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Attempted smear campaign against presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg exposed by news media as misinformation, seen as ‘small victory for truth.’ (See PEN America’s recent report on the spread of fraudulent news online and its effect on elections.) As trade negotiations continue between U.S. and China, Trump administration shelves discussion of Chinese detention of over one million ethnic Uighurs. Drone used in California to distribute leaflets containing Nazi rhetoric and anti-media language. Small and local newspapers are struggling to transition to the digital news industry and in danger of shuttering altogether where larger outlets have made the leap. -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


Anatomy of a Smear: How Far-Right Websites Spread a Fake Story about Pete Buttigieg
On April 29 someone shared a post titled “Pete Buttigieg Sexually Assaulted Me” on Medium, a site that lets anyone upload stories, essays, and any other bit of text. Within hours, the fake allegation against the South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Democratic presidential candidate would begin to crumble, and the real story—the story of the smear campaign—would emerge.

Drone Used to Drop Nazi Leaflets outside Ariana Grande Concert, Other Events in Sacramento
From folks gathered at an outdoor college fundraiser to fans and passersby outside an Ariana Grande concert in downtown Sacramento last night, residents of California’s capital city had their Friday evenings interrupted by Nazi propaganda that was apparently dropped out of the sky by a drone.

In News Industry, a Stark Divide Between Haves and Have-Nots
Local papers have suffered sharper declines in circulation than national outlets and greater incursions into their online advertising businesses from tech giants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. The data also shows that they are having a much more difficult time converting readers into paying digital customers.

A Is for Activist: Why Children’s Books Are Getting Political
“The questions of representation that have upended Hollywood, television, and politics in recent years are now hitting the world of children’s literature hard. … Yet despite all the gains and champagne-popping, sizable diversity gaps still persist in the industry: black, Latinx and Native authors combined still wrote only 7 percent of new children’s books in 2017.”


In Push for Trade Deal, Trump Administration Shelves Sanctions Over China’s Crackdown on Uighurs
“The Trump administration has been focused on leveling the economic playing field with China, using tariffs to pressure Beijing to lower its trade barriers and to give American companies more access to its market. Touchy subjects like human rights have been placed on the back burner in hopes of striking a deal that would benefit the United States economy.”

Belfast Mural Memorializes Journalist Lyra McKee
A new mural of slain journalist Lyra McKee is taking shape outside a pub in Belfast, Northern Ireland. McKee was shot by the New IRA while reporting on rioting last month in the Northern Ireland city of Londonderry, also known as Derry. The McKee mural, which is not yet completed, is being painted by Dublin-based artist Emma Blake as part of the Hit the North Street Art Festival.

Feminist Lawyers of South Asia Rally to Aid of #MeToo Survivors
Since the #MeToo movement gathered pace in October 2017, attitudes to sexual harassment and abuse have shifted in many parts of the world. Across South Asia, in countries where local feminists decry conservative and patriarchal attitudes, campaigners have noted a marked increase in the number of women speaking out.

Europe Is Reining In Tech Giants. But Some Say It’s Going Too Far.
Europe has clamped down on violent content, hate speech, and misinformation online through a thicket of new laws and regulations over the past five years. Now there are questions about whether the region is going too far, with the rules leading to accusations of censorship and potentially providing cover to some governments to stifle dissent.

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to [email protected]