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Tesla showroom in China. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images.

Facebook stayed in the news this week as COO Sheryl Sandberg met with a civil rights group and her story continued to shift on her involvement with a political consulting firm's work. Here are five other stories in tech news this week that may have gotten lost in the Facebook drama.

Catch up quick: Electric vehicles in China are sending real-time data to the government; Instagram is now using AI to describe photos for users with visual impairments; misinformation bots are smarter than we thought; Facebook launched a local news aggregator; and carmakers at the L.A. auto show are pushing their tech, not their cars.

Electric vehicles in China send real-time data to the government (Associated Press)

  • Why it matters: Teslas and other electric vehicles in China are sending information about the precise location of cars to the government. The data collection adds "to the rich kit of surveillance tools available to the Chinese government as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens," Sinocism's Bill Bishop writes in his Axios China newsletter.

Instagram is now using AI to describe photos for users with visual impairments (The Verge)

  • Why it matters: If users do not enter their own "alt text," Instagram will use image recognition technology to write its own description of a photo, then read the description of the photo aloud when someone scrolls by.

Misinformation bots are smarter than we thought

  • Why it matters: The studies suggest that bots are getting more adept at gaming social platforms, even as the platforms are making changes to weed them out. Bots are also getting better at avoiding detection. — Axios' Sara Fischer

Facebook launched its local news aggregator "Today In" (TechCrunch)

  • Why it matters: “Today In” began testing in January, and is now expanding to 400 small to medium-sized cities in the United States, as well as in Australia. Facebook will have to strike a balance between local news and alerts and its tendency to prioritize popular content. It's also one more avenue that the company have to police for fake news.

At L.A. auto show, carmakers are pushing their tech, not their cars

  • Why it matters: The auto industry is moving away from gasoline, steering wheels and personal ownership as cities get more crowded and polluted and people look to avoid the hassles of owning a car. The transition is going to be rocky for many traditional auto manufacturers, as we've seen at GM this week, but the consensus in L.A. is that personal mobility is approaching a tipping point. — Axios' Joann Muller

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.