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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Facebook issued a civil rights report on Sunday, touting its recent progress and pledging to remain vigilant on efforts to manipulate either the 2020 election or census.

Details: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post announcing the report the social media giant is introducing a new policy in the fall that protects against misinformation related to the census. "We'll also partner with non-partisan groups to help promote proactive participation in the census," she said.

"To protect elections, we have a team ... already working to ban ads that discourage people from voting, and we expect to finalize a new policy and its enforcement before the 2019 gubernatorial elections. This is a direct response to the types of ads we saw on Facebook in 2016. It builds on the work we’ve done over the past year to prevent voter suppression and stay ahead of people trying to misuse our products."
— Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Why it matters: Facebook embarked on the audit to address allegations that it censors conservative voices and discriminates against minority groups. Facebook hopes the independent audit and formal advising partnership will show it takes these issues seriously. Meanwhile, the election and census-protection efforts are extensions of existing work in that area.

What they're saying: The Change the Terms coalition, made up of 40 nonprofit, civil rights, human rights and other organizations that have previously criticized Facebook on civil rights issues, published a blog post in response to Facebook's audit findings with comments from member groups.

  • Some said the report shows the company is being responsive and making progress, but other groups said more work is needed, pointing to its response to the Facebook live stream of the fatal New Zealand mosque shootings as an example of how it can be slow to act.

Go deeper: Facebook commits to civil rights audit, political bias review

Go deeper

Fed: Rate hikes "will soon be appropriate"

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Federal Reserve officials expect "it will soon be appropriate" to raise the central bank's main target interest rate, setting the stage for a rate hike at its next meeting in mid-March.

Driving the news: In a statement following a two-day meeting published Wednesday afternoon, however, the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee teed up its next move without taking new action.

How long it’s taken to confirm Supreme Court justices

Expand chart
Data: Axios research, U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court Historical Society; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

It takes a U.S. president an average of 70 days from the date a Supreme Court seat is vacated to nominate a replacement, according to data from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Why it matters: With news outlets reporting liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire, Democrats will be looking to confirm President Biden's nominee with enough time to refocus the national political debate ahead of the midterms.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Blizzard likely to hit New England this weekend as "bomb cyclone" forms

Computer model projection of the precipitation and wind field from the weekend storm in the Northeast. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A powerful blizzard is likely to strike parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic beginning Friday and lasting into the weekend, with snow totals that are likely to be measured in feet.

The big picture: The joining of weather systems embedded in both the polar, or northern branch, of the jet stream and the southern branch is projected to create a bomb cyclone. Such storms undergo a process known as bombogenesis, with their minimum central air pressure readings plunging at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

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