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Photo: BOYI CHEN / Contributor Getty Images

Critics are speaking out against using endorsements such as "likes" and "retweets" to surface content on social media platforms. The criticism comes in light of special counsel Robert Mueller's indictment Friday, which cited Facebook more than any other platform as a tool used for Russian meddling.

Our thought bubble: While Mueller's indictment did not touch on the commercial incentives for bad actors to use some platforms over others, it's becoming obvious that gaming social engagement was a part of the Russian's strategy and will be something Facebook will need to address moving forward.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • YouTube allows users to hide the number of people that like or dislike videos on certain channels.
  • Why it matters: Platforms that surface content recommendations based on affirmations of friends and family instead of personal preference or professional recommendations are now facing the foils of the "likes economy," which more easily lends itself to bot manipulation and nefarious activity.

In a must-read piece on historical examples of platform abuse dating back to The Reformation, Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims details why the architecture of open networks like Facebook lend themselves to vertical hierarchies, thus becoming more vulnerable to abuse.

"Even when networks aren’t architected for this kind of control, they tend to organize themselves in ways that lead to disproportionate influence by a handful of their members."
The Wall Street Journal

Go deeper

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.

Biden to Dems: This is my make-or-break moment

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

China declines to speed emissions cuts in new UN pledge

A view of the skyscrapers in the haze in Shanghai, China, in December 2020. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese leaders are sticking with a prior target to bring the country's carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, according to documents filed with the United Nations Thursday under the Paris climate agreement.

Why it matters: The new documents come just days ahead of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its emissions path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris agreement can remain within reach.