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!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

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!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

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

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

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

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

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

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

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

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Facebook's leaders know they have to demonstrate accountability to the world, but they're determined to do so on their own terms and timetable.

Why it matters: Since the 2018 Cambridge Analytica affair, Facebook has moved to provide more transparency and oversight, but its programs are limited, selective and slow, leaving journalists and scholars as the de facto whistleblowers for problems on its platform.

Driving the news: Last week Facebook shut down the accounts of New York University researchers whose tools for studying political advertising on the social network, the company said, violated its rules.

Details: NYU's Ad Observatory offers users a browser extension that supplies researchers with data on the circulation and targeting of political ads on Facebook — information that can be more timely and complete than what Facebook itself provides through its public library of political ads.

  • Facebook says the observatory's tools are "scraping" data, breaking its privacy rules and violating terms of the company's privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. (The FTC has disputed that last point.)
  • Mozilla, the nonprofit behind the Firefox browser, released a statement saying that Facebook's objections to the Observatory's extension "simply do not hold water."

The big picture: Facebook has become a sort of global public square that's owned and operated by a private company whose decisions can shape political conflicts, cultural controversies and public-health outcomes.

  • Facebook itself remains the only entity with comprehensive, real-time insight into the flow of information and money on its platform.
  • It has tried to offer more transparency than most of its competitors through projects like its ad library.
  • Yet many of its efforts at accountability — from its reports on content takedowns to its creation of the independent Oversight Board to review content moderation decisions — are slow and retroactive in nature.

As a result, the typical pattern for airing and solving problems on Facebook today is:

  1. A journalist writes an article or a researcher publishes a report documenting something on Facebook that should not be happening.
  2. Facebook takes some action in response.
  3. Everyone wonders how much else is happening on Facebook that shouldn't be happening, since Facebook is so vastly larger than any arm of the press or the academy can possibly monitor.

Our thought bubble: When Facebook locks out any agent of accountability, given their scarcity, it leaves the impression it's more focused on limiting PR damage than actually stopping misinformation and manipulation of its platform. It's another manifestation of "see no evil" as a corporate reflex.

Between the lines: Laura Edelson, one of the NYU researchers, told The Markup's Julia Angwin she was flummoxed that Facebook shut down the researchers' personal accounts.

  • "If Facebook honestly thought that our browser extension compromised user privacy in any way, they would have taken action to stop our browser extension. They would have sued us. They would have taken technological measures. They would have tried to get our extension kicked out of the Chrome and Firefox store," Edelson said.

What's next: Democratic senators Amy Klobuchar, Mark Warner and Chris Coons sent Facebook a letter Monday grilling the company on its decision to ban the Ad Observatory scholars.

Go deeper

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.

Oct 25, 2021 - Technology

Facebook beats earnings, but misses on revenue

Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook's stock jumped marginally in after-hours trading Monday after the company beat Wall Street expectations on earnings per share but missed estimates on revenue.

Between the lines: Facebook warned investors last month that changes to Apple’s privacy rules would weigh on its business, and that warning helped the company dodge a big stock slide today.

Oct 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Facebook stories fill newsfeeds

Photo: John Minchillo/Associated Press

A gusher of Facebook stories hit the web Friday night and will cascade into next week, as a consortium of at least 17 news organizations unfurl a series branded "The Facebook Papers," based on documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Driving the news: The consortium's plan was for the stories to begin Monday. But one outlet after another jumped the gun last evening.