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Facebook has been under intense pressure since the Cambridge Analytica story broke. Photo: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook said it is looking at expanding its political ad transparency regime to include ads about political issues, not just those that outright name candidates. But executives wouldn't say when they plan to make that change.

Why it matters: Many of the Russian ads used on Facebook in the 2016 election were about divisive issues, not specific candidates. And the midterms are in just over seven months.

The details:

  • The company is expected to roll out changes later this year that allow users to see how much is being spent on election ads for named candidates, and require more information from the people buying those ads before they run.
  • That doesn't include ads that are devoted to an issue, rather than a candidate. "We’re obviously thinking through issue ads as the next step, but we’re starting with U.S. federal election ads," said Rob Leathern, the company's director of product management for ads, during a call with reporters on Thursday.
  • Leathern said later that the company hope to share more information in the "near future" but would not say any more precisely when the company expects to announce new changes related to issue-based advertising.

Meanwhile, political and advocacy ad buyers think disclosure improvements are good, but the delay on issue ads so close to the election is worrisome. 

  • Ad buyers "should be prepared for delay and more scrutiny," over Facebook's efforts, says veteran ad buyer Chris Nolan, CEO of Spot-On Political Ads and Analytics. 
  • "What they're saying is we’ll get back to you, and in Silicon Valley, 'We’ll get back to you' often means no," she said.

The company officials also talked broadly about how findings from the 2016 election will inform their election protection efforts moving forward. 

  • They said the 2016 election showed Facebook and intelligence groups that new kinds of everyday bad actors, not necessarily sophisticated hackers, can be major security threats. Those types of groups were previously not monitored as closely, they said.
  • They also noted that a significant portion of bad actors creating fake news to sway political sentiment or action are driven by financial motives. The company has been removing advertising rights to those that use manipulative techniques, like misleading headlines or fake videos, to remove such financial incentives. 

Go deeper

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.