Tag Archives: Censorship

1,100+ Banned Books Across 26 States: Report Shows ‘Shocking’ Censorship

“What is happening in this country in terms of banning books in schools is unparalleled in its frequency, intensity, and success,” said the director of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program.

By Jake Johnson  Published 4-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Enokson/flickr/CC

A report published Thursday by the free expression group PEN America details an “alarming” and unprecedented surge in book banning across the United States, with 86 school districts in 26 states prohibiting more than 1,100 titles in classrooms and libraries over just the past eight months.

Titled Banned in the USA, the report finds that districts representing 2,899 schools with a combined enrollment of more than 2 million students banned 1,145 unique book titles by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and nine translators between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. Continue reading

Share Button

Putin’s attack on Ukraine isn’t going as planned. What will happen next?

With an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance, harsh global sanctions and low morale among Russian troops, we face an unpredictable few months

By Paul Rogers.  Published 3-4-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: The Resistor Sister/Twitter

Nine days into Russia’s assault on Ukraine and it is clear the Kremlin’s original plan has been derailed. The aim was to move rapidly on the capital, Kyiv, seizing the international airport to airlift troops in, then link with ground forces moving in from Belarus, occupy the city and take down the government in, at most, 72 hours.

From the start, Russia would make a concerted effort to take control of the Ukrainian air space, mainly with missile attacks on air bases, air defences and logistics support. This, combined with troops spread across the whole country, would induce a fear factor to help cower the people of Ukraine into submission, rather like the ‘shock and awe’ approach used by the US at the start of the Iraq War. Continue reading

Share Button

Media Networks Suspend Reporting in Russia Over Censorship Law

The Russian government also blocked access to Facebook, which RSF called the “Kremlin’s latest move to isolate the population from uncontrolled sources of information.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 3-4-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo:Anonymous Operations/Twitter

International media companies and journalists around the world on Friday sharply condemned a new Russian law that effectively criminalizes critical reporting of the war on Ukraine, with some outlets even suspending broadcasts or reporters’ work across Russia.

Amid global outrage over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin also blocked access to Facebook on Friday, which was met with intense criticism. The moves come ahead of anti-war protests planned on multiple continents this weekend. Continue reading

Share Button

Civil Rights Groups Denounce ‘Unlawful’ Book-Banning Effort by Texas GOP

“We will not stand by and watch politicians play games with the education and well-being of our children.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-23-2021 by Common Dreams.

Two prominent national civil rights groups on Tuesday blasted efforts by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state Rep. Matt Krause—both Republicans—to compel school districts to censor hundreds of books, including many popular LGBTQ+, reproductive rights, and racial justice titles, following the passage of laws prohibiting the teaching of the racist history of the United States and banning transgender athletes from interscholastic athletics.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. issued a statement condemning “Texas politicians’ efforts to force schools to begin pulling books from their classrooms and libraries shelves under the guise of state law.” Continue reading

Share Button

Will Facebook respect international rights or the whims of angry rulers?

A muddle of decisions indicates that Facebook and its ‘Supreme Court’ are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights

By Linda Bonyo   Published 10-18-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Louis Jadwong/Twitter

Facebook’s ‘Trump ban’ received breathless coverage earlier this year, when the Facebook Oversight Board (FOB) – the supposedly independent entity established by the tech giant to adjudicate its content decisions – ‘ruled’ that the former president’s ban from the social media site should be upheld.

Experts from WIRED’s Gilad Edelman to scholar Kate Klonick have used the Trump decision to argue that the FOB is working.

But buried amidst that coverage – and that surrounding Facebook’s botched handling of COVID disinformation – are a muddle of decisions indicating that Facebook and its Oversight Board are making little progress towards a consistent policy on human rights. In fact, they may be headed towards a showdown. Continue reading

Share Button

Press Freedom Advocates Condemn ‘Reckless’ US Shutdown of Iranian News Sites

“These are not actions of good faith negotiators.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2021

Attempts in the United States to access some websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government were met with this message on June 22, 2021. (Photo: screenshot)

Press freedom advocates fumed Tuesday as U.S. authorities without immediate explanation reportedly blocked stateside access to numerous news websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government.

An unnamed U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that around three dozen websites were seized due to their alleged dissemination of “disinformation.” Continue reading

Share Button

Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

Share Button

‘No One Can Censor Reality’: Human Rights Group Pushes Back After Israel Retaliates Against ‘Apartheid’ Label

“Israel cannot be considered a democracy, for it works to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group of people, Jews, over another, Palestinians.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2021

Palestinian workers queue up along the separation barrier often called the apartheid wall by critics as they wait to clear an Israeli military checkpoint. (Photo: delayed gratification/Flickr/cc)

The prominent Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem on Monday defiantly defended its position that Israel is an apartheid state after the country’s education minister banned members of groups that call the Jewish state “false, derogatory names” from entering its schools.

Last week, B’Tselem published a position paper that cited “a wide array of Israeli policies” it said are “advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians” before concluding that “we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid.” Continue reading

Share Button

Anger and Confusion After Facebook Suspends Environmental and Indigenous Groups’ Accounts Ahead of Pipeline Protest

“Facebook is actively suppressing those who oppose fascism and the colonial capitalists,” said one First Nations activist.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-22-2020

Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Event – Rail Yard near Pioneer Village Station Blockaded – Vaughan, Toronto, Ontario – February 15, 2020. Photo: Jason Hargrove/flickr/CC

Environmental groups reacted with confusion and anger after Facebook temporarily suspended their accounts over the weekend, just days after the social media giant announced an initiative aimed at combating climate misinformation.

The Guardian reports some of the largest and most respected progressive groups—including Greenpeace USA, Rainforest Action Network, and Climate Hawks Vote—were among the hundreds of accounts of Indigenous, climate, and social justice organizations that Facebook suspended. Continue reading

Share Button

What ACLU Says Was Trump Call to “Literally Murder Protesters,” Facebook Says Doesn’t Violate Standards

“Facebook has once again failed to act against an explicit violation of its own rules and has allowed the violent and racist post to remain up.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-30-2020

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr/CC

Civil rights advocates are condemning Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg over a decision announced late Friday to let stand a post by President Donald Trump that threatened to have the U.S. National Guard open fire on demonstrators in Minneapolis enraged over the police killing of George Floyd.

While the ACLU earlier on Friday condemned the social media post by Trump—a message that was shared on both Twitter and Facebook—as “hypocritical, immoral, and illegal” and nothing less than a call to “literally murder protesters,” Zuckerberg in his statement said Facebook “decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.” Continue reading

Share Button