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The language of racism and ignorance comes to the fore as President Trump is reported to denigrate Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries at a meeting on immigration, and then truth comes under challenge in a wave of partial denials and confirmations about what was said. The House rejects bipartisan push for privacy limits on the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance. Facebook redoes its algorithms to de-emphasize content from publishers and brands (though not paying advertisers), with repercussions for content-makers, non-profits, and civil society groups worldwide that rely on the platform to communicate as well as for how fraudulent news circulate and ideological bubbles form. President Trump accuses an FBI agent who criticized him of “treason;” see PEN America’s statement on the perils of mischaracterizing criticism as a capital crime. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Trump Denies Making ‘Shithole Countries’ Comment
President Donald Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting in which he rejected a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He also denied demanding that Haitians be removed from negotiations about protected status for people from certain countries.

Congress Advances Bill to Renew NSA Surveillance Program After Trump Briefly Upstages Key Vote
Senate leaders plan to send to the president’s desk a bill to reauthorize the government’s authority to conduct foreign surveillance on U.S. soil. Privacy advocates oppose the law, arguing that there are not enough limits to federal law enforcement agencies’ ability to scour the communications of Americans in touch with foreign targets.

Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Focus on What Friends and Family Share
Users will begin seeing fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies. The changes raise questions of whether people may end up seeing more content that reinforces their own ideologies. If a friend posts a link with an inaccurate news article that is widely commented on, that post will be prominently displayed.

Trump Accuses FBI Agent of ‘Treason’
President Trump accused FBI agent Peter Strzok, who criticized him while serving on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, of committing “treason” against the U.S. Strzok was removed from the special counsel on Russia’s election meddling after it was discovered he exchanged anti-Trump text messages during the investigation.


Azerbaijani Journalist Sentenced in Widely Criticized Case
The court convicted and sentenced Afgan Mukhtarli to six years in prison on charges of smuggling, illegal border crossing, and violently resisting arrest. International rights groups have described the case of Mukhtarli, who exposed high-level official corruption, as part of crackdown on dissent and independent media in Azerbaijan.

Egypt Opens Criminal Inquiry Over New York Times Article
The article “undermines Egypt’s security and public peace, and harms the country’s public interest,” said prosecutor Nabil Sadek. The investigation comes after a torrent of furious commentary in Egypt’s pro-government media and in Parliament, where lawmakers denounced the article as an international conspiracy to embarrass Egypt.

Daily Mail Accuses Virgin of Censorship After Trains Stop Selling Its Papers
Virgin Trains announced it will no longer offer the Daily Mail on its services because it was “not compatible” with the company’s brand or beliefs. In a memo, it told staff it would stop stocking the title, saying employees had raised concerns “about the Mail’s editorial position on issues such as immigration, LGBT rights, and unemployment.”

Apple: China’s iCloud Users Worried as Tech Giant Prepares to Give Data to State-Owned Company
Apple said the new arrangement with the state-owned Chinese internet services company, Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data (GCBD), will allow it to comply with Chinese regulations and improve the quality of its cloud service. Critics were quick to criticize Apple for what they considered a move that encourages China’s censorship policies.

Istanbul Court Defies Top Constitutional Body’s Order to Release Journalists
The Ankara-based Constitutional Court ruled that the two journalists should be freed on the grounds that their rights had been violated. But after reviewing their cases in the light of the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the Istanbul criminal court ruled that both men should remain behind bars, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to DARE@pen.org