All over Africa, the double-edged nature of digital technology is becoming increasingly apparent. On the face of it, an internet shutdown in Africa seems less noteworthy than one in Europe, China or North America, where the use of online technology is more widespread. Internet penetration in Africa — while rising more rapidly than elsewhere — is still just 37 percent, against 61 percent in the rest of the world. Yet in some ways, Africans are more dependent on internet and smartphone technologies than people elsewhere.
In a case closely watched for its potential implications for social media, the Supreme Court has ruled that a nonprofit running public access channels isn’t bound by governmental constraints on speech. The case, which the conservative wing of the court decided in a split 5–4 ruling, centered around a Manhattan-based nonprofit tasked by New York City with operating public access channels in the area. The organization disciplined two producers after a film led to complaints, which the producers argued was a violation of their First Amendment speech rights.
The fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack, and part of the assault has come from an unexpected source. Elected leaders in many democracies, who should be press freedom’s staunchest defenders, have made explicit attempts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that serve up favorable coverage.
A lack of data and transparency from social media companies has been a crucial force behind Republicans’ accusations that social networks are biased against conservatives, piggybacking off of rising left-wing concerns about data privacy and market power. Again and again, conservatives, like Sens Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) have used personal stories and anecdotes to stoke resentment against platforms and their moderators. And with no broader data to disprove them, the anecdotes are hard to argue with.
Public-interest groups and civil liberties advocates say there's no clear evidence Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other companies suppress conservative viewpoints. And they say they're troubled by the prospect of government officials, particularly President Donald Trump, seeking to intimidate Silicon Valley over the issue. "A more pressing problem than alleged 'censorship' of any particular viewpoint is the proliferation of misinformation, propaganda, hate speech, terrorist content, and harassment online," said John Bergmayer, a senior counsel at Public Knowledge.
White House escalates war against Facebook, Google and Twitter with a campaign asking users to share stories of censorship
The White House announced an unprecedented campaign asking Internet users to share if they had been censored on Facebook, Google and Twitter, tapping into President Trump’s long-running claim that tech giants are biased against conservatives. The effort, which the White House said on Twitter was directed at users “no matter your views,” seeks to collect names, contact information and other details from Americans.
White House will not sign on to Christchurch call to stamp out online extremism amid free speech concerns
The White House will not sign an international call to combat online extremism brokered between French and New Zealand officials and top social media companies, amid US concerns that it clashes with constitutional protections for free speech. The decision comes as world leaders prepare to announce the so-called “Christchurch call to action” on May 15, an effort named after the New Zealand city where a shooter attacked two mosques in an attack inspired by online hate and broadcast on social media sites.
Heralded as the world’s toughest watchdog of Silicon Valley technology giants, Europe has clamped down on violent content, hate speech and misinformation online through a thicket of new laws and regulations over the past five years. Now there are questions about whether the region is going too far, with the rules leading to accusations of censorship and potentially providing cover to some governments to stifle dissent.
We are a coalition of 103 civil liberties, civil rights, corporate responsibility, faith-based, human rights, immigrant rights, journalism, media, privacy, and government transparency organizations, legal service providers, and trade associations. We write to express our deep concern with reports of surveillance and targeting of activists, journalists, and lawyers by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The 2019 World Press Freedom Index Compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear.