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Facebook faces new disclosures that it paid contractors to transcribe clips of users’ voice chats without notification. White House press secretary’s preliminary decision to suspend journalist and commentator Brian Karem’s “hard pass” for White House access still pending implementation (find out more about PEN America v. Trump, our lawsuit that seeks to prevent reprisals against members of the press by the Trump administration for coverage it dislikes.) New York Times demotes Washington bureau editor over social media posts on race and politics. In federal court suit, LGBT video creators accuse YouTube of discrimination for allegedly suppressing their content. US journalist Austin Tice marks seven years missing in Syria. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Facebook Paid Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Audio Chats
Facebook Inc. has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, according to people with knowledge of the work. Facebook hasn’t disclosed to users that third parties may review their audio.

It’s Crunch Time for the White House vs. Brian Karem
“Last November, the White House revoked CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s credentials, for whimsical reasons that withered in a federal court hearing… On August 2, press secretary Stephanie Grisham notified Brian Karem of Playboy magazine that she’d reached a ‘preliminary decision’ to suspend his pass for 30 days.”

A Times Editor Is Demoted as the Paper Discusses Its Coverage of Race
The New York Times said that Jonathan Weisman, a deputy Washington editor, had been demoted and would no longer oversee the paper’s congressional correspondents because he repeatedly posted messages on social media about race and politics that showed what the paper called “serious lapses in judgment.”

LGBTQ YouTubers are suing YouTube over alleged discrimination
A group of creators is suing YouTube for allegedly discriminating against their LGBTQ-focused videos by suppressing recommendations and making it difficult to earn ad revenue. They also allege that YouTube’s systems unfairly target channels that have words such as “gay,” “bisexual,” or “transgender” in the title.

Austin Tice Must Be Free
“The twists and turns in the Tice family’s ordeal to win his safe return have been agonizing. Long stretches of time with no news have been the norm for most of his captivity. In recent months, though, the Trump administration has given indications that it is getting closer to securing Austin Tice’s release.”


Azeri Court Upholds Dubious Charges Against Ismayilova *PEN Case List: find out more here and see our statement here
The Azerbaijani Supreme Court upheld on Wednesday tax evasion charges against investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova in what critics called a vindictive act of President Ilham Aliyev, a violation of the country’s law, and a breach of its international obligations.

Saudi Activist Rejects Release Deal Tied to Denying Torture *PEN Case List: find out more here and see our statement here
Loujain Al-Hathloul has rejected a proposal to secure her release from prison in exchange for a video statement denying reports she was tortured in custody. Al-Hathloul was arrested over a year ago as Saudi Arabia ended a ban on women driving cars.

China Is Waging a Disinformation War Against Hong Kong Protesters
In recent days, China has more aggressively stirred up nationalist and anti-Western sentiment using state and social media, and it has manipulated the context of images and videos to undermine the protesters. Chinese officials have begun branding the demonstrations as a prelude to terrorism.

Kameel Ahmady: British-Iranian Academic ‘Arrested in Iran’
Ahmady has researched female genital mutilation and child marriage in Iran, among other subjects. Another British dual national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been in Iranian custody since 2016 over spying claims.

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