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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News: January 13, 2020

Bliss Davis, Content and Programming Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH in the News: January 13, 2020

As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

1.) 'Star Wars' star Mark Hamill just announced that he's deleting his Facebook account: 'I'll sleep better at night'

Mark Hamill is rebelling against Facebook.

The "Star Wars" star said in a tweet on Sunday that he would delete his account on the social network to protest Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to budge on Facebook's policy that allows political ads that make false statements.

Facebook exempts politicians from its fact-checking policies, allowing political ads to include inaccuracies, misinformation, and propaganda. Zuckerberg has staunchly defended his site's practice, arguing that it protects free speech on the platform.

Hamill linked to a news article reporting on Facebook's stance and accused Zuckerberg of valuing "profit more than truthfulness."

2.) NSB employee accuses activist of cyberstalking in test of free speech

The case of New Smyrna Beach resident Cristina March, who is facing a charge of stalking, brings to light the troubles that often surround social media and free speech. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it easy for critics to take full advantage of First Amendment rights.

Where is the line drawn between political activism and harassment? That’s a question the court system might weigh later this month when March is set to go to trial on misdemeanor stalking charges after a city employee, who was in charge of the police department’s social media account, accused the resident of harassment and cyberstalking.

New Smyrna Beach employee Cayla Bartolucci, 32, who does clerical work for the city, filed a 217-page complaint against March following what the government employee told police has been a barrage of personal online attacks since January last year, including one occasion in which Bartolucci claims March used a map of Bartolucci’s home as her “cover photo” on Facebook.

3.) Supreme Court will not review conviction of Michelle Carter, who went to jail for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will not review the manslaughter conviction of a Massachusetts teenager who encouraged her boyfriend to kill himself.

Michelle Carter was convicted in the 2014 death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. She was 17 at the time.

Carter had asked the Supreme Court to vacate the conviction on the grounds that her right to free speech under the First Amendment protected her from being responsible for Roy’s suicide.

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