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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook said Thursday that it took down roughly 900,000 posts related to attempted drug sales or otherwise linked to drugs in the first quarter of 2019.

Why it matters: Some critics of Facebook and other social platforms say they haven't done enough to combat the opioid trade fueling a nationwide epidemic.

By the numbers: Facebook also said it removed around 603,000 posts in the last quarter of 2018 for violating its policies around content linked to drugs.

  • 83.3% of the posts in question were removed without being reported by a user — a relevant number as Facebook looks to prove its artificial intelligence-powered systems can help tame its sprawling platform.
  • This is the first time Facebook has released hard numbers on how many posts it removes because of violations of its policies for content linked to drug sales.
  • The data, which will be part of a report released later Thursday, does not include Instagram and WhatsApp.

The big picture: Lawmakers have put pressure on Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies because they say the firms haven't done enough to curb opioid sales.

  • The social giant rolled out a partnership this week with anti-addiction groups that focuses on combating the stigma around talking about opioid abuse.
  • A Capitol Hill event launching the program was attended by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has been a persistent critic of the company.

What they're saying: Manchin said after the event that he appreciated Facebook's efforts.

  • But he added that if the companies didn't continue to make changes to address the opioid crisis, he was still prepared to push for policy changes that could open up the platforms to legal liability for opioid-related content.

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Science

Blizzard likely to hit New England this weekend as "bomb cyclone" forms

Computer model projection of the precipitation and wind field from the weekend storm in the Northeast. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A powerful blizzard is likely to strike parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic beginning Friday and lasting into the weekend, with snow totals that are likely to be measured in feet.

The big picture: The joining of weather systems embedded in both the polar, or northern branch, of the jet stream and the southern branch is projected to create a bomb cyclone. Such storms undergo a process known as bombogenesis, with their minimum central air pressure readings plunging at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

Schumer vows to confirm Breyer replacement "with all deliberate speed"

Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded Wednesday to reports that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, commending his time on the bench and promising to confirm President Biden's nominated replacement "with all deliberate speed."

Why it matters: The opportunity to appoint a new Supreme Court justice will be one of the longest-lasting pieces of Biden's legacy and could energize Democrats ahead of the midterms.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israel's "top priority" mission to discredit UN probe

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the UN. Photo: John Minchillo/Pool via Getty

Israel is planning a campaign to discredit a UN commission formed to investigate the violence in Gaza last May and the root causes of the protracted conflict in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry cable seen by Axios.

Why it matters: Israeli officials say they are highly concerned that the commission’s report will refer to Israel as an "Apartheid state" and that its findings could damage Israel's reputation, particularly among progressives in the West. The report is expected in June.

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