First Five Newsletter: May 30, 2019

First Five

Memorial Day reflections, Facebook’s takedown of inauthentic accounts, Pete Buttigieg’s stance on religious freedom and more.

First Five Column

Kristen Farrington and Sabrina Dent reflect upon the African American experience and the systematic inequalities the black community face, including historically on Memorial Day. Read the column. A plain text version for publishers is available here.

Primary Perspectives for the People

Where does Pete Buttigieg stand on our First Amendment freedoms? His presidential candidacy has deepened the political divide due to the ongoing debate on religious liberty. Depending who you ask, Buttigieg demonstrates a deep commitment, or a threat, to the freedom of religion.


Two prosecutors involved in the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange argued against the Justice Department’s decision to accuse him of violating the Espionage Act because of fear that such charges posed serious risks for First Amendment protections.


Facebook announced a takedown of 51 Facebook accounts, 36 Facebook pages, seven Facebook groups and three Instagram accounts that it says were all involved in coordinated “inauthentic behavior,” originating from Iran.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Nieves v. Bartlett that the lack of probable cause will generally defeat a retaliatory arrest claim, even if the arresting officer had some underlying animus. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “the presence of probable cause should generally defeat a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim.” In other words, if the officers have a valid basis for an arrest, a person can’t claim retaliation.


A new study suggests that consumers who actively take steps to diversify their news consumption — following accounts and news outlets that post a wide range of viewpoints and interacting online with people who have different views from their own — feel less anxious about current events than people who don’t take such actions.


Writing for Nieman Lab, Joseph B. Walther observes that our fears about Facebook revolve around protecting other gullible people from fake news — not ourselves. “People know about Facebook’s problems, but each person assumes he or she is largely immune — even while imagining that everyone else is very susceptible to influence,” says Walther. “That paradox helps explain why more than 2 billion people continue to use the site each month. And it also helps explain what’s behind the pressure to regulate.”

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