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Category Archives: Censorship

It’s a bad idea for journalists to censor Trump instead, they can help the public identify what’s true or false – The Baytown Sun

Posted: March 28, 2020 at 1:43 pm

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

David Cuillier, University of Arizona

(THE CONVERSATION) In times of mortal strife, humans crave information more than ever, and its journalists responsibility to deliver it.

But what if that information is inaccurate, or could even kill people?

Thats the quandary journalists have found themselves in as they decide whether to cover President Donald J. Trumps press briefings live.

Some television networks have started cutting away from the briefings, saying the events are no more than campaign rallies, and that the president is spreading falsehoods that endanger the public.

If Trump is going to keep lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us, stop broadcasting it, MSNBCs Rachel Maddow tweeted. Honestly, its going to cost lives.

News decisions and ethical dilemmas arent simple, but withholding information from the public is inconsistent with journalistic norms, and while well-meaning, could actually cause more harm than good in the long run. Keeping the presidents statements from the public prevents the public from being able to evaluate his performance, for example.

Truth and falsehood can fight it out

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, updated in 2014 during my term as president, states that the press must seek truth and report it, while also minimizing harm.

When the president of the United States speaks, it matters it is newsworthy, its history in the making. Relaying that event to the public as it plays out is critical for citizens, who can see and hear for themselves what their leader is saying, and evaluate the facts for themselves so that they may adequately self-govern.

Thats true even if leaders lie. Actually, its even more important when leaders lie.

Think of libertarian philosopher John Miltons plea for the free flow of information and end of censorship in 1600s England. Put it all out there and let people sort the lies from the truth, Milton urged: Let her and Falsehood grapple.

If a president spreads lies and disinformation, or minimizes health risks, then the electorate needs to know that to make informed decisions at the polls, perhaps to vote the person out to prevent future missteps.

Likewise, theres a chance the president could be correct in his representation of at least some of the facts.

Its not up to journalists to decide, but simply report what is said while providing additional context and facts that may or may not support what the president said.

Maddow is correct that journalists should not simply parrot information spoon fed by those in power to readers and viewers who might struggle to make sense of it in a vacuum. That is why its imperative journalists continuously challenge false and misleading statements, and trust the public to figure it out.

Craving information

Those who would urge the medias censorship of the presidents speeches may feel they are protecting citizens from being duped, because they believe the average person cant distinguish fact from fiction. Communication scholars call this third-person effect, where we feel ourselves savvy enough to identify lies, but think other more vulnerable, gullible and impressionable minds cannot.

It is understandable why journalists would try to protect the public from lies. Thats the minimizing harm part in the SPJ code of ethics, which is critical in these times, when inaccurate information can put a persons health at risk or cause them to make a fatal decision.

So how do journalists report the days events while minimizing harm and tamping down the spread of disinformation? Perhaps this can be accomplished through techniques already in use during this unorthodox presidential period:


Report the press briefings live for all to see, while providing live commentary and fact-checking, as PolitiFact and others have done for live presidential debates.


Fact-check the president after his talks, through contextual stories that provide the public accurate information, in the media and through websites such as


Call intentional mistruths what they are: Lies. With this administration, journalists have become more willing to call intentional falsehoods lies, and that needs to continue, if not even more bluntly.


Develop a deep list of independent experts that can be on hand to counter misinformation as it is communicated.


Report transparently and openly, clearly identifying sources, providing supplemental documents online, and acknowledging limitations of information.

The coronavirus pandemic is a critical time for the nations health and its democracy. Now, more than ever, we need information. As humans, we crave knowing what is going on around us, a basic awareness instinct, as termed by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in their foundational book, The Elements of Journalism.

People arent dummies

Sometimes people dont even realize they need information until after they have lost it.

In his autobiography, the late Sen. John McCain wrote that upon his release after five years as a Vietnamese prisoner of war, the first thing he did when he got to a Philippines military base was order a steak dinner and stack of newspapers.

I wanted to know what was going on in the world, and I grasped anything I could find that might offer a little enlightenment, McCain wrote. The thing I missed most was information free, uncensored, undistorted, abundant information.

People arent dummies. They can decipher good information from bad, as long as they have all the facts at their disposal.

And journalists are the ones best positioned to deliver it.

[You need to understand the coronavirus pandemic, and we can help. Read our newsletter.]

