Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech

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

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What public school students are allowed to say on social media may be about to change

Student speech in public schools has less protection than speech by adults in the community at large. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Scott F. Johnson, Concord Law School

After a high school cheerleader in Pennsylvania dropped a series of F-bombs about her school in a Snapchat post over a weekend in the spring of 2017, she was suspended from the cheerleading team and sued the school district, claiming the suspension violated her First Amendment rights.

Social media has an ever-growing presence in students’ daily lives. As a result, schools are increasingly faced with the question of whether they can discipline students for remarks made online about school or school officials. The answer is not entirely clear because of different court decisions in different judicial districts.

The United States Supreme Court agreed in January to hear the Pennsylvania school’s district’s case, and its decision may provide some clarity on the issue. Continue reading

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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

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Australian PM Morrison Pledges to Outlaw Climate Boycotts

 “A new breed of radical activism is on the march. Apocalyptic in tone,” said Morrison, an evangelical Christian and a very vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump.

By Common Dreams. Published 11-2-2019

President Donald J. Trump poses for a photo with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison following their dinner at the Imperial Hotel Osaka Thursday, June 27, 2019, Osaka, Japan. Photo: White House

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attacked environmental activists in a speech Friday, warning of a “new breed of radical activism” that was “apocalyptic in tone” and pledging to outlaw boycott campaigns that he argued could hurt the country’s mining industry.

“We are working to identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians, especially in rural and regional areas,” Morrison said. “New threats to the future of the resources sector have emerged,” he said. “A new breed of radical activism is on the march. Apocalyptic in tone. It brooks no compromise. It’s all or nothing.” Continue reading

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Report Exposes Right-Wing Effort to Ban Criticism of Israel in US Schools

“Fanatical Zionists are pushing U.S. state legislatures to pass sweeping new restrictions on free speech.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-17-2019

Concerns about state-level legislation outlawing anti-Semitism in U.S. public schools relate to a wide definition of anti-Semitism that goes beyond protecting Jewish people from hate speech. (Image: Shutterstock)

Human rights and free speech advocates responded with alarm Thursday to a Guardian report revealing that pro-Israel and right-wing lobbyists are encouraging Republican state lawmakers to pass legislation that could outlaw discussions about the Israeli government’s human rights abuses and occupation of Palestinian territory at all levels of the U.S. public education system under the guise of fighting anti-Semitism.

Concerns about the legislation relate to its wide definition of anti-Semitism that goes beyond protecting Jewish people from hate speech. According to The Guardian: Continue reading

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Activists Who Confronted Mnuchin During UCLA Protest Now Facing Years in Jail

“Mnuchin was bragging about killing sanctions and their politics of cruelty, but we’re charged with ‘disturbing the peace’ for speaking loudly during his event!”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-1-2019

The UCLA 5, a group of protesters who demonstrated at an appearance Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave at UCLA in 2018, are facing potential jail time for their non-violent action. (Photo: @MichelleXai/Twitter)

Four non-violent campaigners said Tuesday that their First Amendment rights were violated last year by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who attempted to suppress video of the group’s peaceful demonstration against the Trump administration at an event at UCLA in 2018.

Opening arguments in the trial began Friday and continued Tuesday morning at the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Continue reading

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Leaked Draft of Trump Executive Order to ‘Censor the Internet’ Denounced as Dangerous, Unconstitutional Edict

“In practice, this executive order would mean that whichever political party is in power could dictate what speech is allowed on the Internet.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-11-2019

“It’s hard to put into words how mind bogglingly absurd this executive order is,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, following a leaked White House draft of what her group has dubbed the ‘Censor the Internet’ order. Image: Public domain

Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a “Censor the Internet” executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect.

According to CNN, which obtained a copy of the draft, the new rule “calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.” Continue reading

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The 3 Trigger Terms Being Used to Stop Critical Thinking

 

By Sigmund Fraud. Published 8-16-2018 by Waking Times

It’s a strange world of newspeak we live in. What was once a society devoted to logic and progress is now being herded in echo chambers of thought control and anti-critical thinking. Without the ability to examine an issue impartially and completely there is little hope of maintaining liberty and freedom, as history repeatedly demonstrated.

Today, we find that thinking is a diminishing art, and in its place, sound bites and stop-thought terms are used to put the brakes on the mind. These terms are widely used as signals to prevent minds from looking too deeply at a topic or issue. Continue reading

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‘Shameful and Cowardly’: CNN Fires Marc Lamont Hill for Daring to Denounce Oppression of Palestinians

The firing of the cable news contributing analyst called “a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique the Israeli government, and for the ability of journalism and public discourse in the U.S. generally to accommodate dissent.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-30-2018

“I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice,” Hill wrote in a series of tweets after he was fired by CNN. (Photo: CNN/Screengrab)

In a move decried by critics as blatant suppression of dissent and an attack on all who advocate for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people, CNN on Thursday fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill for daring to denounce the oppression of Palestinians and endorse “a single secular democratic state for everyone” over the failed two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

CNN terminated Hill just 24 hours after he delivered a speech at a meeting of the U.N.’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, in which he expressed support for Palestinians’ resistance against brutal Israeli occupation, denounced Israel for actively depriving Palestinians of basic human rights, and called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” Continue reading

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Internal Memo Shows Sinclair Threatening Employees to Keep Mouths Shut About ‘Must-Read’ Scripts

“Everything Sinclair gives us or forces upon us is met with uproar, but we have no choice,” one employee said

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-4-2018

“The new scripted ‘fake news’ segment caused a lot of anguish where I work,” one Sinclair journalist told the Huffington Post. (Screenshot: Deadspin.com)

Sinclair Broadcast Group really doesn’t want its employees talking to the press about the Trumpian “fake news” script it has recently been forcing local news anchors to recite.

This was made clear by a memo warning staff at the Sinclair-owned station KATU in Portland, Oregon that “giving statements to the media or sharing negative information about the company can have huge implications.” Continue reading

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