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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is looking externally for a new U.S. policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican who now holds the job, to a different position, per a memo seen by Axios.

Between the lines: Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.

What's happening: Kevin Martin, Facebook's head of U.S. public policy and a former FCC chairman, will now lead the firm's global economic policy team, Joel Kaplan, Facebook's Republican global head of public policy, told company employees in a note today.

  • "For economic policy, the areas of strategic investment in 2021 will be in competition — where we need to continue to build a comprehensive global policy strategy — as well as in IP/media, commerce and financial services," Kaplan wrote.
  • Kaplan's announcement was first flagged by Politico Playbook.

Context: Facebook’s Republican policy staffers have brought the company controversy on multiple occasions, including around Kaplan's support for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the company's hiring of an opposition research firm amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that Politico Playbook, not the Washington Post's Lizza Dwoskin, was first to report the news.

Go deeper

App rush: Talent over trash

Data: Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Amid the sea of pollution on social media, another class of apps is soaring in popularity: The creators are paid, putting a premium on talent instead of just noise.

The big picture: Creator-economy platforms like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans are built around content makers who are paid. It's a contrast to platforms like Facebook that are mostly powered by everyday users’ unpaid posts and interactions.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook developing a tool to help advertisers avoid bad news

Photo Illustration: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook on Friday said it's testing new advertiser "topic exclusion controls" to help address concerns marketers may have that their ads are appearing next to topics in Facebook's News Feed that they consider bad for their brand.  

Why it matters: As Axios has previously noted, the chaotic nature of the modern news cycle and digital advertising landscape has made it nearly impossible for brands to run ads against quality content in an automated fashion without encountering bad content.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech is outsourcing its hardest content moderation decisions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Faced with the increasingly daunting task of consistent content moderation at scale, Big Tech companies are tossing their hardest decisions to outsiders, hoping to deflect some of the pressure they face for how they govern their platforms.

Why it matters: Every policy change, enforcement action or lack thereof prompts accusations that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are making politically motivated decisions to either be too lax or too harsh. Ceding responsibility to others outside the company may be the future of content moderation if it works.

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