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It's a bad idea for journalists to censor Trump instead, they can help the public identify what's true or false - The Baytown Sun

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IDF denies cover-up attempt in censoring news of F-16s damaged in flood – The Times of Israel

Posted: at 1:43 pm

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday acknowledged it had made a mistake in censoring the fact that several F-16 fighter jets were damaged due to flooding during a rainstorm earlier this year, but said this not was an effort to cover-up the incident.

This determination was made as part of an investigation into the flooding, which was completed this week and presented to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi.

The chief of staff stressed that the investigation found that from the start of the flooding incident and throughout it, there was no intention to hide it from the public. The opposite is true there was a clear intention to publicize it. At the same time, mistakes were made in how it was handled, the military said in a statement.

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On January 9, a strong storm pummeled Israel, which flooded a stream near the Hatzor Air Base near Ashdod, sending huge amounts of rainwater into the underground hangars where a number of F-16 fighter jets were being stored, damaging eight of them. The repairs from the flooding were estimated to cost NIS 30 million ($8.7 million).

A military truck evacuates Israeli citizens through a flooded road in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya, on a stormy winter day, on January 8, 2020. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

The investigation presented to Kohavi this week confirmed the findings of the militarys initial probe: commanders at the base failed to sufficiently prepare for the inclement weather, which led to the flooding of the hangars.

The probe released on Wednesday also addressed a secondary aspect of the incident: the decision to censor the matter, which was seen as an attempt to cover up an embarrassing, costly mistake.

The military determined that the Israeli Air Force and Military Censor had been correct in barring publication on the matter for the first few hours of the incident, but that this ban should have ended far more quickly than it did.

The chief of staff determined that the Air Forces request of the Military Censor to delay publication of the event from Thursday, January 9, to Friday, January 10, was correct. However, by Friday, January 10, [the Air Force] could have informed the Military Censor that the information could be published. The failure to notify the censor was a mistake by the Air Force, the IDF said.

An F-16 fighter jet that was damaged by flooding during a rainstorm in January is seen in its hangar after it returned to service in this undated photograph released on February 3, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

The military said it had planned to inform the public of the incident on January 12, but this wasnt carried out because of an internal error in the Air Force.

News of the incident was eventually reported later that day, following multiple requests for permission by journalists.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi addresses a group of Kfir Brigade soldiers stationed at the Gaza border on January 22, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

The chief of staff summarized the matter by saying that the IDF is a glass house that the public can watch what happens inside and that it is expected of those who serve in it and of the organization in general to display high standards and moral, professional and honest behavior, the IDF said.

The military did not indicate that the chief of staff would take any disciplinary action against the officers involved in the unnecessary censorship.

In January, Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin censured three officers for failing to properly prepare for the flood.

The commander of the F-16 squadron, the maintenance squadron commander and the aviation squadron commander all received official reprimands.

The officers were found to have incorrectly assessed the force of the incoming rainstorm, which dropped some 50 million liters (13 million gallons) of water onto the area around the base in the span of half an hour and caused a nearby stream to overflow.

As a result of this flawed evaluation, they did not evacuate the underground hangars in time or take other steps necessary to prevent the flooding, the investigation found.

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IDF denies cover-up attempt in censoring news of F-16s damaged in flood - The Times of Israel

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Trump Is Now Openly Trying to Censor His Critics. He May Succeed. – Slate

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 8:44 am

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Trump Is Now Openly Trying to Censor His Critics. He May Succeed. - Slate

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This Was Never Just About Woody Allen. It Still Isn’t. – The Nation

Posted: at 8:44 am

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Every high-profile controversy discloses a deeper reality, and the one involving Woody Allen and the off-again, on-again publication of his memoir is no different. There is the despised celebrity and then the despised many, who have no power and for whom a sex accusation or conviction may make their very existence criminal. There is one damned book and then the damned many, banned by the thousands by state and federal prison authorities. There is one attention-seeking crowd of private censors and then the crowd working less noisily, organizing morality campaigns to remove books from school, university, and public libraries. Every year the American Library Association puts out a Top 10 Most Challenged Books list. In 2017 the list included Sex Is a Funny Word, a sex education book, challenged because of fears it might lead children to ask questions about sex. Since 2015, half the titles have had queer subjects.Ad Policy

Censorship is rarely called by its true name among those who practice it. History groans with the righteous justifications of private interests bent on erasing words and people they dont like. New excuses cant hide the old reflex. They do make it easy, though, to mistake the moral scold for the rebel spirit. Some scenes from the long contest between the vice cop of the mind and the champion of free thought offer a clarifying light.

