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Mark Lennihan / AP

Hundreds of articles published on top financial news sites were authored by individuals being paid to promote certain biotech stocks, according to enforcement actions announced today by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Such payments were not disclosed to readers, nor apparently to the sites themselves.

The charges: The SEC alleges that 27 individuals and entities "posted bullish articles about [publicly-traded] companies on the Internet under the guise of impartiality when in reality they were nothing more than paid advertisements." So far the SEC has settled with 17 of those charged ― with disgorgement and penalties ranging from $2,200 to nearly $3 million ― while it remains in litigation with the other 10.

What sites? Seeking Alpha, Forbes, TheStreet, Yahoo Finance, The Motley Fool, Benzinga, Minyanville, WallStCheatSheet, Small Cap Network, Investor Village and Market Playground. None of the sites are named in the charges.

Why it matters: Many financial sites publish contributed articles with little editorial oversight, as a way to increase volume. That makes it incumbent on readers to do their own research on authors, particularly if using the posts as the basis for stock trading decisions.

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

13 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

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