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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says the social media platform is looking to shift from following individuals to following topics as part of efforts to counter abuse. (If you or anyone you know faces online harassment, PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual provides strategies and resources to defend against cyber hate and fight online abuse.) Local newsrooms, though decimated by cuts and deadly tragedy, are honored by Pulitzers for the impactful and original reporting they accomplish nonetheless. Reporters and retired military note that the Pentagon has gone more than 300 days without an official spokesperson giving an on-camera press briefing. Digital Equity Act introduced in Congress to U.S. Senate to expand broadband access in communities that lack it. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


CEO Jack Dorsey Suggests Big Change for Twitter, and Users Revolt
Jack Dorsey suggested a fundamental change to the social network, in which users would follow topics instead of individuals. As an “interest-based network,” users would see content from anyone sharing the same interest—an idea that sounds similar to bulletin boards from the early days of the internet.

Despite Tough Times and Smaller Newsrooms, Local News Was a Star in This Year’s Pulitzers
Several local newsrooms have something new in common this week—a Pulitzer Prize. This year, local newsrooms won in several categories: Public Service, Breaking News, Investigative Reporting, Commentary, and, of course, Local Reporting. Local journalism scored as finalists in 11 other categories and received a special citation.

It’s Been over 300 Days since a Pentagon Press Briefing. That Should Concern All Americans—Including the Military
“Government officials need to know that they will have to face the media on a regular basis. That reality will cause them to be cautious and judicious in wielding the tremendous power they hold. Media engagement can be painful at times, and it will create some missteps and miscommunications. But the benefits outweigh the costs.”

Digital Equity Act Would Provide $250m Annually to Address Digital Divide
Proponents of digital learning, as well as those committed to closing the nation’s “homework gap,” rejoiced when the U.S. Senate introduced a bill that would invest hundreds of millions of dollars to expand broadband access in communities that currently lack it.


‘Shrouded in Secrecy’: Saudi Women Activists’ Trial Hearing Delayed *PEN Case List: learn more here
A court in Saudi Arabia has postponed a hearing in the trial of several of the country’s most prominent women’s rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul. Relatives were told that the judge had delayed the session for “private reasons.”

Israel Invokes Anti-Boycott Law to Order Human Rights Worker Deported
Omar Shakir, an advocate for Human Rights Watch must leave the country by May 1, an Israeli court ruled, upholding a deportation order issued under a contentious law that bars entry to foreigners who have publicly called for a boycott of Israel or its settlements in the occupied West Bank.

‘Venezuelans Are Starving for Information.’ The Battle to Get News in a Country in Chaos
As Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian government has overseen Venezuela’s collapse into unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis since 2014, it has tried to restrict citizens’ access to information. Most television is state-run, and authorities ban the few independent TV and radio stations from covering Venezuela’s crisis as it unfolds.

The Tiananmen Massacre Is One of China’s Most Censored Topics. Here’s a Look at What Gets Banned
China’s censorship apparatus, dubbed the Great Firewall, and an army of censors thought to be in the millions, block all mentions of the event. Related words and topics are also banned, and authorities have even blocked references to the date—June 4, 1989—that Chinese tanks rolled into Beijing’s Tiananmen Squares and left what is believed to be hundreds if not thousands of protesters dead.

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