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Pressure mounts on Netflix after it pulled an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s comedy series, ‘The Patriot Act,’ from Saudi Arabia. (See PEN America’s statement.) Cabinet meeting called on the 12th day of the government shutdown becomes platform for president’s falsehoods and revisionism, and sparks debate over whether networks should have broadcast the meeting in full. In an interview with the Burlington Free Press, former Vermont state representative Kiah Morris details the harassment and racist hatred that led to her resignation. BuzzFeed finds the 50 fraudulent news stories with the widest reach on Facebook in 2018, with themes ranging from the banal to the sensationalist. Saudi prosecutors seek death penalty for suspects held over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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

U.S.

Netflix Criticized for Yanking Comedian’s Episode in Saudi
Human rights group Amnesty International said Saudi Arabia’s censorship of Netflix is “further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression.” PEN America said the move “legitimizes repression.” Netflix said it was only complying with a local law.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Defensive Trump Calls a Cabinet Meeting and Uses It to Boast, Deflect and Distract
The meeting quickly became a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness defense of Trump’s presidency and worldview, filled with falsehoods, revisionist history, and self-aggrandizement.
WASHINGTON POST

Kiah Morris: The Vermont Incidents That Led to a Black Lawmaker’s Resignation
“Our system is not sufficient, and our understanding of how these terrorism tactics are used is not sufficient,” Morris said. “That is a deliberate tactic—to dance on that line between saying ‘I will come and punch you in the face’ to ‘I’m just sort of going to make you fear that something might happen should I see you.'”
BURLINGTON FREE PRESS

These Are 50 of the Biggest Fake News Hits on Facebook in 2018
After spending two years launching third-party fact-checking programs, rolling out News Feed updates, and investing in other anti-misinformation initiatives, Facebook is still the home of viral fake news. This year’s top-performing hoaxes generated almost as many shares, reactions, and comments as last year’s.
BUZZFEED NEWS

 
Global

Saudi Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for Khashoggi Suspects
A Saudi prosecutor has asked for the death penalty for five of 11 suspects held over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the country’s consulate in Istanbul in October. The call came during the first court hearing in the Khashoggi case.
THE GUARDIAN

To the Dismay of Free Speech Advocates, Vietnam Rolls out Controversial Cyber Law
The decree requires companies such as Facebook and Google to open offices in Vietnam, store local user data, and to hand over information if the government asks for it. It would also require social media companies to remove any content authorities deemed offensive or “toxic.”
NPR
*Find out more about free expression and online censorship in Vietnam here

Bangladeshi Journalist Arrested for Reporting Election Irregularities
A Bangladeshi journalist was arrested and another was on the run after being accused of publishing “false information” about voting irregularities in an election won by the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.
THE GUARDIAN

Censoring China’s Internet, for Stability and Profit
For Chinese companies, staying on the safe side of government censors is a matter of life and death. Adding to the burden, the authorities demand that companies censor themselves, which has created a lucrative new industry: censorship factories.
NEW YORK TIMES

Democratic Republic of Congo Internet Shutdown Shows How Chinese Censorship Tactics Are Spreading
Internet and social media shutdowns have become more and more common across Africa and Asia in recent years, particularly as authoritarian governments look to China as the model for controlling what people can say and do online.
CNN

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