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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New reports shows ways that fake news is hiding in plain sight in America, and how it's getting harder to track in real time.

Driving the news: An investigation by fact-checking company Snopes finds that a series of seemingly innocuous local websites, first reported last year by Politico, are being run by GOP consultants whose businesses are funded in part by candidates the websites cover.

  • Another explosive story from The New Yorker shows just how cozy the White House's relationship has become with Fox News. The report notes that former Fox figure Kimberly Guilfoyle relied on information provided to her by a random, far-right viewer with no journalism experience from Georgia.

The big picture: It's been difficult to draw a line between political activism and journalism in the digital era, in part because activists have gotten so good at using technology and their platforms to blur the lines.

Our thought bubble: While Congress has invested countless hours grilling tech companies about foreign meddling, far less attention has been paid to these types of misinformation efforts.

Go deeper

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."