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!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

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

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: Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

Facebook, its investors, and its critics wrestled Wednesday with how to assess the prospect of a $3 billion to $5 billion government fine for the social media giant.

The big picture: On the one hand, that would be a record fine for the FTC, and it's certainly nothing to sneeze at. At the same time, it's likely just a flesh wound to a company that brings in roughly that much revenue every month — and a monetary fine alone provides no guarantee that the company's behavior will change.

Driving the news: In its quarterly earnings filing, the company announced that it has set aside $3 billion to cover its lability before the Federal Trade Commission for a variety of issues, most prominently the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

  • Earlier this year the Washington Post reported the FTC and Facebook were negotiating a “multibillion dollar settlement” to these matters. Facebook’s announcement confirms that reporting and suggests a settlement is near.

Why it matters: A settlement with a fine this size would represent a giant win for an agency that had never imposed a penalty on a tech firm more than around $20 million. But critics say that unless a ruling or deal also includes meaningful changes to Facebook’s practices, it won’t make much difference for a corporation that’s bringing in $55 billion in annual revenue and sitting on a $45 billion cash pile.

Between the lines: The amount is a kind of Goldilocks median for the two parties — big enough for the FTC to claim a record victory, small enough for Facebook to take a brief earnings hit and then keep on minting money.

But, but, but: Investors did not seem rattled, cheering Facebook's revenue and user growth numbers with a 7% gain in after-hours trading.

A few thought bubbles from the Axios tech team:

  • From Axios’ David McCabe: Companies sometimes announce accounting reserves like this for lawsuits, but it’s very rare for a company to publicly preview a federal enforcement penalty. Facebook may have chosen this course to show it's willing to pay a serious price for its infractions.
  • From Sara Fischer: Scandals not withstanding, the company’s advertising business remains healthy. It is big brands that might be most concerned about a reputational risk if Facebook's image tanks, but Facebook's bread and butter is small- and medium-sized advertisers who rely on Facebook as their only efficient option. To that end, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said on Wednesday’s earnings call that Facebook's top 100 advertisers make up less than 20% of revenue.
  • From Ina Fried: Google and Microsoft both absorbed large fines from European authorities with little difficulty. The real impact is when regulators slow a tech company, either through forcing business changes or causing a company to be more cautious with its future bets.

The bottom line: Thanks to Facebook's unusual disclosure (we can't ever remember a company accounting for a regulatory fine that hadn't even been proposed), we know the size of the fine the company could face. But the real question — and potentially the bigger cost to Facebook — is whether regulators impose any new conditions on the company.

Go deeper

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 6 wounded

Screengrab: CBSN

Three people dead and six others are wounded after a shooting at a high school in Michigan according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

Driving the news: The alleged shooter was a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High School and has been arrested, per police.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Crypto meets the real world

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The two largest countries in the world seem intent on effectively banning their citizens from participating in crypto, which poses a serious threat to the crypto agenda.

Why it matters: The crypto world is global — but the real world is fragmented into nation-states, each of which claims control of what happens within its borders.