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Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a slew of blog posts Monday morning, the tech giant addresses ways it thinks its technologies have both hurt and helped democracy around the world. In the end, Facebook Civic Engagement Product Manager Samidh Chakrabarti says he can't guarantee that "positives are destined to outweigh the negatives" but that the company has a "moral duty" to understand how its technology is affecting democracy, for better or worse. 

Why it matters: The posts show a continued effort on Facebook's end to be more transparent about the ways its platform has steered away from its original mission of promoting openness and democracy. 

  • Our thought bubble: There's a reason other tech companies, some much larger than Facebook, are quieter about addressing these types of questions: Doing so forces tech companies to confront wider societal issues about the negative affects of technology, which arguably, no one really has the answers to. 
  • The most telling line from the series of posts explains why Facebook so staunchly believes it should remain an open technology platform rather than a media company. Chakrabarti says he’s hopeful that ”a more connected world can be a more democratic one,” meaning Facebook sees its open platform as a net win for democracy, despite issues of misinformation and platform abuse. 

The blog post follows comments top policy executive Elliot Schrage made in Germany yesterday where he acknowledged that Facebook had over-invested in new features and not spent enough time making sure the existing ones couldn’t be abused. 

Facebook also included a post from Harvard professor Case Sunstein analyzing the ways social media can be both good and bad for democracy. One important point he makes is that “serendipity” in information discovery is a good thing. “Unplanned, unanticipated encounters are central to democracy itself,” he writes. 

Facebook announced in December that it’s going to start exposing users to more “Related Articles” that show a wider range of perspectives about particular issues. Still, Related Articles don’t account for judgement bias in the types of people and Pages users chose to connect with that surface certain views or content in the first place. 

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

2 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.