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False conspiracy theories migrate from extremist corners of the internet questioning the authenticity of the Parkland high school shooting survivors speaking out for gun control. White House press secretary denies president has “declared war on the press.” Social media companies found not to enforce their policies against impersonation. As PEN America confers annual Literary Awards, winners reflect on the power and permanence of writing. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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

U.S.

Nope, The Florida School Shooting Survivors Demanding Gun Control Are Not Crisis Actors
In response to activism by student survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, right-wing outlets have contrived and pushed false reports that the students are “crisis actors” capitalizing on the tragedy to push a liberal agenda on gun control. These fake claims have now gone viral.
BUZZFEED NEWS

Clinton press secretary spars with Sanders over Trump media criticism
Former Bill Clinton spokesman Michael McCurry urged White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to reconsider the Trump administration’s critical stance toward the press, stressing that reporters “are not the enemy of the people.” Sanders pushed back, arguing that respect between the commander and chief and those who seek to hold him accountable is “a two-way street.”
POLITICO

On Social Media, Lax Enforcement Lets Impostor Accounts Thrive
Social media companies often fail to vigorously enforce their own policies against impersonation, an examination by The New York Times found, enabling the spread of fake news and propaganda—and allowing a global black market in social identities to thrive on their platforms.
NEW YORK TIMES

Ursula K. Le Guin wins posthumous prize for essay writing
“This year’s awardees represent the near and far corners of the literary landscape, including writers who have shattered barriers of race, class, ethnicity, geography, gender, and sexual orientation to bring stories to new audiences, unlock empathy and take places of distinction within our collective canon.”
WASHINGTON POST

 
Global

Lebanon gets tough on the press ahead of elections
Lebanese authorities are getting tough on free speech ahead of national elections, summoning two leading talk show hosts to court over on-air remarks and sentencing an analyst to jail for comments she made in Washington about the Lebanese army.
ABC NEWS

Journalism is Not a Crime: The Story of Mahmoud Hussein
There have been no formal charges against Hussein, an Egyptian national based in Doha, Qatar. He’s accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”; however, article 71 of the Egyptian constitution says that: “no custodial sanction shall be imposed for crimes committed by way of publication or the public nature thereof.”
AL JAZEERA

Spanish Court Rejects Rapper’s Freedom of Speech Argument
The court ruled that Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, a rapper best known as Valtonyc, distributed songs online that praised terrorism, insulted the Spanish royal family, and threatened a Spanish politician with violence. It rejected Beltran’s argument that he was expressing his right to free speech and that rap songs aim to be provocative.
NEW YORK TIMES

Rappler’s Malacañang ban an attack on press freedom–FOCAP
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) has released a statement over Malacañang barring Rappler from covering events at the Palace. The statement released said FOCAP was gravely concerned over the ban and they are considering it “a blatant attack on freedom of the press.”
CNN PHILIPPINES

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