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vm/iStock

Social media is being drawn into the gun debate, and one of the industry's top lobbyists will be grilled by lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday.

Why it matters: The Parkland shooter reportedly made violent references in social media messages before the shooting. Exploring the role of web platforms or video games in gun violence lets Republican policymakers direct the conversation away from new firearm restrictions while tapping into general rising concerns about the effects of tech on society.

The details: Michael Beckerman, who represents Google, Facebook and Snap as head of the trade group Internet Association, will testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on school safety and the Parkland shooting. He’ll appear alongside the parent of a Parkland victim and a Parkland teacher.

What they’re saying:

  • “I just want to know what they’re doing, that maybe they can do, and are doing. Then I’ll have to determine whether or not they’re doing enough,” said Republican Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. “But what are they doing to stop the messages that go out that bring incivility to our society so we can have actions like these massacres that shouldn’t be happening.”
  • Last week, senior committee Republican Lindsey Graham told Axios he had concerns about social platforms and threats of gun violence.
  • California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris, a member of the committee, said that there’s “a lot to be said about what is the capacity and the will of the, especially social media companies, to in some way be aware of the kinds of messaging that goes on through social media that present a clear danger to the community and to others.”

Expect Beckerman to defend the industry’s record on child safety issues. "The tragedy in Parkland had many warning signs, and we welcome the opportunity to highlight the proactive ways our platforms work with law enforcement to prevent tragedies and after they happen,” he said in a statement. Companies like Facebook have taken steps to reduce online gun sales on their platforms in recent years, as well.

  • Accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz reportedly had a history of making disturbing comments on the web. The FBI is said to have investigated a comment left by a YouTube user sharing his name that said, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter.”

The other side: Jordan Stein, communications director of Gun Owners of America, which opposes gun control and advocates for the end of gun-free school zones, told Axios that the FBI’s failure to act on the YouTube comment possibly left by Cruz reveals that “you can’t rely on the government to protect you all the time,” and that we shouldn’t “try to predict who’s going to be the bad guy.”

Yes, but: It’s striking that, of all the industries that could have been invited, Judiciary chose social media. There will not be representatives from the companies that make guns or the retailers that sell them. Nor will the NRA or any gun control groups be testifying. Lawmakers also won't hear from any medical professionals with experience treating mental illness or gunshot wounds.

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A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.

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Why it matters: Hamdok’s release was a result of pressure on Sudan’s military leader General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan from the U.S. and other countries but also from the different political parties in Sudan and massive protests in the streets.

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A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.