Expression issues including divisive speech, identity, voting rights, and Confederate monuments play out in Virginia elections. Twitter expands character limit to 280 for all users in almost all languages. Disney lifts ban on Los Angeles Times at advance film screenings imposed in response to critical coverage after prominent critics from other news organizations say they won’t go either. In “Wrong Answer: How Good Faith Attempts to Address Free Speech and Anti-Semitism on Campus Could Backfire,” PEN America responds to legislative proposals at the state level that are aimed to buttress campus free speech protections. (See Executive Director Suzanne Nossel’s Congressional testimony on how to address anti-Semitism on college campuses) -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Trumpism Without Trump: A Losing Formula in Swing-State Virginia
Ed Gillespie tried to run in a very narrow lane by embracing some of the most divisive elements of President Trump’s agenda. It was enough to motivate Trump’s supporters in rural parts of the state, but fell far short in Northern Virginia, where the wealthy and well-educated voters who were once reliably Republican continued their march toward becoming solidly Democratic.

Twitter to introduce expanded 280-character tweets for all its users
Twitter’s trial of a 280-character tweet limit is to be universally expanded. The move comes after a limited experiment to see whether a larger character count reduced “cramming” and led to users better expressing themselves.

Disney Backs Off L.A. Times Ban Following Backlash
Disney, facing backlash, is backing off an earlier ban of sorts against the Los Angeles Times. The conglomerate is still upset about what it considered a biased story critical of taxpayer money going to Disneyland in Anaheim, but it is now rescinding a directive that had shut out L.A. Times reporters from its movie screenings.

How to Define Prejudice
At a hearing of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, some panelists depicted the Education Department as floundering without a definition with which to consider cases of harassment toward Jewish students.


An Afghan TV network was attacked. Its wounded anchor went back on the air with his hands bandaged
When Shamshad TV resumed broadcasting, Parwiz Safi sat at the anchor’s desk, his hands bandaged from injuries he suffered in the attack. The broadcast struck a courageous note on a day that was otherwise disheartening: militants once again managed to penetrate central Kabul’s increasingly patchy veneer of security to strike at a symbol of openness and free expression.

Chinese dissident writer Yang Tongyan dies on medical parole
Writer Yang Tongyan, veteran Chinese dissident who had nearly completed a 12-year prison sentence for “subversion,” has died on medical parole—nearly three months after having surgery on August 23 to remove a brain tumor.

In authoritarian China, Trump’s love of free expression on Twitter is put to the test
In China, foreigners are generally still able to tweet via their cellphones, and Trump is expected to continue his daily dose of high-octane missives over the three-day state visit, but it’s what he might chose not to say that could send a more subtle but equally important message.

U.K. regulator invited Media Matters to testify at hearing for 21st Century Fox, Sky deal
It’s the first time Media Matters was invited by British regulators to speak to them regarding the proposed deal. The Washington D.C.-based group did not testify in an earlier investigation into the deal conducted by another British media regulator, Ofcom. Media Matters only sent in submissions that detailed their concerns.

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