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Commenting on livestream of House lawmakers’ hearing on Facebook, Google, hate speech, and the rise of white nationalism suspended by YouTube as vitriol surges. New study shows significantly reduced political competition in mayoral races in cities where newspaper staffing is sharply cut. Newspaper group responds to congressman’s suit against it as a ‘baseless attack’ on local journalism and a free press. Associated Press starts first fact-checking of Facebook content in Spanish. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Lawmakers Held a Hearing on White Nationalism. On YouTube, It Was Immediately Attacked with Hate Speech.
Several YouTube livestreams of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing about the rise of white nationalism were bombarded with racist and anti-Semitic posts in the comments just moments after the hearing began, prompting the platform to disable the chats.

When Local Newspapers Shrink, Fewer People Bother to Run for Mayor
“In a well-functioning system, citizens need to be actively engaged in their government and aware of decisions made by their elected representatives. Newspapers are a means of citizen engagement, and this study provides evidence of the importance of this link.”

Newspaper Calls Devin Nunes’ $150 Million Lawsuit a ‘Baseless Attack on Local Journalism’
McClatchy CEO Craig Forman sent a memo to the entire company on Tuesday reassuring staffers that “we will vigorously defend The Fresno Bee.” And later in the day, in a detailed statement, the company said the suit “represents a baseless attack on local journalism and a free press,” an unproductive distraction,” and “a misuse of the judicial system.”

AP to Fact-Check Video, Spanish-Language Content on Facebook
With a focus on Spanish-language text, photos and video seen by a U.S. audience, AP will debunk misinformation and publish corresponding fact checks in Spanish. AP is the first fact-checker in Facebook’s program to focus on content consumed by Spanish speakers in the United States.


Jailed Reuters Journalists in Myanmar Win U.N. Press Freedom Prize *PEN Case List: Learn More
The United Nations’ cultural agency said that it had awarded its annual press freedom prize to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters reporters jailed in Myanmar over their reporting on the killings of Rohingya Muslims in the country. They have been behind bars since December 2017, detained on claims of violating state secrets.

A Victory for Freedom of Speech: Manipur Journalist
Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem walked out of the Sajiwa central jail in Imphal on Wednesday afternoon. He called it a victory against those who tried to curtail freedom of expression and put him behind bars for 134 days for criticizing the government and its policies.

Hong Kong Protest Organizers Free on Bail before Sentencing
A Hong Kong court extended bail for the nine leaders of 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations who are awaiting sentencing after being convicted of public nuisance offenses. The guilty verdicts handed down Tuesday against the nine were condemned by rights activists as a likely sign of increasing restrictions on free expression in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The defendants will be sentenced April 24.

No Smoking, No Tattoos, No Bikinis: Inside China’s War to ‘Clean up’ the Internet
“As content moderators at Inke, one of China’s largest live-streaming companies with 25 million users, Zhi Heng and his brigade of 1,200 mostly fresh-faced college graduates have seconds to decide whether the two-piece swimwear on their screens breaches rules governing use of the platform.”

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