First Five Newsletter: September 26, 2019

First Five
Student’s free speech rights, Facebook’s Supreme Court, fighting online extremism and more

First Five Column

David Hudson discusses First Amendment issues in schools and the failure of school officials to recognize that students retain free speech rights and should not be disciplined for expressing them. Read the column. A plain text version is available here.


Last week, Facebook announced it would establish its own version of the Supreme Court — a board that will make final decisions about user posts that Facebook has taken down — in response to numerous complaints about the company’s content moderation practices. This week the company clarified that politicians will not have to follow Facebook’s normal community guidelines, unless they’re running an ad or posting content that could lead to real-world violence and harm.


Several Silicon Valley companies announced they’re revamping an organization they established to fight online extremism in order to allow it to work more extensively with outside parties. The organization, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, was set up in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube as a way for the companies to share information about violent terrorist content in order to remove it across platforms.


A string of recent court setbacks for news organizations is prompting prompting jitters among First Amendment advocates who fear the rulings could signal an erosion of the deference press outlets have enjoyed for decades in cases challenging their reporting.


A recently published book by Aimee Edmondson, “In Sullivan’s Shadow: The Use and Abuse of Libel Law During the Long Civil Rights Struggle,” re-examines the landmark libel Supreme Court case, The New York Times v. Sullivan. In an interview with The National Law Review, Edmondson touches on some of the topics explored, discussing the case’s historical context and why it still matters today.


In The New York Times, publisher A.G. Sulzberger discusses the growing threat to journalism around the world. “Around the globe, a relentless campaign is targeting journalists because of the fundamental role they play in ensuring a free and informed society,” Sulzberger said. “To stop journalists from exposing uncomfortable truths and holding power to account, a growing number of governments have engaged in overt, sometimes violent, efforts to discredit their work and intimidate them into silence.”

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