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A 2018 World Press Freedom Index ranks the United States at 45th, down two places from 2017, and outlines growing antipathy to the press and its part as an essential foundation for democracy, even among leaders in democratic states. Journalists covering the White House describe the threats of violence they face. Facebook announces changes to its content review policies. Two Senators introduce bill to moderate tech companies’ ability to mine and use user data. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s acting director wants it called the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a seemingly innocuous word shuffle that critics say actually evidences the shift away from protecting customers apparent in rolled-back watchdog rules. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


US falls to 45th on press freedom index, Trump labeled ‘media-bashing enthusiast’
Reporters Without Borders has dropped the United States to No. 45 in its annual ranking of press freedom for 180 countries around the world. The ranking continues a downward trend: The U.S. finished No. 43 in 2017 and No. 41 in 2016.

Inside the Intense, Combative World of Covering the Trump White House
Just about any correspondent covering the White House today will tell you that the kind of tension and animus that exists between the press corps and the Trump administration is something new and different. Most reporters share a sense that covering Trump is a challenge like no other, at a time when political journalists and the First Amendment are under siege.

Facebook Updates Community Standards, Expands Appeals Process
Facebook has been hesitant to reveal details of its content review policy in the past. But the company’s announcement is part of its promise to “do better” and be more transparent about how it decides what stays up and what gets taken down.

There’s a New Bill to Regulate Facebook and Google’s Data Collection
Facebook may not be able to ride out its bad news cycle scot-free after all. On Tuesday, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, released a sweeping new bill that, if passed, would impose strong new regulations on companies like Facebook and Google that collect data on users.

Consumer watchdog becomes alphabet soup of controversy
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is dead. Long live the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. That’s the message the Trump administration is pushing, at least, in what on the surface seems like a minor tweak to the name of the federal consumer watchdog agency.


Egyptian Military Court Sentences Sisi Critic to 5 Years in Prison
The sentence levied against the official, Hisham Geneina, who had served under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi until 2016 when he became one of the president’s sharpest critics, signaled that the harsh crackdown on the opposition that preceded last month’s election was set to continue.

Freedom of expression online in Cambodia ‘stifled by laws’
Cambodian laws are muzzling online expression, a new regional report launched on Tuesday has found. The report, Unshackling Expression, studies online freedom in Asia and finds that Cambodia’s existing laws—especially surrounding defamation and sedition—are often so vague as to allow room for abuse.

Global crackdown on fake news raises censorship concerns
Unlike, say, hate speech, terrorism advocacy or child pornography, fake news is a tricky area for the law: It has not, generally, been illegal—and in democracies, political speech is seen as deserving the strongest of free speech protections.

Chinese #MeToo Student Activists Use Blockchain to Fight Censors
Student activists trying to ignite the #MeToo movement in China have turned to the technology behind bitcoin to battle government censorship. The rare display of dissent emerged after student Yue Xin accused prestigious Peking University of trying to silence her demands for a public airing of a sexual harassment episode more than 20 years ago.

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