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Penguin Random House

Tech writer Steven Levy's new book, "Facebook: The Inside Story," goes on sale on Tuesday. He told Axios his reporting for the 583-page tome, which he started working on in 2015, took a dramatic turn after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and revelations following the 2016 election.

Why it matters: Since Levy already had a seat inside the company when its broader problems arose, he was on the frontlines as Facebook scrambled to address an onslaught of challenges posed by policymakers in Washington and elsewhere.

What he's saying: "Just as Facebook didn’t think it was going to be spending as much energy on policy, neither did I," Levy said in a phone interview Monday.

Background: Levy said he originally thought his reporting would center largely on Facebook's controversial Internet.org effort in India. The project offered subsidized access to the mobile internet, but critics said it undermined principles of net neutrality.

Flashback: The book focuses in part on some of the very past actions that are now inviting scrutiny from antitrust enforcers. Those include Facebook efforts to respond to perceived competitive threats by, for instance, acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.

Between the lines: In the book, Levy also delves into Facebook's efforts to crack into the smartphone business.

  • Facebook initially had a project to build a mobile OS to rival Google and Apple, but later scrapped that in favor of a customized version of Android that put Facebook's apps front and center. 
  • It worked with HTC on what was supposed to be the first of many "Facebook Home" phones, but that flopped so badly that no successors emerged.

The big picture: Levy isn't the only one with a Facebook book in the works. The New York Times' Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel are focusing on the company's reaction to its many recent scandals, while Bloomberg's Sarah Frier has another book, "No Filter," that focuses on Facebook-owned Instagram.

What's next: Levy said there's plenty left to tell of the Facebook story. "We still don’t know the outcome of Libra or, more to the point, where Facebook's secure private groups initiative is going," he said. "I wasn’t going to hang around for 10 years to find out if VR is the future of platforms."

Go deeper: Facebook's plan to keep growing bigger

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
50 mins ago - Economy & Business

How the tech stock selloff is hurting average Americans

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors holding the ultra-popular Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 index funds have been hard hit over the last two weeks as tech shares have been roiled by rising U.S. Treasury yields.

Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

1 hour ago - World

UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

3 hours ago - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.