Beginning in the 19th century, Anthony Comstock and his New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (supported by J.P. Morgan, William Dodge, Samuel Colgate, and The New York Times) ruined thousands of writers lives and destroyed hundreds of thousands of pounds of books and pamphlets, many by women, in the service of protecting innocent girls. Comstocks successor, John Sumner, took up the cause in the 1910s, pressuring publishers into melting the printing plates for obscure, supposedly obscene novels, and in 1920 he and his crowd invoked the safety of young girls to get Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, lesbian heroes of the avant-garde press, arrested and prosecuted for daring to be the first in the world to publish Ulysses. Sumner also got the Post Office to burn some 20,000 copies of The Little Review, where the women had been serializing James Joyces masterwork. The vigilantes of decency had already scared off dozens of men in the reputable book trade from publishing anything by Joyce. When Dubliners finally got into print in Europe, a private citizen bought up the entire edition and had it set ablaze in Dublin. Joyce called it a new and private auto-da-f.

Joyce is but a name we know. Avowed protection from deviance, dirt, degeneracy, and the corruption of children led to such routine burning of unknown titles by unknown authors in the Western world that when the Nazis torched the library and archive of the great Magnus Hirschfelds Institute for Sexual Science in 1933, the act reverberated most forcefully among Hirschfelds fellow Jews, sex radicals, and researchers, who were already habituated to stepping cautiouslystudying womens sexual satisfaction in the United States, for instance, under the camouflage of maternal health. Depending on ones point of view, Hirschfeld might be categorized as a sexual psychopath (an American synonym for homosexual in the 1930s), part of a group to be watched, suspected, obliterated, or as a founder of the worlds first gay rights organization and a giant in the study of human sexuality (that would be current historys view; thank you, sexual liberation). One final example from a vast history: During the Red Scare and the interrelated though oft-ignored Lavender Scare, Cold War centurions in industry, the arts, media, unions, and other organizations cast themselves as defenders of democracy against radical contagion and guardians of wholesome (straight, marital) sexuality in their effort to shut people up, lock them up, oust them from their jobs, exile them, and deprive others of the freedom to see, read, know, be.

There is an element of the absurd in raising Ronan Farrows censorious zeal and Hachettes cowardly decision to pulp Woody Allens memoir, Apropos of Nothing, on the heels of such weighty history. The books resurrection by Skyhorse Publishing, announced as we went to press, does not lessen it. These are absurd times, when censors masquerade as justice warriors. For them, the degenerate man, as Allen has been labeled, is the real object of erasure. For Hachette, the cowardice was threefold, actually: first, in keeping its acquisition of Allens book a secret from Farrow, who as an author with its Little, Brown division did deserve the courtesy of a heads-up. Second, in caving to the crowd, including protesting staffers, who invoked allegiance to Farrow and victims rights to validate their censors reflex; third, in couching its public explanation of the betrayal of an author (Allen) and the destruction of a book in the soothing language of commitmentto challenging books, conflicting points of view, and a stimulatingwork environment. Hachette ought simply to have said what it meant: We fear the crowd. The crowd has power. Our US revenues dropped in 2019, so we chose the power side over the pervert.Related Article

Farrows duplicity is more obvious. He made his first splash promulgating one side of a family drama, convicting Allen of child molestation in the public minddespite copious reasons for doubt, including official investigations finding no abuse (which I discussed years ago in The Nation) and his brother Mosess severe rebuttal in a 2018 blog postand lamenting media industry efforts to obstruct his own writing about Hollywood.

Free speech for me but not for thee, as Nat Hentoff famously condensed it, is an ignoble political standard. Farrow, of course, is laden with emotion, with loyalty to his mother, Mia, and sister, Dylan, and his own lifetime of exposure to their accusing narratives. He cannot be dispassionate about Allen, and its preposterous to think he should be. Its preposterous as well that others who care about writing, ideas, independent thought, and the freedom to see should lash their intellect to Farrows prejudices. More disturbing is the pretense that theres high principle in cleansing the public sphere of anyone whos been declared a public demon.Current Issue

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For the crowd in this case, the weasels way out of complicity in censorship took routes, all of them dead ends. Censorship is an act of the state. Businesses are free to do what they want. Who needs another book by Woody Allen? Hes had his day in the sun. Hes rich; he can self-publish (and, look, his book will still come out in France). This is a down payment on justice and accountability; the powerful have always had a platform, finally the powerless have a voice. Free speech is a bourgeois construct to maintain the social order, so why care about it for Woody fucking Allen? Such were the sentiments floating in the suspect air after the staff walkout that preceded Hachettes decision to pulp the book. So brave, power agent Lynn Nesbit said of the walkout. I feel moved almost to tears. Nesbit represents not just Ronan Farrow but also Dylan and Mia, who have both profited off accusations against Allen via book contracts and considerable flattery in the press.

