be Released from Prison’ *PEN Case List: Learn More
After five years in prison, Alaa Abdel Fattah, a high-profile Egyptian blogger and rights activist, was released from prison, his family said. He was arrested in 2013 and eventually sentenced to five years in prison in a trial that lasted over a year.
AL JAZEERA

Turkish Court Dismisses Case Against DW Contributor Pelin Unker
Freelance journalist Pelin Unker had been sentenced to jail in Turkey over her “Paradise Papers” reports. Now Pelin Unker’s case has been thrown out due to a statute of limitations clause in Turkish Press Law.
DW

Prosecutors Accuse Australian Journalists of Violating Gag Order on Cardinal’s Trial
Dozens of prominent Australian news outlets and journalists have been ordered to appear in court to answer allegations that they violated a gag order barring coverage of the trial of Cardinal George Pell, a former Vatican official who was convicted in December of molesting children.
NEW YORK TIMES

No Earrings, Tattoos or Cleavage: Inside China’s War on Fun
“Men’s earrings aren’t the only objectionable material that China’s censors are blurring, covering up or cutting out. Soccer players wear long sleeves to cover their tattoos. Women in costumes at a racy video game convention have been told to raise their necklines. Rappers can rhyme only about peace and harmony.”
NEW YORK TIMES

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to DARE@pen.org