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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg leaves a Senate office on Monday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar sent letters Monday to the CEOs of Google parent Alphabet and Twitter urging them to follow Facebook in endorsing their bill to increase disclosure requirements for online political ads.

Why it matters: Beyond Facebook's privacy firestorm, Google and Twitter are getting pulled into other debates surrounding how social media platforms are used during elections. Facebook endorsed the Honest Ads Act last week in a move that armed CEO Mark Zuckerberg with ammunition for his hearing appearances this week and put pressure on its rivals to follow suit.

What they’re saying:

  • The senators said in letters to the chief executives of Alphabet and Twitter, Larry Page and Jack Dorsey, that they “encourage you to follow Facebook’s lead and endorse the Honest Ads Act.”
  • They also encouraged the companies to take further voluntary steps to be transparent about political ad spending on their platforms.

Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai had initially been called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee along with Zuckerberg until the panel arranged a joint session with the Senate Commerce Committee featuring the Facebook chief alone.

  • But Sen. Bill Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee, said executives from Twitter and Google should have to testify. “Absolutely, because it’s not just Facebook,” he told reporters after meeting with Zuckerberg Monday. “He happens to be the point of the spear, but all of these other app sites that get your personal data, that’s another way of us losing our privacy.”

The bottom line: Most criticisms of Facebook's overall business model — which harvests user data for ad targeting — could be applied to Google and Twitter, too. They won't be spared from having to answer similar questions.

Go deeper

Democrats drubbing Trumpless GOP on social media

Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In a swift reversal from 90 days ago, Democrats are now the ones with overpowering social media muscle and the ability to drive news.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump’s digital exile and the reversal of national power has turned the tables on which party can keep a stranglehold on online conversation.

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to announce details of a plan to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
50 mins ago - Health

New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

New research is bolstering the case for delaying second doses of coronavirus vaccines.

Why it matters: Most vulnerable Americans remain unvaccinated heading into March, when experts predict the more infectious virus variant first found in the U.K. could become dominant in the U.S.