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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images for Cannes Lions

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spent Thursday in Atlanta as part of a town hall Facebook held with a number of civil rights groups. Nearly 100 people took part in the 5-hour meeting, which comes ahead of a civil rights audit due before the end of the year.

Why it matters: Facebook has come under fire for a number of actions and policies, including providing a forum for white supremacy and allowing targeted advertising that facilitates discrimination.

What they're saying:

  • Jessica González, co-founder, Change the Terms and VP of Strategy, Free Press: "Only when tech leaders are taken out of their Silicon-Valley bubble to meet with people directly impacted by online hate, can platforms truly begin to understand the public safety crisis that their piecemeal approach to content moderation has on diverse communities. People in our communities are dying at the hands of white supremacy — the stakes are that high."
  • Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson: "No single forum can alter the massive, systemic challenges at Facebook, but Sheryl's commitment to listen and engage on these issues is the first step toward a necessary cultural shift at Facebook."
  • Heidi Beirich, co-founder, Change the Terms and intelligence project director, Southern Poverty Law Center: "Facebook continues to serve as a powerful tool that is used by extremists to spread their hateful messages into the mainstream. While it has taken steps to implement content moderation policies in an attempt to reduce the amount of toxic bigotry on its platform, it has mostly been lip service."
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (per AP): "We know better than most companies that we have a lot to do in terms of strong actions to restore confidence."

Go deeper: Facebook adds 2 new fact-checking partners

Go deeper

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

58 mins ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

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