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Google CEO testifies to Congress on allegations of bias against conservatives, data privacy, spread of misinformation, and tailoring a search engine to Chinese government requirements. Politifact chooses 2018’s ‘Lie of the Year’: the ‘crisis actor’ smear campaign against the student survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting (honored by PEN America’s Free Expression Courage Award). Today marks the one-year anniversary of the arrest of Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Myanmar. Imprisoned Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov receives 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Google’s Sundar Pichai Was Grilled on Privacy, Data Collection, and China during Congressional Hearing
Tuesday’s hearing culminated a tough year for big tech companies, as lawmakers and the public have become increasingly skeptical about Silicon Valley’s effects on democracy, misinformation, and privacy.

Politifact Picks Its Lie of the Year While Time Magazine Celebrates Truth-Tellers
PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year goes to the online smear machine that tried to discredit the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. They recalled how “crisis actor” became a household term due to this disinformation campaign.

Temple Trustees Condemn Controversial Remarks by Marc Lamont Hill, but Affirm His Right to Free Speech
Mirroring statements made in recent weeks by university leaders, Temple University’s board of trustees issued its own condemnation of professor Marc Lamont Hill over his controversial comments on Israel and the Palestinians, but stopped short of taking any action against him and defended his right to free speech.

Late-Night TV Hosts Give Publicity-Starved Novelists the Star Treatment
In a television landscape where literature has become largely overlooked, late-night hosts like Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah have made it their mission to put a spotlight on writers—giving them an enormous amount of influence in the publishing world.


In Aung San Suu Kyi’s Myanmar, Free Press Hopes Wither *PEN Case List: Learn More
“A year ago, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in a set-up by police, intended to interfere with their reporting on a massacre in Myanmar,” Reuters Editor in Chief Stephen Adler said today. “The fact that they remain in prison for a crime they did not commit calls into question Myanmar’s commitment to democracy, freedom of expression, and rule of law.”

‘Sentsov Has Won,’ Cousin Tells Sakharov Prize Ceremony *PEN Case List: Learn More
The European Parliament has awarded imprisoned Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov its 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Sentsov has been imprisoned in Russia since opposing Moscow’s takeover of his native Crimea in 2014.

How a Powerful Russian Propaganda Machine Chips Away at Western Notions of Truth
Modern disinformation campaigns from Russia are of a different breed. Engineered for the social media age, they fling up swarms of falsehoods, concocted theories, and red herrings, intended not so much to persuade people but to bewilder them.

The Writer Who Destroyed an Empire
“Though feted and exploited by questionable allies, [Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn should be remembered for his role as a truth-teller. He risked his all to drive a stake through the heart of Soviet communism and did more than any other single human being to undermine its credibility and bring the Soviet state to its knees.”

Foreign Minister’s Aide Calls PEN Activist a ‘Biased Shithole’ during UN Meeting
Maltese foreign minister’s aide Sandro Mangion was reported by PEN International to the UN for calling their activist a ‘biased shithole.’ Mangion apologized for his choice of words but insists they were directed at ‘unscrupulous network’ feeding activists unproven allegations.

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