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Possession of Facebook users’ data by researchers and academic institutions sets off security and privacy concerns. Chilling account of Twitter mob targeting journalists who criticize engineer and investor Elon Musk illustrates risks faced by reporters, and particularly female reporters, participating in online discourse (see our Online Harassment Field Manual for strategies to counter harassment and hate online.) ABC’s firing of Roseanne Barr for an inflammatory and racist tweet sparks debates on First Amendment rights. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator

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

U.S.

Scholars Have Data on Millions of Facebook Users. Who’s Guarding It?
For more than a decade, professors and researchers have harvested information from Facebook and compiled data sets capturing the behavior of hundreds of millions of individuals. The data was then sometimes left unsecured and stored on open servers that offered access to anyone, leaving it vulnerable to being copied and sold to marketers or political consulting firms.
NEW YORK TIMES

What It’s Like When Elon Musk’s Twitter Mob Comes After You
“Female journalists who cover Elon Musk have the same personal rule: mention him on Twitter at your peril. There is an army—mostly young, mostly white, almost entirely men—marching behind him who make it their mission to descend on women who criticize Musk, and tear them to pieces. I know, because it has happened to me. More than once.”
DAILY BEAST

‘Roseanne’ Is Gone, but the Culture That Gave Her a Show Isn’t
“For once, a major network did the right thing. But before it did the right thing, it did the wrong thing. It is not new information that Roseanne Barr makes racist, Islamophobic and misogynistic statements and is happy to peddle all manner of dangerous conspiracy theories.”
NEW YORK TIMES

Sometimes more speech isn’t the solution to offensive speech
“Digital discourse affords us the collective power to justifiably inhibit speakers from voicing noxious views…It is tempting to extinguish anything that affronts us. But doing so would legitimize the idea that mobs can and should exert an authority we have always denied our elected government: namely, the power to decide what ideas live and die in the public sphere.”
WASHINGTON POST

 
Global

Kenyan Court Blocks New Online Rules After Free Speech Petition
A new cybercrime law came into force in Kenya on Wednesday, but without a ban on “false” information, after bloggers and journalists won a court order blocking rules they said could curtail free expression. Other parts of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act penalize cyber-espionage and child pornography.
REUTERS

Papua New Guinea takes a month-long ‘break’ from Facebook
The country’s Communications and Information Technology Department will oversee the temporary ban and collect information on fake accounts, as well as people who upload porn and fake news to the service. What isn’t clear is why Papua New Guinea needs to fully shut down Facebook in order to conduct this experiment.
ENGADGET

Another journalist has been killed in Mexico—the sixth this year
A reporter for the newspaper Excelsior, Hector Gonzalez Antonio, was found dead on Tuesday in Cuidad Victoria. A government protection program for journalists under threat has enrolled hundreds but failed to reduce the numbers of those killed.
LOS ANGELES TIMES

Ukraine faked death of Russian journalist
Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported shot and killed in Kiev Tuesday, has shown up at a news conference very much alive. Vasily Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, told a news conference on Wednesday the agency faked Babchenko’s death to catch those who were trying to kill him.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

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