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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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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News September 23, 2020

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

#FREESPEECH in the News September 23, 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.) Trump’s WeChat Curbs Halted by Judge on Free Speech Concerns

The Trump administration’s curbs on WeChat were put on hold by a judge, upending an effort to halt use of the Chinese-owned app in the U.S.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction at the request of a group of U.S. WeChat users, who argued the prohibitions would violate the free-speech rights of millions of Chinese-speaking Americans who rely on it. The app, which was supposed to disappear from U.S. app stores on Sunday, has 19 million regular users in the U.S. and 1 billion worldwide.

The ruling means that neither WeChat nor TikTok, another Chinese-owned mobile app targeted by President Donald Trump’s executive order, will become immediately unavailable in the U.S. Trump cited national security concerns in banning the apps, but TikTok Inc. and the WeChat users’ group have said the president is trying to bolster his re-election chances by attacking China and Chinese companies.

2.) Lawyers Ask Supreme Court To Overturn Judgment In Environmentalist Hurchalla Case

Lawyers for Martin County environmental activist Maggy Hurchalla have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a $4.4-million judgment in a South Florida lawsuit. Hurchalla, the sister of former Miami Dade State Attorney and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno contends the judgement endangers the rights of the public to raise questions about environmental issues.

Hurchalla raised questions about a rock mining company seeking permits from the Martin County Commission and suggested it would seriously damage the environment.

She was sued by the owners of the mining company, Lake Point Development, after Martin County Commissioners made decisions adverse to the developer. The award for damages has been upheld by the 4th District Court of Appeal and left standing when the Florida Supreme Court refused to consider her appeal in April.

3.) Facebook issues new rules on internal employee communication

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday outlined to employees a new set of principles to guide debates and conversations within Workplace, the company’s internal social network. Zuckerberg outlined the changes to address “a lot of very tense conversations happening out in the world,” according to company spokesman Joe Osborne. The new principles follow a set of similar changes at Google, which is increasing the moderation of its internal message boards, CNBC reported earlier this week.

“We deeply value expression and open discussion. What we’ve heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed,” Osborne said in a statement. “We’re updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive.”

The changes follow a set of recent leaks from Workplace and the company’s weekly Q&As showing that employees have increased their criticism of the company’s policies.

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