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Researchers and social media tech companies prepare for the 2020 election and impending fake news attacks on candidates. President Trump says he plans to sign an executive order that would withhold research funding for colleges unless they support ‘free speech.’ (See PEN America’s comment on the executive order.) Investigation reveals long-standing relationship between Trump administration and Fox News, a media outlet often used as a ‘force multiplier’ for the administration to solidify and support its hold over the Republican party. Egyptian journalist is released from prison, where he was detained for five years for taking photographs in public. (See PEN America’s statement on the release.) -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


What a Kamala Harris Meme Can Teach Us about Fighting Fake News in 2020
“Because these kinds of memes often exist on less high-profile sites before they go viral, we can and should start to target the origin of suspect content and its dissemination across platforms.”

Trump Promises Executive Order That Could Strip Colleges of Funding If They Don’t ‘Support Free Speech’
A new executive order from the White House will aim to make federal research funding for colleges and universities contingent on their support for “free speech.” Experts and higher education groups raised concerns about the proposed order.

Live from America’s Capital, a TV Station Run by China’s Communist Party
CGTN America, which based in Washington and available in 30 million United States households, insists it does not do Beijing’s bidding. Some people are skeptical.

The Making of the Fox News White House
“As the president has been beset by scandals, congressional hearings, and even talk of impeachment, Fox has been both his shield and his sword. The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead.”


Egyptian Photojournalist Is Released after 5 Years in Prison *PEN Case List: Learn More
Egypt today freed Mahmoud Abou Zeid, a prominent photojournalist who had spent five and a half years in prison for taking pictures during a crackdown in 2013 that culminated in the killing of more than 800 protesters.

Brazilian Artist Helio Fervenza on Censorship and Responsibility
“Art equals access to knowledge about the world, because through the eyes of art you see the world from new perspectives. You become more aware and you see things differently. … So what’s happening in Brazil at the moment—the government’s inconsiderate way of dealing with art—is very bad.”

Technology Could Torpedo India’s First WhatsApp Election
Given WhatsApp has already been used to misinform voters in other elections and spread damaging “fake news” that has led to serious violence in India, there’s a danger [the app] could also pose a threat to the democratic process.

Croatian Journalists Rally for Media Freedom in EU Country
Several hundred Croatian journalists have rallied in the capital Zagreb against what they say is pressure on journalists and curbing of media freedoms in the European Union country.

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