It requires no illusions about the social order or the free marketplace of ideas to understand that the dead end is the point at which someone commands someone else to shut up. The problem with private censorship is not so different from the problem with the nondisclosure agreement. But under the cover of #MeToo, censorship and the will to shun and silence are being renovated as social goods when exercised by the self-declared forces of good, on behalf of the good, as if definitions of whats good, whats progress, arent always politically contested. Its remarkableat a time when scientists are purging their work of dangerous terms like climate change and fetal tissue and transgender in order to maintain federal fundingthat anyone might feel confident that their own claim to purity cant boomerang.Related Article

The cowing power of the crowd suits the authoritarian spirit of the time, and some traditional defenders of free speech have gone soft or silent. The ACLU did not respond to a request for comment after the book was quashed. The Writers Guild issued no statement. PEN America issued a wobbly statement, which left Allen twisting in the wind, though its CEO, Suzanne Nossel, did slam Hachettes decision on the radio. Index on Censorship, by contrast, took swiftly to social and other media to defend principle. At the National Coalition Against Censorship, Christopher Finan criticized Hachette and pointed to the continuing relevance of The Freedom to Read Statement, first issued by librarians and publishers during the Cold War. Amid the current enthusiasm for moral cleansing, its propositions bear study, particularly one that states, No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

The early sex radicals and avant-garde feminists, who really were brave, recognized that the struggle to expand the realm of freedom had to include the freedom to write, read, see, and be seen, all of which broadened knowledge ofhence possibilities forhuman experience. (Its notable that Sylvia Beach, also a lover of women, was the first to publish Ulysses in its entirety, from her bookshop in Paris in 1922, thus providing the basis on which the men at Random House were able to orchestrate the landmark Supreme Court ruling on obscenity years later.) Vice, a term that in those days covered almost any writing about sex and any nonconformist behavior, was the point of a spear that helped enforce every social hierarchy and intensify every form of repression. We dont use the word much today, but the vice cop of the mind is still on the beat, allowing a certain kind of sex talkthe stories of abuse and accusationbut making it unanswerable, deciding who is worthy to speak, who is not, and who should hide. Skyhorses bet on a market for Allens book while much of society is housebound should not obscure that larger and unlovely reality.

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This Was Never Just About Woody Allen. It Still Isn't. - The Nation

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Free Expression and the Coronavirus Pandemic – Blogging Censorship

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The National Coalition Against Censorship is closely following developments in the United States that could threaten our civil liberties as responses to the coronavirus pandemic test governments and social structures worldwide. During a global public health crisis, medical needs are, understandably, prioritized. But our needs are many-faceted. As governments work to limit the spread of COVID-19, we must vigilantly protect our rights to freedom of speech and expression and defend our ability to both share and access information. And as public spaces, schools and cultural institutions shutter, however temporarily, we must look for ways to continue civil discourse, to promote artistic and cultural expression and to engage with one another as fellow citizens and humans.

NCAC continues to track and monitor pandemic-related issues that threaten to chill free speech or infringe on our rights to express ourselves, share information, think, create and explore ideas. We will update this list as the situation develops. If you have specific censorship concerns or questions, please reach out.

In the days before a national state of emergency was declared, it was revealed that Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) meetings regarding the coronavirus had been classified since January. HHS oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among other agencies. Meetings were held in a secure area usually reserved for military or intelligence operations. In addition to preventing information from being shared with the public, holding classified meetings prevents health, legal, and other experts without upper level security clearance from participating. As Defending Rights and Dissent writes, It is an abuse of the classification process to classify deliberations about a public health crisis. The American people have a right to know the extent of the threat posed by the coronavirus and what steps to take. They have a right to accurate public health information. Government officials should not be covering up information in order to downplay the extent of the threat or hide their own missteps. And now more than ever, we need strong whistleblower protections. (Emphasis ours)

It can be tempting, in times of crisis, to label dissent as dangerous. But our democracy demands participation, and we must be allowed to access dissenting views and express our own. Disagreement and debate are crucial to thoughtful decision-making.

