Nov 15, 2017

Facebook grows its lobbying army as it faces Russia probes

Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Facebook hired the former top aide to a lawmaker investigating how Russians may have used its platform to subvert the 2016 election to lobby on its behalf last month, according to a disclosure posted last Friday.

Why it matters: Facebook is bolstering its forces in Washington amid unprecedented investigations into the power of its platform and a new bill that would create new disclosure requirements for online political ads.

The details:

  • Facebook hired Luke Albee to lobby on, among other issues, "election integrity," per the form. Albee served as chief of staff to Sen. Mark Warner, now the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and an outspoken critic of Facebook's role in the 2016 election, from 2008 until 2015. The form says he was brought on just days before Warner grilled Facebook's top lawyer at his panel's hearing on the Russia issue. Warner is also a primary sponsor of the online ad disclosure bill.
  • It has also hired David Wade, a former top staffer for John Kerry, to work on a "congressional investigation," according to another disclosure posted on Friday. Axios first reported the company was working with Wade's firm in early October. Facebook declined to comment on both registrations.

Go deeper: Twitter also recently hired a lobbying firm to work on issues "related [to Russia's] use of social media platforms regarding the 2016 election."

Go deeper

Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.