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Expand chart

Data: SurveyMonkey poll conducted from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26. Poll data. Poll methodology; Chart: Axios Visuals

The bigger picture: This week is a showdown on the topic with Facebook, Google, and Twitter testifying on the Capitol Hill for the first time in years to answer for Russian actors' influence on their platforms to directly target U.S. voters.

Top lawyers from Facebook, Google and Twitter will spend the next few days answering questions about how the technology they've long touted as a boon for free speech was manipulated by Russian operatives to disrupt the 2016 election. This week is an inflection point for the image of these three internet platforms that have been held up as pinnacles of innovation for the better part of a decade.

  • On Tuesday, Facebook and Twitter's general counsels and a Google security exec testify before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • Wednesday brings a double header: the general counsels from all three companies testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the morning, and the House Intelligence Committee in the afternoon.

Silicon Valley still enjoys pretty rosy views from most Americans: 84% say U.S. technology companies have had a positive effect on the U.S. economy and 71% say technology has benefited society — with Republicans and Democrats equally likely to be in these camps. But attitudes are shifting, according to the survey.

  • Asked whether social media "does more to help promote democracy and free speech or does more to hurt democracy and free speech," 51% of those surveyed said it did more hurt to democracy and 45% said it did more to help. Notably, large majorities among African-Americans and Hispanics said social media helps democracy, while a majority of white respondents say it hurts.
  • When it comes to policing the platforms for foreign influence, 43% of people said that they trust neither the federal government or tech companies to keep foreign influence out of elections on social media — while just 20% said they trust them both.
  • Go deeper: Americans don't trust tech firms or feds to police Russian meddling in U.S. politics

Best case scenario for tech: If lawmakers buy the transparency measures that some of the companies have rapidly rolled out in preparation for the hearing, all three come off as responsive to investigators' questions — and users don't care enough to change how they use the platforms.

  • They'll also benefit if Mueller's indictments happen early in the week, drowning out the press around the hearings.

Worst case scenario for tech: Remember that photo with the seven tobacco CEOs being sworn in to testify that cigarettes aren't addictive? If the companies' legal executives look like they're obfuscating or dodging questions, that will inflame an already tense investigation. If users become more wary of Google or Facebook or Twitter, the companies' longtime popularity could take a hit.

Go deeper

11 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

11 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 12 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."