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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Noah Berger / AP

When Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that he would turn over to Congress some 3,000 ads bought by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, and impose new rules for political ads, it was part of a campaign. But it's not some future "Zuck for president" campaign, a notion stoked by moves like the hiring of former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe as president of policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Facebook founder and CEO's philanthropy.

Zuckerberg's candidate is Facebook, and its political base is in serious jeopardy:

  • 2017 is its election cycle, and Facebook is on the defensive as it tries to navigate a backlash against its unregulated platform, the most powerful web of connectivity and personal data the world has known.
  • Zuckerberg's national tour of real America started just after the Russians used Facebook to try to tip our presidential election.
  • The company launched micro-targeted campaigns to win over the media, with greater promises of monetization and collaboration.
  • Now, both parties are talking about greater scrutiny and regulation of Facebook. At the same time, lawmakers are demanding more transparency about what it knew and how much it made of Russia's fake news factories.
  • In the most specific Hill move so far, Democrats Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Warner (Va.) yesterday circulated a "Dear Colleague letter," obtained by Axios, seeking co-sponsors for legislation that "would formalize, and expand, the transparency commitments Facebook has made."

Be smart: Although yesterday's concessions reflect the seriousness with which Facebook takes its D.C. problems (Zuckerberg made the announcement on his first day back from a month of paternity leave), Republicans tell me the company doesn't yet fully realize now "rabidly upset" many conservatives are.

  • Conservatives in Washington and around the country, famous for pushing back on government, plan to be increasingly vocal in arguing that self-regulation isn't working with the tech giants.

Go deeper: Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, in his leadership principles, "The Axios Way": "Think of your brand as a political candidate. You need to be hyper-aware of how you're seen by your core constituencies (employees and customers) and by the broader public."

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Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

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