First Five Newsletter: June 6, 2019

First Five

Overcoming election propaganda, Twitter’s acquisition of a London-based startup, recent charges dropped against white nationalists and more.

First Five Column

Kirsti Kenneth and Pierce McManus examine the role propaganda and misinformation could play in the upcoming 2020 presidential election and the steps the public should take to diminish its influence. Read the column. A plain text version for publishers is available here.

First Five Podcast

Lata Nott, exeuctive director of the First Amendment Center, sits down with author and lawyer Steven Collis to discuss four very different Americans — a Catholic priest, an atheist, a Klamath Indian man, and a Christian baker — who put their reputations and livelihoods at risk to preserve their personal beliefs.


Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis signed a law to protect citizens and news outlets from lawsuits that seek to curb their free speech rights. Colorado joins nearly 30 states that have adopted measures to curb what are called strategic lawsuits against public participation. The new law allows a citizen to immediately halt such a lawsuit by arguing it’s motivated by the citizen’s exercise of First Amendment rights.


Twitter has acquired deep learning startup Fabula AI, a London-based company which has been developing technology to try to identify online misinformation by looking at patterns in how fake news vs. genuine news spreads online — which, as Tech Crunch reports, makes it an “an obvious fit for the rumor-riled social network.”


A federal judge in Los Angeles dropped all charges against three men charged with inciting riots across California as part of a white nationalist group, finding their actions were protected speech. In a 12-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney said the statute the men were charged under, the Anti-Riot Act, is “unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment.”


The College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Rowan University released a paper discussing its innovative method for studying the dynamics of free speech on modern college campuses and encouraging collaborative discussion. The school organized a case study competition centered on a free speech issue, providing students the opportunity to learn about free speech through a dynamic, project-based approach.


Rebecca Solnit writes for The Guardian about the power of peaceful protest in politics, noting that, “Part of the danger of imagining change as a process forced by violence and brute power is that it overlooks the great power of nonviolent uprisings and those other moments when individuals become a civil society on its feet. It also ignores how the most important battle is often in the collective imagination, and it is won in part by books, ideas, songs, speeches, even new words and frameworks for old evils.”

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