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Colleges nationwide tell high school seniors they won’t penalize their applications if the students are suspended for protests related to gun control. Hoax attempts, including a fake front page, hit Miami Herald as newspaper reports on the Parkland school shooting. Court finds that comedian John Oliver was within his First Amendment rights to criticize a coal company executive who had claimed defamation. New warnings that “deep fakes,’’ digital manipulations of sound, images, and video, are getting increasingly less detectable and pose new dimension to the threat to truth. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


In wake of Parkland, colleges tell students protests won’t hurt their chance of admission
“Student activism . . . is not problematic on its face,” David Burge, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, wrote. “Activism signals that students are ready to take control of the world around them, that they are finding their voice, building confidence, and are on the path to be engaged citizens.”

Hoax attempts against Miami Herald augur brewing war over fake, real news
Two recent incidents hit the newspaper that underscore new tactics by those seeking to discredit mainstream media. In the first, a perpetrator made fake tweets that looked like they came from Herald reporter, Alex Harris. In the second, someone created a phony Herald story suggesting that a new mass shooting was in the offing.

John Oliver, HBO Beat Coal Executive’s Defamation Lawsuit
Robert Murray, Murray Energy, and other associated coal companies sued the cable network and Oliver in June, arguing the host created a “villainous” portrait of the coal baron. HBO submitted motions asking to dismiss the matter, arguing that the challenged statements are protected by the First Amendment.

Deep Fakes: A Looming Crisis for National Security, Democracy and Privacy?
Recent events amply demonstrate that false claims—even preposterous ones—can be peddled with unprecedented success today thanks to a combination of social media ubiquity and virality, cognitive biases, filter bubbles, and group polarization. The resulting harms are significant for individuals, businesses, and democracy.


Three Pussy Riot Members Detained In Crimea
Members of the Russian punk protest band, Olga Borisova, Maria Alyokhina, and Aleksandr Sofeyev, were detained upon arrival in the Ukrainian peninsula. Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov said on February 26 that the trio was brought to a medical institution for testing. He could not provide further details.

The rise of China as a digital totalitarian state
In China, censorship and propaganda go hand in hand, backed by the use of physical force, including police visits, arrests, and attacks by state media. President Xi Jinping has attempted to bolster Communist Party authority by imposing wide-ranging policies to gain ideological and informational control over the media and Internet.

Tanzania opposition MP jailed for five months for insulting president
The court in the southern highlands convicted Joseph Mbilinyi, a lawmaker from the main opposition party, for using abusive language against the president at a public rally. Court documents show that Mbilinyi was accused of associating President Magufuli with an alleged assassination attempt on opposition MP Tundu Lissu.

Investigative journalist killed in his house
Police President Tibor Gašpar confirmed the death of Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnírová at a press conference. He added that their murder was probably connected to Kuciak’s investigative work. This is the fifth case of a journalist or journalists being murdered in an EU country in the past 10 years

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