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State Department Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy fired by White House after he contradicts the Trump administration account of the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Family of slain Democratic National Committee staff member sues Fox News over retracted and false conspiracy story. State Department employee sues Alex Jones, InfoWars, and others, citing the death threats he received after they falsely suggested he played a “deep state” role in Charlottesville terror attack and the threat to civil discourse posed by peddlers of fake conspiracy theories. YouTube says it will offer “information cues,’’ linking to Wikipedia pages that debunk hoax videos. An AP analysis shows more often in 2017 than any year in the past decade, the federal government censored, withheld, or said it could not find records sought by citizens, journalists under the Freedom of Information Act. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


White House fires top Tillerson aide
Hours after his boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was ousted, Steve Goldstein, the undersecretary of public affairs at the State Department, has been fired by the White House. Goldstein publicly contradicted the White House account of how Tillerson was fired Tuesday morning.

Family of slain DNC staffer sues Fox News over retracted story
In the suit, Seth Rich’s parents claim that Fox News investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox News commenter Ed Butowsky reached out to the family under false pretenses to support stories that their son leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks.

InfoWars, Alex Jones sued for defamation over Charlottesville claims
A protester who filmed the violent clashes at a white supremacist rally last year in Virginia sued far-right news site InfoWars and its leader Alex Jones, saying the site stoked conspiracy theories that he was working as a “deep state” operative.

YouTube will add information from Wikipedia to videos about conspiracies
YouTube will add information from Wikipedia to videos about popular conspiracy theories to provide alternative viewpoints on controversial subjects. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that these text boxes, or “information cues,” will begin appearing on conspiracy-related videos within the next couple of weeks.

Facebook bans hate group Britain First
Facebook banned the alt-right group Britain First, the organization behind three anti-Muslim tweets that President Trump retweeted. Facebook said in a statement that Britain First “repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups.”

U.S. sets new record for censoring, withholding gov’t files
The federal government censored, withheld, or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists, and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade, according to an analysis of new data.


WhatsApp will not share user data with Facebook until it complies with GDPR, ICO closes investigation
WhatsApp (and Facebook) will not be fined, and the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office has gotten WhatsApp to sign an undertaking in which it has committed publicly not to share personal data with Facebook until the two services can do it in a way that is compliant with General Data Protection Regulation.

Egypt sets up hotline for complaints against ‘fake news’
Egypt’s judiciary announced Monday that it has set up a hotline to gather complaints of “fake” news in the traditional or electronic media that could pose a threat to national security. Two weeks ahead of elections in Egypt, the government has closely scrutinized various media outlets by arresting journalists and blocking websites.

In India, ‘fake news’ and hoaxes catch fire as millions see YouTube for the first time
In India, fake news, hoaxes, and other misleading videos have thrived on Google’s video platform with little friction for years. Despite outcries, users and YouTubers say, the Google-owned service has yet to introduce strict discipline on its website.

Burning King’s Picture Is Free Speech, European Court Warns Spain
The European Court of Human Rights said in a unanimous ruling that Spain had wrongfully condemned two Catalans for publicly burning a photograph of the king and queen, saying that the act was justifiable political criticism.

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