Mark Zuckerberg gives the commencement address at Harvard. Photo: Steven Senne / AP

The Washington Post's Matea Gold and Elizabeth Dwoskin illustrate how Facebook's place in the federal government's Russia probe has shined a light on the secretive nature behind political advertising on the platform.

What's next: "Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark R. Warner (Va.) plan to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that would require sites with more than 1 million users to maintain a public file containing a copy of political ads and information about who they are aimed at."

Why it matters: "The situation has the potential to affect a key profit center for Facebook. The same proprietary technology that has made Facebook the go-to advertising platform for political campaigns also enabled Russian operatives to target U.S. voters with inflammatory ads."

Data point: "By Election Day, Trump's campaign had spent roughly $70 million on Facebook ... nearly all in the last four months of the election."

Be smart:

  • You'll see talk online about Facebook "embeds" to the Trump campaign, based on a "60 Minutes" interview with Trump digital director Brad Parscale. The Facebook employees, who had been screened as Republicans, showed up several times a week at Parscale's office in San Antonio.
  • "60 Minutes," acting shocked, did a poor job of explaining that these are basically salespeople — provided by the platforms to encourage ad buying.
  • The same system was used in the 2012 campaign.

Go deeper

Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events
  6. World: Restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

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