Mar 18, 2019

Facebook struggles to turn the page

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

After a brutal week for Facebook that saw executive departures, a massive outage and the disclosure of a criminal investigation, the weekend offered the company little respite.

The state of play: There were new revelations in the long-running Cambridge Analytica saga, as well as fresh concerns in the wake of the New Zealand shooting over the company's role in fomenting and amplifying extremism.

Why it matters: 10 days ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a massive reorientation of Facebook's priorities in the direction of private encrypted messaging. But rather than change the narrative, the time since that announcement has been filled with a familiar drumbeat of bad news.

The latest:

  • The Guardian reports that Facebook board member Marc Andreessen met with Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie back in the summer of 2016, raising further questions of who knew what and when at Facebook. Andreessen denies any such meeting.
  • Meanwhile, another figure in the scandal, researcher Aleksandr Kogan, sued Facebook for defamation. Kogan maintains he's being made a scapegoat for Facebook's own missteps.
  • Facebook came under intense scrutiny for the role it and other social networks played in spreading video of the Christchurch mosque shooting Friday.
  • The company's announcement that it pre-emptively blocked 1.2 million out of 1.5 million attempts to upload the video highlighted the magnitude of the challenge it faces. But it did little to quell concern that the company seems unable to stop its platform from being used to spread extremist violence.

ICYMI: All this follows what had already been an especially rough week, even for a company that has grown accustomed to negative stories. Last week saw...

The bottom line: Facebook has been through a lot of rough weeks without losing its grip on advertisers, customers and investors, and the latest developments may not change that equation.

  • Zuckerberg's challenge now is to figure out if he can use the ongoing PR nightmares to speed, rather than undermine, the transformation he wants.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,094,068 — Total deaths: 58,773 — Total recoveries: 225,519Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 273,880 — Total deaths: 7,077 — Total recoveries: 9,521Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: Wisconsin's governor called for a last-minute primary election delay. "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said on the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Government will cover uninsured patients' coronavirus treatment

Azar at Friday's briefing. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government will cover the costs of coronavirus treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a White House briefing Friday.

How it works: The money will come from a $100 billion pot set aside for the health care industry in the most recent stimulus bill. Providers will be paid the same rates they get for treating Medicare patients, and as a condition of those payments, they won't be allowed to bill patients for care that isn't covered.

More states issue stay-at-home orders as coronavirus crisis escalates

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order on Friday as the novel coronavirus pandemic persists. The order goes into effect Saturday at 5 p.m. and will remain in place through April 30. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also issued a statewide social distancing order on Friday.

The big picture: In a matter of weeks, the number of states that issued orders nearly quadrupled, affecting almost 300 million Americans.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health