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Facebook admits to selling ads to Russian fake news troll farms. Facebook fact-checking partners say the company’s lack of transparency and refusal to share information is hobbling the effort. West Virginia drops charges against reporter for questioning HHS Secretary.‎ False reports and video on Hurricane Irma go viral, sowing confusion. -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director

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


Facebook says it sold ads to Russian ‘troll farm’ during 2016 campaign
Facebook told congressional investigators that it sold political ads during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to a Russian troll farm that was looking to target American voters. The company is facing criticism over its decision not to release the ads or explain what role it played in the targeting of these ads.

Facebook undermines its own effort to fight fake news
Facebook promised to address the spread of misinformation on its platform, in part by working with outside fact-checking groups. But the fact-checkers say the social media giant is hurting their own efforts because of its lack of transparency.

West Virginia case: It’s still lawful to pose a question to a government official
The charge, “willfully disrupting a State governmental process or meeting” against Dan Heyman, who pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price with questions, have been dropped. The prosecuting attorney said Heyman’s conduct was not unlawful and did not violate the law.

Fake Hurricane Irma videos are getting tens of millions of views on Facebook
Videos and livestreams that purports to show “live” footage of the effects of Irma attracted up tens of millions of views on Facebook. However, they weren’t of Irma, and they weren’t live.


Kazakh Journalist Convicted Of Money Laundering, Walks Free In ‘Huge Victory’
Zhanbolat Mamai, known for his criticism of the government, has been sentenced to three years of “limited freedom” by the Almaty court, which also ordered the confiscation of his property and barred him from journalism for three years.

Cambodia Daily Closes Down After Government Threatened It with Hefty Tax Bill
The Cambodia Daily, described as “a special and singular part Cambodia’s free press”, appealed for audit but the government refused to reconsider the case. Some link the case to the stance of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who had accused the people behind the hard-hitting paper of being “thieves” and “servants of foreigners”.

The killing of an Indian journalist spurs protests for free speech
The killing of Gauri Lankesh provoked outrage and anguish across the country, with thousands protesting what they saw as an effort to silence a critic of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party.

Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi says ‘fake news’ fuelling Rohingya crisis
Aung San Suu Kyi blamed fake news and a misinformation campaign for fuelling a crisis that the UN says has now pushed more than 125,000 minority Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh at the hands of security forces. Suu Kyi said that such misinformation helps promote the interests of “terrorists.”

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