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Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Instagram is considering going into e-commerce, The Verge reports, which — if it does — could be the biggest new thing in U.S. online retail.

Why it matters: Instagram ads are advantaged by something Amazon and other retailers don't have — data on what people think is cool.

Instagram declined to comment on the news. But its app would let users browse and buy products from merchants they follow without leaving the platform.

I asked 50 colleagues — almost all in their 20s and 30s and living in cities — if they've ever bought something after seeing an ad on Instagram. Over half — 26 of them — said "yes."

  • They have bought scented candles, clothes, jewelry, makeup, sneakers and watches.
  • Several who said "no'" told me that, even though they did not buy anything right away, they sometimes purchased something later.
  • One colleague said he goes to Amazon for laundry detergent and other basics. But the targeted ads he gets on Instagram — for skate shoes and surfing products — are based off of the accounts he follows.

The bigger picture: Social commerce is the next big e-commerce disrupter, says Axios' Sara Fischer.

  • Alibaba, China'e e-commerce titan, is already incorporating social experiences to its Taobao platform, offering the chance to message and video chat with merchants and other consumers.
  • Amazon has launched Spark, a social media app.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”