First Five Newsletter: November 14, 2019

First Five
A university’s apology piece, Twitter’s new rules, John Oliver on SLAPP suits and more.

First Five Column

Gene Policinski talks about the First Amendment battlefront at colleges and universities lately, with the most recent conflicts involving a full-on assault on traditional standards of a free press. Read the column. A plain text version is available for publishers here.


Editors at The Daily Northwestern, a student newspaper at Northwestern University, apologized for their coverage of a student protest, stating that they should not have shared photographs of the protesters on social media or contacted students using Northwestern’s directory to request interviews. The apology piece immediately sparked criticism from journalists, who argued that the editors were prioritizing the feelings of the student protesters over the principles of good reporting.


Twitter will announce its new rules for political advertisements on Nov. 15, but the company has already told advertisers that, while ads advocating for a specific candidate or piece of legislation will be banned, ads that raise awareness about issues will not be.


A federal district court ruled that a Georgia sheriff violated the First Amendment by posting signs in front of sex offenders’ homes proclaiming, “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!!” The court reasoned that the sheriff violated the First Amendment doctrine that bans compelled speech, or forcing others to agree with government statements.


An article in the Notre Dame Law Review makes the case for why Section 230, the federal law that immunizes Internet services from liability for third-party content, should be protected – and posits that it provides more protection for online speech than the First Amendment.


On “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver discusses how strategic lawsuits against public participation, called SLAPP suits, can have a chilling effect on speech and press, before capping off the segment with a musical number.

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