We must be able to question our governments response to this pandemic from all angles. In an attempt to write the legacy theyd prefer, Chinese censors have taken harsh steps to track and punish those criticizing the government online, rather than allow a robust and necessary assessment of how the pandemic began, spread and was handled. What happens next time, when no lessons are permitted to be remembered? The Chinese government has also expelled US journalists, limiting dissemination of accurate information about the virus from its source.

Another example of overbroad control of information is Morocco. Authorities there have criminalized misinformation in misguided efforts to prevent panic, but their power to punish speech has been extended to voices critical of the government and its response to the crisis.

Censorship of science by the US government takes the form of distorting, discouraging, and redacting research results for political reasons. The final result is suppression of vital information. (See here for information on censorship of climate science and stem cell research.) The Trump Administration has shown a willingness to muzzle scientists and early attempts to keep discussions of coronavirus classified raise concerns about the motivations behind overly stringent control on vital scientific information and medical expertise, as well as about its human cost.

Scientists and medical professionals must be free to share their knowledge and recommendations, even when it puts pressure on governments.

Nations across the globe are instituting travel restrictions and full bans on entry for non-citizens. Travel bans can violate Americans First Amendment right to receive information by preventing citizens from interacting with the ideas and viewpoints of foreign nationals. Freedom of speech includes the ability to facilitate the free international exchange of people and ideas. These bans can be particularly devastating to artists and cultural producers vulnerable for speaking out in repressive regimes.

The nature of COVID-19 and its spread make these choices understandable, but we must ensure that these restrictions are medically necessary and as limited as possible within the recommendations of experts. Broad, indefinite travel restrictions can easily be manipulated by political motivations, as seen during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

In the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, containment strategies involved the use of increased surveillance and tracking. These methods of infection-mapping can be useful, and necessary, during such times. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) cautions, though, that, any extraordinary measures used to manage a specific crisis must not become permanent fixtures in the landscape of government intrusions into daily life. There is historical precedent for life-saving programs such as these, and their intrusions on digital liberties, to outlive their urgency. EFF lays out principles for data collection and digital monitoring of potential carriers of COVID-19:

As Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of theSurveillance Technology Oversight Project, told the New York Times: We could so easily end up in a situation where we empower local, state or federal government to take measures in response to this pandemic that fundamentally change the scope of American civil rights. Read more here

As a growing number of Americans work from home, or have their employment curtailed entirely, and practice social distancing, social media platforms are becoming increasingly important spaces for gathering, sharing news and disseminating information. Some have criticized the platforms for allowing misinformation to proliferate or for not cracking down on racist speech relating to the coronavirus. Social media companies are adapting their rules about what information is allowed in real time as the pandemic spreads. Largely, though, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been praised for their management of information that could be damaging to public health and for providing access to social connection in a time of physical disconnection.

Social media companies, however, have a complicated relationship with free speech. As private companies, they are free to set their own user guidelines and content standards. But as public spaces, many (including NCAC) argue that they have a responsibility to respect the principles of free speech and protect their users rights to express themselves. While both Twitter and Facebook frequently extol their commitments to free speech, they often struggle to balance user needs, commercial concerns and free speech protections. In an effort to protect its content moderators from COVID-19, Facebook is shifting most of its content moderation decisions to its algorithmic tools, however some of its most sensitive decisions are being moved to other staffers. Unfortunately, the automated tools used by Facebook often get decisions wrong such mistakes will be much more frequent while human moderators are mostly absent. The scarcity of human decision-makers will also inevitably complicate an already difficult appeals process.

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Reporters Without Borders: If the Chinese press were free, the coronavirus might not be a pandemic – Hong Kong Free Press

Posted: at 8:44 am

In ananalysispublished on March 13th, researchers from the University of Southampton suggest that the number of cases of coronavirus in China could have been reduced by 86% if the first measures, which were taken on January 20th, had been implemented two weeks earlier. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demonstrates, based on the events in the early days of the crisis, that without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the seriousness of the epidemic, saving thousands of lives and possibly avoiding the current pandemic.

Photojournalists at the National Peoples Congress. Photo: Lukas Messmer/HKFP.

October 18: Chinese press could have reported the chilling results of a pandemic simulation

The John Hopkins Center for Health Security, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, carries out asimulatedcoronavirus pandemic onOctober 18th, 2019, andalertsthe international community to the chilling results: 65million deaths in 18months.

