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Federal judge suggests muting, not blocking critics to Trump on Twitter in response to a First Amendment lawsuit. Changes to disclosure rules governing political ads on Facebook and Google might not come into effect before 2018 midterms, raising fears over the spread of misleading or false information ahead of the ballot. Anchors on local TV stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group voice concern over “must-run” segments praising Trump and disparaging the national news media’s “fake stories” and “personal bias.” -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator

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


Judge to Trump: Muting, not blocking followers, may end suit
The lawsuit was filed after Trump blocked individuals from his personal account, @realdonaldtrump. Lawyer Katherine Fallow asked Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to find that Trump’s feed is an official government account that operates as a public forum and thus blocking critics violates the First Amendment.

New federal rules on Facebook and Google ads may not be in place for 2018 midterms
A delay by the FEC would probably leave the task of providing more transparency about who is seeking to shape public opinion online in the hands of tech companies, who have promised clearer labeling of political ads on their sites after revelations that they hosted content from Russian operatives in the 2016 presidential race.

Sinclair Forces Local News Anchors To Recite Trumpian-Sounding Promos
Sinclair Broadcast Group is reportedly requiring local news anchors at TV stations it owns to recite pre-written promos disavowing the national media’s “fake stories” and “personal bias”―some of Trump’s favorite punchlines. Sinclair sent the scripts to news directors, instructing that they be produced “exactly as they are written.”

Fake news spreads much faster on Twitter than true news, study finds
The study, which co-author Sinan Aral said took two years to complete, found that it took true news stories about six times longer to reach 1,500 people on Twitter than stories that were false. False stories, the study said, “diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information.”


Russians released anti-Clinton video game weeks before election
The game’s website had Facebook and Google tracking software embedded on it. This software would have made it possible for the game’s creators to identify people who played the game and later target them with advertising elsewhere on the Web, including on Facebook, potentially to direct them to disinformation campaigns.

Germany looks to revise social media law as Europe watches
The proposed changes follow widespread criticism from opponents of the law, including free speech campaigners and the Association of German Journalists, who say the threat of hefty fines is prompting internet firms to err on the side of caution and block more content than is necessary.

Macau literary fest cancels events with three writers after authorities reportedly refuse to guarantee entry into city
In a statement, PEN Hong Kong expressed dismay at the news and called the refusal to grant entry “a censoring and authoritative move that we find deplorable.” “We deem this to be a very worrying development, and one that infringes directly on the right to freedom of expression and on literary expression,” the organization said.

Anti-Muslim Extremists Retweeted by Trump Are Convicted of Hate Crimes
The leaders of Britain First have been sentenced to prison on charges of religiously aggravated harassment. “These defendants were not merely exercising their right to free speech but were instead aiming religiously aggravated abuse at innocent members of the public,” said the chief crown prosecutor, Jaswant K. Narwal.

Turkish court sentences 25 journalists to jail for links to coup plotters: Anadolu
The reporters mainly worked for publications that have been closed by the government for links to the network of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Critics say President Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the strict measures are necessary because of the security threats it faces.

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