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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Apple will co-host its first-ever political debate Friday in an effort to show off its growing investment in news.

Why it matters: Apple's role in tonight's Democratic debate in New Hampshire comes as two of the biggest tech giants, Facebook and Google, are noticeably absent from the debates this season.

  • The debate will feature deep integrations with Apple's news product, which bills itself as a more curated, editorially-focused news experience than that which exists on other big tech platforms.

Details: The tech giant is co-hosting the debate alongside ABC and New Hampshire's WMUR-TV.

  • Unlike those outlets, Apple will not have a moderator featured in the debate to question candidates, and it will not be providing any editorial guidance or questions to the moderators.
  • Instead, it will solicit questions from users through its news app. The company began collecting questions earlier this week.
  • Apple has also built several special features to highlight coverage of the presidential election, including real-time election results data from the Associated Press, policy resource guides for readers, a guide to each presidential candidate, and a news literacy guide to help readers identify misinformation online.
  • Apple will provide state and national polling data, infographics and analysis through a partnership with ABC-owned political blog FiveThirtyEight. ABC News' coverage of the debate will be livestreamed on Apple News and will also be available to be live-streamed directly on the Apple TV app.

The big picture: As we've reported, tech companies have increasingly been participating as co-hosts or sponsors of political debates. Both the RNC and the DNC decided to cut back on the number of debates beginning in 2016.

Expand chart
Data: Axios research; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Flashback: YouTube and Facebook first partnered with TV networks for debates during the 2008 presidential cycle. MySpace partnered with the Commission on Presidential Debates in 2008 on a series of interactive features for the debates that allowed users to review candidates online while watching the debates.

Be smart: Tech partnerships can sometimes help bring voters closer to the debate, by giving them a chance to ask questions or register reactions in real-time.

What's next: The next debate that will feature a tech company as a co-host will be on Feb. 25, when CBS News co-hosts the 10th Democratic debate with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and in partnership with Twitter in Charleston, South Carolina.

Go deeper: Tech's on-again, off-again role in campaign debates

Go deeper

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

6 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.