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Twitter promises greater transparency and stricter rules for political ads following revelations that social media networks were used to spread falsehoods and Russian propaganda during the 2016 election. The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Pierce College in California, siding with a student’s claim that his free speech rights were violated. Two retiring Senators sound the alarm on Trump, pointing specifically to “the threats against principles, freedoms and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.” Concerns remain about publisher Gui Minhai, detained by Chinese authorities since October 2015, in spite of his alleged release (see PEN America’s statement). -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator

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

U.S.

Twitter plans to make political ads more transparent amid Russia revelations
The “transparency center” will allow people to find out how long ads have been running, what wording and images are being used throughout the campaign, and information on how those ads are being targeted at users based on their demographic details.
THE GUARDIAN

Sessions’ Justice Dept. Is Wading Into Another Campus Free-Speech Case
In a statement of interest, the DOJ throws its weight behind Kevin Shaw, a student at Pierce College who says administrators stopped him from passing out Spanish-language copies of the US Constitution because he was not in the campus’s “free speech zone.” He also claimed he was told he needed a permit to use the zone.
CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

‘Dangerous,’ ‘utterly untruthful’: Two retiring GOP senators sound alarm on Trump
Delivering an emotional speech on the Senate floor announcing that he will not seek re-election next year, Sen. Jeff Flake said Trump’s behavior is “dangerous to our democracy” and summoned fellow Republicans to denounce the president’s conduct.
WASHINGTON POST

At New York event, Facebook stays tight-lipped on fake news
At a City University of New York event to discuss Facebook’s efforts to fight misinformation, the company followed a familiar playbook of talking about its News Feed initiatives broadly, without offering great insight into their effect.
POYNTER

Trump’s EPA chief launches Soviet-style crackdown on free speech
Head of the EPA Scott Pruitt seems convinced that climate change will go away if people stop talking about it. He has been clamping down on all manner of EPA-related communications that offend his delicate sensibilities. Specifically, he doesn’t want EPA staff to admit that climate change is real.
SALON

 
Global

Where is Gui Minhai? Hong Kong bookseller ‘released,’ but missing*PEN Case List
China says it has released a Swedish citizen from jail—but nobody really knows where he is. Chinese officials said Gui Minhai was freed on October 17, but both his daughter and Swedish authorities do not know his current whereabouts, and his family is concerned for his safety.
CNN

Protest after Western media ‘troublemakers’ barred from Xi Jinping speech
Those refused access to Xi’s statement to the media include the BBC, The Financial Times, the Economist, The New York Times, and The Guardian. Chinese officials offered no formal explanation for the decision.
THE GUARDIAN

Vietnam jails student activist for anti-state propaganda
A court in northern Vietnam sentenced Phan Kim Khanh, a student activist, to six years in prison for using social media to promote a multiparty system and press freedom amid a heightened crackdown on dissent.
WASHINGTON POST

U.K. Lawmakers Ask Facebook About Russian Influence in Brexit Vote
Parliament is asking Facebook, Twitter, and other internet companies for information about Russian efforts to use social media to influence the British vote to leave the European Union, expanding on several parallel American congressional investigations around the election of President Trump.
NEW YORK TIMES

Assault on our freedom of expression – Francis Zammit Dimech
“When we refer to freedom of expression with regard to the media, we are not only referring to the right of authors or journalists to express themselves, but we are also referring to our right to have access to the information that they impart to us, to have a broad spectrum of different opinions to enable us to form a better opinion about issues that are of concern to us.”
TIMES OF MALTA

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