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Photo: Chuck Kennedy / Axios

Some of Facebook's early champions are now its sharpest critics, says AP Tech Writer Barbara Ortutay.

Why it matters: This rough year for the tech industry opened with concerns about fake news and "filter bubbles," segued into pressure on Facebook and Twitter to clamp down on trolling and online harassment, and ended with congressional hearings into Russian use of the platforms to meddle in the election.

Some of those speaking out:

  • Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook vice president who joined the company in 2007, said at a Stanford Graduate School of Business talk last month that the company is "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works."
  • Sean Parker, the company's first president, told me at an Axios event in Philly last month that Facebook exploits a "vulnerability in human psychology" to addict users.
  • Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook and Google, wrote in The Guardian that the platforms use "persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry."

Facebook said in a statement: "We've done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the effects of our service on well-being, and we're using it to inform our product development. ... We are willing to reduce our profitability to make sure the right investments are made."

  • Not all early investors are critical. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman acknowledged in an interview concerns around how social media systems are causing what he called "lightly addictive behavior." But, he added, "that's also been true of television, that's also been true of sugar."

Go deeper

New report hits DOJ over lack of police shooting data

Demonstrations followed the shooting of Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies in 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A new government accountability report says the Department of Justice failed to consistently publish an annual summary of police excessive force data from 2016 to 2020, as required by federal law.

Why it matters: The data is crucial for the DOJ to monitor excessive force cases, and used to investigate law enforcement agencies with patterns of abuse. The DOJ can pivot off it to pursue court action to force reforms.

18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House will vote Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.