If the Chinese internet were not isolated by an elaborate system of electronic censorship and the media were not forced to follow the instructions of the Communist Party, the public and the authorities would have undoubtedly been interested in this informationcoming from the United States, which echoed the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic of 2003. SARS infected 8,000 people and caused more than 800 deaths, mostly in China.

December 20: the Wuhan city authorities could have informed journalists

One month after thefirst documented case, the city of Wuhan already has 60patients with an unknown SARS-like pneumonia, several of whom havefrequentedthe Huanan fish market. Despite the situation, the authorities do not see fit to communicate this information to the media.

If the authorities had not hidden from the media the existence of an epidemic outbreak linkedto a very popular market, the public would have stopped visiting this place long before its official closure on January 1st.

December 25: Doctor Lu Xiaohong could have expressed fears to the press

Doctor Lu Xiaohong, the head of gastroenterology at Wuhan City Hospital No. 5, beginshearingcases ofinfectionaffecting medical staff on December 25 and suspects from the first week of January that the infection is transmissible between humans.

If journalists sources in China did not face severe penalties ranging from professional reprimand to heavy prison terms, Doctor Lu Xiaohong would have taken responsibility for alerting the media, forcing the authorities to take action, which only happened three weeks later.

Dr. Li Wenliang.

December 30: whistleblowers early warning would have been picked up by the media

The director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central Hospital, Ai Fen, and a group of doctors launch an alert regarding a SARS-like coronavirus. Eight of them, including DoctorLi Wenliang, who later died from the illness, will bearrestedby Wuhan police on January 3rd for circulatingfalse rumors.

If the press and social media had been able to freely relay the information transmitted by whistleblowers on December 30th, the public would have realised the danger and put pressure on the authorities to take measures limiting expansion of the virus.

December 31: social media would have relayed the official alert in China

Chinaofficially alertsthe World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 31st but at the same time forces the WeChat discussion platform tocensora large number of keywords referring to the epidemic.

Without censorship, the social network WeChat, which has a billion active users in China, could have enabled journalists to broadcast reports and precautionary advice contributing to better compliance with the rules recommended by the health authorities.

World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers.

January 5: the scientific media would have disseminated the coronavirus genome earlier

Professor Zhang Yongzhens team at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre manages to sequence the virus onJanuary 5th, but the authorities seem reluctant to make the genome public. On January 11th, the day China confirms its firstdeathfrom the virus, the researchers leak information on open source platforms, which will result in the punitive closure of their laboratory.

If the Chinese authorities were transparent, they would have immediately communicated the coronavirus genome sequence to the scientific media, saving the international community precious time in their research for the development of a vaccine.

January 13: the international community would have anticipated the risk of a pandemic

The first case of coronavirus infection outside of China, a tourist from Wuhan, is reported in Thailand.

If the international media had had full access to information held by the Chinese authorities on the scale of the epidemic before January 13th, it is likely that the international community would have taken stock of the crisis and better anticipated it, reducing the risk of the epidemic spreading outside China and possibly avoiding its transformation into a pandemic.

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Why TikTok Is The Worst Way To Waste Time In Quarantine – The Federalist

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Quarantine got me on tik tok, Erin Foster told her 500,000 Instagram followers on Tuesday. Foster is hardly alone, but thats just about the worst place to be.

Communist China hampered the dissemination of information that could have prevented a pandemic, and were spending the resultant quarantine period passing time with a stupid app that censors on the partys behalf. Its easy to understand whyTikToks addictive appeal is heightened in a world of social distance. But if ever there were a time to resist the reach of Chinas long arm, its now.

Much like Britney Spears, TikTok is not that innocent. The app has been credibly accused of censorship on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, and faces legal obligations to overturn its trove of data if the CCP asks. Vox outlined two major concerns about TikTok in December:

One of the more problematic implications is a 2017 Chinese law, which requires Chinese companies to comply with government intelligence operations if asked. That means that companies based in China have little recourse to decline should the government request to access data.

The second is what the Chinese Communist Party might do with that data.

TikTok collects data. As an app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, the CCP can access it. TikTok claims U.S. data is stored outside of China. But thats largely irrelevant, asAlex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory told the Washington Post last fall. The leverage the government has over the people who have access to that data, thats whats relevant.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) echoed these concerns in a bipartisan letter to Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire sent in November (emphasis added): Security experts have voiced concerns that Chinas vague patchwork of intelligence, national security, and cybersecurity laws compel Chinese companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Without an independent judiciary to review requests made by the Chinese government for data or other actions, there is no legal mechanism for Chinese companies to appeal if they disagree with a request.

