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

6 hours ago - Health

15 states broke single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: Compiled from state health departments by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 15 states broke their single-day novel coronavirus infection records this week, according to state health department data reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Andrew Withershoop and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 11,143,945 — Total deaths: 527,681 — Total recoveries — 6,004,593Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 2,818,588 — Total deaths: 129,584 — Total recoveries: 883,561 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.
7 hours ago - Health

In photos: America celebrates July 4 during global pandemic

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The U.S. has already celebrated Easter, graduations and so much more during the coronavirus pandemic, and now it can add July 4 to the list.

The state of play: Axios' Stef Kight writes public parades and fireworks displays around much of the country are being canceled to prevent mass gatherings where the virus could spread. Hot-dog contests and concerts will play to empty stands and virtual audiences — all while American pride treads an all-time low.