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The country’s largest broadcaster, Sinclair Broadcast Group, with nearly 200 local TV stations and seeking FCC approval for a deal to gain many more, forces it news anchors across the country to read the same script critiquing the news media. Fox News host Laura Ingraham takes planned vacation as advertisers continue to leave her show after her tweet mocking a survivor of the Parkland school shooting. Calls for boycotting Facebook and other pervasive platforms over handling of personal data and other issues are proving hard to follow through on. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


How America’s Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump’s War On The Media
The script, which parrots Donald Trump’s oft-declarations of developments negative to his presidency as “fake news,” brought upheaval to newsrooms already dismayed with Sinclair’s consistent interference to bring right-wing propaganda to local television broadcasts.

Laura Ingraham to take week-long break from Fox News show amid controversy
Advertisers bolted from “The Ingraham Angle” after the host sent a tweet mocking David Hogg, one of the student-activists who became a voice for gun control after a shooter murdered 17 people at his high school in Florida last month. After at least two companies had taken action, Ingraham apologized in a series of tweets.

They Tried to Boycott Facebook, Apple and Google. They Failed.
As the reach and influence of Silicon Valley’s tech giants have increased, so have the calls to boycott their products and services. The problem is that pulling off a boycott is not exactly easy: The tech companies’ products are so pervasive that they are difficult to avoid.

Facebook Is Not the Problem. Lax Privacy Rules Are.
The technology and advertising industries have long resisted such rules, and neither this Congress nor the Trump administration has shown any interest in privacy. But someday new politicians will be in charge, and now is as good a time as any to begin a serious examination of how American privacy regulations can be strengthened.


Malaysia outlaws ‘fake news’; sets jail of up to six years
Malaysia has approved its law against fake news, shrugging off critics who say it was aimed at curbing dissent and free speech ahead of a general election. The country already has an arsenal of laws, including a colonial-era Sedition Act, that have been used to clamp down on unfavorable news and social media posts.

A Hong Kong Newspaper on a Mission to Promote China’s Soft Power
New owner Alibaba has taken Hong Kong’s English-language paper of record, The South China Morning Post, and put it on the leading edge of China’s efforts to project soft power abroad. With this change, critics say it is moving away from independent journalism and pioneering a new form of propaganda.

Mozambique’s press faces violent reprisals in its war for freedom
An employee within the country’s state-funded media describes a system of news regulation–scenarios where stories must be flagged to the director if they are overly politically sensitive. “The press is used to please the system,” the employee says. “There are people who gain from misinforming people.”

Honduran Government’s Proposed Cybersecurity Law Threatens Freedom of Expression, Media
Activists say the law, which was introduced in February, shortly after Juan Orlando Hernandez was re-elected as president of Honduras in a dubious election process filled with irregularities, will impact freedom of speech online.

Fears proposed death penalty for hate speech will kill freedom of expression in Nigeria
The proposals come as Nigeria prepares itself for the next general election, while battling to control ethnic tensions, amid the Biafra separatist and Boko Haram militant movements. “It could be used to curtail speech, to frighten people,” said Professor Jideofor Adibe, an associate professor at Nasarawa State University.

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