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 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!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller, quietly supplying Russian-placed material that was cited in Friday's blockbuster indictment.

  • A Facebook source tells me: "[T]he level of detail in the indictment wouldn’t have been possible without the close cooperation of Facebook, particularly the details about the communication between IRA [Russians' Internet Research Agency] pages and unwitting Trump campaign staffers and volunteers about rallies in Florida.”

But Mueller's revelations have made Facebook an even bigger target:

  • Gizmodo Media Group CEO Raju Narisetti, an online favorite of media types, tweeted that Facebook and its photo-sharing service Instagram are "Unindicted, Facilitating and Abetting Co-Conspirators."
  • A front-page N.Y. Times story today ("To Create Rifts, Russians Liked Facebook Most") points out that in Mueller's indictment, "Facebook and Instagram were mentioned 41 times ... Twitter was referred to nine times, YouTube once and the electronic payments company PayPal 11 times."
  • Facebook V.P. of ads Rob Goldman went rogue on Twitter andclaimed (but later walked back): "I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal."
  • Goldman also tweeted: "The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump [sic] and the election."
  • President Trump applauded: "The Fake News Media never fails. Hard to ignore this fact from the Vice President of Facebook Ads, Rob Goldman!"

Facebook executives privately express frustration about the scrutiny: They know media companies have incentive to whack them.

  • Facebook has felt unfairly singled out. But now its subsidiary Instagram is being pulled in, too.
  • A Facebook official told me: "What we can do is work overtime to address the issues with our platform. And we’re doing it. You saw it’s what Mark’s 2018 resolution is — fix what’s broken."

What’s next: This isn’t an ephemeral story.

  • Facebook has too many forces incentivized to intensify scrutiny: media companies, who feel duped by its takeover of the ad market and readers’ time; liberal activists, who blame it for Trump winning; Mueller, who knows it played a role in Trump’s election; and politicians, who will respond to the aforementioned trends. 

Hard truth: You are to blame, too. One of the Russians named in Mueller's indictment emailed a family member: "I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

  • We live in era of blaming others. But the Mueller indictment makes it clear that many 2016 voters didn't pay attention to what they read, shared or reacted to. So they were easy prey. Still are. Nothing has really changed. 
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
8 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.