As the Post pointed out, TikTok is not part ofthe Global Network Initiative, a collection of companies that have pledged to resist unlawful or overly broad requests from governments to access user data, the group confirmed.

The GNI does annual checkups of its members, including Facebook and Google, to ensure theyre keeping their promises, that report continued. But not TikTok.

Stamos further observed that TikTok is operating under a political censorship regime, and noted the Chinese government has no problem telling [its companies] where they should come down in political debates. For instance, content about the Hong Kong protests was noticeably light on the platform last year.

Consider alsothe case of New Jersey teenFeroza Aziz, whose account was suspended shortly after she posted a video explaining the CCPs oppression of Uyghur Muslims. At first, TikTok said Aziz was suspended for violating its terrorism rules in a separate video, a satirical clip about dating that included a picture of Osama bin Laden. Then the company changed its story, blaming ahuman moderation error, and restoring the video, rendering its initial excuse highly suspect.

As you might expect, TikTok claims it does not censor content in the United States based on the CCPs demands. Again, the app is owned by ByteDance, which owns Chinas version of TikTok. On Douyin, of course, a broad range of supposedly subversive topics are banned. After shuttering its comedy app, ByteDances founder issued an apology for deviation of socialist core values.

Thats whose app were using during these quarantines which, by the way, could probably have been prevented had the CCP not perpetrated a clear and despicable cover-up of the virus. The product youre using to pass the time while stuck indoors is owned by a company that is necessarily complicit with the bad actors in China who helped put us in this situation.

With kids home from school and adults home from work, people are turning to TikTok for entertainment, and understandably so. The app is fun. Celebrities are flooding it with content. But there is a legitimate ethical question as to whether bored Americans should spend their isolation time boosting the fortunes and influence of a company that is complicit with the communist government that cost us lives and jobs.

We have time to kill on TikTok because of communist Chinas cover-up. TikTok is complicit with communist China. We can probably find better way to entertain ourselves while we ride out this terrible storm Chinese communists helped send our way.

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Global initiative to monitor attacks on the media during coronavirus – The Shift News

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Index on Censorship and the Justice for Journalists Foundation (JFJ) have joined forces and come together to set up a project that monitors and catalogues attacks and violations against the media specifically related to the coronavirus health crisis.

In our daily work in the post-Soviet region, Justice for Journalists Foundation experts and partners come across grave violations of media freedom and media workers human rights. Today, we are witnessing how the corrupt governments and businessmen in many of the regional autocracies are abusing the current limitations of public scrutiny, JFJ Director Maria Ordzhonikidze said.

This major decrease in civil liberties allowed governments to continue pursuing their interests in a less transparent manner while media workers striving to unveil murky practices are facing more risks than ever before, she said.

These violations will be recorded on a map hosted on Index on Censorship and on the Justice for Journalists Media Risk Map.

The project has three main objectives: the first is to increase awareness about the importance of media freedom at this particular point in time. The second is to support journalists whose work is being hindered by highlighting their challenges to an international audience and, finally, to continue to improve media freedom globally in the long term.

Justice for Journalists Foundation will contribute to the joint project by expanding cooperation with its existing regional partners in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Index on Censorship will use the experience it has gained running other mapping projects to gather and compare media violations in each country and further analyse the data when the global crisis is over.

It has been just over a week that Index on Censorship and Justice for Journalists Foundation started collecting data and already the numbers of journalists from all over the world reporting to the map are on the increase.

Index on Censorship has already expressed concerns about the number of incidents showing how governments are using this extraordinary health crisis as an excuse to roll back personal and media freedom.

A few examples include Hungarys Prime Minister Victor Orban, who has proposed a Bill introducing emergency legislation that gives him the power to rule by decree with a significant detail that outlines how these powers could be used against those who publicise false or distorted facts that alarm or agitate the public, with a punishment of up to five years in prison.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has issued a provisional measure which means that the government no longer has to answer freedom of information requests within the usual deadline.

In South Africa, the government has stopped epidemiologists, virologists, infectious disease specialists and other experts from commenting in the media on Covid-19 and insists that all requests for comment be directed to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

If the legislations are not reversed at the end of the crisis, many of these incidents will have long term consequences.

