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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai earlier this year. Photo: Robin Groulx/Axios

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doubling down on his critique of tech companies, asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" in remarks at the Media Institute on Wednesday. "Now, I will tell you upfront that I don't have an answer."

The bigger picture: Pai is taking on Silicon Valley giants as he tries to repeal net neutrality rules. Yesterday, Pai said web platforms are more of a threat to free speech than the internet service providers. Today he's arguing they are responsible for polarizing Americans politically and alienating them personally.

What he said: Pai made the case that social media has been key to the politicization of many aspects of American life. "Everything nowadays is political. Everything. … This view that politics-is-all is often made worse by social media," he said, per his prepared remarks.

And he argued it's caused people to lose their roots in the real world. "In a way, one could say that 'social media' is perhaps the most inapt phrase ever coined," he said. "It allows us to stay in touch while keeping a distance. It has sped the breakdown in human interaction."

Go deeper: Our reporting on Pai's comments on Tuesday, and Silicon Valley's response.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.