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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Investigative reporting from news outlets over the past 2 weeks has led to some swift changes from some of the biggest tech companies.

Why it matters: Despite an onslaught of hearings and statements from Washington, virtually no regulation has actually passed in the past couple of years to significantly address the potentially harmful practices of tech companies. Media reports have driven most of the changes to date, especially around privacy.

What's happening:

  • Facebook says it’s working on an improved compliance and audit process for the third-party contractors that moderate content on its platform, following a brutal exposé Monday by The Verge's Casey Newton on workplace conditions at a facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Popular health and fitness apps have stopped sharing data with Facebook after a Wall Street Journal report last week detailed how many do so without users knowing.
  • Facebook will shut down its controversial Onavo VPN app in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook research app that sucked up data about teens.

Yes, but: Changes without the weight of law can be temporary, or promised but not delivered, Axios' Ina Fried points out. Remember that "clear history" feature Facebook promised? We're still waiting for it to arrive.

  • Plus, these actions come as regulators begin meeting on Capitol Hill enter a series of hearings this week. But, as Axios' David McCabe notes, "The privacy debate in Congress has seen a lot of press attention and not much movement."

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Nursing homes are still getting pummeledU.S. could hit herd immunity by end of summer 2021 if Americans embrace virus vaccines, Fauci says.
  2. Politics: Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework.
  3. World: U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for mass rollout — Putin says Russia will begin large-scale vaccination next week.
  4. Business: Investors are finally starting to take their money out of safe-haven Treasuries.
  5. Sports: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight.

Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief framework as a basis for jumpstarting negotiations.

Why it matters: The framework, introduced by a group of bipartisan senators on Tuesday, calls for significantly less funding than Pelosi had previously demanded — a sign that Democrats are ready to further compromise as millions of Americans endure economic hardship.

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