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Twitter presents to closed-door meetings of Senate and House intelligence committees in widening probe into how Russian operatives used social media and other digital platforms to spread disinformation and foment divisiveness during the 2016 campaign. Russian Foreign Ministry, citing international free speech norms, warns of unspecified retaliation if U.S. acts against Russian government-funded “media” outlets under Foreign Agents Registration Act. The general heading the United States Air Force Academy, responding forcefully to racial slurs outside five black students’ rooms and noting the backdrop of events in Charlottesville, on NFL playing fields, and elsewhere, says the response to hateful speech should be the “better idea” of discourse and recognizing the power drawn from diversity. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Twitter finds hundreds of accounts tied to Russian operatives
Silicon Valley has long enjoyed a hands-off approach from regulators and has become a major lobbying force to keep things that way. But that attitude appears to be shifting quickly. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have called over the past few months for more scrutiny of the market power of technology companies.

Russia warns U.S. over treatment of its media outlets
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the request that RT register as a foreign agent as “a selective and clearly politically motivated enforcement of legislation as applied to Russian media will mean restrictions on the freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the US Constitution.”

‘Get out!’: Lt General rains hell on Air Force Academy after racist messages were left on black cadets’ rooms
Silveria noted the incident occurred in the context of fraught racial tensions in the United States. “We would be naive to think we shouldn’t discuss this topic,” he said. “We’d also be tone deaf not to think about the backdrop of what’s going on in our country. Things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL.”

Black Lives Matter Is a Movement That Can’t Be Sued, Judge Says
“Although many entities have utilized the phrase ‘black lives matter’ in their titles or business designations, ‘Black Lives Matter’ itself is not an entity of any sort,” Judge Brian Jackson wrote in his ruling. The judge concluded that defendant, DeRay Mckesson, “solely engaged in protected speech” at the demonstration in question.

We’ve got some follow-up questions from Trump’s friendly ‘Fox and Friends’ interview
Thursday morning’s iteration of the long-standing, mutually beneficial relationship between Trump and the team at Fox News was a perfect distillation of an ideal interaction with the media for Trump. Leading questions, little follow-up and all the space in the world to say whatever he wanted to say.


Azerbaijani Journalist Goes On Trial
Western governments and international human rights groups say Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s government has sought to maintain power by persistently persecuting independent media outlets, journalists, and opposition politicians and activists.

Korea May Block Tumblr To Censor Pornography Photos, Content
Korea’s focus on censoring Tumblr may appear disproportionate. According to the Korea Times, the KCSC sent Tumblr around 22,000 requests to delete “obscene” or sex-related posts from January to June, compared to just 12 requests sent to Instagram and five to Facebook.

EU tells tech companies to curb hate speech or face consequences
The proposed guidelines, which address issues such as the detection of hate speech, effective removal and the prevention of its reappearance, will act as a sounding board for the EU when it considers future instances of illegal content. If things go wrong for a company, the EU can use the guidance as proof that it’s not toeing the line.

Iran’s Judiciary Sues Telegram CEO to Adopt Censorship Policies
Internet and social media apps are heavily restricted and censored in Iran, with hardliners in the government viewing internet freedom as a threat to the Islamic Republic. The suit is aimed at blocking nationwide access to Telegram, which has frustrated attempts by state agencies to censor and control content on the network.

China’s Baidu, police crack down on ‘rumours’
Suspicious content will be sent to the police for review and to reference organisations, such as State agencies, science academies or media, who can then produce articles refuting the rumors. “Rumors” are to be labelled as such in search engine results or on forums, accompanied by the articles offering corrections.

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