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Representatives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter continue testifying before Congress on the role they may have played in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election (PEN America wrote a letter to the Intelligence Committees of both houses urging them to press the companies on the proliferation of fraudulent news on their platforms.) Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has barred scientists who receive EPA grants from sitting on panels that advise the agency. Academic publishing giant caught censoring content deemed sensitive in China. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator


Tech Executives Are Contrite About Election Meddling, but Make Few Promises on Capitol Hill
The Internet giants emphasized their role as public squares for political discourse but are forced to confront how they were used as tools for a Russian misinformation campaign. Senators pushed for harsher remedies, including regulations on their advertising practices akin to rules for political advertising on television.

EPA bans some scientists from independent advisory boards
The EPA is billing the step as a way to preserve the independence and diversity of the boards, which provide the scientific input for agency decisions around pollution and climate change regulation. Critics say the move could open the way to more industry-friendly advisors on the panels.

Block by block, New Jersey news organizations are hosting potlucks and telling voters’ stories
Voting Block is expanding traditional political coverage for news organizations and communities: students at Montclair State and Rutgers are involved, the project had viewing parties on debate night, and homeless residents are getting their own Voting Block. The project is also compiling a list of issues voters want the governor to tackle in the first 100 days.

Net Neutrality: Why Artists and Activists Can’t Afford to Lose It
The current rules ensure that nobody has to pay extra to internet service providers to have their content loads quickly. Everyone from an amateur comedian to a celebrity to a huge media company plays by the same rules, meaning you don’t need a lot of money or the backing of someone with power to share your content with the world.


World’s biggest academic book publisher bows to China’s censors
Springer Nature confirmed that it is restricting access to hundreds of articles on topics deemed sensitive to Chinese authorities. Those blocked included politically sensitive keywords such as Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen. The articles do appear in searches from Hong Kong.

Trolls force shutdown of French anti-harassment hotline
Internet trolls carrying out an orchestrated campaign of intimidation and death threats have forced the shutdown of a French telephone hotline aimed at shaming men who refuse to take no for an answer.

Hong Kong seeks law banning booing of China’s national anthem
Hong Kong will try to enact a law penalizing people who boo the Chinese national anthem “as soon as possible.” China has passed a law stating that disrespecting the anthem could result in imprisonment. The law has come into force in China but has yet to be extended to Hong Kong.

Forget Washington. Facebook’s Problems Abroad Are Far More Disturbing.
Violence against Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority in Myanmar has been fueled in part by misinformation and anti-Rohingya propaganda spread on Facebook, a primary news source by many people in the country. Doctored photos and unfounded rumors have gone viral, including many shared by official government and military accounts.

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