Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A Pennsylvania philanthropist and former hedge fund executive named David Magerman was the initial donor behind a high-profile campaign urging regulators to break up Facebook, he confirmed to Axios for the first time on Thursday.

Why it matters: Magerman has given more than $400,000 to the campaign — "Freedom from Facebook" — because he believes Facebook has too much power over how the world communicates. A Republican-oriented consulting firm hired by Facebook had tried to link the campaign to billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Responding to Axios’ questions by email, Magerman said he felt that Facebook had a “huge financial disincentive to protect users’ data.”

  • “By combining social media, news distribution, advertising, commerce, and business and political networking, it forces people to engage in its platform, even if they only want one of its offerings,” he told Axios, comparing Facebook’s algorithms to “telescreens” from the novel 1984 that both record people and show them content.
  • He said his goal was to educate “the public about what Facebook was becoming and whether or not one might want to reconsider engaging with it based on that information.”

Details: Magerman said he has given $425,000 to the campaign so far, starting with a $200,000 donation.

  • The effort involves a coalition of progressive groups spearheaded by Demand Justice, Citizens Against Monopoly, and its affiliate Open Markets Institute, a vocal critic of Big Tech.
  • Magerman said that he became interested earlier this year in an effort to inform “the public about the risks of engaging with Facebook.”
"It was my goal to convince people that Facebook is not free, that it exacts a high price from users in the form of their private data, and I think users don't understand that transaction, to all of our detriment."
David Magerman

An adviser suggested he work with Open Markets Institute, which has helped shape a conversation in Washington about the increasing concentration and influence of major tech firms including Amazon and Google.

  • “I don't know the details of when and how much they raised outside of what I gave them, but I was the only donor (as far as I know) in the early stages of the campaign,” he said.
  • He said he does not hold a short position in Facebook or other companies, and has not benefited financially from the effort.
  • Eddie Vale, a political consultant who helps run the Freedom from Facebook campaign, declined to comment on Magerman's involvement or whether additional donors have funded the effort.

Reality check: Magerman’s funding pales in comparison to Facebook’s lobbying operation. The company spent roughly $11.5 million on federal lobbying last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and employed 11 outside lobbying firms.The backdrop: A Republican consulting firm — Definers Public Affairs — working for Facebook tried to link the Freedom from Facebook campaign with George Soros, whose Open Society Foundations help fund the Open Markets Institute, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” said Magerman of the NYT report, calling Soros an “easy target” because he “has had the courage to put his name behind major efforts around the world.” (Soros has been the target of anti-Semitic attacks and conspiracy theories.)The big picture: Magerman has gotten attention for a past political stand.

Until now, though, his involvement with the anti-Facebook campaign has not been disclosed.

  • When asked by Axios about funding earlier this year, Sarah Miller, the deputy director of the Open Markets Institute and a key player in the anti-Facebook group, said that “Facebook is willing to spend a ton of money going after competitors and critics, so to protect the people who support this work we aren’t giving out details about our fundraising.”
  • Magerman said he hadn’t tried to stay anonymous, but simply hadn’t been asked about his involvement until he was contacted by Axios.
  • “I'm not generally someone who seeks publicity, and I saw no value in announcing my involvement,” he said. “That said, I am proud of what Freedom from Facebook has accomplished, and I am proud to be associated with it.”

Also: On Thursday, Freedom from Facebook filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Facebook had violated an agreement with the agency and consumer protection law.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.