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Photo illustration: Manish Rajput/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook will enlist academics to study whether and how its platforms end up influencing the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the company announced Monday.

Between the lines: Facebook is trying to show it's being mindful of its potential to amplify election-related misinformation. In 2016, CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously said it was a "pretty crazy idea" that Facebook had any influence over that election, which was quickly proven wrong.

Details: A group of 17 outside academics will work with Facebook on experiments in which users will see tweaked News Feeds and ad experiences.

  • Those participants will then be surveyed on their experiences and asked about their viewpoints. The idea will be to assess whether exposure to different experiences on Facebook and Instagram sways people's views.
  • Facebook plans on publishing results next year. It won't have any veto power over the results.

Context: Foreign-fueled misinformation, along with increasingly volatile political discourse, spread on Facebook before the 2016 presidential election, something Facebook has had to reckon with since, facing Congressional hearings and other scrutiny.

What they're saying: "We need to better understand whether social media... largely reflects the divisions that already exist; if it helps people to become better informed about politics, or less; or if it affects people’s attitudes towards government and democracy, including whether and how they vote," Nick Clegg, Facebook's VP of global affairs and communications and Chaya Nayak, head of Facebook’s open research and transparency team, wrote.

Go deeper

Justice Department sues Facebook over favoring H-1B workers

Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Justice Department is suing Facebook, alleging that the tech giant discriminated against American workers by intentionally reserving more than 2,600 jobs for immigrants on H-1B visas, the department announced Thursday.

Details: The department's two-year investigation found that Facebook gave jobs to visa holders whom the company sponsored for green cards, while failing to properly advertise the open positions or consider U.S.-born workers.

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.