First Five Newsletter: January 9, 2019

First Five
Libel lawsuit against California, 2020 resolutions, Facebook banning videos of deepfake content and more.

First Five Column

Gene Policinski discusses the importance of appreciating, supporting and trusting a free press. Amidst the recent world events of impeachment trials, missle strikes and catastrophic wildfires, it is even more important now to recognize the factual reporting and “truth” in news. Read the column. A plain text version is available for publishers here.

News

While Congress faced an unprecedented blockade from the White House with regards to seeing key documents during the impeachment inquiry, news organizations and transparency groups have picked up the effort to pry loose memos, emails, calendars and other documents from the Trump administration using the Freedom of Information Act to push the issue into the courts. The fact that these documents are being released or can be in the future could play into how a Senate trial plays out.

Technology

In a push against deepfake content and online misinformation campaigns, Facebook has implemented a new policy banning videos that are manipulated to make it appear someone said words they didn’t actually say. The company won’t allow videos on its site if they’ve been either edited or computer-generated in ways that the average person couldn’t detect. However, it will allow the deepfake technique to be used in parodies and satire, and it will also allow clips that were edited only to cut out or change the order of words.

Law

Devin Nunes’s decision to file a libel lawsuit against a California newspaper in Virginia court is an example of “libel tourism” – when the rich and powerful purposely pick venues which have fewer protections against lawsuits aimed at silencing critics on topics of public concern, Justin Jouvenal writes in The Washington Post.

Scholarship

A white paper produced after September 2019’s National Summit on Religion and Education lays out eight major action items to improve K-12 religious studies education the United States. The summit was organized by the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute, which is currently inviting individuals and organizations who are interested in this work get in touch by emailing [email protected] so they can be included in future conversations and commit publicly to specific action items on the list.

Commentary

The Freedom Forum’s David Hudson writes about the bedrock principle of the First Amendment – its protection of obnoxious, offensive and repugnant speech.


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