Strong media freedom is essential during this time. It is at the heart of helping tackle a fast-moving crisis, it must hold governments accountable if their actions threaten the safety of their people and it remains vital in finding out where help is needed and in telling peoples stories.

For those who want more information or wish to contribute to this initiative by providing information on incidents email: [emailprotected] or [emailprotected]

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Global initiative to monitor attacks on the media during coronavirus - The Shift News

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China’s Media Censorship Could Cost Thousands of Lives: Journalism Watchdog – Newsweek

Posted: March 26, 2020 at 6:14 am

Thousands of lives could have been saved if China allowed its media freedom to operate independently, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organization has claimed.

RSF published a statement Tuesday detailing how Chinese authorities suppressed whistle blowers and early warnings of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, which has since spread across the globe and killed more than 19,000 people.

"Without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the severity of the coronavirus epidemic, sparing thousands of lives and perhaps avoiding the current pandemic," the RSF statement argued.

The pandemic originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, likely at a so-called "wet market" where live and dead animals are sold.

The Chinese Communist Party was accusedby President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and othersof silencing whistleblowers and hiding the severity of the outbreak, which soon spread beyond its borders.

Tight restrictions appear to have stemmed the spread of COVID-19 in China, and officials have said that the peak of the outbreak has passed. There have now been more cases and deaths outside China than inside.

But RSF cited a University of Southampton analysis published earlier this month that argued the number of coronavirus cases in Chinawhich is rated 177th out of 180 in the 2019 RSF World Press Freedom Indexcould have been reduced by 86 percent if the restrictive measures implemented on January 20 had been put in place two weeks earlier.

RSF argued that the first red flag was missed in October, when the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security ran a simulated coronavirus pandemic alongside the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The simulation produced 65 million deaths in 18 months, a result RSF argued would have sparked interest and concern in China if media organizations were able to cover it or citizens were able to see it online.

Local Wuhan officials failed to inform the media of the outbreak, even when there were dozens of patients suffering the same mysterious illness and symptomsseveral of whom had visited the Huanan fish market where the virus is believed to have originated. The market was closed on January 1.

Dr. Lu Xiaohong was among the first medical workers to suspect that something seismic was occurring, having been told of multiple infections among staff at Wuhan City Hospital as early as December 25.

RSF argued that if journalists' sources did not face such strict punishments for speaking out, Lu may have raised the alarm and forced officials to acknowledge the problem.

A group of whistleblowers tried to do exactly that, but were arrested for circulating "false rumors" on January 3. Eight of these whistleblowers have since died of coronavirus.

Though China officially alerted the World Health Organization to the situation on December 31, officials moved to censor a number of related keywords on the country's tightly-controlled billion-user WeChat platform.

By January 5, a team at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre had sequenced the virus, but the vital information was not released publicly. Only on January 11the day the first coronavirus death was confirmeddid researchers leak the genome to open source platforms, handing the international community a priceless element in their nascent hunt for a vaccine.

The first case outside China was confirmed on January 13. RSF argued that the international community "would have taken stock of the crisis and better anticipated it" if Chinese media had been able to cover the issue since December. This may have slowed its spread and avoided "its transformation into a pandemic," the organization argued.

Newsweek has contacted the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. for a response to RSF's assertions.

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A champion in Murmansk media quits because of censorship – The Independent Barents Observer

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Gorodetsky is a veteran in Murmansk media. In 2005 he established the B-Port, a news agency that has developed into a leading newsmaker in the north Russian region.

Since then, much has changed in regional journalism.

On the 25th March, the director and editor-in-chief announced that he is leaving the company he created almost 15 years. The reason is growing censorship from regional authorities, he explains in a post on Facebook.

The situation is such that our news arena is rapidly changing, and not in a good direction, Gorodetsky says.

The opinions and posts that are published on our site suddenly have become unwanted and a source of irritation, he adds.

According to the editor, his news agency is now increasingly often contacted from above and told to remove or change contents.

He argues that there have appeared absurd prohibitions and strange limitations and that it now is considered undesired to express personal opinions that diverge from settled truths.

The news team at B-Port will continue to deliver contents, but now without Gorodetsky.

Over many years I have invested not only power and resources, but also parts of my soul. And of course I will not allow my soul to be wiped by my feet.

According to MMK News, Gorodetsky owns the B-Port together with regional politician Igor Morar. Reportedly, a recent issue of conflict has been the news agencys coverage of the coronavirus.

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