Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) talk with Frances Haugen before hearing. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told lawmakers Tuesday she believes the social media giant won't change its ways unless Congress makes it.

Why it matters: Haugen is finding a receptive audience among senators who have pledged to pass laws on online privacy, altering online liability shields and increasing algorithmic transparency.

Driving the news: The former product manager told the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee that Facebook has focused on scale over safety to the point that it can't retain employees.

  • "Facebook is stuck in a cycle where it struggles to hire, that causes it to understaff projects, which causes scandals, which then makes it harder to hire," Haugen told lawmakers.
  • The company knows its algorithms can lead teens to pro-anorexia content and boost extreme content more likely to elicit a reaction from users, Haugen said.

Haugen called for:

  • greater transparency into how Facebook operates;
  • the establishment of an effective oversight agency;
  • and interventions by the company to reduce the spread of misinformation, including requiring users to clink on a link before re-sharing it.

"Facebook can change, but it's clearly not going to do so on its own," Haugen said. "My fear is that without action, divisive and extremist behaviors we see today are only the beginning."

The other side: Following the hearing, Facebook questioned Haugen's experience, noting she worked for the company less than two years, "had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives — and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question."

  • "We don’t agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about," Lena Pietsch, director of policy communications, said in the statement.
  • "Despite all this, we agree on one thing: it’s time to begin to create standard rules for the internet. It’s been 25 years since the rules for the internet have been updated, and instead of expecting the industry to make societal decisions that belong to legislators, it is time for Congress to act.”

What they're saying: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who leads the subcommittee, called for the Securities & Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Haugen's revelations.

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers, who have been stalled on tech legislation, promised action.
  • "There was such bipartisan support today in the committee, I think it augurs well for actually getting across the finish line," Blumenthal told reporters during a press conference following the hearing. "(Haugen) has been a critical catalyst in this effort."

What's next: Blumenthal said he wants CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the committee.

  • "There are a lot of questions for Mark Zuckerberg, like why he rejected all of these seemingly worthwhile recommendations in the reports and research," Blumenthal said. "There are a lot of questions — new questions and old questions that have stronger relevance now and urgency that we would want to ask him."

Editors note: This story has been updated with a comment from Facebook and additional comments from Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Go deeper

Congress vs. "the algorithm"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The outcry over Congress' latest proposal to regulate tech companies' algorithms shows how difficult it is for lawmakers and platforms alike to deal with online content moderation.

Why it matters: The new bill is backed by the leadership of a powerful committee with jurisdiction over the issue, giving it more momentum than some previous legislative attempts to revamp online platforms' legal protections.

Senate joins Big Tech antitrust fray

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) unveiled a bill Thursday banning companies like Amazon and Google from favoring their own services.

Why it matters: The Senate legislation, which is similar to a bipartisan House bill, shows Republicans and Democrats in both chambers are eager to pass new regulations on the country's biggest technology companies.

Colin Powell dies from COVID complications at 84

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19, his family announced Monday. He was 84.

Driving the news: The Powell family said in a statement that he was fully vaccinated. "We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment."